Sunday, November 1, 2015

Circling Grace

I imagined for years that I was a lone wolf, a nomad without allegiance or alliance. It was a safe and rebellious way of life. I needn't follow your rules or be disappointed by you. But I was very wrong.

The past 2 Sundays have been devoted to the need for relationship. At first, I was repelled by the idea. I don't need circles. I have a couple people who I am willing to rely on, in a pinch, but a circle sounded like overcommitment to an idea which would eventually lead to annoyances. In fact, I found the image above, a Reuleaux triangle to be my personal "shape." Rebellious, remember?

Recently, however, well for several months now, I have been struggling with back and leg pain. It has caused me difficulty walking, severe pain, the need for medication, and now I have opted for surgery in hope of relief. As I have struggled through this time, I have spent lots of time in prayer and meditation. I have cried and cursed over this pain. I have had to rely on others, however reluctantly. I have contemplated God and his plan for my life. I have surrendered and taken back. And I have been loved, well loved by many who I would be afraid to claim as my pack, my circle.

I have been prayed for and, better yet, prayed with. I have been given space to ask questions and state fears & struggles to individuals who accepted it without judgement. Some would respond with their own experience and places they found hope while others provided strength, reminding me to "be still." God himself spoke to me in Scripture and through others, even unknowingly. Family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, church family teachers...all circled me with grace. That is when I began to understand my triangle. 

You see, this particular triangle is only made by the places where circles intersect. For me, it is the circles of grace around me, that I am a part of, which construct my form. 

I am not a lone wolf. I am a quirky, creative and frightened individual who needs these circles as much as she fears them. We are made for relationship, but sometimes we have to be made to see this.

There is nothing good in the decay of the body and the anxiety this may produce. I am not saying my circumstances are as God would like, but God does what he likes with my circumstances and uses the decay and anxiety to bring about a willingness to be comforted and cared for. I am not alone. God is with me. But so are you. With that understanding, peace settles in my spirit & I truly can be still, in this circling of grace.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Armchair QB

I have been thinking a lot about forgiveness this week-how the families of those murdered in a Charlestown church responded, how Christians and the LGBT community are responding to the Supreme Court decision, and, not the least of which, the series "Do Over" at Hope & yesterday's message on Letting Go.

I didn't think there was anything I needed to forgive because, in general, I try to deal with things quickly. Meditating today, I see there are somethings that I have been unwilling to release and it is causing me which I respond with anger. 

Injustice ticks me off. Ambiguity annoys me. Being wrong makes me mad. In all of these things, I lack control over the situation. So, as I have begun to explore these tender spots, I have found some places where forgiveness, letting go, may be in order.

I need to forgive God. Yes, that IS as arrogant as it sounds. Still, I need to forgive him for not being clear enough, being unwilling to answer all my questions. (Many of you would probably tell me that I am supposed to have faith and submit to his sovereignty. I will forgive you for that.) How do we love the sinner and hate the sin without causing damage to said sinner and our relationship? Is being "right" as prescribed by biblical texts good enough? We justified slavery & segregation while we still justify exclusion of LGBT individuals & women in leadership by a few verses which we use to color the whole library of books. Is that what You mean? Do You call us to places and roles but not allow us to fulfill those callings? Are You trying to show us something else? Like that we can't be those things and we just need to trust You have something better planned? What is it? I need to forgive Him, also, for making this strange thing called church in which we struggle against each other, against Him, against society & never seem to find the wholeness we are seeking. 

I need to forgive the church for being a very imperfect community. I love it and am frustrated by it all at once.  I need to forgive them for not making sense to me. I need to forgive them for seeing through the only eyes they have, for hearing through the only ears they have been given.  I need to forgive the lack of progress as a community.  I need to forgive them for not being what I think they could be.

I need to forgive myself for not becoming everything I thought I should. I need to forgive myself for falling short so often, for being conflicted, for being angry, for being scared, for wanting what I cannot have, for rejecting good things for mere dreams. I need to forgive myself for the fear that comes when I feel the pull toward the church and being repelled by it at the same time.

I realize that this bitterness & fear about how it should be but isn't, about the questions whose answers are not enough, well, it just isn't good for my spirit.

So what do I do now? If I let it go, do I stop trying to figure out my place, stop wrestling with the questions, and just be? I can't imagine my faith or my life being that flaccid. I also don't want to waste energy on nursing resentments that poison my relationship with God and others.

As I write all this out, I hear echoes of an ancient serpent who once hissed, "Did God really say...?" Even while I question these things, I don't want that. I flew from that, back to the only safe place I know. My Father. I know He has my best interests in mind. I know Him. I know His Spirit. I know His love. I just wish I knew His thoughts behind some of these questions. 

For now, I am forgiving & just going to hang out with Him. I am letting go. 

I can always pick it up tomorrow and forgive again. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Redemption of the Broken

I am limping through another flare up of pain. I am embarrassed as a spasm causes me to seize and grimace. I try to not make eye contact with those coming my way because I am walking crooked with one hip higher than the other. Perhaps if I pretend to not notice, no one else will. 

While I may have resigned, more than surrendered, to the realization that pain is part of my life story, I am always grateful for how God is closer to me when I walk with a limp than when I run to catch up with my schedule. 

Is it because God moves slower than I want? Maybe it is just that I am trying to outrun him? It doesn't really matter. What does matter is that despite the mental and physical exhaustion of trying to attend to my life despite the pain, I am rested and revived spiritually.

I hear birds chattering joyfully and think of Elijah and his raven. I look around and see flowers blooming brightly and think how much more my father cares for me. In the fiery pain, I consider that the Lord himself entered into the furnace with Daniel's friends. When the walk seems too long, I hear Jesus calm the waves with a "Peace. Be still," and my anxiety obeys.

The sad reality is that I am more spiritually fit the more broken my body is. I pray that there comes a day when I can rely on God when I am more able bodied. For now, it is time to hobble to work with God by my side.