Sunday, March 24, 2019

Why Me?

Why me? 

It's a question I have asked a lot in my life.

Sometimes, the question is in response to the hard things.

Sometimes, the question beckons a different type of answer. Too many times in my life, I have felt like I needed to know the answer because the answer held the secret to all my security.

Why do you like me?
The voice of a 4th grade Debbie asks her admirer.
The answer speaks value to my little blonde self. Because I'm pretty. Or smart. Or fun. These become the critical components of likability. These are the answers I need to know...because I need to know how to do more/be more of these characteristics so more people will like me.

Why do you want to date me?
This is the voice of high school Debbie. I know now that puberty has changed me and looks only go so far. Because you love the Lord. Because you're the type of girl I would want to marry. Because you have faith. My legalistic heart checks these off the list. Do more things like this, and more people will like you.

Why me? 
It's a question I have asked a lot in my life. Sometimes audibly. Sometimes in the deepest places of my heart. It's a question that points to my insecurities, my fears, and my worries. It's a question that's hidden motive is more about wondering if I'm actually enough or how much the person in front of me really wants me.

I had the privilege of getting to stare at this painting in the chapel of Gordon-Conwell's Charlotte campus the other morning.

The Parable of the Sower, at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. Painted by artist Gerald Steinmeyer. 

As I stared, this haunted question of my past resurfaced again. 

Why me, Lord

Because as I gazed at everything going on in this painting-- the one thing that captivated me most about it is that Jesus is coming for me. Out of His world and into mine. Coming, because of a great love. The Greatest Love. 

Why do you love me
This is the pleading voice of 34-year-old Debbie who often seems to think she has life figured out. But sometimes, in the deepest places of her heart...she knows the truth. She knows that she is weak and broken. She knows that she is tired and desperate. She knows that she is not enough. 

The answer to this question feels weighty.
But the answer to this question is also simple. 

Because I do

There's this part of my soul that wants the Lord to affirm why He loves me. To commend my faithfulness, my willingness, my obedience. To lift up my efforts to be a "good" Christian, to be one in which He is well-pleased. 

But in the quiet moments of this chapel, the Lord reminds me that none of that actually matters. He loves me the same, no matter what I do or don't do. No matter what I look like or how I dress. Even when I say the wrong thing at the wrong time or when I play my part perfectly. I cannot earn it. 

The Lord doesn't give me the answer I hope for, but His answer is better. It always is it. 

It's an answer that simultaneously puts me in my place while also restoring my identity in Him. He will not give me the false praises and accolades that we so often seek from men. But He will remind me that He loves me because I am His. He will remind me that that is enough. 

He has come for me. 
I don't have to question it.
I don't have to even understand it. 

He loves me. 
I just get to live in the certainty of that. 
The certainty of knowing that while I was a sinner, Jesus Christ came to save me. Through nothing that I have done, I am His. 

It truly is amazing grace
That saved a wretch like me... 

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Saving Face

Some of the most ludicrous fights I have are with myself. 

They are these crazy battles of the mind, where I want so desperately to be right, to be justified, to defend my honor. These are the pre-fights I often have when I am in conflict with someone else. The moment someone offends me, or accuses me, or bruises my ego.... I'm immediately in the throes of an inner battle. 

I don't mean to, but it's where I automatically go. 
I'm quickly trying to prove my point to myself, to rationalize my behavior, to make sure that my course of thought is logical. I think through the argument at every angle, certain that despite whichever vantage point you approach the situation from, you will find me in the right

The situation could be with my husband, or with a co-worker, sibling, friend, or someone I barely know. But before I can have the conversation with them, I need to rationalize my position internally first. 

Save Face, Debbie

My inner pride goads me on. It cheers for me to win, to keep up the appearance of happy, good, intelligent, logical, able to juggle a million things without dropping one ball... dare I say... perfection?

Last night, I was in the middle of one of these internal battles. I had just received an email that caused me to feel slightly wronged and very much entitled. My mind, within seconds, had already collected a list of the reasons why I was in the right and why I also was deserving. I was ready to go to bat in my defense. 

But something slowed me. 
What if you're wrong, Debbie?  

It's a baffling thought, I know. Me... wrong? 
The thought kept prodding at me. And so I did my usual subconscious pre-work-- proving my point to myself, considering the situation from other perspectives, seeking to use logical discourse to make sure I wasn't too emotionally charged.  

I was in the clear. All good. I felt reasonably sound in my defense.

But the thought came again, only this time it felt different. 
You don't have to anything to prove

But... I do, I argued back. I have to prove that I am right. I have to prove that I deserve this. I have to prove that I didn't screw up. 

These are the moments that the internal arguments feel the most insane. These are the wars that are waged between flesh and spirit, sometimes over the most minute things. Sometimes these moments feel like the truest pulses of our humanity clashing with this newness that the Lord is longing to cloak us in. 

In some ways, I felt like I was finger jousting with someone-- pointing away from myself and doing everything I can to make sure my finger doesn't get turned around to point the blame back at me. But I'm not always strong enough--sometimes it feels like my opponent is winning, and other times I gain my strength and momentum for another burst of energy. It's a back and forth until one of us concedes. 

But, then I realize that this exactly what the Lord is asking me to do-- to point my finger at myself, to concede. To stop fighting to prove how right I am, and consider how wrong I might actually be. Wrong and defenseless, instead of right and defensive. 

It's a call to forget saving face, and consider my own need to be saved by grace. 
A reminder that I need the Lord and my response ought not to so quickly be about keeping up appearances and defending my "honor". It's a call to surrender. To let go. To give up. To take the blame. To look at the log in my own eye, instead of the self-righteous tendency to examine the speck in another's. 

It's a call to be reminded of the Gospel. 
That literally all the time I need to remember who God is and what He has done. That's something I get to stand in awe of instead of so desperately trying to prove who I am and what I have done. 

It's a shift of perspective. 
A necessary moment that forces me to take my eyes off of me. 

This too shall pass

There is this undeserved promise for me that is always waiting for me as I am urged to look at the Promise Giver, as I am urged to let go of the petty entitlement that I too easily cling to. 

There's a freedom that is found when I surrender the jousting. The struggle stops. The conceding brings an internal peace. 

The shift in my gaze changes everything

Suddenly the fight seems ludicrous and I am ashamed to admit the passion in which fought so hard for something so fleeting. 

There's something bigger at hand. There is Someone bigger wanting our attention. 

I'm learning.
Every day.... still learning. 

May He become greater, and I become less. 

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Monday, March 11, 2019

All In

There are certainly seasons of life where the DFW airport feels a bit like home. In and out. Stay for a meal or two.

I'm currently on my way to North Carolina for 10 days. Attending some classes for (hopefully) the last time. While sitting in class all day certainly isn't cause for giddy excitement, I am always thankful for the opportunity. To learn. And to be reminded that there are countless individuals across the country who are like-minded in their desire to see God's Kingdom grow.

I read something the other day that felt profound. “[Christian worship] marks us out as and trains us to be a peculiar people who are citizens of another city and subjects of a coming King” (Desiring the Kingdom, James K.A. Smith).

Peculiar people.
Citizens of another city.
Subjects of a coming King.

I love that.

I love being reminded of that as I sit in trendy DFW wearing would-be joggers, tennis shoes and sporting my frizzy hair and make-up-less face. Peculiar. A citizen of a city that is not in this country. A servant to the King.

What a relief.

Life has been a bit of a whirlwind lately. We got back from Costa Rica and tried to catch up on all that we had missed. In some ways, leaving the farm feels like it happened years ago. Just a few days after our return we bought 12 chicks. And I took a new job (at camp). I actually start tomorrow-- while I'm in class. It's pretty fitting for my life.

When we realized Costa Rica wasn't for us, I felt like I had to do some deep soul-searching. A part of me was hoping that we would go and realize that this was our calling. Most of me knew that wasn't going to be our reality. But, when our answer was a clear no, that left me wondering: what does that mean for me? It had been 6 months of not really knowing where I belonged and I was beginning to question what I was even good at. What could I possibly have to offer?

These are the lies we believe in some of the darkest of nights.
These are the words that too quickly become our reality.
In just a moment, the thief steals, kills, and destroys. And we let him.

I'm ashamed to admit that I spent too much of my 3.5 weeks in Costa Rica halfheartedly battling the attacks. I felt like the things I was most passionate about were the very things that I believed I was worst at. Insecurity rose in my throat often, fear gripped the corners of my eyes. Tears threatened my conversations and I found myself retreating to a place that is all too familiar. A place of self-sabotage. It's easier to believe that I can't do anything than to believe that I might be able to and then fail.

Today I am reminded that any talent I have been given isn't mine to hoard or to waste. It isn't mine to determine where, or when, or how it ought to be used. It is only mine to steward wisely, to hold loosely, and to trust freely. 

We started the New Year off with a Dunk Tank.
It was a symbolic gesture to communicate that we were all in. 

Willing to take a plunge into unknown territory, to devote ourselves to the leading and teaching and training up of our staff to being disciples of Jesus Christ. Willing to do something crazy (and potentially stupid, since it was dead winter and the water sure wasn't warm). Willing to do something with others who aren't afraid to take the same risks.

These are just a few reasons that I have loved working at camp. 

And so, as I step into new role, I'm all in

All in, despite my fears of failure or inadequacy... I'm reminded over and over again that I am a part of a ministry that proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In this, there doesn't need to be fear, or worry, or failure. There only needs to be the constant reminder to lean into Jesus. To trust Him in all my brokenness, that He is sufficient. That He is the the King whom I serve with delight. 

I get to live all in because of what He has done. 

May I not forget it.
May I be the most peculiar of the people, a citizen of a world that is not the one in which I physically dwell, a subject of The King. And may the way we live radically transform the world in which we do reside. May we bring hope. And joy. And peace. And light.

May we be all in.
No matter where we are, or what we do... because of what He has done for us. 

Because, together, we serve The King.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”  
--Revelation 7:9-10--

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