Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Let's Get Real

Tragedy happens. 

I don't believe anyone who woke up the morning of the Boston Marathon believed that they would lose limbs, or worse, loved ones.

And yet deeper than the scars on their bodies, the scars they will live with from that day, are the ones on their hearts. And yet many will get up and move on, without considering:

The heart requires bandaging as well. 

And it got me thinking about something I've been mulling over for a while.

Being in ministry I understand the pressure to have it all together. To keep things hidden.

To hope that everyone else thinks you are doing fine.

It's the very fact that we will be criticized that keeps so many missionaries, pastors, and leaders from sharing the hardships, struggles, pain, and seeking their healing.

Often how real we are willing to get is correlated to how much freedom we can obtain.

But too many times the heavy weight of ministry and the many roles we must fill, steals our time and our energy away from God's presence and the pursuit of our own healthiness.

When I heard about Rick Warren's son's suicide, I was deeply grieved. My heart aches for the family. I do not know all the circumstances and I say this without judgment towards them or anyone else, but it was just another reflection to me of what is going wrong in the body of believers, in ministries, and in our churches.

We focus outward, to build things for God, instead of focusing inward. 

We struggle with problems, our family struggles with problems: addiction, depression, anger, tragedy, marital issues, suicide and yet,

there isn't a safety net of non-judgment surrounding us to usher us into authenticity and healing.

We feel we have to cover up, hide, be perfect.

Until everything crumbles around us.

Some might say, that suicide cannot be avoided for some people, but I would not agree.

Even in the Nazi concentration camps Viktor Frankl worked with those who were suicidal, asking them what good thing they could bring into the world. It wasn't long before those who were once depressed gained hope their lives could have meaning.

I do not say this as a failure of the Warren family, but a failure of all of us to extend grace, non-judgment, and healing help to those in need.

A failure to be a safe place for people to be vulnerable about their need for intervention.

It is a wake up call to all of us to realize that those in ministry are often the very ones who need healing the most. 

We must begin to prioritize our own healing. We must prioritize the inward healthiness of ministry leaders, and people, over their outward gifts or their calling. And we must offer counseling and inner healing options with the help of Father's love and spirit to patch up the bloodied and broken.

But first we must be willing to be honest with ourselves. 
To prioritize this in our own lives above other people's approval. 

To recognize that we cannot do it alone and we were not made to.

I too have clawed my way out of darkness.

My own journey of healing has been spatters of light, groped desperately. 

As I'm writing my book now about this journey, I see the glimmers of redemption, like sunlight breaking through slits in the blinds.

I see the people who gave me the safety to be real.

I see myself falling into my Father's arms in sonship.

That this is a constant battle and an endless journey. And it takes hard work.
But it is so worth the fight.

I pray that we join hands in our own journey towards wholeness.
I pray we will be safe places for one another.

And I pray that you join me.

**If you are interested in pursuing your own healing or want to offer help to someone else, I would recommend the following: Catch the Fire (School of the heart or Leader's Schools), Theophostic Prayer Ministry, Father Heart Ministries, Shiloh Place, and Storyline by Donald Miller (Onsite Workshops)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Chasing the Sunlight

"How do we stop living like life is an emergency. Something to be sped wildly through."- AnnVoskamp-

I am thankful for the sound of the ocean crash on the sand. 

Yesterday I did something I normally don't do.

I took a day off. (insert dum, dum, dum, soundtrack here)

A mid-week day, mind you.

It was 80 degrees out and the road was calling.  So I hopped in the car and did a spontaneous trip to Santa Cruz and Capitola with my husband.

Now before you get all shocked and disapproving and assume I've turned into a hippie who works part-time and surfs the rest---hear me out.

Life goes at a maddening pace. We work late into the night. And for some of us, we do this giving our lives away for others---out in the war zones, mission fields, and in service to seek and save and restore those who are broken and lost.

Sometimes, we are the ones who work hardest of all because we have a really good reason for what we're fighting for. And some of us just want to make the benjamin's baby, and that's cool too.

But either way, sometimes we're the ones who get lost. 

But what I've been wondering about lately, is----

What is really underneath all this busyness?

Are we trying to prove to the world how wonderful we are, how much value we have, that if only they could see how hard we work, they would know what a superstar we are.

That they would give us their approval? 

Do you ever hear people talk about how busy they are doing "good things," "ministry things" and they list off all the things they are "doing" as if it was some sort of self-pat-on-the-back. A resume of their many accolades.

My husband calls it the humble brag.

It's really just annoying. I know, because I totally used to be one of those people.

What is funny about this whole scenario is that my husband I slide happily into the workaholic slot on a more common daily basis than most.

But lately I've been wanting more. Wanting to slow this life down to a present moment of digging my toes in the warm sand, or feeling the cool Marine breeze spatter my face with ocean sprinkles.

Stopping to be thankful and filled with joy.

And figuring out what are those things that fill me with joy anyway?

Remembering God and that He wants to enjoy me. Enjoy. Me. 
And there is no substitute for that.

So I lied on the beach. I attempted to do work to soothe my guilty conscience but ended up managing to do just journaling, rolling over, getting sunburned, playing disc golf, and eating a lot of Mexican.

And I decided to be ok with that.

Sometimes, I think without me, this whole thing I've built, would crumble in upon itself like a volcanic mountain.

Leaving a bunch of lava in its wake.

When the reality is, I came home, and no one had died, 
and I actually smiled today remembering yesterday and the memories I created. 

I make myself bigger than I really am.

And I make fun of hippies who surf all day (don't we all) and judge them, meanwhile secretly envying their life.

When really, this is the life I've chosen for myself.
And I'm the only one who can change it.

I took a piece of that sunlight from yesterday and dragged it into today, and tomorrow I'm going to try and find another moment to get lost in that will drive me to be present.

Present, where God lives. And trusting. Trusting him to pick up where we leave off.

What do you do to get present?

(And if you have no idea what I'm talking about...this is a great video from Ann Voskamp: