The Bigotry is Real; The Love is Realer

Christians are persecuted every day, that is an unfortunate reality. But the other unfortunate reality is that Christians also persecute every day.

And who am I talking about? Me, of course! Sure, we all know those annoying, judgmental people, but I”m here to talk about me. I don’t know about those people, maybe they mean well, but I’ve been inside my own head and I know it’s not pretty. There’s jealousy, there’s pride, there’s hatred.

It doesn’t come over night, the fall from grace. The darkness seeps in, colors your perception, disguises itself as light and truth. And pretty soon you’re all mad at those sinners who are really your brothers and sisters, and you realize that you’re the worst sinner of them all, but you just stop caring in a way. That is a bad place, don’t go there.

You read in the Bible that you should love your enemies, and you half-beleive it, and you half doubt it, so basically you’re just doubting it.

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to accuse you of this too.

I know this all sounds really depressing, but it’s not the bottom-line. I’m sorry that I’m so real on this blog- sometimes I feel like I should tone it down a little and just talk about salad recipes. Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow.

I’m not saying that the Bible turns people into jerks. I’m saying that Satan is a clever little _____ and he knows how to twist things around. He can even use  scripture verses. Remember this?

Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:

‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’

and,

‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’[b]

Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”[c]
Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you,[d] Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”[e]

Matthew 4:5-10

But if I truly believed into the Lord Jesus, I would never think of using the Bible as a way to judge other folks and be a bully. I would be humble, compassionate, joyful, and loving. Oh, if only! I know it’s true, but why do I doubt the whole thing even as I’m writing this! And yet, it’s my only hope. Must bling to it. Must cling for dear life. It is life, friends. Take my word for it- I’ve seen what death and destruction look like. I know that’s what Satan wants. I don’t want to give him what he wants anymore.

I Once Had a Christian Professor

I really think so. On the last day of class, he gave us an inspirational speech on how we shouldn’t be afraid to enter the real world and pursue a career in accounting. It truly was stirring. In the midst of the applause, he showed us the last slide on his slideshow, this verse, or one very similar:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind”
2 Timothy 1:7

I stared at this slide for a moment as everyone else shuffled out. What bravery, what feeling from my dry professor! I looked at it with that serene, but somehow guarded approval that Christians occasionally bestow upon one another.

Later that night, I was reflecting on these words on the long drive home in the dark. Suddenly, there seemed like so much to fear, but I couldn’t put my finger on any of it. I needed the remembrance of those words to prevent myself from having a panic attack.

These words have special significance to me as a person with anxiety. Fear seems to be the driver of my existence. Power? Love? Soundness of mind? Those all seem like strangers, and I confess that at times I feel so overtaken by darkness that those words seem to have no real meaning.

Why all this despair? You may ask. That is a question that I can’t easily answer. But what I can say is that it springs from a lack of faith. A lack of faith in absolutely everything. Lack of faith in God, lack of faith in good, lack of faith in people. My mind, which hates to take things at face value, questions everything, including the merit of goodness itself. Isn’t that awful?

It seems that the day will come when I’ll run out of energy to fight this. And indeed, I already have. So I crawl at the Lord’s feet and beg for the will to go on, to live, and help others live. And then, feeling just a little recharged, I go out and try to fight Satan’s whole army once again, only to be taken as a prisoner of war, at this point sympathetic to his cause. And then the Lord has to ransom me back all over again.

“Stop going out there by yourself so glaringly unarmed,” he tells me. But do I listen? Do I obey like the good sheep?

No!

I keep waiting for the day that he runs out of patience, love, and forgiveness. I suspect he already has. But how can He? He is God.

A Repose in the Battle

Madness disguises itself as reason

And robs me of my joy, my compassion, and life itself

Passion alone is a dead end

Ruminating is my ruin

The only joy and peace is involuntary

It comes upon me against my will

It laughs at my silly thoughts

And my soul, for an instant, bursts open

 

I’m tired of the wrestling,

I don’t want to play the game anymore

I just want to exist, and feel, and be blessed 

And I don’t care if the best part of me

Is the part that comes not from me

What’s Really Going On (Spiritual Warfare Trigger Warning)

I guess I shouldn’t try to exact sympathy. It’s got to be my fault that I’ve let my mind become the violent battleground of God and Satan. I could have just let Christ’s victory on the cross be enough. But no, I had to have my own absurd, psychotic, philosophical war which makes so little sense that I can’t even begin to describe it properly. And yet here I am talking about it. 

I wish there was some kind of drug you could take to wipe your mind clear, like amnesia. I’d trade any intelligence I have for a day of peace. 

But there’s not, and I can’t. The easy way out isn’t the right way out. 

How did this all begin? And what justification is there for it? My life is more peaceful than usual, on the outside. Really, I’ve made peace with a lot of things. I’ve made peace with loneliness in a way. I’m grateful that my family seems to love me, despite all the reasons not to. I’ve slowed down the pace in the rat race. I have no particular beefs with anyone because people have generally been good to me, so it seems that Satan has decided to turn me against the human race in general, forcing me to philosophize, judge, mistrust, and hate when I obviously have no right to do any of that when I am apparently a million times more screwed up than anyone just for entertaining these evil thoughts.

This is all so confusing. I am torn between two poles: a hateful, jealous, violent, destructive, disgusting one, and a kind, loving, forgiving, peaceful one. I guess I’m somewhere in the middle. I would just like to be on the second pole. Or would I?

Of course, a lot of this has to do with too much free time and a lack of focus. And that’s certainly part of it. Sometimes these thoughts go away, or God drives them away… but they always seem to return. Because it’s hard to forget what you know. 

I know this all seems really dark and hopeless, and in a way it is, because it’s not an easy problem to solve. But I still believe that I’m saved. I know, I know, Christians are supposed to be good, sane, and normal people. Yeah, I get it. It makes a little sense if you’re a mess before you’re saved, but afterward? That’s just not… good. And I don’t claim to be good. I don’t think this is good, but that doesn’t mean that good can’t come out of it. Good can come out of it in the same way a plant can grow in the ashes of a house fire (that does happen, right?)

I mean this- that I am sharing this story (again) in the hope that it will glorify God. Why not? Why isn’t it to God’s glory if He can save even miserable people like me? Why isn’t it a miracle that I feel loved by Him, in spite of it all?

But right here is where one of my pitfalls is. Sometimes I focus too much on my personal relationship with God, forgetting that so many people have personal relationships with God and will have personal relationships with God. Sometimes I feel that it is just me vs. this evil, superficial society and its endless members whom I am supposed to love, somehow. 

Lord, I’ve admitted the sin, please help me to truly despise it with all my heart and soul and turn from it! Anyone out there who’s reading this, please pray for me, not for my own sake, but for the sake of those around me who deserve my genuine love and not the politeness that masks my depression. If you don’t understand anything I’ve said, then give yourself a pat on the back. You are likely a sane and upright human being. If you do understand, thank you. If you understand too much, please let us bear this burden together in spirit. 

And now I’m a bit teary again, what’s new.

 

 

He Provides

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Back-to-school is an exciting time for me, my favorite time of the year actually. While others dread it, I’ve always enjoyed new pencils, a fresh schedule, and another second chance to have a good year.

It’s a bit different now that I’m in college, but it’s really not that different. I still need things like paper, and this morning I realized that I’d neglected to buy looseleaf paper. Things like this stress me out a little since I live a little out of the way. Should I make a special trip? Pay the exorbitant price at the university store? And then, just when I started looking, I found the pages that I have attached above. There were two of them with writing and the rest were blank (just what I needed!). They had been rubber-banded into something of a makeshift prayer journal by me a few years ago.

While this may seem silly to an outsider, it is precious to me. Not only did I find the paper, but I found encouragement from an unlikely source- my own journey with God. Maybe I wasn’t quite as good of a writer a few years ago, but in a funny kind of way, maybe I was wiser back then. In any case, it’s good to look back on what God has done for me over the years and what I have learned. 

I wonder why I doubt and wander so much, when clearly, He’s had my back all along and He gives me just what I need to keep going. 

Wonderful Blessings When I Least Expected Them

I wrote this a couple weeks ago and forgot to post! Reading it now has been a comfort.0

I was in the desert for a while. It seemed that the whole world was just ignoring / judging me. I grappled with it. I tried to understand it in any way I could. What’s wrong with me? Is this a punishment or a trial? Should I discard hope? Love myself? Reach out- no, they’re all better off without me.

I finally came to the conclusion that I should stop thinking about myself so much. 

Then, starting a couple days ago, everything seemed to change for the better. Old friends whom I thought I would never see again started texting me. A family member was nicer to me. An email I sent out a long time ago finally got answered. A couple people very sweetly reached out through the internet. I even had an employer ask me for my resume in an email! 

I was happy yesterday- not just that “Christian joy”- but I was really happy in my own unusual way because I was thinking about how God is taking care of me. After all, all these things happened without me lifting a finger. To me, it’s a sign that He cares and He listens, and yes, that He loves me. 

Where is this all going to lead? I don’t know. I’m sure that it can all end as abruptly as it began. Perhaps my old friends just felt obligated to see me, and it won’t even come to fruition. Maybe the same resume request was sent to everyone or it’s some kind of scam (I don’t really believe I’ll get the job, by the way). Maybe my family will get mad at me and I’ll feel lonely again. 

But you know what? Why should I care? Why does any of that matter? Why can’t I allow this happiness and blessing to bring me closer to God? Why can’t I feel good even though I know that at any moment it can all come crashing down and I’ll feel depressed again? Why do I need more when I already have so much more love than I deserve? 

Why can’t I believe in people a little, for a change? Do all those good times mean nothing? Should I just forget how I feel now and go on feeling disillusioned and bitter? I think not! 

If being content with the pathetic, fleeting joys of this world, that God is merciful enough to let me experience is foolish, then I don’t ever want to be wise. And if rejoicing in the unchanging and all-powerful God even in the worst of times is silly, then shove me in a tiny car with twenty other clowns and call me Bozo.

I only hope that when the inevitable happens, I will be just as happy or even happier than I am now.  

 

My Two Cents on the Immigration Crisis in the Southwest

 

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First reaction: why all the hate?

“Go home?” some middle aged man screams. But what if those people don’t have a home? Why isn’t anyone thinking of that?

I know, as a red-blooded American I’m supposed to be pissed off that undocumented peoples are entering this country and that the tax dollars are paying for it and that this country is in so much debt already…

But come on! These are children! Why doesn’t anyone seem to care? Sure there may be some kind of scheme going on behind the scenes, but nonetheless, how do we know what some of these people have been through and what they are running from?

I have been to Murrieta. I know the sort of people there. They’re the kind of people that make up a large population of this country. Many of them love God, most of them love America, some are a little obsessed about guns… and they work hard and help out. So where is all this, what I perceive as, hatred coming from? Is it really just political, or is it personal as well?

I used to be very conservative politically. Now, I don’t even know anymore. Maybe we should just take down the borders.

Okay, so maybe that’s wildly impractical, but I can’t think of a practical, rational, satisfactory solution. I don’t know. No one seems to know.

 

Photo credit:

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Another Lonely Summer?

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Thank God for the sunshine. I need sunshine more than most people; fog seems to exacerbate my depression. Thank God that the summer months when I am the loneliest are the ones filled with sunshine and watermelon.

I know that loneliness is one of the major themes of this blog. I complain about how I feel lonely in both crowds and isolated crawl holes. I have approached it from many angles, dissected it with various tools, given a myriad of reasons, I have tried against my will to be positive, I have experimented with various coping mechanisms… yet I am still here, addressing it again. I still feel alone, in not much of a different way than I felt last year.

What does it all mean? The sun continues to rise and set, dancing along the tops of the beautiful trees around my house in between. The world goes round. People make money, get married, and eventually die. Babies are born, children play, teenage girls giggle and gossip just as mindlessly as ever. Other children starve to death. Politicians keep lying. What does it all mean?

But I know that I’m not really alone, even though it feels that way. Maybe that’s what’s different about this year- that I am a step closer to not feeling lonely. I have the company of my parents, which really counts for a lot. My friends are somewhere, maybe thinking about me, maybe not, but I believe that in heaven we are laughing and singing together. Enemies who in this life won’t even give me the time of day will be singing and laughing in heaven with me. And for now, I am joined by many people who are also feeling lonely, whether I see them or not, and there are many brothers and sisters even on this blog space feeling the same way. If worse comes to worse, I can call up one of my fictional characters to get coffee with me at any time.

But more importantly, I have the friend of all friends, Jesus Christ. The friend who always understands, is never too busy, and will help me with absolutely anything (if I let Him, which I usually don’t because of pride). If He was here, I know He’d help me move or drive me to the airport.

The light is dancing on the leaves, the steaks are on the grill, and the birds are chirping. Even though I can’t go to the beach now because of my foot, I know that it’s calm and majestic as ever. I know that somewhere, somehow, girls my age are talking and laughing and having a good time in spite of it all. And that is enough.

I know that, by the grace of God, I will get though this month, and maybe even rack up some good memories, or at least some trials that I will learn something from. I know that there is eternal life, and that is where I put my trust. I know that I don’t need to cry. I know that I am not alone, even if I feel alone. And that is enough.

 

Photo

blogs.imediaconnection.com

 

 

Creation over Creator?

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And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

2 Corinthians 3:4-6 NKJV

What do we call a computer that becomes self aware and tries to take over the world? A sci-fi nightmare (a highly unlikely one, though).

But isn’t that sort of what we’re doing when we reject God? Deviating from the purpose we were created for, like a rogue robot?

But here we call it independence, power, agenda, individualism, and we exalt it with monuments.

Why do we so often prize creation over the creator? I mean it, when did this flaw first come about? Why do we prize objects over eternal souls, food over flesh, idols over El Shaddai?

And again I ask: why?

Our sufficiency is from God. It is nothing we did. Our peace doesn’t come from treaties. Our peace of mind doesn’t come from insurance. Our nourishment doesn’t come from bread. Our strength doesn’t come from muscle or power or the human spirit. It all begins, it all ends with God, whether we like it or not.

I am sufficient as a minister of God. Lord, let me do the one thing I was created to do: worship Your name.

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Trust: Does It Always Need to Accompany Love?

....why should I trust you?

“Don’t trust anyone. Never let your guard down.”

This is something that I hear all the time, even from other Christians. And it’s not like it doesn’t make sense.

Many of us learn this “lesson” around middle school (or earlier, if you weren’t quite as lucky). I know I learned it somewhere along the way, and I learned it too well. My little friends disappointed me, left me all alone, and since then I haven’t been able to look at other people, or myself in quite the same way. Over time, I went from happy, carefree child to quiet, awkward adolescent (although I can be fun with certain people).

So I can’t really say that I trust people a whole lot. I just wait for them to disappoint me. And when they do, I take their “rejection” personally. “What’s wrong with me? Why don’t they like me? What’s there not to like? What can I change?”

Let’s revisit the love verse. If you are Christian, you’ve probably heard it a million times, but I’m going to post it again because even though I’ve been hearing it for years, it has taken on a new meaning for me lately.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 RSV

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastfulit is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

The fact is, people are going to disappoint us.  People are going to downright screw us over.

But you know what? In all probability, we will disappoint others as well. Maybe we will even do our share of screwing over.

So here’s an idea. Maybe instead of always wondering what the other guy is going to do next, maybe we should focus more on our own heart, on what we are doing wrong. Maybe it is better to be a naive little fool who trusts people and believes in humanity and isn’t afraid of the devisings of men because her faith in God is positively overflowing.

But how, how is this accomplished? Should we “trust” that our fellow motorists won’t cut us off? But that’s crazy!

Should we “trust” that the creepy guy in the alley won’t mug us?

Should we “trust” that thieves won’t steal our belongings?

Should we “trust” the credit card company?

Should we trust our friends to be there for us? Our family? Our spouse?

Should we trust God?

I’m not quite sure what to make of all this. Personally, I have a hard time believing that people will come through for me because of past experience. My philosophy is, “they probably won’t, but hey, at least God will be there.”

And indeed He will. But should I believe in others too? Won’t that just make it more painful when they don’t come through? (because they won’t… don’t trust anyone!).

I guess it could hurt to try, but maybe I will. I’m not an orphan with street cred or a recent divorcee or a victim of abuse. I’m just another person who learned “the lesson” in some way or another. Maybe I can start unlearning it.