Posts Tagged ‘spirituality’

How I am Fallen, Yet Bold to Stand

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My mind is cluttered today with a burning issue. A clever thought would be to write about what is burning on my mind, right?

Except, no.

You see, I keep putting myself out here online and I try to be honest and vulnerable, but there are still things I hold back.

Dear internet, I don’t tell you everything, but I hope we can still be friends.

Maybe I could trust you with this but I’m not ready yet.

And maybe one day I will tell you more.

Then again, maybe I won’t.

You see, there is this thorn in my side, my besetting sin, my great downfall in life, that I don’t dare bring to the bright lights of the big internet. I don’t dare.

I alluded to it in my The Home of the Brave post at Life & Liberty. And, as noted there, I have people in my life that I can talk to about it. So, I am not alone in facing this demon.

But this is an awfully ugly demon. I would say it is even uglier than my pride, about which, dear internet, you were very gracious when I admitted to it.

But the costs of sharing about this one are too great. I find it wisest and best to keep this one more guarded.

And it all sounds so horrifying to say it like this. Oh internet, there’s this one thing that I won’t tell you because it’s so awful—because I’m so awful.

And I do often feel like if people really knew this about me then I would lose a lot of respect.

But here’s the thing, even this, my greatest failing, this does not define me.

I don’t say that cavalierly, as if, hey, it’s no big deal, I’m not that bad.

Because I am that bad.

It’s just that I know, I trust, I believe that my God is bigger and better than all the bad I am.

One of the times I come back to again and again in my spiritual life as proof that God is bigger than my mess is the time God was with me in the muck. I was waste-deep in my own folly, but God was there when no one else could hear. God got me out of the muck when no one else could help me.

And I know, I trust, I believe that his goodness in and through me is my true destiny.

And so, I talk with my God and those trusted others about this great struggle. And with God’s help, I work through it, sometimes around it, and I hope to grow from it over time.

Meanwhile, I yield to God’s love for me, I receive his goodness, and I live into my belovedness. I come to him, feeling flawed and fallen, and I let him lift me up.

He sets me on my feet, bold to stand, bold to speak and write and serve and show his love to others.

And I pray this for you too, that whatever drags you down in life, makes you feel scared to even mention, I pray that you will experience God’s bigness and goodness and your forgiveness and belovedness in him.

Musings about Joyful Giving

Giving

In the church, I have often heard discussion about whether we should teach what is called “tithing,” or the practice of giving 10% of one’s income to the church. I think it is valuable to teach about it as a spiritual discipline, but not in a heavy-handed way. I really feel that it is best when spiritual disciplines are practiced as a joyful responses to God’s love as opposed to stodgy rules that are imposed on us.

And if those who can tithe do tithe to the church, the church could do a whole lot more besides paying staff and maintaining a building. In fact, in the early church, offering was taken, not to pay the pastor or keep up facilities, but to help the poor. Many churches and religious organizations today are also great humanitarian agencies and generous giving to the church can make a big difference in the lives of others.

Still, it is possible that a tithe may be too little in some cases…

The rest of this essay, More to Give: Joyfully Sharing from Abundance, is over at Life & Liberty. Please click the photo above to read more of my thoughts on joyfully moving beyond a tithe.

Angry Mom?

AngryMom

“The times I feel irritated are really inconvenient times to be a mom. Those are the times I tend to react poorly to even the most innocent of my son’s behaviors. And I worry, am I the angry mom who is impossible to please? Am I setting up my kid for years of self-destructive self-talk?”

I’m at Life & Liberty today trying to work out some of this about Anger and Parenting. Please click the thermal photo above and surf you way over to Life & Liberty to read the rest of my thoughts on this issue.

What Is She Doing Up There? -or- How I Use My Hands In Worship

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Last Sunday was our once-a-month praise service at my small-town Texas, Lutheran church. I recently joined the praise team for these services and I want to tell you why I felt really vulnerable up there this past Sunday.

Well, of course, as a pastor’s wife, there’s always, always a sense of being in a fish bowl–like everyone is watching my family and me even when we’re minding our own business. Fortunately, most of the church members in the churches we have been in have been very respectful of and gracious toward us fish in the bowl. Our current church has been exceptionally warm to all three of us, so that was no more a factor than usual this past Sunday.

No, the reason why I felt vulnerable is because I use my hands a lot in church. And suddenly, being up front, facing the congregation, all of my gestures were on display.

Nobody said anything to me about it, but with my view facing them I kinda couldn’t help but notice that not many other people (if any) use their hands quite as much as I do.

And here’s the other thing…I have the propensity to offend people across the spectrum of Christian faith expressions because I’m as likely to make the sign of the cross as I am to raise my hands to praise the Lord. Some people might accuse me of being too “religious” or too “Catholic” for crossing myself whereas others might be put off by my charismatic tendencies when I raise my hands. I could face scrutiny for either one, but put them together and what will people say?

And maybe they won’t say anything. And maybe they didn’t think a thing of it. And it is quite possible that I’m overthinking the whole thing because I do that.

Then again, maybe, and this is a big maybe…but maybe somebody else out there has been worried about looking too religious or letting their charismatic spirituality show…As vulnerable as I feel up there doing the things I do with my hands, maybe it can help free up others to express their whole selves in worship?

It could happen.

~~~

This post has been added to Elizabeth Esther’s link-up: The Saturday Evening Blog Post, vol. 6, issue 2

Humorous video by Tim Hawkins about the different styles of hand raising: http://www.davidhousholder.com/raising-hands-in-church-0153-life-liberty/

Secondary Infertility and Layers of Angst

I wrote on my blog before about my history of infertility and how I lament that I can’t have another child, I lament my broken body. And while that is true, there is more to it than that. I alluded to it a little in that previous post:

Is there still hope that I could technically get the right treatments, eat the right foods and eventually conceive again?

Probably.

See, that probability could be more in reach than I let on. I mean, there are some relatively simple steps with my health that I could take but I am not taking. And partly why I don’t do those things is because there is part of me that doesn’t want more kids.

I wrote once before about my history of depression and anxiety and how that is a factor in why I am reticent about having more kids:

I sunk to rock-bottom depression in my early days post-partum and at some point after having my son the anxiety kicked in…I mentioned before that my history of infertility is the biggest reason why I don’t have more than one kid, but this depression/anxiety stuff factors in pretty prominently too.

So, I’m disappointed yet a little glad that I can’t because I don’t want to anyway because I was such a depressed mess the first time around.

But there is more.

There is the part that I don’t want to tell but somehow I feel like God wants me to work out. There is the plain old reality that I just don’t want to for my own reasons.

I know my great longing is not a secret, because it is all over this blog. I want this blog to be something to serve others, but so often I am absorbed in all my own drama here. So I have already revealed what I really want.

I want to give birth to more speaking and writing.

You can have it all, just not all at once.And I just can’t give birth to that if I am to have another baby. They say you can have it all, just not all at once, and I believe them.

When my son was small, he required so much, so very much of me. From breastfeeding to bed-wetting, the demands were around-the-clock for so many of his younger years. Add into that the hours-on-end of hands-on involvement during the day–I took seriously the caution not to allow screentime until age 3, the advice to not leave a young child unattended even for a moment. So, I spent a lot of time right there with him, shaping his days, playing games, and telling him stories.

I don’t begrudge him any of that.

I just know myself well enough to know that if that was my reality all over again, then I couldn’t do the speaking and writing that I want to do, you know, with grown-ups.

My son is 9 years old now and halfway to college already! And with his advancing years, he is more independent than ever. Now he is reading fluently and can lose himself in a National Geographic while I write a bit. And the older he gets, being a guy and all, the more he wants to spend time with his dad–so that means more time for me to work on preparing for a talk I’m going to give.

My son still needs me, of course. But more of me is freer now than when he was little little. And I like it this way, this me-being-freer way.

So, why do I feel so guilty about wanting what I want and enjoying my freedom?

I mean, all the time, women of “normal” fertility decide to stop making more babies. They could have more, but they don’t. So, why do I, for whom baby-making does not come so easily, feel so guilty for “I don’t want to”?

Maybe it’s not the “I don’t want to” that I feel guilty about so much as the hiding behind the “I can’t” narrative.

Hiding behind “I can’t” has been an excuse to not directly seek God’s will. If I just stick to the “I can’t” script, then I don’t have to know what God wants for my future. If I can’t, I can’t, right? So God can’t possibly expect me to do what I can’t do.

But, what if I stop hiding behind, “I can’t” and just be honest with God about “I don’t want to because there’s other stuff I want to do instead”? What if I invite God into this complexity of emotion, into these layers of angst?

Ah, though, the trouble with that is what if God doesn’t affirm what I think I want to do? What if this whole speaking and writing stuff is just my will, my want?

I wrestle all the time with sorting out my motives. I want to believe that what I want is what God wants. I have an inkling that this other stuff is where God is calling me. I have a pretty clear vision about what that work might entail.

But for me, moving more fully into the speaking and writing entails having that baby-making stuff behind me. And until I stop hiding behind my assertion of “I can’t” and really ask God whether it is okay to not to, then what I actually can’t do is move forward in anything with any degree of certainty.

Lord, I submit this to you. Grant me the courage and confidence to know and move forward in your will. Amen