Category Archives: spiritual bullying

In Which I Invite *All* of us to the Table {The Conundrums of Christian Writing and Blogging: A Series}



You know these lines that seem to sometimes be drawn hard? They make me heart-sick, make me long for Home. I’m talking about up there, in the sky, where there is no camp of beliefs, there is no side, there is no arguing, there is no pushing others out for the sake of our own theology. I think this makes God very small, not that it changes Him, but who He is to us and them almost becomes obsolete, something we so easily discard for the glitz of new-fangled theologies and shoring up our traditional beliefs that have taken a battering.

There, where there is no camp, where He sits on the throne, and His Son, the darling of Heaven, illuminates everything, there will be no darkness in us and we’ll see clearly.

G.K. Chesterson said “Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair”.

If religion really is about the way we love God and people, following the two greatest commandments our Saviour asked of us, how can we live this out?

Do we get too caught up in wrong and right, black and white? Do we divide and separate, hurt people in the pursuit of being right in our own religion?

When it comes to our brothers and sisters who are creating art alongside us, are we judging too harshly what others are bringing to the table because of our own likes, dislikes, beliefs and experience? Are we in actuality, because we believe our highest calling is to honor truth and religion as we see it done correctly, pushing the chair back in, and excusing people from the table, leaving them nowhere to partake in the body of Christ?

Are we making them feel uncomfortable in our piety, or by telling them that the pie on the buffet table they just dug into was special-made by a caterer for a church meeting and cost $20?

Our words, and the way we use them at any given time, can be so damaging to people’s hearts and dreams, and we need to be careful how we use those words on social media.

Have we broadcast a party, off in our secret corners, and made them feel uninvited? Have we made it for the elite only, for the rich, for the clean, for the holy, for the ones like-minded?

Does God want more from us?

There have been times I thought for sure I’d happened upon a community of believers that was for me, a place where it was safe, until I found, of course, that it was not safe, and hurt happens everywhere, and hurting people hurt people. It’s been hard for me to navigate the sometimes treacherous, sometimes loving, but always the very human waters of community.

I don’t know much, but I am sure we spend way too much time scrutinizing one another’s art, words, and lives, and not near enough time just loving.

I’d love to see us read, share and write in such a way that we look at it as exploring the many faces of God, because he has as many as there are on this great, spinning orb at this very moment.

I want to pay attention to every life I come in contact with, because they may not be here tomorrow, and they were the face of God for me, uniquely, in a way I’ll never get the opportunity to see again.

Why do we feel the need to be God, to call someone out, to correct, to criticize, to stifle their creativity? Whatever wrong we are so convinced we see in their art, or their lives, through our own filter, when we question their theology, their motives, their calling, we have become self-important and we take on a role only God was meant to have–the role of just judge. And we ask them to quit, tell them they aren’t good enough. We humiliate them, assault their human dignity in the name of truth telling.

Friends, this is the basest form of love, which really isn’t love at all. It’s more akin to apathy, because we’re serving our own purposes.

All I want to do is bend low and wash feet.

When walls keep getting thicker and higher, and lines keep being drawn hard, sides are taken, it becomes harder to wash feet, doesn’t it? If we’re honest, it becomes impossible.

I can’t help but walk around with this ache, thinking this isn’t what Jesus wanted. And this ache, it has no description.

I don’t have a church because I just don’t know how to anymore. I get online to find some community and I see my people scrutinizing one another, talking in whispers, off somewhere in a seemingly private corner, but oh, we must remember, everyone sees, others hear, and it hurts. It’s painful, y’all.

Let’s not whisper in corners. Let’s be bigger than that.

Can we be people who heal?

Let’s not ask one another to quit asking the hard questions. Let’s not ask one another to change theology in exchange for love and acceptance. Let’s not ask one another to quit writing, or creating, or living life audaciously. No, lets’s tell one another the sky’s the limit, because really, it is.

And please, for all that is holy, let’s not excuse someone from the table. They are the face of God, and we need God at the table. I beg of us, to be reverent, to be kind, to protect one another, to be the face of God for one another.

I beg of us to love.

During the meal, Jesus took and blessed the bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples: 

Take, eat.

This is my body.

Taking the cup and thanking God, he gave it to them: 

Drink this, all of you.

This is my blood, God’s covenant poured out for many people
for the forgiveness of sins.  

I’ll not be drinking wine from this cup again until that day when I’ll drink with you in the kingdom of my Father.” –Matt. 26:26-29; The Message

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When We Don’t Like What’s Reflected In Glass {An Abstraction on the Frame}

I pass by and catch a reflection of myself and don’t like what I see. I jerk head away quickly.

Others tell me I’m beautiful but I only believe it if I’m dressed up, face made-up, all my flaws hidden, or at least I think they are.

In the glass, while little ones run around and slam doors in the background, I stand on the pine floor and look. I see ragged skin, age spots, and a scarred face from too much acne in older age.

I see worry in my brow, stress in my sagging cheeks, lines that go down around my mouth.

Why don’t I see what everyone else sees? The thing is, we don’t see ourselves rightly. We are looking at ourselves with a biased opinion, with a closed mind, we’ve already judged ourselves before we even take a look in the mirror.

I walk in a room, in my jeans and cowboy boots, my blonde hair straight, and I dressed nicely, wore pearls so I would make a great first impression, but I look down, don’t engage others’ eyes, for fear of having to make conversation, extend my hand too many times. I could have stayed in my hotel room and that would have been easier.

The first thing I see upon driving up are the horses and small gated arenas at the bottom of the hill, the antiquish looking buildings that seemed fun to explore. I think of touching the horses’ silky noses, rubbing my hand along their shiny, smooth coats, standing up on the iron gate, walking around in dirt.

But I don’t get to walk down there, and the frame shifts uneasy and I can’t catch my balance. Others stand around in their nice outfits and scarves, crowded together, they talk candidly and communicate effective words that carry across short, warm wavelengths. They are socially ept, graceful. They give off vibes that make others feel comfortable around them. They laugh that I totally get you laugh. But I hold back, fearful to say much, because I’ve been accused of being too bold and forthright, too brash and opinionated, obnoxious.

When I saw myself through someone else’s lens for the first time, it was like being born backwards or being thrown into an unquenchable fire. I peeled my skin back and exposed it to freezing air.

Those years ago, I was thrown into an arena where people saw me through a negative lens. They thought their mission in God was to be sure others around them were rid of all pride.

And so I was sanded down, harshly, rubbed fiercely. I was acutely aware of myself for the first time. My face blushed a profane shade of red, and I was in the center, in the light, all hot and slithering with no way out.

I was too aware and in hell. But here I am in this new place, with new people of grace that make me see I’m someone of worth, that there is indeed something good there in my heart and they call it out,

call it real,

call it me.

I still struggle, after all these years, after all the bullying in school years, when I perceive someone is judging me or intentionally hurting me, slam goes the door of my heart. The mean side of me says they should be careful not to get their fingers caught in the door.

But then I remember grace. The frame shifts again, turns, spins, a kaleidoscope of pain and I want to be free.

And I’m ready to shirk that devil off my back.

After all, we should take into account that when others insult us or point out negative things about ourselves–as if we didn’t already know–those hurtful stings are coming from depraved, flawed people, not from God, but He uses it to weed the ugly out of our hearts, the black selfishness that we harbor there.

When the frame shifts back, off-kilter, falls off the shelf of that dark corner of my humanity, and God holds it just right, crooked, not at all the way I would have seen–

I can see what He sees–a beautiful daughter of grace. Only grace and always grace, the only thing holding me and you and this world gone awry, gone distorted.

I walk over in old jeans that fit just right, wisps of hair fall on my cheeks as I set the frame back on the shelf, my heart open to what God wants to show me next.

Okay, I’m sharing this pic for two reasons: to show you I’m brave enough to just be me, and to celebrate the launching of Emily Wierenga’s book, Mom In the Mirror, coming out today!

Gratitude {1095-1108}: for lovely spring :: blue jays and red cardinals swooping in my yard, from tree to fence and back again :: for days in the sun with my girls :: for moments they remind me to be a kid again :: my sister and her friend coming to visit from Colorado :: having a beautiful, clean, shiny home :: speckles and sloshes of paint smattered across the floor :: buckets of mop water :: rugs fresh out of the washer :: sunlight in my little’s hair :: spending time with sister and her friend, drinking beers and eating homemade salsa :: a fun evening with family at a restaurant for my birthday :: a glorious mother’s day with a 2 hour long nap

“Brave” photo courtesy of Jennifer Camp {Thanks, friend!!} {This post shared with Ann, Laura, Michelle, Jen Heather for the EO, Emily for A Love Dare

 *************

***Dear readers, I had a conversation with the ever-sweet Amber Haines, and her handing over Concrete Words to me is meant to be a permanent deal. sixinthesticks will now be it’s home for good. Amber has a lot of commitments and will no longer be doing it on her blog. She has asked me to take it and run with it, change it up, make it my own. I hope those of you who have been with Amber the whole time will be along for this wild, fun ride! I’ve never had so much fun with writing!! ***


What this link-up is about: We “write out spirit” by practicing writing about the invisible using concrete words. In case you are going “what in the world is a concrete word?!“–this just means (using the prompt to inspire) write out what’s around us–concrete words make the senses come alive, gives place. In every story, there is always an above and beneath, a beside, something tucked away, aromas in the air, something calling in the trees or from the street, notes in our pocket, rocks in our shoes, sand between our toes. Go here to see Amber’s take on this. It was very helpful to me–I think it will be beneficial for you, too. When you share this post on twitter, be sure to use the hashtag #concretewords.

A few simple guidelines:       1. Be sure you link up the URL to your Concrete Words
                                             post and not just your blog home page URL.
                                         2. Put a link to this post on your blog so that others
                                             can find their way back here.
                                         3. Try to visit one or two others and encourage their efforts
                                         4. Please write along with us, using concrete words–
                                             Please no entries with how-to’s, advertising, or
                                             sponsored posts
                                         5. Consider sharing via social media to help get word out!
                                     
**Today’s prompt is the Frame

Next week, our Concrete Words Guest Writer is Kelli Woodford and the prompt is The Cup.{I’ll highlight a beautiful post on Friday (and announce it on social media), so come back here to see whose post is highlighted and encourage them!}