Tag Archives: Christ

Fitting under the Umbrella

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Last night, we had a friend over for dinner.  She lived with us for a year while she interned with the youth at our church, and she’s awesome.  One of those, “I hope my son marries someone like her someday” kind of young women.  Before dinner, we were chatting about life and love and the like, and she was sharing her feelings that sometimes she “doesn’t fit.”  She was referring to being single among the married, and I remember the feeling.  But, I also remembered the feeling from just a few hours earlier, too. Yesterday, as I drove home after work, I passed the line up of cars at the neighborhood swim meet.  My thought was “I don’t fit.”  I’m a non-swim team mom in a swim team neighborhood – I am not a mom whose kids are home all the time to even go to swim practice.  Custody gets in the way of so much – it hurts my kids, but it also feels like a rock in my own shoe.  Something doesn’t fit.

Isn’t that the lie that women all feel?  Perhaps my friends are all nuts, but I have had more conversations than I can count with friends who don’t feel like they fit – in one way or another.

Maybe that’s part of why I loved teaching high school so much and why I love refugee ministry so much.  Teenagers don’t fit.  Refugees don’t fit.  What we all feel on the inside is displayed on the outside in these two sub-groups.

I was so excited to find out from my friend that she is going to bring teenagers to Clarkston!  We’re going to hang out there next Friday with some youth who will help us do some work on the bungalow and visit with our new refugee friends from Somalia. Then, in July, we’re hopefully going to be able to do “block parties” at one of the complexes with some youth from our church, too.

As much as I am psyched about the individual opportunities to bring kids to Clarkston, I was encouraged by my friend’s heart…by what she sees in teenagers who serve.  She lit up when she shared about how much changes in kids when they serve.  She says that they change because they experience the gospel as good news, and she says they change because they realize that the people they are serving are just like them. Those who don’t fit become those who do fit.

So…I am encouraged by the gospel that helps us to see that we all don’t fit…and that we all do fit under the umbrella of the grace of Christ.  

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Sign’s in the Yard

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Earlier this week, the sign went up in the yard.  Up until now, there have been a lot of scary things about our move to Clarkston, but this one has topped it all. It’s not so much scary due to the physical part of the move, or even the adjustment part of the move. It’s scary in a way that I’ll call the “backpack” way.

I’ve gotten to the bottom of my backpack of coping mechanisms (the contents are few: control, persistence, performance, humor, and People Magazine).  Having thrown out control a few weeks back and having let my subscription to People expire, I’m left with only a few ways to cope.  None of them is very promising.  Humor helps, but I’m finding that humor is too close to cynicism, which can border on bitterness, and that’s no good.  Persistence is important, but I’m not sure that going to Clarkston running on pure resolution is going to be very helpful in my relationships – old or new.  So, that leaves my very favorite old standby: performance.

I hate it.  It’s the auto pilot setting of my life.  It’s nasty in its ability to generate pride and fear simultaneously.  When it fails, it generates shame and depression.

The reason I’m so bummed that performance is still in my backpack has to do with my heart’s desire for our move to Clarkston.

You see, I don’t want it to be about me.  (I don’t even mean that in a humble sense right here.)  I mean I don’t want the me part to get in the way of the God part.  I don’t want my performance-self to kick in stronger and harder in a place that will only, only, only be redemptive and sweet if the grace of Jesus is the illuminating, energy generating force behind what we are doing.  In my wildest spiritual dreams, freedom would be losing the backpack altogether and finding that the gospel grace of Christ makes carrying a backpack totally unnecessary.  “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake shall find it.” Matthew 16:25

When performance reigns, I go to bed at night measuring myself against the standard of the day, and then congratulating (cross averted) or crucifying myself.  This process yields pride or shame.  This belief that I’ll write the rules, measure myself against them, and then judge myself and pronounce a verdict is all a sinner’s attempt to circumvent God’s love, to get around the two most important words of faith: surrender and trust.  I think, too, that performance is my way of validating myself so that I won’t have to believe that God really loves me THAT much.  It’s a little like the old Rich Mullins song that says,

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy

I cannot find in my own

And it keeps His fire burning

To melt this heart of stone

Keeps me aching with a yearning

Keeps me glad to have been caught

In the reckless raging fury that they call the love of God.”

This morning, I took performance-girl to the real cross.  The one that matters.  She has been around my whole life, but I don’t think that I ever recognized that she needed to die in order for Jesus to live.  Call me dense, but I’m really not sure I’ve ever seen how prideful she is until just today.  I think I thought she was just a good mix of Sunday School and stewardship. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for being the author of furious love that melts stone hearts. When echoes of performance ring in my ears, please remind me that she’s been swept away by the reckless, raging love of Jesus.