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Life is Good

I've always liked this saying
No matter what, life is good.  Good because we know that all things work together for good.  Good because we have a God who takes the brokenness, pain and hurt of our lives and turns it into something beautiful in time.  Good because we can choose, and we can choose  to be happy.  Life is good because there's always second chances... and third and fourth and fiftieth.... Life is good.

Life is good because there is beauty everywhere if we choose to see it.  Good because we are loved.  Even if no one on earth loves us, which is highly unlikely, we have a Creator whose love for us knows no limits.  Life is good because until we take our last breath, we can learn.  And because we can learn there really are no failures, only successes as we learn from our mistakes.

Life is good.  Whether laughter, tears, joy, or sorrow.. life is good.

Resistance, Part 2

For quite a long time I have believed that women can use their gifts of leadership and teaching in whatever capacity God calls them to in the church.  I realize we don't all see eye to eye on that and I respect the position of others who feel differently as long as it comes from an honest examination of Scriptures. However, when I was invited to step into the lead pastor role at the church we belonged to, I recall how immediate the  resistance was that came rushing to the surface of my mind from way down deep inside of me somewhere.  It sounded like this: "Can God do that? Call me, a woman, to lead a church?  Is that really allowed?  I can't possibly say 'yes'...what will people think of me?"

That's called a crisis of belief!  What I had said I believed was suddenly being challenged by the resistance from within that came, in part, to ways that I had been conditioned by my upbringing, previous experiences and the messages that I had internalized more than I realized that said, "Women can't do that."

Sometimes the resistance we feel is a clue that there is more work to be done in terms of owning our beliefs, convictions, and sense of call. More work to be done recognizing the subtle and not so subtle ways we've been conditioned to think that then influence our decisions in life more than we realize.  I believe this matters if we are to live out, the best we can, who God has made us to be and what God has for us to do.

The resistance I have had to work through won't look like the resistance you face.  But my hope is that we can be a people who recognize the resistance, name it for what it is, face it and overcome it that we may live lives that are true to who God made us to be.

Resistance

     “Imagine wanting to be a gardener or a carpenter in a family that is disdainful of making a living by manual labor…Imagine you’re a woman who feels called to be a minster in a religious community that doesn’t believe God calls women to be ministers.  Naturally, people are going to treat you like you’re blowing your nose on their prayer flags, and spitting in their holy water. Naturally, you’re going to think twice about following that call.”  (Gregg Levoy,  "Callings").  

I     I appreciate this quote because not only does it ring true in some ways to my own experience of saying 'yes' to the call to be the lead pastor of a church for a season, but because it reminds me of how there will always be resistence to stepping outside of the norm, the expected, what others think we should do, what we ourselves have been conditioned to think about ourselves and our calls.

    The resistance, which can either come from within or without, sounds like this:

      I'm not smart enough, rich enough or good enough
      I'm too tall, too fat, too skinny, not pretty enough or handsome enough
      I'm too old or too young
      It (whatever the call might be) is too hard
      I'm not "allowed" to do that  (that might be true, but often its not)
      If only I had more money, more resources, better connections
      My friends and family won't understand
      The risks are too great

    And on the list goes of all of the ways we believe we're inadequate, not enough or the cost too high.

    Yet, the resistance can be the clue that we're on to something important, something that we are meant to do, a call that is uniquely ours to follow.

     I can't think of too many examples of people who stepped out to do significant things in the world that didn't experience a great deal of resistance.  We just don't tend to think about that part of it.  And of course, we want the big calling without the big price tag. But it doesn't work that way in real life.

     I write this to remind myself to not take the easy route, to settle for the lesser calls, but to pay attention to the resistance and remain open to whatever it might be that God would ask me to do.

    

Thoughts On a Tragedy

This past week a colleague on the campus I teach at was brutally attacked and murdered at his own home.  His wife was seriously injured in the attack as well.  My colleague leaves 3 children, 2 that are still in High School.

Not only has the campus been shaken to the core over this, but the entire community.  These things don't happen where I live. The night we first learned of this tragedy, my daughter wanted to sleep on the floor in our room.  I get that.  Of course you can sleep on our floor.  I want us all to be together, too.

My colleague was killed early Sunday morning.  Monday was an extremely difficult day on campus.  It's as though we all were numb.  It was noticeably quieter on campus.  Less laughter.  Students and faculty spoke to one another in hushed tones.  People walked with eyes to the ground.  Occasionally I would see spontaneous hugs as tears would suddenly begin to flow once again.  At 10 we had a campus wide gathering in the chapel to pray and come together in our confusion and bewilderment.  We remembered God's love, his goodness and faithfulness even in these times.  Especially in these times.  There was time given for sharing memories about our colleague and professor which included not only tears, but laughter as stories were recounted of his funny and quirky ways.  Clearly this man... father, teacher, friend, son, brother, colleague....was well loved. Because he loved well.

Tragedies like this have a way of eliciting deeper reflection, of giving us a window to see truth in a way that we don't usually see in the normal course of life.  Times like this cause one to see the things that are most important in life... like loving each other, valuing each other, sacrificing for each other, putting other's interests above my own, because its those around us that make life truly meaningful. And we just never know how much time we will have.  I see more clearly how less important "my rights" are, how "my interests" aren't as big of a deal as I tend to think.  This event has caused me to want to hug more freely, encourage others profusely, tell those around me more frequently how much I love them, bless others with kindness, and so much more. I know others are also sensing similar things. So while I am deeply grieved by what has happened this week and the unspeakable pain and suffering this has caused, I am amazed at the ways that I have seen Love springing up.

Karl Shelly an adjunct professor on campus said this: “Two things I know to be true: this world is filled with remarkable beauty and love. And this world is filled with unspeakable violence and pain. We live in between both; with glimpses of heaven and of hell; of darkness and of light. As one who seeks to transform conflict and violence, I will live by the proposition, and walk in the hope, that violence and pain never have the final word ...”