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.

Four Best Friends

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’

Mark 2:1-5

These four men, dug a hole on the roof, to interrupt Jesus so that their friend might be healed. Can you imagine the scene? The place is crowded, overflowing to the brim, (very not covid-19 friendly). This paralyzed dude and his friends do the most insane to drop dead center into the party. People who were waiting patiently outside might have been annoyed. People who waited for hours and did get a front row seat might think it’s unfair. Jesus saw this as faith. The man wasn’t going to wait. He saw the opportunity to be healed and be seen by God and he jumped even if it meant acting a fool or making others around him mad. People might have judged him for cutting corners but he was desperate. His life was already at such a low that what was getting a little lower. His faith — his throwing himself into the deep — gave him a new life, one that was upright and moving.

And let’s not forget the four men who did the work on behalf of their friend. One, they stuck by their paralyzed friend. Do you have people who stick by you when you think you are useless? Do you have people who stand by you even if it could ruin their reputation? Two, they did work so that their friend could get healed. Do you have people who toil with you so that you can reap the benefits? Do you have friends that care for your well-being just as much as they care for their own? Finally, they were part of this healing story. Do you have friends who are part of your healing journey? Have you invited people into your pain, your desires, your wins and your future? It doesn’t have to be a gang of people: four friends is plenty. Four friends can lift you up and lower you down gently. Four friends can hold you accountable and make sure you are not forgotten.

Unmasking with Friends

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.
Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but provocation by a fool is heavier than both.
Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?
Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.
He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.
Like a bird that strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home.
Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.
Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father, and do not go to your brother’s house when disaster strikes you — better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.
Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:1-10, 17

There is nothing like crisis or the stripping away of routines & busyness to examine the health of our lives. We examine by looking truthfully at our relationships. Our relationships reflect what we care about, how we handle community and how we grow, and don’t grow. Every relationship is a mirror of us. Why are you connected to this person? Why are you still connected to this person? How do you care for this person? How does this person care for you?

This time is hard not being able to meet up with friends with the same ease and convenience like we once experienced. Even in those few times I do get to see my friends, it either feels heavier or so precious that after separation I sit with a depression hangover. I pray that still we push through and fight for those precious moments, and be honest with each other. There is little room and energy to keep being armored and masked. The world has stripped us of that so can we do that in our relationships. Can we be vulnerable and kind and honest? Can we truly, truly desire the good of those we love by showing up fully and showing up fully for them? Iron sharpens iron. This moment feels like a deep sharpening and that is painful. May we in this process experience the deep intimate love of true relationships.

Friends for Paradise

Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with [Jesus]…One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’ And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’

Luke 23:32, 39-43

Peter had denied Jesus. Jesus’ closest friends fled. In Jesus’ last moments, he was stuck between two criminals, one who goes down in history sarcastic and pathetic and one whose faith gives him the most important friendship.

How do pain and humiliation lead you to react? Do you laugh it off, deflect and give a finger to the world? Do you own up to your current state and reach for a hope that might seem ridiculous? Do you, like Jesus, experience the pain fully while still making room for compassion? Who we are is most exposed in the limelight of humiliation and when we are recipients of punishment, whether right or not. There is no place where strength, courage and faith are either most displayed or most suppressed.

The three of them were about to die. Death was around the corner. There was no need for survival tactics. We often go around life armored up with survival tools and tactics. Which of these can you set down because you’re actually safe and which of these can you set down because it’s doing more harm than protection? How can you work towards days of more truthful exposure, even when it is scary and uncomfortable?

Instead of his closest friends by his side, Jesus endured his last moments with criminals and soldiers. Sometimes in our battles, the people by our sides might be the last people we’d want. Sometimes our most loyal friends will abandon us. Sometimes our longest friends are the ones least equip to handle us in our current season. I pray we give room to see who God has placed on our sides right now; some will suck, but some might be going into Paradise with us.

CBG: Sacrificial Love 1

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!

Philippians 2:5-8

We preach this passage a lot. It’s the fuzzies. It’s warm. It makes us feel all things are possible. Hope, you know. Humility. AMEN. Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. #humility #vibes

Let me break down what Jesus really did, void of the fluffy intentions we think and hope in theory we too “want” to enact. Jesus was GOD. He was safe. He was chillin’ in heaven palace. He was GOOD. He was SO DAMN GOOD, like 100%, Webster’s definition of GOOD. He was privileged. Shout that for those in the nosebleeds. JESUS WAS A GOOD DUDE WHO WAS PRIVILEGED.

And he gave it up. He gave up his status. He gave up his home. He gave up his accolades. He gave up his position. He gave it all up to be a vulnerable baby.

Guess what?! Then he earned that all back! Yes, he did! He learned the Bible like no other. He was the best preacher by far. He was a charismatic leader. People were throwing themselves on him. People were following him. People were sacrificing expensive perfume to wash his dirty feet.

And then he gave it all up. Again. Stripped himself of dignity, of voice, of clothes, of family, of community. Stripped. Humiliated. Silenced. Accused. Mocked. Became nothing. Again.

Why? Because he loved us. He loved us oppressed, up our asses, humans. He loved the vulnerable, the ugly, the messy, the undeserving, the imprisoned, the sick, the healthy, the greedy, the generous. He loved us. He saw what could be possible — a redeemed humanity. A humanity freed from greed and evil, of -ism’s and separations — a humanity restored. He broke himself and broke the system for redemption.

May we, may I, love in this manner. Can I give up my voice? Can I give up my place? Can I give up my status? Can I give up my achievements? Can I give up all the things I’ve earned for the sake of a redeemed humanity? Can I give up my life for the sake of a full soul?

Prayer: God make me this kind of woman, daughter, friend, sister, colleague, human.

What am I holding onto that I am unwilling to give up because I am afraid of losing my place and privilege?

CBG: Judas

After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified. “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at the table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered him. Jesus said to him, “What are you going to do, do quickly.”

John 13:21-27

Judas hung with Jesus, knew the guy, loved the guy. Judas was there supporting Jesus. He was there when he went against the Pharisees and those in power. Judas was in the inner circle. He helped with the miracles of supporting the vulnerable and the disenfranchised. He was doing the work. He was at the dinner table. There is nothing more intimate than sharing a meal. Judas was so close, one of the good guys, one of the friends. Judas was invited into Jesus’ heart, mission, purposes. He knew Jesus. He loved Jesus. He betrayed Jesus.

I pray that we do the work of dismantling oppressive systems. I pray that we give voice to those who are the most vulnerable. I pray that we can lay down our comforts and put our money down for the causes. I pray that we stand firm against evil, against white supremacy and against racism.

I pray most that we don’t forget we can all be Judas. We are all Judas. We can do the work and we can shout, out there and forget the friend right next to us. We can give our money and repost and forget to check ourselves at the dinner table. We can give our lives up and declare promises to do better, and in our safe inner circles when no one is looking, we harbor other thoughts.

I need to actively love my black friends and neighbors that are right in front of me, for my shouts for change to be sustained by a changing heart. I must get uncomfortable, put my ego aside, apologize when I haven’t done enough and check in with my friends and neighbors who are black and who I love, supposedly. If I don’t start here, what is my work for? I must do the work not for surface media coverage, but for true restoration, sanctification and redemption. That is not a momentary trending work. It is a life long discipline.

  1. If God is your judge, how would you be acting differently?
  2. Where have you felt alone this week?
  3. Where have you felt in community?
  4. What do you need?

CBG: Intimacy

As soon as [David] had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. And David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him, so that Saul set him over the men of war. And this was good in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.

For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Therefore send and bring [David] to me, for he shall surely die. Then Jonathan answered Saul his father, “Why should he be put to death? What has be done?” But Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him. So Jonathan knew that his father was determined to put David to death. And Jonathan rose from the table in fierce anger and ate no food the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, because his father had disgraced him.

And as soon as the boy had gone, David rose from beside the stone heap and fell on his face to the ground and bowed three times. And they kissed one another and wept with one another, David weeping the most. Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.” And he rose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.

1 Samuel 18:1-5, 20:31-34, 20:41-42

“The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David.” David and Jonathan were soulmates. Jonathan sacrificed his own standing, his protection, his safety, his everything for David. What did David give up for Jonathan? I think David was so distraught and afraid that having the undying support from Jonathan gave him the courage to keep going. His own endurance and perseverance was the parallel response to Jonathan’s everything. They both gave their everything to what the relationship needed: Jonathan, his support and resources, and David, he fulfilling his calling. They needed each other void of guilt, obligation, tit for tat’s, comparison and jealousy.

These relationships of sacrificial love can seem so fairytale like in a world that encourages us to be self-reliant, self-seeking and legacy-building. When you look at Jonathan and David, they found their destiny through each other. Intimate relationships give our lives purpose. Jonathan found the boldness and courage to give up his place in the kingdom and gained the highest of integrity, good nights of sleep and a forever friendship. His son eventually sits at David’s table. David found the encouragement and support to keep on the scariest of paths and to go against the evil system and he gained a future no shepherd boy had ever imagined. On the outside, the friendship might seem unbalanced but for those who are in such a friendship, there’s no formula for the intimacy. It simply is that deep.

Prayer: God I pray that you would reveal the areas where I am led only by self-reliance, self-seeking and legacy-building. God I pray that you give me opportunities to love sacrificially. God I pray that you put more people like Jonathan’s and David’s in my life, and that I can be those for others.

Character: Examine a hard friendship. What are your expectations? What are you giving? What is the friendship based on?

Grace: Examine a friendship that’s been a gift. What are your expectations? What are you giving? What is the friendship based on?