Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What I Would Do With 30 Seconds

Like most Americans, I spent much of the weekend pondering Friday's massacre at Sandy Hook. I'm heartbroken; we all have that in common, but how we process is so different.  I was alone (in public) when I heard the news. When I couldn't get a hold of Matt, I went on FB and Twitter to find some sort of connection in my grief. In the beginning, each and every status update lamented the shock, horror, and sadness of it all, but as the weekend continued, different tones emerged as people tried their best to make sense of things in their own way. How other people process can be really annoying if it's not similar to your own.

Isn't that how it always goes?

In these monumental moments, whether tragic, or overwhelmingly beautiful, we have about 30 seconds where we can all be on the same page, united in whatever it is we are united over, until the pull of self tip-toes in with a single comment. Or look. Or whatever it is that awakens the I that momentarily stepped aside for the other. I think one of the wisest things I read was this: http://timgombis.com/2012/12/17/silence/.

Not inaction. But giving each other room to breathe, deeply.
Waiting on wisdom.

Maybe we can stretch out those 30 seconds of unity. Because having different ideas is good. It's healthy, enriching. We need different perspectives to challenge us to go deeper. As long as those perspectives are laced in grace and the desire for understanding.

There were constructive conversations. I read a long post between my mom and a lifelong friend, where their views differed, but instead of feeling aggravated by it, it made me want to go back to growing up around our kitchen table where hours of conversation took place between our families. I wanted to connect with eyes and inflections, not a dumb computer screen.

Because that's what's supposed to take place between neighbors.
If we could just extend our 30 seconds. And just be.

Friday, December 14, 2012

There Are No Words.

I'm sitting in Starbucks trying to write a paper on how to fix our nation's educational system. Impossible.
I feel sick.
Just saw the news of dozens of kids in CT killed in a mass shooting at school. Babies, really. The report that I read said much of it happened in a kindergarten class. Babies that would be friends of my own baby.
Gosh, unfathomable.
There's no sense in it. Children. God, anyone but our children.
My mind has been wandering through the silence of God in so many ways lately. Where are you God? How long must we wait for you to show up? How long? I so believe that you are a God of love, compassion, and mercy. And justice. God is just. I believe these things with every fiber of my being. But these days come, when we see how much we hurt each other, when nothing makes sense. When our babies are murdered.
How long, God?
I can scream these questions at God. Are you even there? Are you good, God? I can ask and shout and scream my doubt. It can get pretty ugly sometimes, when that doubt creeps in.
He can handle it though.

And the answer will still be yes.
Yes, He is good.
Yes, he hears our cries for deliverance.
Yes, he knows our pain.

When I hear of senseless, horrible tragedies like this, I think my mind will always go back to Cambodia. To the Killing Fields. To the tree. That tree is forever etched in my mind. Against that tree where children were horribly, senselessly murdered. And it leads me to another tree. God, how could it not? Because the Story, the workings of this tree run through me. Only when life is framed through looking at this tree can any of this senselessness make sense.

God is with us.
Truly with us. Emptying himself of all God-rights to save us. Taking on our sin.
On a tree.

The Prince of Peace.
Stepping into our pain.
Knowing it so fully, yet never retaliating or hurting when hurt.
Fully drinking from the cup of human suffering.

Yet there's human suffering all around.
He waits.

And there's such hope in that waiting.
He will redeem it all.
Oh God, we are desperate for your redemption.

Death. He conquered.
Life. He gives.
Horrible, brokenness. He heals.

The power to make all things right in this world.
He holds.
Divine justice.
It will come.
It has come.
But someday, in all it's fullness.
The only hope of a world turned mad.

We mourn, we weep with those whose pain is unbearable to bear alone. We share in it with them. We comfort through our tears, our presence, our remembering. There are no words. We trust. And live expectantly in hope. And until that Hope returns, we are the tangible expressions of it for each other. We work to right all these wrongs. We work and we pray and we don't give up or turn a blind eye. We love as he loved.

God help us love in days like this.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

When Silence Falls

Sometimes it's so hard to see God. To know that he speaks.
As in ages past.
I forget this is not just a modern struggle. The ancients struggled with the silence of God, too. There were centuries of silence where the prophets lips were closed. They just didn't hear from God. Where was he in all this silence?

Working his plan in his own time. Wooing us to trust him even when we don't hear as we want to. God knows, God sees, and yet he waits. With a linear view of time, this doesn't seem to make sense. If only we had the eyes of God.

I've been reminded of the cries of the Psalmists, begging God to show up. And I've seen it the lives of those around me. How long, God?

All things speak of the mystery of God. I believe that wholeheartedly. I feel it in my bones. As we follow Jesus, we must be people that interpret the world well. That he is here. And he is good. So good that even when the material world seems to scream he's absent, the immaterial whispers back of his love. His Story running through our veins in a way that always points home.

The signs are all around.
If we can see them with the right eyes, as we stumble in between the inciting incidents of faith. Finding the holy ground of earth and air, breathing in the normalcy of the slow process of maturation. All things in their proper time.

Everyday marches on. The sun rises and sets. The seasons change.
These very things speak of Him. That the word doesn't just spin madly on. It's not all chaos and dysfunction. There's sense, order and reason. Imagination and beauty.  Love. Redemption.

How can we train our eyes to see Him more clearly?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Art of Communication

After my last post, I got a text from someone asking if it was about them. This was pretty funny to me because these peeps were probably farthest from my mind when I wrote it. In fact, I really didn't have any particular person in mind when I wrote. It was just something I've experienced here and there in life and felt like writing it out. It seemed like a universal that most could identify with at some time or another. Or maybe I'm just weird.

Who isn't?

Then I got to thinking who else is going to see themselves in this post? Uh oh. Will they be offended? It's not meant to be offensive. It was supposed to be the opposite of that. Seeking glimpses of God's renewal, everywhere. But that's what happens when you combine different people with different perspectives, trying to interpret each other. It's amazing we ever get anything accomplished. I'm reading a book right now that talks about how strange it is how we view Jesus calming the storm as more miraculous than his ability to see and heal human hearts. John Arnold says it takes "more obedience to the Father's will, more divine energy to face his fellow human beings and subdue them, than it did to outface the storm." After all, it was people that crucified him.

Communicating well is an art form.
One in which I have yet to master. Even when it is done well, there's still the potential for getting screwed anyway. But when it's happening like it's supposed to it's such a beautiful thing; those moments when you truly feel known and know another. When our masks of self-preservation and self-centeredness are dropped. Those moments are fleeting as we're confined to this flesh but such a glimpse into a future reality when our communicating with others is actually communing with them. When the games that we humans play, even unrealized, are no longer, but replaced by wisdom and vulnerability coming together in perfect unity.

We'll get each other. Someday. We labor not in vain. Someday, we'll see things as they are, unveiled. The good work He promises to be faithful to complete in us will be completed. Yet, while we're not living in the completed, the Somday can also be right now. Real, meaningful relationships are achievable. Authentic community isn't just a pipe dream. It just happens to be a lot of work. How thankful I am for those that are willing. In this, the Someday meets today.

He is the Hope of the impossible. 
Come quickly, Lord Jesus. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Life as Art (again)

I used to write a lot about life as art, but then life got seemingly more complicated and my mind got stuck in seeing mostly just the dark or serious side of life. It's easy to get stuck in that place and become frustrated with all those around you because you get it and they just don't. And you want to yell,"Why can't we just be on the same page (my page)!?"

Why. Is. This. So. Dang. Hard?

And suddenly you realize all the battles you want to fight for others expose all your own internal battles and struggles, which suddenly make it very, very hard to breathe. And it becomes hard to talk about that which you always wanted to talk about before because of that fear that as soon as you open your mouth you'll get those looks. Or worse, people will just look the other way. So the internal battle of pride and fear flare up again and shut down mode looks so appealing.

Everywhere you look there's obstacles.
But really, what those obstacles are is people.
Who are supposed to be gifts.
Are now challenges.
That's what we become to each other. Something to overcome.
It paints such an ugly picture.
Strife. Tension. Manipulation. Masked in shallow conversation.

This should not be.
The reality is that each and every one of us is a complex, beautiful gift, meant to be given and received.
We are works of art, created in the image of God.
Made by vulnerability and molded by the hand of God.
There's so much magic and mystery in that I tend to forget.
I forget how our different experiences, paired with our natural gifts, have brought us where we are and not a single one of us has arrived.
How desperately we need each other.
With all of our crap and complications. We need other people to give and receive love.
To love each other where we're at and inspire us to be more.
Learning together the art of being human.