Sacred Spaces

I grew up watching Mr.Rogers Neighborhood. Along with other PBS shows. Shows that I am convinced shape who I am as with much as my family and the books I read as I grew up.

When I think of Mr. Rogers, I think of the verse below.

“Love your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39

In this age of instant judgment and defensiveness, this kind of love is scandalous. The reality of Mr. Rogers message is that he was as scandalous too. Wearing his cardigan sweater and soothing voice, he taught many how to care and love.

Watch an episode and you see him taking the time to listen to his guests and understand them. He took his time with things and people. Especially children.

I recently watched the documentary Won’t you be My Neighbor, listened on the audio book The Small Faith of Mr.Rogers by Amy Hollingsworth and am in the middle of the new Rogers biography The Good Neighbor (The Life and Work of Fred Rogers) by Maxwell King. Both-available on Hoopla.

One of the most fascinating things about him was his belief that the space between the screen and the audience was sacred ground. Imagine if this idea was endorsed today? That as we all have access to reach so many people to view that space as sacred?

How would this change how we engage with people? That the space where we post things and the person viewing it be considered sacred space? The words we use online whether to make a statement or to comment on something are revealing of our hearts.

That in fact one of the ways to love another is to also care how and what we post online. The same care we take of people in person. Engaging with people instead of simply trying to change their minds.

Fred Rogers understood that the sacred moments were in the small and overlooked. That they take place in the most basic, seemingly mundane moments are indeed sacred.

For myself it has meant being less reactive online. Taking my time to respond if I choose to respond at all. I don’t have a well loved television show as Mr.Rogers did but I do have my small space here and hope to use it well.

Almost 40 and Single

I used to think it would be a tragedy of sorts to be nearly 40 and single. That if not married or at least in a serious relationship then somehow I’ve failed as an adult. After all the narrative I was told was that happiness only came from finding the one to live life with.

But what is not spoken of as much is JOY. Happiness is fleeting and runs away from the shadows of life. Joy, however sticks around. Joy is there for the long haul and still there in the midst of hardships.

For a long time, I believed that marriage was some kind of reward. As if getting married was some statement of who I am deep down in my soul. That If I was good enough to warrant a partner in this life, that this was some stamp of approval.

I lived in this tension long after I became a Christian. It has taken me most of these past ten years to begin to understand how wrong I have been. Years of longing for something that wasn’t or isn’t meant for me just yet. Years of jealousy over others getting to have what I wanted. Believing that somehow I was lacking because I didn’t have a mate.

This was the way I lived. At least, until I started to believe that love is greater than the small box I had placed it in. Instead, Believing in the enormous, unending love of God.

I understood that I am loved by God intellectually. The disconnect was with my heart and spirit. I kept turning away from what was right in front of me and towards my idol of marriage.

One of the breakthroughs began when I started to develop deeper friendships. Friendships that not only provided companionship but also pointed me to Jesus. One time, after having my heart hurt over some unrequited feelings I reached out to a friend. Instead of the comforting words I craved, she only said that she couldn’t help me. Only Jesus could.

Those words stung. I didn’t want to hear that. I wanted to be told how awesome I am, that it was his loss blah blah blah. In that moment I was hearing what I needed. I needed Jesus, full stop.

Through my tears in that moment, I cried out to Him. To be fair I have cried out many times since.

I’m grateful for my church and the real community they offer to all who want it. It comes with a price, being part of a community. It means being lovingly confronted at times. To pull back the mask and embrace the God who loves us.

I will be 40 next year, odds are I will also be single when I do. I no longer believe it’s a tragedy. The tragedy would be if I were still missing God’s love not only for myself but for all.

Single is a box I check on forms, not the entirety of who I am as a human being.

I am defined by who I am in Christ. I am the beloved daughter of Christ. I was thought of before the creation of the world. God created me to exemplify His love and holiness with my life.

If I never marry, I have the peace and love of Christ. If I do marry, I still have the peace and love of Christ. Either way I am blessed and that is what matters.

Love and Hate

I attended church yesterday with a heavy heart, the events of Saturday in Charlottesvile, VA at the forefront of my mind. I was not however surprised. Racism is something that will always exist in this broken world. My pastor spoke that love and hate are intertwined. I cannot disagree, love is powerful and can be good. It means caring and wanting the best for the thing I love.

But

What do I love so much that I would hate? It’s a valid question. If my family or friends are hurt, I hate what hurts them.

So

As I look at my newsfeed on various social media outlets, and I look at the chilling photos of well dressed white men holding torches and seig heiling ( not sure of the proper verbage for it). I wonder how much do they love the idealogy of whiteness to hate the rest of God’s creations?

For we are all image bearers. My saviour was not white. He was on earth a middle eastern Jewish man who brought salvation to all.

One cannot be of two minds. You either love God and therefore love all. Or hate God and love the few. What you love is what you are most passionate about, what you expend time and energy on. If you are more passionate arguing on social media about things that attack your comfort than  in working to love God and others than perhaps its time to reevaulate what you are truly loving. The heart is a decitful thing, and idol maker and can lead people away from God.

This weekend’s past events in addition to other events have made it evident that there are many who love the idealogy of whiteness over all. The death of Heather Heyer happened because a man so full of hate drove into a crowd on purpose. Because what he loves overrides the diginity of others. Because what he worships was being attacked in his mind.

I pray for him to repent and have  a Paul moment ( Act 9:1-19). Paul was a man called Saul who persecuted Christians until Christ intervened, causing him to be blinded for a period of time. When he was able to see again, he saw the truth of who he had been and became someone new. I truly believe that people can change, to learn to love something beyond their own comforts.

My first inclination is to hate these people right back. I am angered and saddend but not surprised. I must fight against this because how can I claim to love Christ if I hate who he created? How can people meet Jesus if I am not willing to see them as people in need of Him?

I love God and therefore I fight against hate. I will do so by how I know best, my words. I will continue to work in my community loving people because they need love. I will engage in hard conversations and not back down. I will listen and read as I have been. I have much to learn and much to love. Most of all much to be in prayer for my own heart, my community and this nation.

I pray for there to be more love of God then of self preservation.

Books I have been reading

Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler

When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Bryan Fikkert

The New Jim Crow – Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

White Trash  The 400 year untold story of class in America by Nancy Isenberg