Take a breath. Let time do it’s job.

Yesterday I found out that a good friend of mine got an amazing opportunity. I was so happy and inspired by her. I wish my feelings stopped there, but as I am a hypersensitive overthinking feelings-drawn human, I sunk deep into a well of emotions that made me feel guilty. I was jealous. I was disappointed in myself. Dare I say, I was even angry that the world blesses people like my friend and people like me are meant to ride the Ferris wheel to nowhere special. And I know! “Jealousy and disappointment really just show WHAT YOU WANT!” “Friends getting great things means THE UNIVERSE CAN GIVE IT TO YOU, TOO.” “Express the feelings and they will move, sweet pea.” I journaled and I cried and I prayed and I drank and I walked up the Hudson River to get my body moving.

Yet the feelings lingered and I stayed in the not yet and already of, trusting what is mine will not be taken from me. I just wished I was less human and only had super celebratory thoughts for my friend.

Then today I got an answer to prayer — an opportunity that gave me a clear exit from the service job I wasn’t super excited about starting. I could not believe the timing of the call. I could not believe I felt so excited after weeks of ambient grumpiness. I experienced this unexpected joy again.

I don’t want the solution to jealously and disappointment to a tangible exciting opportunity that refocuses your brain. But it helps! It really helps because I am a scared child full of doubt. But banking on physical opportunities is throwing things into the wind. So in this current moment of bliss here are my takeaways that might snap me out of my next stretch of dark gray:

Who has reached out to me recently that I can point to as life rafters? Thank them!

I don’t need to justify my life to anyone who doesn’t believe in faithful living.

Is there anyone around you you can help so you can pull your head out of the well?

Treat yourself to a cookie or a margarita or an expensive Pilates class.

Only the brave can live moment to moment, like Anna, doing the next right thing. And if you don’t know, call a friend.

Thank you god for granting me gifts that remind me I am not forgotten, that my path is uniquely mine, and I am worthy regardless of the outcome.

Coming Home

Does it feel like everyone is one stare, one shove, one slight away from a breakdown and/or a lashing out? I feel it on the train. I feel it on the streets. I feel that I’m one of the said folks. We’re in the middle of a pandemic that feels like a false tail end of living our best lives and feels like the shoe will drop any minute now which is why we’re living our best lives. Also best lives? Right alongside all this: Climate change. Afghanistan. Banning reproductive rights. Evictions.

So it feels like champagne problems to say I feel lost and gray and restless. I have so much. I’m alive. I have folks who love me. I have a laptop that allows me to blog this post. But can I just have this moment, like the private good cry I had while watching 30 Rock yesterday during the middle of the day?

I wish I could do the thing I love most.
I wish I felt like all the moments till now are just prepping me for something big that’s about to happen.
I wish I didn’t doubt this calling I keep reassuring myself with.
I wish I would just be grateful and happy that I can crash at my parents’ house instead of feeling like I’m trapped.
I wish I had a place I could call home and buy my own plant.
I wish I knew things will work out, whatever that means. I think it feels like a big OH and WOAH and I SEE, NOW!
I wish I felt more seen.
I wish I didn’t think Christians who throw around — “I have the joy of the Lord,” “I will pray for you,” “The Spirit is carrying me through,” and the rest of those phrases that only seem “real” when you’re at the center of that kind of faith-led blessing — were just faking it and unable to meet me in my emotional gray cave.
I wish I really did trust in being present in the moment.
I wish I knew what my next step needs to be.
Because of all deep well of wishes and desires I feel sad and angry and scared.

Yet somehow in my gray and in my self-pity, I happen to still feel God’s presence. When I allow for the anxiety and control to pause, I feel God’s kind love for me. I get a surge of hope that miracles happen. I remember again that the gospel is it, and if I can show God’s love, then today, this moment is a victory.

Faith and God are my most vulnerable spaces because here is where I hold my most doubts and my biggest hope. With God is where I feel most alive and drives me to live my life bravely. With God I feel the most angry and upset that I am not getting my way! (I’m sure it’s for the best….right?) I write this because I need to remind myself it is okay that I still love God even if I don’t look it on the outside or post scripture in my social media. I need God. I am a desperate skeptical human being, and only by the grace of God am I still here. I may not have a physical home I can safely and proudly call mine. I may not have a career that I can proudly and excitedly exclaim. But I have a home in God that I keep coming back to, and for that I am grateful.

Dream Away

And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’ Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ ‘You see people crowding against you,’ his disciples answered, ‘and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?” But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.’

Mark 5:25-34

Focus more on your desire than on your doubt, and the dream will take care of itself.

Mark Twain

This passage is short. It can be easy to dismiss it quickly as just another miracle of Jesus. However if we step into this woman’s life and really see the impact of her actions, we would see how this woman led her life with hope. This woman had spent over a decade in pain. She spent over a decade looking for solutions, that all failed, that made her situation worse. She spent over a decade in isolation because in Jewish culture, bleeding woman had to be separated because they were considered dirty. She spent over a decade being identified as dirty, diseased, incurable, sick…Those are probably the kinder words used to describe her. If anyone should have given hope it should have been her. If anyone should say FUCK YOU WORLD, it should have been her. Yet her desire to be healed, her dream of being healed stayed in her all these years and she continued to follow that impulse. Some days maybe it was a flicker. Some days maybe it was a beaming light. Some days maybe the hope seemed to disappear. Yet when Jesus, potentially another ‘faith healer’, another dude who said, ‘I’m different, trust me, I can make your life different’, came to town, she went. She leapt and lead with her hope. It wasn’t even in spite of doubt. It was in spite of years of tangible proof of failure and zero results. But still she chose her dream over her doubt. She chose to believe in hope.

Someone who has been through the trenches and still leads in hope is outrageous to the world. This woman was outrageous in her dreams. She didn’t give a F about how people were going to see her. She came out into public and revealed herself, broke the “traditions” of isolation. She exposed herself. She shared her pain and need before the public that probably judged her prior and still in that moment. When Jesus asked, she spilled out her truth because she could not deny that she was living in a miracle. This woman was double healed. There is the healing and a double portion when she shared it. Her healing and power, and place in history were secure when she boldly admitted to her story.

I pray that we lead with hope, even when it feels outrageous. I pray that we feed out dreams and desires, the parts of us that bring pleasure and joy. I pray that we own our stories of pain and healing. I pray that when we see the power of God, we jump at it, to grab a piece for ourselves because it will only make our stories that much more miraculous and impactful for others watching & listening.

Faith with no Doubt

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not supposed that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

James 1:5-8

Let him ask in faith with no doubting.

Think of a time when you were in such desperation and lack. When you asked God or, when you were so exhausted and downtrodden that you simply through your needs out there in an informal, messy, uncurated manner, there was no room for disclaimers or caveats. You asked, you begged, you cried out for help because you were already so broken and down, a crumb from the sky would have been a miracle. Those are moments of faith with no doubting.

Asking in faith with no doubt isn’t only in a move-mountains strength.
Asking in faith with no doubt is a vulnerable and surrendered posture. Asking in faith with no doubt isn’t simply reciting God’s word back to God.
Asking in faith with no doubt is an intimate and honest blurt of your need. Asking in faith with no doubt isn’t always pretty and brings up congregation AMEN’S.
Asking in faith with no doubt is quiet, desperate and gray.

Where doubt can seep in to destroy the faith and surrender you had is after you receive from God. How often do we get the thing we asked and we start questioning our worth for receiving said gift? How often do we get handed the exact thing we needed and start doubting that we deserve to be getting it? How often does doubt destroy the worship we would have given back to God?

I have been honest about feeling lonely and lacking in community. Yesterday I had the most incredible repetition with a friend that showed me the depths of intimacy and family. Yet during it, I felt so guilty for laying my truest self on my friend. Later that night, I received an email about an acting scholarship. I was floored that I actually received it and immediately started to doubt that I should be getting it. They certainly made a mistake. If not, I needed to do everything to prove that I deserve the scholarship. My mind went spiraling that I couldn’t even enjoy the gift. So to me and to you:

You received because you had faith and you have a good God. Your worth was the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Receive it humbly, praise without bounds and show up fully as your gift in return.

CBG: 100

100 posts. What started out as a project for my friend and I became a tracker of my emotions, longings and conversations with God. I gave myself permission to question and to doubt. I let myself be angry and sad, while in the Word. My honesty and my learning are welcomed in the presence of God. How I feel on 3/25 can evolve on 5/25; dear God I hope it will always! While I don’t come to the end of this journey with a burning desire to start my mornings with the Bible and in prayer, I have learned the following.

  1. I don’t need to prove my faith to anyone. God is my judge, and for that I will answer to God when it is my day.
  2. Writing different devotionals on the same verses showed me the power of God to speak beyond words. The Word evolves to translate God’s intimacy and nearness. That is usually what I need to grow and to take action.
  3. God’s Word is active as in it must lead to self-reflection and action, and more often than not, change. This is spiritual conviction — a self-growth rooted in being loved and is demonstrated as outward action for others.

Thoughts as I take the next however long to process:

  • Who have we allowed and not allowed to interpret and teach the Word, and how does this play into greater separation from God?
  • Why do certain populations (which ones) shy away from the Word in times of suffering and pain? How is this related to our current gatekeepers for preaching and teaching?
  • How does our onset insistence on right theology actually prevent the curiosity and safety to get to that same theology?

Because of God, even when I feel alone, I have faith that it might be different in the next minute. Because of God, I have dreams to make this world better. Because of God, I have been freed from generational prisons. Because of God, I know a love that keeps me going when the world falls apart. This is the God I love and I want others to experience. This is my purpose.

CBG COVID Challenge: #5

And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, by bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytics, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Mark 2:1-5

All my family and many of my friends live in New York City. It’s grim looking at the numbers and seeing the city close down. When I shared this with a friend, her response to alleviate my anxiety was positive information, backed by the research of a doctor. Instead of feeling better, I actually felt worst about my anxiety, even borderline guilty for “being negative,” or “living into the media fear.” Then right before I went to bed, I was scrolling Upworthy videos and the tears could not stop flowing. The amount of love and joy and community I witnessed moved me, inspired me, and alleviated my fear. Why did the positive news leave me feeling more anxious whereas the good news Upworthy videos stir up hope?

In my fears and in my anxieties, there is a gap between what I am witnessing in reality and what I hope the future will be like. In the first response, my reality was denied. How I was seeing the world was questioned and how I was feeling underneath was not addressed. That leaves you in doubt, exposed and unsteady. In the latter, it wasn’t that my reality was confirmed; it was an alignment with the spirit in me: that there is a reality being acknowledged WHILE actions being taken to suggest a better future. That is hope. It is in the same hand holding what is, and what is possible: love, progress, community. It is acknowledging the pain of the situation without letting the situation stop you from doing good. Hope is a faith that what is does not define us, or even the whole reality. It is a faith that says heaven and healing are possible.

Like Fred Rogers said, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people helping.” The friends of the paralytic acknowledged the situation. They saw their friend’s pain and suffering. They saw the gap. So they stepped in. They said, but …maybe…what if…there’s got to be more to this story! We will jump from being the helper to being the paralytic. In either role, hope gently pats reality in the back and says, you don’t have the last word!

Prayer: Release the guilt of having fear, doubt, panic. Acknowledge that it stems from a faith that things can be different and things are currently not right.

Creative: Write out a few scriptures, mantras, messages on cards and stick them where you can see them!

Brave: Is there a tough conversation you need to have? Have it…

Generous: Is there someone who would really benefit from you being a friend who listens?

Day 28: Unconscious coloring

Exodus 32-34; Psalm 28

I just listened to an interview between a NY times reporter and an Arizona sheriff who works in a border town. The sheriff is a nice, informed, Christian man who sees dead people in the woods, families trying to seek asylum and more daily. He is in support of Trump. He was dissenting how he heard Trump’s address, and he zoned in on what he thought mattered and everything else, while not 135% aligned, supported his argument. He didn’t seem bigoted. He really cared and he painted the immigration policies in our country with greater clarity and in need of reform. But we listened to the same address, and my ears are colored, as much as I want to think I’m not prejudiced and educated, and the moment I hear that prez’ voice my body cringes.

How colored are we when we read the Bible? Have we been desensitized to not see the ick of God and people in the OT? Do the killings not alarm us anymore? Or are they just stories we can skim, but then for other parts, we hold really tightly?

When we talk about this passage in Exodus (golden calf passages), do we forget that God wanted to kill all these people who created a calf? Did we forget that he did send the Levi’s into town to kill over 3000 men? Oh, but then we focus on God saying he’s a slow to anger and compassionate God. What the hell is going on here? Is this the God I worship? This God who loses it when he loses control over his people and needed Moses to calm him down. Is this the God that allowed Moses to kill the men? Goddamnit. Reading the Bible makes me question my faith more and more; if that doesn’t happen to you, you’re not reading carefully.

Lord help me not lose sight of who you are.

Day 21: How to read without discarding God

Exodus 13-15; Psalm 21

I don’t like this God of war. I’m not sure how to receive all that he does here. Unless, one I discard this story, which Bible people say you can’t. You can’t just pick and choose stories in the Bible because in essence you are creating the God that fits YOU. And how much can we really trust ourselves? There should be a level of discomfort when we make ourselves better, more in line with wholeness, goodness, compassion, kindness, all the above that God is from the beginning. So this God of war and God who hardens the Egyptians are really messing with me. I either have to take this story or throw away the God. Can I interpret this story in light of God’s character? A God of war that fits into a God of compassion… Can this tale be a metaphor? Does it remind us how prisons and past lifestyles grip us and don’t want to let us go? Does it tell us to keep signs of how God has freed us? What have we been freed from? What’s a sign of that, that we can bring up time and time again so we don’t lose sight of that redemptive God? Does it also show us how quickly we forget all that God has done for us? How quickly we see the power of God and go back to complaining about the little things and doubting?

Seeing this more as a metaphor of God’s power and love instead of taking it so literally help me make sense of it. It still doesn’t sit 100% well with me. Is that because the wars and revenge of my current world really suck? I’m part of the oppressive nation. In my current world, we are the Egyptians.

Day 5: The Bible annoys me

Genesis 16-18, Psalm 5

Can we apply Abraham’s pleading with God to spare Sodom to Jesus’ pleading with God to spare us? He is the righteous one so can that mean we are all spared from destruction?

Reading Psalms and the constant righteous vs evil feels very us versus them. Well I guess that also assumes we are the righteous and “they” are evil. Who is the righteous? Who actually follows the law of God? What is the law of God — to love God and to love others? Who’s God?

The more I read the Scriptures the more annoyed I am by the people God has chosen to be used, the more questions I have and the more I need to keep reminding myself God is good and we suck and yet he uses us.

And I also see the pitfalls of reading Scripture out of context. Every passage is a bit of God’s big story of redemption and love. Every ick points to God’s big grace. If I didn’t have Jesus, which is the biggest example of God’s love, I would be longing and irritated forever.

Day 1: Is God withholding?

Genesis 1-3; Psalm 1

Eve and Adam have everything in the garden. They lack nothing. They frolic naked before God, before all of creation and before each other. There is no hiding, no separation of possessions – what is yours is mine is God’s is mine is yours. Eden is a place of generosity, unity, continuity, diversity and intimacy. So what happened? How did a little lie and thought seep in to their minds to cause them to do the one thing they were asked not to do? For a moment, they thought God was withholding, that God didn’t have their best interest at heart, that God was hiding something from them. It’s just a moment of questioning God’s character of good. It wasn’t straight up malicious. It was a moment of wanting more when they already had it all. How often do I miss the garden of abundance I’m in — the friends who love me, the food I get to eat at the table, the experiences I daily get to have? How often do I think God is withholding something good for me because he’s not good? Where am I hiding? Where do I want to be God and decide my life? And is that really that bad?