Advent: Day 14

I really wanted to stick to my personal challenge of writing daily blogs for advent. When I missed one last week, I justified, explained it away by saying it was my sabbath. It wasn’t a trickery. It made sense in the moment, and I really liked how that explanation bloomed out of my own mishap.

However, trying to write this week has been hard. My brain feels uninspired. My heart felt uninspired. Maybe I had used up my week’s worth of inspiration creating that 11:11 album. I listened to it on Tuesday and was sobbing myself; it does work having someone cheer you on when you feel like you’re crushed in the dumps. I skipped + missed writing the last two days. I didn’t have much to say. And I already felt like my last post was being phoned in. Why? What am I trying to prove? Who am I trying to prove to? I think it becomes a bit inevitable that you feel responsible to the community that might read these posts, and I guess I didn’t want to let you down. So if some of the last posts were eh, I’m sorry. I’m trying. Why didn’t I just say, I got nothing to say…?

But today I do have something because last night I got rejected from a writing lab I really wanted to be in. I’ve been working on a screenplay for 4 years and for this Sundance fellowship, I pulled 3 all nighters to write 5 personal essays and complete the 2nd draft. That week in October, I worked from 8a-4:30pm, had rehearsal from 6-9pm, and worked on my application from 9-3am. It was hard, and it was glorious. I felt motivated. I felt like this is what my life can be full of — meaningful civic work, acting projects that are important, and creations that could change the world. I was really excited and I sent in my application. And I waited for the last two months.

Before the no, you have not been selected, I felt hope. I felt possibility. I felt excited imagining the people on the other side seeing my story and my heart. I felt excited about a future where I could have collaborators that understood how I saw the world and where I want to take this world. My waiting was full of possibility + hope. And the no came and the flood erupted. Duh. You suck. Of course, it would never happen. The sadness. The frustration. The desire to just stop working on this story because very very honestly I may just not have what it takes. I’m sad. And I’m disappointed in myself. And my mind starts to even wander into places of comparison — why does SHE always get it? why do people like THEM get these? people like me…never…

Sometimes in the waiting, you do get an answer, and it brings up feelings and beliefs. How can these answers, which we want, getting an answer, be more helpful than harmful?

Maybe it’s a sign to take a break. Maybe it is a sign to stop altogether.
However, this I know.
It’s an opportunity to embrace the feelings and question the harmful beliefs that come up.
It’s an opportunity to invite the right people into this heartache or tough moment.
It’s an opportunity to reevaluate the deep deep goal. For me, I wanted the validation that I am good enough of a writer and I wanted a community to collaborate together with.

Every answer in this lifetime of waiting is an opportunity to witness what comes up, what we care about in this world, and who we can share. We can’t do this alone. We can’t. We are made for community.

Lent Day 8: I give up Duplicity

And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

Isaiah 58:10-11

I give up duplicity, saying I live in behalf of the oppressed, yet desiring the lifestyle of the oppressors. I give up believing that the treasure and the light are in the high and mighty and beautiful social-media liked platforms. I give up looking for satisfaction in my oppressors — those who don’t see me, those who don’t believe in me, those who are not making a way for my freedom. I give up, I let go, I will work till my dying breath, to not be an oppressor. I choose to see people. I choose to believe in the humanity and goodness of others. I choose to make liberation available for all. I want to believe that the land I’m in right now, this sun-scorched land where I feel beaten and weak and so close to need, is exactly where God will do the mightiest work.

Lent Day 7: I give up Half-Ass Change

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?

Isaiah 58:5

I give up management strategies. I give up tacking on more To Do’s and Best Practices to live my Best Life. I give up the never-ending search for self-improvement. I give up the kind of change that exists mostly on the outside. I give up changes that mask the bigger issues I’ve been too scared to address. I want real transformation. I want transformation that sticks. I want transformation that expands how I see myself, how I see others and how I see the world. I want transformation that could not be fashioned by human ways; the divine and the community had to come into play. I want divine transformation. I give into divine transformation that stops me in my tracks. I give into divine transformation where I know, without a doubt, God is at play.

Lent Day 3: I give up The Need to Keep it Together

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

Isaiah 58:8-9

There is dark so light can break through. There is hurt so healing can appear. There are moments of lapse in judgment and poor behavior so righteousness can once again shine through. There is fear so the glory of God can push me to take my next step. There is my need for help that leads to my call to God. I let go of only holding onto what’s to come without acknowledging how I feel right now. I do not need to be okay right now. I do not need to look okay. I do not need to collect myself. I get to accept, embrace, be angry, be sad, be needing right now in this moment. Because my breakthrough comes when I realize this part of myself — the part that is messy, scared, lonely, angry — is just as beautiful. I give up needing to present only the side of me that works for the people around me. I give up spending energy trying to make those around me comfortable when I am shriveling up inside. I allow myself to be all in, in the pain with hope for the joy, in the sadness with expectation of the renewal, in the fear knowing if I dare to take just one step in faith, I will fly.

Lent Day 2: I give up Productivity as Measure of Success

If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Isaiah 58:13-14

I give up running around and around in this productivity hamster wheel where my worth is defined by the number of hours I can stay awake on my computer or maximizing profits. I give up living life according to the measure of man’s wealth and man’s success. I give up going and going without rest. I take in rest. I take in rest as delight. I delight in rest. I delight in God’s timing that is at the speed of fun and speed of faith, not the speed of panic. I have faith that this way of living that honors rest and honors work with integrity and kindness and breath will lead me to my triumph. I have faith that my journey and the speed I take on it are exactly for me! I feast on this inheritance.

The Four Agreements

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:29-32

Did The Four Agreements just rip off these verses?

1. Be impeccable with your word. Only speak what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. How often do we speak for OUR benefit, not the audience? How often do we speak thinking of the person we are speaking to, and their needs? Be impeccable with your word — speak truth, speak love, speak grace and encourage with your words!

2. Don’t take anything personally. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. How often do we harbor what’s done or said to us and allow it to eat us a live? How often do we make another’s projections a reflection of ourselves when that only harms our sense of worth? When you catch yourself getting bitter, rageful, slanderous and malicious, check in with your ego. Is it bruised? Can you not react from that hurt, but rather first give yourself kindness and then enter into the next conversation with vulnerability and kindness still?!

3. Don’t make assumptions. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. How can we see each other from the best intentions? How can we see each other with more grace than feels “deserving”? Would you want the same for yourself?

4. Always do your best. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit. There is GOD in YOU! Live up to that potential. Let it live you! Let it shine through you! You were made to shine and do your best. Surrender to that truth.

The Undeniable Pleasure of God’s Ways

That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self; created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

Ephesians 4:20-28

It’s not enough to tell someone not to do something without giving them what to do. It’s not enticing enough to tell someone to let go of their former ways without presenting new ways that are magical and mindblowing. Without what’s possible and what’s waiting on the other side of no, we don’t have the fuel and hope to keep going when things get hard. Without the yes and renewal that are our greater possibilities, it feels like mere muscling and work to keep turning away from the former ways that make our minds smaller and our dreams dimmer. I need to be turning away INTO something that takes my focus and expands me. I want to be looking at, feeling, grasping the way of God that feels so much yummier than my old ways that force me to armor up, wall up and separate from others.

It is not enough to tell someone to be vulnerable, trust, feel safe, think of something greater. We must also make connection, community, unity, intimacy, hope, renewal, righteousness, the ways of God undeniable. The ways of God lead to a purpose that is beyond words. They lead to a peace that throws everyone off in times of suffering. They lead to a grounded place that is surrounded by shaky circumstances. The ways of God are possible and beautiful, and by the Spirit, we have access to these renewing, grounded, free ways of being. I pray that we stop doing the former ways because we can’t help but do the new ways. I pray for an opening of our hearts and our minds for a healing and a togetherness that are beyond anything we can make up in our minds. It has to be from God!

Soften Our Hearts

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

Ephesians 4:16-19

When I think of a hardened heart, I think of the Pharaoh that refused to let the Israelites go even though there was sign after sign of God’s power. The Pharaoh insisted on his oppressive ways and his ego, rather than the safety of his own people and the well-being of those he held captive. I always tripped up over the part where it says God hardened the Pharaoh’s heart, so wasn’t it God’s fault that the Israelites were held captive because God was the puppet master behind Egypt’s cruel systems? God allowed for the Pharaoh’s heart to be hard and allowed for Moses to have the power and might to lead the Israelites into freedom. God can allow for both sides — the cruelty and imperfection of the world and God’s redemption and grace. What the Pharaoh demonstrated is a harm and ignorance that comes out of a hardened heart and unwillingness to take in what is happening which leads to an inability to change.

Sometimes life darkens our thoughts and perspectives so much that we cannot see the grace of God or how God can take this current situation and bring out good. Life can be cruel. Life often is cruel. And over time, this can actually desensitize us, moving us from feeling the pain to feeling that pain is simply reality. This can either happen when we put up walls to not have to feel the world so much. This can happen when we take active steps to disconnect from the world and pain: addictions, unhealthy codependence, survival tactics. When we disconnect from the heartache of the world and the reality that things in this world are not right, we also disconnect from God’s grace and redemption. You need both. They are two sides of the same circumstance. Grief makes room for joy. Incompletion makes room for unity. Longing makes room for fulfillment.

Without this recognition that there is a God that is good, that is on your side, that is looking out for you, that will pull you through, (unsure how), we can seek after other things that do more harm. We can fill up with these things that don’t fully satisfy yet keep returning for more hits. We can have so much, yet feel empty.

Acknowledge the heartache and set backs. Acknowledge the anger and injustice. Acknowledge that you have desires and longings that are not fulfilled. It takes faith and courage to acknowledge and be vulnerable to our humanity. Here, God can do his magic. Here, God can rain down his grace and reminders. Here, God can show you a way that requires patience and faith and a greater purpose that satisfies and connects you with the whole.


Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Ephesians 4:14-16

It is love that helps us be grounded. It is love that roots us and helps us stay connected to ourselves and to each other. It is love that prevents us from being tossed back and forth. It is love that will overcome the constant messaging we receive from the world. It is love that will protect us from other people’s manipulation. It is love that holds us up with integrity. It is love that helps us to be brave in our words. The goal of our brave words is to help us grow.

What is love? Love is patient. Love is kind. Love rejoices with those rejoicing. Love finds gratitude in the midst of blessing. Love honors others. Love cares for the whole and the relationships. Love listens to anger to grow and become more attuned to what’s not right. Love forgives. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

I pray that we pursue and live out a kind of love that heals relationships, builds our integrity, and pulls us through these difficult times. In moments when one aspect of love feels too daunting, how can you fall back on another? Maybe you don’t have the strength to speak; can you find the faith to be patient? Maybe you feel overwhelmed by anger. Can you also find kindness for yourself and for those also hurting? There is always a way into love and it might require courage to make new pathways into it. As you keep up this work, your spectrum and vessel of love can only grow more multi-faceted and secure.

Yes, And — Faith & Works

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-13

The age old debate of works & faith, and that’s exactly it, it’s works & faith. Faith manifests into works of service and works of service in turn build unity in the faith. If what you produce isn’t this yes, and phenomenon, maybe the message and God you’re serving isn’t complete and full.

When are your works of service detached from this unity in the faith & fullness of God’s presence? How do you feel when you act in this way? How do you feel about the people you are serving? What are your expectations when you give in such a way, and faith and Good News aren’t part of the picture? What would it take to drop that pressure?

When is your faith detached from works of service? How do you feel when you are in this experience? How do you feel about the world and the people around you? What are truths you need to hear to get you into action?