Loving Church


Since I was 19 or so, the church has been a hugely important part of my life, so when church isn’t going well, it wrecks me a little bit. It’s probably the equivalent of family not going well for someone else, partly because I’m a single woman living in a city without family, and partly because I’ve known the church’s potential for both good and evil. I’ve lived my life in the church, intimately connected… I’ve served, attended, hosted and led Bible studies, prayed corporately, eaten dinners, and sang together with the church… it’s hard to describe how much my sense of community and security is attached to the church, regardless of which church I attend or who is a part of that community.

My current church is not wrecking me.

With all of the rest of my life in an uproar – moving towards selling my house, taking the LSAT, looking for scholarships for Law School, losing friends, being without roommate Kendra, etc… – the church is an enormous comfort to me.

I’ve been attending Midtown Church for something like two ish (maybe three ish) years. When I landed there, it was after a long stretch of feeling like there might not be a church in the entire city of Tucson that was a good fit.

I’m a firm believer that churches are broken, and no one should expect to find the perfect church, but I’m also a firm believer that there are a few foundational elements that have to be right, and I feel completely blessed to be at a church where those foundational elements are right.

Midtown Church is prepping to merge with another church. Having been through a failed merge previously that sort of thrashed me around in the waves, you’d think I’d be worried, but it’s really nice that I’m not even remotely stirred up over it.

In large part, I’m not worried because I don’t feel like it’s my job to make it work. There’s a wonderful freedom in knowing that there’s someone else whose job it is to make it work, who is well-equipped to make it work. I’ve always struggled with finding the sweet-spot of church involvement, oscillating between over-involvement and under-involvement, but right now, I’m running a nice, sustainable pace.

I think about Mike sometimes (he was my pastor during the previous merge), and I feel a raging sadness at him, because he wasn’t ready, but couldn’t let go of it enough for anyone to help him. I’ve learned from watching my adoptive parents, my cousin, and Mike how difficult it really is to be a pastor. I have a great respect for the position. And as Brandon, Kira, and I were talking about the merge a few months ago, I realized how much peace I feel in entrusting myself to my current pastor.

Strong, humble leadership is a gift of unmeasurable worth

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Thoughts and Prayers Ring Hollow in the Presence of a Corpse


John Scalzi wrote a blog post in response to Orlando, and his basic thesis was that it’s not enough to offer thoughts and prayers after the fact. He cited Matthew 6:5-6 and Matthew 7:21-23, and even though I’m fairly certain he labels himself as something other than a Christian, I thought his point was right on.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing to post on Facebook that your thoughts and prayers go out to the survivors and families affected by tragedy, but I do feel a grating on my nerves every time I see one of those posts.

I had my first Victim Services call where I was in the presence of a corpse. It was a man who had gone out in his backyard to garden and whatnot, and instead, he ended up collapsing face-first and dying there in his yard. By the time his wife found him, ants were crawling on him and the blood had settled into his front half and toward the ground.

I stood with the deceased’s brother-in-law while law enforcement checked the body for personal items.

It was a humbling experience.

As I stood there, I prayed. I always pray when I go out on calls, because I believe in the power of prayer. I believe God hears me even though the people around me don’t hear me. So don’t take this the wrong way, but my prayers would have been hollow if I hadn’t also been there. If I hadn’t stopped what I was doing and gone there.

Right? What if I had received the call, decided there wasn’t anything I could do to be of help, and just posted on Facebook, “My thoughts and prayers go out to the surviving family of the man who died in his backyard…”?

If I posted that, you’d think I’m a lunatic. You’d probably be like, “Wtf?”

And yet, that’s what we do with tragedy. We (by we, I mean Christians… not all Christians, but a lot of us) are conspicuously uninvolved when it comes to the broken world around us. We offer our thoughts and prayers, and then we go about the business of living.

I’m feeling particularly stirred up about this right at the moment, because it has been non-stop questions and weird comments since I started volunteering with Victim Services.

Why did you decide to do that? I’m so sorry you had to see that.

At first, I was a little overwhelmed with the number of people who wanted to know why… I think they thought they were asking me why I chose Victim Services rather than something else, but it took me a long time to think of it that way. I honestly thought they were asking me a question with a self-evident answer: I decided to do it because it’s good to help people.

That’s honestly the only answer I have. I didn’t exactly choose it over something else. There wasn’t a profound epiphany or a message from God. There was an opportunity to help others. Roommate Kendra had been talking about it, and I thought I was probably capable of doing it, so I decided to do it.

I don’t believe helping people is a choice. I believe it’s an ethical mandate. I believe it’s about saying yes when an opportunity is in front of you, rather than sidestepping it and hoping for something that’s a little less daunting. I don’t think the Good Samaritan just happened to find exactly the opportunity he was looking for; I think he was walking along and came across someone who needed help. Well… I was walking along and my roommate told me about people who need help.

It’s not about Victim Services; it’s about being what we pretend to be. I can write a status update that says, “My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims in Orlando,” or I can take an extra shift on the crisis unit and I can donate blood.

As far as saying things like, “I’m sorry you had to see that,” or “I’m sorry you experienced that…” I’m sort of at a loss. You’re sorry I had to see… the brokenness of the world, up-close? You’re sorry I had to experience being there for someone who’d experienced great loss? I just…

Volunteering for Victim Services isn’t an unveiling of the world for me. There are calls that haunt me, for sure, but the world is as it always was. People are sinful and they wound each other. People die. Limiting my interaction with tragedy to New York Times articles and status updates doesn’t change the world… it doesn’t help anyone. It honestly doesn’t even help me sleep better or feel safe.

I stood next to a stranger this weekend and talked to him while his brother in law laid in the sun under a tarp. We talked about all of the losses he’d seen in his life. We talked about God, family, history… we talked. And a police officer went through pockets and struggled to get jewelry off of hot, swollen fingers and a swollen wrist. The stranger I was talking to was there because that’s what he could offer his sister, the spouse of the deceased; he could stand outside in the 115 degree heat while she cried inside. I was there because that’s what I could offer them both; I could stand in the heat and talk so that this stranger didn’t have to be alone when law enforcement put the rings, wrist watch, and pocket contents of a beloved corpse into his hands.

I hope and pray that when tragedy strikes me you will offer more than a Facebook post.

The Things We Do Under the Guise of “Family”


By pure coincidence, I posted a quote about how it’s none of our business what people think of us… on the exact day I discovered that some people were talking about me behind my back.

The experience of it was surprisingly hurtful, even though the person telling me never exactly came out and told me, and even though he was bringing it up because he hoped I’d do something to ease the resentments that were directed at me.

When he brought it up, he basically was telling me, “Why don’t you do_________?” It was the type of question where I knew the motives and the situation immediately, although I suspect he didn’t mean for me to know.

So, I said something like, “I’m sure people are saying ____________ and ___________, but…”

And he nodded.

I think that was the most hurtful part; I knew exactly what was being said about me and who was saying it without even having to think.

In the past year or two, I’ve slowly withdrawn from certain friends. It honestly wasn’t about them all that much. I was struggling with depression, and I believed my depression was linked to pressure I was putting on myself to be what others wanted me to be. I was trying to keep all of my friends from a long-ago church, two recent-past churches… AND build relationships at a new church.

And – no surprise – it wasn’t working.

I was attending an event every night of the week. I was writing a book. I was running races. I was working a ton. I was reading a book every week. I was in a fairly intense Bible study… and I was desperately unhappy.

My solution to that included several things.

1. I talked to Ashly about it.

In many ways, Ashly is the first person I go to for everything. She is the least obtrusive person I know. She is non-judgmental (though she recently revealed to me that she actually thinks judgment is a struggle for her). She is a soft spot to land and wisdom to get me back on my feet. Also, she and I speak the same language in a way that I’ve never experienced with anyone. Yes, God should have been the first stop I made… but He honestly wasn’t. I’m working on it.

2. I gave it to God.

I really struggle to pray. I don’t like talking to God. In fact, I don’t really like talking to anyone about myself and I rarely enjoy talking to anyone about anything. But I talked to him. I had an incredibly emotional night of yelling, and sobbing at Him. And I sort of gave my heart over to keeping my eyes open for His direction in my life.

3. I stopped making myself attend everything.

I selected one particular group of friends that I’d been killing myself not to disappoint… I was trying super hard not to give them up, more because they didn’t want me to give them up than because I didn’t want to do it, and, by telling myself that it was okay to disappoint them, I was able to get my Monday nights back, and I was able to skip parties, regardless of friends’ belief that I’m somehow directly responsible for keeping the band together.

4. I told Steve and Lori.
5. I started doing yoga.
6. I gave myself permission to play D & D.
7. I fought for myself at work.

And it started getting better… so I think I must’ve done something right.

But one of my concerns all along was those Monday night friends. I didn’t want to treat them unfairly. And I had my doubts about whether I’d done the right thing in letting them go just a bit. But I made sure to communicate my intentions to withdraw a bit to at least two or three of them, hoping that’d keep them from seeing it as me just dropping off the face of the Earth, or as commentary on them.

And they started talking about me, just like I thought they might. They resented me for not attending certain events. They resented me for not sharing my thoughts and feelings with them. They resented me for keeping promises that inherently kept them in the dark.

The funny thing, early on with this, was that the first thing they were saying was that I’m flaky/unreliable, which is not at all true. In fact, I’m usually reliable to a fault. I’m likely to text people minute-by-minute updates if I’m going to be more than 5 minutes early or more than 2 minutes late, because I’m incredibly careful not to inconvenience anyone. I often arrive 40 minutes early to things, only to park and walk around for 35 minutes, so I can be sure that I won’t be late, and so that I can feel at ease about the arrival. It also gives me some nice alone time.

More recently, as they were oh-so-very “We’re family,” and, “You know we love you, right?” it occurred to me how incredibly mean they can be sometimes, and, worst of all, under the guise of Christian concern/Christian fellowship and family.

I’m so terribly brokenhearted that “family” spoke about me behind my back while I was sobbing alone on the floor of a strange, seedy hotel. I’m angry that they spoke ill of me while I was sobbing in a car, driving in the dark, without sleep, for nine hours. There are very few things I try more enthusiastically to avoid than driving and crying, and “family” should know that.

Honestly, I wish I had the luxury of not knowing what they think of me… because it’s none of my business.

The Oh-so-Desirable Man on Christmas Eve


*Names have been changed, though I suspect those of you who will enjoy this post the most know exactly who I’m writing about.

I’ve known Aaron for quite awhile.

In fact, my strongest memories of him involve the many times I told Jacqueline that he wasn’t worth pining after. I’m fairly certain I even went so far as to call him an idiot, in the hope of jolting her out of liking him. And yet… the heart wants what the heart wants, so she went after him with the enthusiasm of lonely youth.

He didn’t really say no to her. He just said, “I’m a coward.”

And she kept pining until someone else came along.

That’s why this conversation on Christmas Eve was so funny.

I gave Aaron the obligatory hug, and asked what he’s doing with his life. We hadn’t seen each other in at least a year, if not longer.

“I’m a grown-up now, with a grown-up job and everything.”

Aaron is in his late twenties, I believe, and used to wreak of brooding depression and self-loathing when he shamefully admitted to still living with his parents and working entry-level, part-time jobs. Now, there’s something about his posture and his silly sweater-vest/tie combo that wreaks more of douche-baggery.

“Oh, really? Congratulations!” I said. “What sort of grown-up job do you have?”

“Oh I’m doing [insert techno-babble here].”

“That’s cool,” I said.

“Did you find the man yet?” Aaron asked.

I didn’t understand what he was asking at first, or, once I understood the question, why he was asking; all I’d ever talked about with him was video games and his self-loathing. Still, I thought I should be polite.

“Oh. Was I searching for one the last time we talked?”

“I don’t know. All Christian women are desperate for a man, aren’t they?”

I’m fairly certain I gave him a look of despise.

“I don’t know. Are they?”

“I’ve noticed there’s something about the late twenties that makes me incredibly appealing.”

I put on my best mock-interest I could muster: “Oh, really? What is it about you that makes you so appealing?” I asked.

“Well,” he started counting off on his fingers while he listed his desirable attributes. “I’m a Christian man, in my twenties, intelligent, single, I have a grown-up job, relatively charming, I’m not quite physically attractive enough, but that’s an obstacle easily-overcome.”

I must’ve been blown-away by the charm, because all I could think to say was, “I see.”

Maybe a change of subject could save this conversation.

“Play any good video games lately?” I asked.

“Yeah – I’ve been playing [insert obscure new game title here]. I’m 100 hours in.”

I had to hold in a laugh at this man’s shocking desirability.

We were joined by some of our other friends, and I was mercifully swept away from him…. had I stayed any longer, I fear my female desperation and his charm would have led me to do something foolish right then and there. 😉

The Persuasive Techniques of Christian Robots


I’m unfairly angry at Christians right now.

While we were in Peru, Steve and I had a slight tiff, that was entirely my fault, because I’m angry. He’s not mad at me – it’s not a thing, but it does bother me that I was a walking anger ball, ready to be loosed.

I’m sitting in Starbucks right now, having some pre-church Sabbath that was entirely disturbed by two college girls who couldn’t shut up about all of the drama in Young Life right now.

In fact, I’m blasting THE FRAY through my headphones at this very moment, even though I was enjoying the Starbucks ambiance prior to these girls coming in.

And you know what bothers me? They aren’t talking at all about God. They are Christians, loudly and obnoxiously letting everyone around them know that they’re Christians.. and their legacy is in-depth analysis of how Sophie shouldn’t have posted _______ on Twitter or Mack is going to have to sit Sophie and Gina down and talk to them. Their legacy is how important they are within Young Life because Mack is having them watch his kid while he talks to those other “idiots.”

It was all very self-important and self-righteous. All-knowing, as if these two girls have it all figured out.

And it would be really easy for us to excuse them because they’re kids and we’re older and wiser than that.

But we really only think that because we’re also self-important and self-righteous.

I had a fairly decent conversation with a non-believing friend this week, and I think the thing that most impacted him was when he asked me if I thought Hell would be more fun than Heaven because all the partiers are going to end up there. I told him that I actually thought Hell would be heavily attended by church folks.

On the one hand, he laughed and knew we were just talking. On the other hand, I think he liked that I didn’t pretend the “saints” are better company than everyone else. I didn’t get offended or pretend that the church is what she ought to be or that I am what I ought to be.

Another good moment was when he said he thinks God is messed up for sending people to Hell even when they try to be good and decent. He asked me what I thought about that… shouldn’t decent people get to go to heaven… and I said, “I think all people fall short of the glory of God.” He gave me an, “Amen to that.”

I didn’t try to persuade him or to make him more like me. I just said what I think. I think he respected that. I think he also respected that I didn’t talk down to him. I was just his friend. Talking.

I think the church forgets to be human sometimes because we’re so caught up with saying the “right thing” and persuading people into Heaven… because it makes us feel important when we’ve “won someone over to Christ.” We’ve got all sorts of gimmicks and lines for handling exactly the moment I encountered. We talk and prepare, and then we get our moment and the goal is conquering that other person. Then we panic about what we said and whether it was right or not.

The lines and gimmicks piss me off, because I want this man as a friend regardless of his religious affiliation. I care about him and enjoy him. My prayers for his salvation are founded on a deep affection for him that extends beyond religious affiliation. I think that’s missing from the church nowadays.

I don’t understand what’s happened to us that we don’t just talk to human beings like they’re human beings. I don’t get why being a witness has become this thing where we have to have the right answer, and we only tell non-believers what we think they need to hear in order to be saved. We are incomplete friends with ulterior motives.

It’s not within my power to make God redeem this man, so I can’t see a reason to be anything more or less than his friend.

It doesn’t matter how many anecdotes I give him or the persuasive techniques I use. I just need to care about him, talk to him, and trust God.

———————————————————————————————–

In Surge, we’re wrapping up the first quarter, and I got pretty mad at one of the things we read this week.

Basically, the writer is trying to persuade me (and the rest of his readers) that the resurrection is going to be a bodily one on a renewed Creation, as opposed to some non-physical, mystical existence in the clouds… which I already agree with him about.

However, he went about his persuasion by making a lot of unsupported claims, rather quickly. I get that he did this for the sake of time and space, but I wish he’d slowed down and quoted the Bible on every. single. claim. he made.

Then, I came to a part where he was about to support one of his claims. He wrote that some people read the Bible and come to a different opinion than his. Then he referenced what some other dude wrote.

“David Lawrence has offered a paraphrase of this text [John 14:2-3] that fits much better Jesus’ words to his disciples…”

He proceeded to quote Lawrence’s rewrite of John 14:2-3.

Prior to that, I was annoyed. However, there is very little in the world that pisses me off more than folks thinking they can somehow better communicate God’s ideas than God Himself communicates them in His own words.

First of all, anyone reading this book had better be fairly literate, because it’s a book that applies the five-act structure to the Bible. Additionally, I suspect most (if not all) of the readers of this book have also read John 14 a time or two previously. Even those who haven’t read it before live in a time and nation of literacy, and I’d hope they can read the passage and comprehend it without someone dumbing it down for them. It bothers me a lot when authors assume their readers won’t understand something, so they provide an Idiocracy loop, just in case.

Second, I’ve had pastors paraphrase the Bible to me before, and it blew my mind how much was lost in translation. Romans 8:28 can be altered so that it’s more about obedience than it is about God’s work in our lives… God works everything together for those who love and obey him… ? All of a sudden, my behavior forces God to give me what I want and I’m saved by my own obedience. That’s good theology, right?

Call me paranoid, but I’m incapable of trusting folks who paraphrase the Bible in order to make it more accessible. The only valid reason I see for replacing a passage from the Bible with a paraphrase is an inability to access the actual Bible… if you don’t have a Bible nearby, can’t recall where to find the passage to which you’d like to refer, etc… I’m also okay with showing someone a passage, as is, then helping them comprehend it through explanation, but that’s something that requires extreme caution, because, as a teacher, I know how easy it is to push my beliefs onto those who are vulnerable, gullible, inexperienced. It is a requirement of my job that I teach my students how to read passages and comprehend them for themselves rather than just filling their heads with my comprehension of what we read.

Third, the Bible is the word of God. You don’t approach the word of God with the belief that He didn’t communicate well enough in the language He created, to His creatures. By all means, tell me why you interpret that passage a certain way. Explain your reasoning. Give me some background that I might not know. However, DO NOT CHANGE THE WORD OF GOD. That’s messed up.

One more step, and you’re Winston, working for the Ministry of Truth, rewriting history to suit the whimsy of Big Brother.

———————————————————————————————–

I don’t know how to stop being angry. I think these two particular angers are related because they both deal with the choices people make in how they persuade others about God, and they both include Christians making conscious decisions to present God in a way that’s different from how He presents Himself.

We are not an ad agency, “handing tickets out for God.”

It bothers me that the church seems an awful lot like that to me. It bothers me that we expect believers and non-believers to be idiots, “who can’t handle the truth!” It wasn’t okay for Jack Nicholson to make decisions about how much truth people can handle or how to frame that truth, and it’s not okay for Christians to make such decisions either.

Witnessing shouldn’t be about persuasion; nor should theological debate. It’s not the charge of the Christian to talk others onto their side.

Our charge is to be images of the Almighty. We are to walk around reflecting Him. We are to tell people what He’s done for us. It’s God’s charge to persuade them.

Because rewriting the Bible and building friendships on a win-loss record are just little bits of my frustration.

Both are wrong.

And no amount of conceding that the church is full of imperfect people makes me feel better about that wrong. It doesn’t make me feel better that we’re becoming a society that hates lines and gimmicks except for when we’re afraid of what we might say without them… except for when we have to exist in this world saying and doing things that reflect who we are and what we believe rather than what someone else told us to be and believe.

We hate lines and gimmicks except when we’re afraid to present God and ourselves with honesty, depth, and trust in the Almighty.

With all my heart, no… but yes?


Do you remember that part at the beginning of Gladiator where Marcus Aurelius tries to get Maximus to take over the empire after his death? That moment has been with me ever since I first saw the movie as a teenager. It’s beautiful because Maximus responds to an offer of great power and glory by saying, “With all my heart, no.”

I always thought that was a lovely statement about what a heart should be.

Of course, a heart shouldn’t be power or glory-seeking, but I also look at that scene with fresh eyes as an adult, because our General Maximus was far more self-seeking than he seemed to be at first glance… it seemed like he was this dude with a great heart, who was turning away from selfish gain, but I’ve begun to think that he was actually incredibly selfish because he intended to go home and let the empire fall into the hands of a terrible coward and despot.

A long time ago, I wasn’t asked to join Surge Tables, which is this training thing that churches use sometimes to prepare leaders of Bible studies. Part of the reason I wasn’t asked to join was because of my singleness. Part of the reason was probably lack of resources. And, finally, part of the reason was that I wanted to join and said so. Me wanting to join looked to others like I was grasping for position and power. However, in reality, I was really afraid of not filling my week with community, study, and the church because I know what a brain does when it’s not occupied with Jesus. I spent a fair amount of time after the not being asked to join, making sure I hadn’t been grasping for power and that it was all just a misunderstanding, which, while I certainly feel judged and misunderstood for it, it was.

When I think about Surge now, I get wonky in my brain because I sometimes really don’t want to give lead anything in the church ever again. I learned from experience how difficult ministry really can be, and I’m not sure I’d wish that on even the best-equipped and most committed Christians I know. It’s a blessing, under which good men often crumble (as evidenced recently in Mark Driscoll).

Since Surge was the only small group/bible study available at that church at that time, I was disappointed in being excluded because there wasn’t anything else in which I could participate instead. So, I was jolted out of living my life completely in the church, every night of the week, hosting events at my house more than once a week, going to two Bible studies a week, praying with people, getting coffee with them, discipling them, etc… I went from that to realizing that the church didn’t want to train me, saw my voice as obnoxious, would have preferred I focus on finding a man rather than on God, etc… I did a lot of work establishing a solitary relationship with God, enduring without the church, and I discovered that I did okay.

I still wish she’d been  inclusive, though. Because her tendency to exclude those who are too liberal, too single, too wicked, too different, too alternative, too whatever, often makes her “an enemy to conversion, rather than its friend” (Matt Chandler – “A Shepherd and His Unregenerate Sheep”).

Then, I got an email from my pastor encouraging me to participate in Surge. Different church. Different circumstances. Same leadership training program.

It’s been four (ish) years now, since I was painfully disconnected from the church, and although I believe the church can and should be so woven into my life that it hurts when I’m amputated from it… I’m also intimately familiar with the slow and torturous recovery process that comes after being involuntarily removed from a body to which I thought I belonged.

So I know the right answer is yes – of course I want to be a part of Surge. Of course I want to be grafted back in. Of course I want God to use me completely and uninhibitedly.

But I find my heart wanting answer something more along the lines of, “With all my heart, no.” With all my heart – I’d rather stay at home, far-removed from the front lines, comfortably maintaining the relationships that claimed me even when the church judged me unsuitable.

Is there anything in this world that’s harder than trusting the church? Being intentionally vulnerable with her, for her, and in spite of her?

My life recently has looked an awful lot like it did before that whole mess. I’ve been writing and reading the way I did before, believing I might get my book published, for real. I’ve been drinking coffee. I’ve been running and even fitting into my clothes from back when I was five years younger and the smallest of my life. I’ve been taking notes at church – not just on sticky notes that I throw away because they’re meaningless when I go back to them after a week or so… but rather, in the margins of my old NASB, in ink. I’ve been energetic and looking forward to each new day. Work has been a means to an end, rather than most of what I do and who I am. I’m not quite to the point where I can listen as well as I once did, caring more for others than for myself, but I’m getting there. I’m still, “God, please just hit me with a car,” every-once-in-awhile, but not nearly so often or despairingly as I had been.

And I’ve been praying that God would provide some things for me… things like new accountability, new people and their opinions – to challenge my beliefs, etc… things that all seem to be inherently embedded in Surge.

So, how could I say no? How could I even reluctantly say yes? Where’s my Christian Hedonism?

After our first meeting, I walked away un-intimidated by the volume of reading and study required of me, the time I’ll have to commit, or the long, weekly drive I’ll be making in a car that really has no reason to continue running… I find that the most difficult part of this whole thing is the prospect of letting others know me –> making my prayer requests personal, avoiding vagueness in my weekly goals, and saying what I actually think. There are folks to whom I entrust myself because they are closer than family and my friendships with them have withstood the tests of time and trial. These folks, I’ve got to entrust myself to without any assurances. With all my heart, no! No! NO NO NO!

… but yes.

The Lord and You…


I think I cognitively know the right things about God. Of course, I will and should learn more, and I will add bits onto the frames I already have to fill them out. But I often find that I have more trouble believing what I know than I have in knowing what I ought.

Lots of people struggle to believe that God can take care of their problems. That He’s enough. I do not. I struggle to believe that He WILL. This thought is one of those that can be categorized as “daddy issues.” I remember as a kid, knowing that my dad could fix anything. I could hand him a lock that I’d forgotten the combination to, and he would get it open. I could break a bed, a toy, a whatever, and he COULD fix it. However, he often didn’t. Or at least didn’t in any timely manner. In fact, I might outgrow and no longer need/want the thing by the time he got around to fixing it.

Also, I always knew that my broken crap was an annoyance to him. He was pretty protective of his time and would rarely stop what he was doing to take care of my needs or wants. He’d get around to it when he got around to it.

I, of course, can’t help but transfer this thinking around to God. Even though I know what I know, I believe He finds my problems annoying and refuses to help me until He’s done piddling with his computer/car/movie… so I ask, expecting Him to leave me making-do until it suits Him to help.

That’s a messed-up thing to believe about God.

So… the depression thing has been happening. Probably the most important factor was church. I couldn’t find one that AT ALL matched me. And it was more important to me than just about anything else that I find a church. And I was honestly beginning to believe that it wasn’t a priority for God that I be at a church where I could flourish and settle in.

Then there was the book thing. I’ve been writing my manuscript for about 3 years, and it wasn’t working. I was fighting it the whole way and I knew I had the story I wanted to make a go with, but I felt like I was going to dishonor God in the way I was writing it and/or I was just going to toil forever trying to make it work.

Then there was the home thing. I thought it was going to work out with Shasta. But she got all weird and mad and I didn’t have a clue what I’d done, and she didn’t invite me to the wedding… and  bought the house, which proceeded to break and I needed a roommate and Kendra came along, I so wanted it to work with her, but I didn’t believe it would. I couldn’t see how she’d be any less pissed at me for not being whatever it was she expected me to be, so I kept expecting her to say that I’d done something terribly wrong to her.

Then there was work and $. Work was being terrible, and I needed to not be 6/5ths next year, but I’ve got a mortgage now and going to Peru and the car stared breaking and is old.

And dating. I just never end up with “the one.”

So it felt like every area of my life was shattering and God was doing nothing even though he could fix it all.

So I was praying about it all, often in tears, often like WHY?!?!?!?!

And things with Kendra were inexplicably great rather than inexplicably terrible. And right after Ashly asked why church matters so much, and I didn’t know the answer, Andy Littleton planted his church and I went. And I sat there thinking it was too good to be true. I couldn’t focus on the music because it was better than it should have been. And I couldn’t focus on the sermon because I was like, “God, is this even real?” (Like the kid doped up on dentist drugs – “Is this real life?”) And I couldn’t focus on dinner because it was with the whole church and it was so good. And I was pretty sure I’d go back and find that it wasn’t real, but it definitely was. And Andy saw me walking up to the building yesterday and he met me at the door, which means more than it seems like it means, and he searched for and read my blog and everything I thought was awkward and judgable, he wasn’t judging. And then a check came from nowhere – more than I needed for my car and Peru. And then I got an impossible interview for the book. IMPOSSIBLE. And it’s all working out.

And I shouldn’t be surprised at God. Because He’s in the business of unmerited blessings and grace. I just felt like his blessings are reserved for others. Evidently He’s got a few for me too. Now, if He’ll just get on giving me the right man. 😉

I’m currently in Exodus, and yesterday I was touched by a verse that says, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent,” (14:14).

Sometimes it seems like I have to do something to get God to fight for me. Like I have to pray the right thing or have the right heart or whatever. But I was reminded that Israel was whining about how, “Weren’t there enough graves in Egypt?” which is a decidedly wrong heart, but He fought for them anyways.