Lent 2022: How’s Your Spirit?

A friend just asked me, how’s your spirit?

I respond: I’m fine.

She follows up: Are you really?

I think and respond: I don’t know…

I do know, but I got scared to say it because I didn’t want to disappoint her or tarnish her idea of who I am. I think she assumes I’m really strong and courageous. I am those things, but I’m also often really terrified. Because what I wanted to say, or actually, let me give myself some grace. Maybe I really didn’t know how my spirit felt, but after the breath and the pause, I do know.

Without self-pity, I feel like a disappointment. I feel like a loser. I feel like I’ll never live up to my potential. I feel scared. I feel lonely. I feel like my ship has sailed. I feel that my self-sabotage is too strong for me to break. I feel that my self-judgment is too thick for me to tear down. I want to feel confident and patient. I want to trust in god’s timing. I want to be fully seen.

God’s got a plan for ya! (Thank you and Fuck you.)

The last thing a person wading through waiting wants to hear is, “God’s got a plan for ya!” “Thank you so much for sweeping right over my present emotional state and desperate cry for help by reflecting some Sunday school truth that only makes YOU feel better! Thank you so much for smacking me in the face with a block of promise that makes God feel disappointing, slow to work and absent. Thank you for ignoring the human in front of you for the desire to be some sort of faithful sounding hero. Thank you so much! Thank you.”

I’m not frustrated by your pithy saying because I don’t believe it. I’m angry and sad because I do believe it so fully while feel like a scared desperate child. Yes and yes. I know God has plan for me. I have to believe that or why bother going on in this world that feels on the verge of a global explosion. I’m angry and sad because when you say, “God’s got a plan for ya,” I am reminded of my inability to control the future, my exhaustion from trying to predict the future and my need for a god who does have a mighty magical plan for me. I am sad and scared and I have great faith that things will pan out. I am angry and tired and hopeful that being present right now leads to the next right thing.

Humans spoon out trash sayings and advice. However if we allow it, egos aside and our radar for best intentions on, even that can become treasure. God has a plan for me. Right now I am feeling eh and expectant in the plan.

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: Self-control

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

John 2:13-19

Jesus flipped over the tables at the temple. He made a mess with the coins. He caused the chaos and confronted the people who infuriated them. Those who were with him saw his passion. Those who didn’t know him or were inconvenienced by him demanded an answer for his actions. It’s a foreshadow. It’s a warning. It’s a sign of what is to come.

I do not condone violence when its intention and sole purpose is to harm recklessly and to showcase ego. Violence is an inability to express anger and an acting from an emotional clog/prison. However, I do understand an anger that can no longer be held in and must be expressed. Anger is helpful; it stems from a sense of injustice, pain and hurt. Anger expressed, not to make another small, but to shake someone awake, is necessary.

Self-control has been pillaged by interpretations stemming from a need to control, or can I say it, the white supremacy and patriarchy that has infiltrated our study of the Word. When I first hear of self-control, I think of this pushing down of desires that are “bad for you,” or a denying of your feelings for the sake of “something better.” Often this preaching of self-control is aimed towards women and people of color, or people who have lots of feelings. That is not self-control!

Self-control is an ability to understand one’s feelings and act righteously from those feelings. It’s not a denial of our desires. It’s not being ruled by our desires. The self in self-control demonstrates how strong one’s perspective can overtake the needs/good of others. So in order for the self not to go haywire with its wants, the control comes from seeing one’s desires in light of your grandest purpose and the people that may be affected by your want. Self-control is holding our desires and feelings without judgment to consider how it will affect us when expressed and those in the path of them.

Jesus in that temple is self-control personified. He knew and felt his anger. He wrecked his “Father’s house” which had been violated for capitalistic purposes. Yes, he was passionate, and his passion stemmed from his overflowing purpose. Jesus didn’t participate in a riot; he started a rebellion. Riots alone for the sake of destruction are not helpful, but rebellions that are part of a greater revolution to restore humanity, that we must be for.

Prayer: God I pray for a healthy way to express my anger that doesn’t destroy. God I pray for justice and my responsibility to enact it. God I pray for restoration and my role in it. God I pray for anger aimed for the sake of renewal and restoration.

Character: Where have I chosen to hurt others and myself rather than vulnerably express my anger?

Grace: How does God’s justice feel?

CBG COVID Challenge: #1

It is natural and normal to paint the current situation as grim. It is. And it can feel insensitive and fake to simply find the silver lining or to focus on the positive. We as children of God DO NOT and SHOULD NOT do that because God does not silver line or simply zoom past reality to eventual heaven. If anyone and anything exemplifies how to “get through crisis,” it was Jesus f’ng Christ. He lived through humanity aka crisis and pain and hurt. He was with humanity. So as Christians we must set an example of how to live through reality while focusing on the goal and treasure we have already gained. This is our special time to overtly balance things that seem incongruent — here and not yet; fully clean yet needs sanctification; saints and sinners. What would it look like for us to be the truest church today, a church that makes others know and feel, we may be human form but we are Spirit guided.

As I was meditating on what the current situation feels like — anxiety, fear, depression, anger, sorrow, joy, gratitude, the movie Inside Out — I landed on this scripture which I think can be a way in to how we will get through.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?

Matthew 16:26

When we have the world, it’s easy to meditate on that scripture and tell ourselves — yes don’t be hoarding, don’t be selfish, meditate on God. We were focused on and we had the world, and we didn’t know it. Until now, when it really feels like we have lost the world. We have. We have lost our plans, our community, our money, our jobs, our hugs, life as we know it. So, now that the world is upside down, I’m going to flip this scripture.

For what will it profit a man if he gains his soul and forfeits the whole world?

That, children of God, is what we have. We have gained our soul and we have lost our world. This special time we have is a time for us to one, meditate and live into what it means to “gain our soul” and two, acknowledge and work through a reality of “forfeiting the world.” Can we do this? Can we do the hard work to shift and mold our character and soul while being real humans about our loss? I think by the Holy Spirit we can and we must!

Not sure if it’s Warren Buffet or Benjamin Graham, one of these old wealthy rich dudes, said to do something creative, brave and generous every day. Through these three categories I hope to make tangible the posture of Matthew 16:26. I also want to share a daily prayer posture. I hope this reset and reframe God has put on humanity will lead to a kinder, more vulnerable, and more overtly interdependent world. We need each other and each other is the funnest way through. Virtually, of course. STAY AWAY FROM PEOPLE!

Prayer: Grief. Be real and honest with God with loss you are experiencing and you see the world around you experiencing. Give it to God, hardcore lay it on God. Take a breath and let God really respond however God does.

Creative: Dance and jam to a song. YAS queen.

Brave: Who can you forgive?

Generous: Pray for someone who annoys you.

Day 42: Get low

Numbers 8-10; Psalm 42

Deeps calls to deep. Don’t be afraid of the deep moments that bring us into spaces of unknown and darkness. Whether life does it or you do it to yourself, there can be good in that hole. It really is at our most downcast, confused and heartbreaking times that we can draw out our deepest desires and hopes. When we are downcast, we are to allow for it. Allow for the questions. Allows for the sadness and sorrow and tears. We are called to remember what God has done for us, even if it feels more like past stories than present realities. We are called to ask ourselves what is wrong? We are called to ask God to take us out? We are allowed these moments of melodrama because it’s for the sake of hope we mourn. We mourn because we know hope is the better and realer reality. We mourn the current when we trust that the future holds a confident good. Mourn away and be on the ground, but look up at the hope that draws you another day.

And one last thought, the Levite’s, the priests, were given to the people as a gift. Are our modern day priests gifts to the people or are they more like burdens? Are people blessed by the presence of those who deem to know God?

Day 34: Touch & taste & all the feels

Leviticus 14-15; Psalm 34

Did you know that if you lost your sense of smell, food wouldn’t taste as food? Why do you hold your breath when you need to take medicine? You don’t taste it as much! All our senses work together to holistically take in the thing at our attention. Do we experience God like that? With our feelings, our body, our thoughts, our purpose, our everything? Can you feel God’s goodness? Can you see it? Does God overtake your senses? How do we allow for that? How can we be open to this kind of depth of encounter?

1. An openness for it. A belief that it is possible to experience God to depths that make you forget yourself.

2. Awareness and sensitivity. If we look and pay attention, all the signs are around us!

3. Letting go and allowing for what good means to evolve. A faith and a benefit of the doubt perception of a God who loves.

Taste and see and feel and hear and hold and embrace and surrender to and smell and grab the goodness of God. It’s big and you have a seat at the table.

Day 22: EMO Woe

Exodus 16-18; Psalm 22

There are days that you are given the double portion in order to have a day of rest. We are given abundance in order to allocate well and plan for the future. That is as much a part of the story as trusting God for daily manna. We need to both trust daily, and take just as much as one needs daily, not more and not less, while being prepared for days when we cannot work and toil. Do we toil sometimes and never enjoy the fruits of our labor on rest days? Let rest exist. Let hard work exist. Let daily trust exist. Let interdependence exist.

Psalm 22 is super emo and desperate sounding. It’s often how I feel inside but I’m afraid to be that open about it. How can one be truthful with how one feels without feeling needy? As I’m typing this I’m in an emo mood. When you’re self-conscious about coming off too desperate or needy, you second guess asking every show of emotion. Or at least I do. Then I just become a bottled up bitter mess. So how can I be present in my feelings such as being forsaken and abandoned without making others eye roll? Do I need to care? Or is it presenting where you’re at in a certain place without needing anything from a human listener? I mean the best thing anyone can do when you’re so stuck and entrenched in your feelings is just listen. Because as you listen, you help unravel the blinders around me and pull me out of my woe is me. I never want to be in my woe is me phase but sometimes I’m there and your clarifying questions and care can help pull me back to the surface.