Grief

Wrestling with Patience

Patience. The very word can send me into annoyed levels upon hearing the word.

The last thing I have wanted to hear throughout my life while in the midst of a struggle is be PATIENT.

Patience with others, situations or things to come has not been easy for me. To say the least.

Hearing to be patient when not in a place to be patient has been the least motivating thing for me. In fact it only made me more upset.

I didn’t want to be patient! I wanted what I wanted right now and in the very way I envisioned it. So of course I would shut down, turning inwardly and into the spiral of wallowing.

So many times I brought my frustrations to God and still found myself in the same place. It wasn’t until I began to attempt to align my heart with His that things began to change. The more I prayed for His desire over my own ( seriously not easy!) and learning to be thankful for people, experiences and things in my life.

It’s not that my life changed overnight, I just learned how to (ahem) be patient in my circumstances. At times this can be called contentment or even steadfastness as we like to say in Christianese.

Essentially, staying put when what I long to do is run away or solve the situation myself. Which wouldn’t be good. I tend to panic react and end up in a worse situation than I would of been if I simply been (you know what I’m going to say right?) PATIENT .

Slowly and with a lot of bumps in the road, changes in my day to day began to emerge. From how I dealt with people, my circumstances and who God is in all of it. The more my heart aligns with Him, the more I see less of my own desires.

Examining the heart behind my desires had been so humbling. Why do I really want this or that? What do I believe I will get from it that I’m not getting right now?

Believe me when I say that those examinations are tough. I have to go into some deep parts of me to get a small grain of understanding. Even still I’ve come out fighting for my desires over that of God’s.

I’ve had a hard time of being patient with people. Many times I’ve been harsh or short with others because they were the ones bothering me. Often too , my impatience can be a cover for my embarrassment. When being caught off guard, my comfort zone is a place of defense. If I have enough bluster then maybe my lack of knowledge won’t be noticed.

Yeah, right.

I read through James 5:7-12, where James encourages patience. Not only patience for the things I desire in this life but to have patience for the coming of Jesus. I must give credit for this insight to the ladies in the young adults group I help lead at church.

In the midst of a current hardship and even joy, Jesus is the greatest promise. Beyond anything else, patience waiting upon the Lord. Because the promises of God are far greater than anything I can desire.

It’s ok to wrestle with patience. It’s ok to say you are frustrated but not to stay there. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned about patience.

The Social Media Lies

There is a world outside of the internet. Beyond the stream of uncensored information. An endless stream I’ve become addicted to checking in on.

Before I’m out of bed I’m checking my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I’ve allowed it to dictate my emotions, causing me to believe in the lie I’m not cared for.

I’ve allowed twitter feeds to play on my emotions, causing me to be blinded with anger at the state of the world.

Most of all it has distracted me from the truth of Jesus.

It’s not that these things are bad. It’s good to be informed and aware of the world around me. But what isn’t good is my getting caught up in other people’s reactions. Yep, I’m a comment section ghost. Reading what other ppl write in order to judge them. It sounds like a harsh assessment but it’s the truth.

I forget I am just as fallible and am too judged

These platforms are great for engaging with people. But we must not allow for it to become a substitute for creating and caring for relationships. I know I’ve allowed it , my perception through the social media lens to affect my relationships. I have even compared the number of likes a friend’s post had against my own. Seeing that as some kind of yard stick of how cared for I am.

I forgot in those times that I am loved by God.

Developing this awareness is a first step. I’ve made sure to fill my time with other pursuits. Reading more books, calling or texting people. There are still days where I’ll realize most of my day had been spent scrolling through my various social media feeds.

I have been sold the idea that for me to matter I must have a voice on the internet. But that’s a lie. Because I am more than my social media imprint. It’s good to have a voice, good to engage with the world.

And it’s also good to understand the reality of social media. I am a commodity on those platforms.

But greater than that I am loved and cared for by God.

The Heart Issue

Another shooting took place last week.

Friends and Family are grieving.

I am angry. I am saddened.

And social media is flooded with anger and sadness.

And what has become platitudes.

Thoughts & Prayers has become the throw away line. Something an intern can tweet out quickly when a tragedy occurs.

Following it is this is a heart issue. I don’t disagree that this a heart issue. From the accounts of Nickolas Cruz he had a history of disturbing behavior. Several times over the years tips and complaints were placed on him. Investigators from DCF cleared him.

Absolutely his heart lead him to take his gun into the school last Wednesday. Evil exists and it will rear its ugly head no matter what is done.

But by posting or saying it’s a heart issue, it then negates any examination of our own hearts. Of the things that we seek out for security. It points to the other instead of facing the truth of our own hearts and motivations.

I too am also examining my heart as I walk through this anger and sadness. It hasn’t helped watching things unfold, as details emerge from that day.

There is so much anger. Comment sections devolve into name calling and dehumanizing each other. Our words matter. The heart behind our words matter.

When it’s said this is a heart issue, I too believe we must also examine our reactions. The things we post, the comments made reveal where our own hearts stand. How we care and treat each other . What is it we want to believe about the other side? What will be lost if we learn we aren’t entirely right or wrong.

As I work through all of this I pray. I believe in a big God who can do anything. I believe in the comfort He can bring to us . In the Hope only God can bring.

I also believe in action. In calling for change in our laws. In having real discourse with each other to really understand our fears on either side. Because This doesn’t need to happen, this isn’t inevitable.

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

 

The Inconvience Factor

Inconviences can suck. They steal away time and chip away at my comfort. I had an afternoon of inconviences, so many little things piled onto each other that at one point some unholy words emerged from my mouth. What I wanted was kept out of reach for me and I did not like it. Often times I can become upset with things and most often it is not for any other reason than that I am not getting what I want at that moment.

It can bring the worst out of me. But I have learned the most from being inconvienced in my life. Even that day where it felt as if ALL the things went wrong. In some ways they did, and in other ways they went right. I had to remind myself that what I was dealing with was temporary.

But sometimes the inconviences do have long lasting effects. Some are good as I have learned and been challenged in my life. Learning from these kinds of moments has lead to the biggest breakthroughs for me. By asking myself the questions behind why am I so upset? Why is it so important for this to happen now?

Sometimes I know what that answer is, and other times it takes some digging to reveal it. Following Jesus is full of inconviences. I have been stretched to reach past what I know and go into the unknown. I remember the first time I was asked to lead a Bible study, it was scary. Being responsible for helping others follow Jesus when one isn’t 100% confident is difficult.

Leading a group can be inconvenient as anything. It means setting aside time to study up for the week, follow up with group members and spending time conveying information to them. Caring for people is inconvenient isn’t it though? It means having to stop what you had planned to do in order to care for them.

Jesus isn’t about convenience, following him doesn’t fall into a neat slot on the schedule. The lessons that stemmed from being inconvenienced have helped me to grow in my faith. Molding me into the person I am today and the person I will be ten years from now.

Life if full of inconveniences, varying in degrees. Some are small such as I experienced on that day. Others are larger, which I have also experienced in my life. They have made me slow down in the moment and think about what is happening behind it all. It’s not the inconveniences that matter themselves, but what I can learn from them. To look at them as opportunites rather than not.

Holy and Good

Yesterday I celebrated the Resurection with all my family. It was a great day all around. Full of laughter, friends, food and most of all a needed reminder that I am living not for today but the promise of everlasting life. This is why I am a Christian.

I cannot explain the mystery of why I am so certain that all this is real. All I can say is that I have felt since I was small child that there is something bigger than myself. Watching over me, caring for me, loving me. No matter what has was going on in, I was protected and safe.

You can read more about my journey in this post

I am in a posture of learning for this year and from this place I see I am surrounded by so much pain. We all carry unseen scars that lay hidden behind learned coping mechanisms. In this pain that I too carry, there is Holy and Good.

I have always believed in the Holy and Good. In something greater than myself, a mystery beyond my full understanding. Even in the midst of my hardships and pain throughout my life, this I have always believed in. It has been nearly ten years since I stepped forward during Easter services longing for Christ. In that time I have faltered and failed God many, many times. The struggles and hardships have shown me the Holy and Good.

When the noise from the world seems only full of vitral and anger, I believe in the Holy and Good. It is there, in the corners that are not easily seen. I think too there is confusion over something being hard, and if its hard it cannot be good. I have walked through hard and seen my friends and family do so too. Hard does not mean that good work is not being done.

[Tweet “By leaning into the pain of my life, holy work is done and good has come from it”]

By leaning into the pain of my life, holy work is done and good has come from it This is the work that sanctifies me and prepares me for what is ahead in this journey for me. My life is not just about today but also tomorrow. Today will be forgotten and I shall be made new. So I live for that day in great anticipation, in the Holy and Good.

Isaiah 65:17

“See, I will create
    new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
    nor will they come to mind.

 

 

In A Place of Learning

1 Corinthians 15: 58

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast,immovable,always abounding in the work of the Lord,knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Recently I learned that I have a lot to learn. It was during a during a breakout session while attending a conference  for Youth For Christ. We were discussing what works in doing ministry in the city. I am new to working with a ministry serving in my city. I work for Miami Youth For Christ as a tutor for elementary school kids in the KIX program ( Kids in Christ).I have served at church leading small groups, organizing the young adults and helping lead setting up each Sunday. But this is a different kind of work.  While I have volunteered over the years with this organization. Last fall I was offered a position as staff. All of it is work for the glory of God.

I struggle with not feeling qualified to do this work. That somehow I need to do have done more to be here. To help kids with their homework while showing them the love of Christ. That I don’t know enough to do this work. But then I remember that God qualifies me. He is the one who created me to do this kind of work. In the talents and abilities. In creating a patience within me that I have doubted was there. Most of all recognizing that I have a lot to learn is a good place to be at. It means I am open to learning more, being able to forgive mistakes I may  WILL make during this school year.

I look forward to what this year will bring. Hanging out with these kids during the week. Helping them play, learn and understand who they are in Christ. Getting to be a part of this is a huge blessing. God is at work in this place, in the community we serve. He is there during the games, laughter and learning. He has provided this safe place for the kids to come and us to love on them. The scripture at the top of the post is an encouragement from our staff training. To see the bigger picture of what God is doing in this place as we do this work in this mission field.

If you would like to learn more about this ministry, visit the Miami website of Miami Youth for Christ.

Would you pray for this school year? This community in Miami and this ministry to serve God well. For His love and truth to shine through their lives. I would appreciate such prayers!