Mercy

It’s really late. I should probably be sleeping. But I’m on YouTube and listening to certain kinds of music just makes me all weepy.

I must confess, that sometimes, my theology is propped up and fortified by network TV.

I watched the 2nd last episode of Parenthood tonight. I cried. A lot. This show has become my family in so many ways. I keep saying I’m a Braverman on the inside. Zeke reminds me of my dad. The ups and downs, the drama and the stories…I love it all.  The writers on this show are pretty incredible people- of that I’m sure. If you have no idea what I’m talking about I encourage you to watch it. I only started at Season 3 and I grew to love these people. I even prayed for them. Weird. I know. Maybe I was just praying for the people who are like them. I relate to them all.

On tonight’s episode there was a lot of full circle moments. (spoiler alert) And there was an over-riding message: MERCY.

It’s a theme that we don’t talk about a lot. And we should.

The dictionary describes mercy as *compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender*.

Tonight, Joel extended mercy to Julia. And it was exactly how it should be. She had cheated on him and although love is strong, it’s not always enough. Mercy is required.

I was reading a thread regarding the visit of Senator Hillary Clinton to Saskatoon this week. One person made an extremely egregious comment:  “I’m sorry but I can’t completely trust a woman who stays with a two-timing husband, all for the sake of power and money.”  And my one and only thought was how sad that a woman who stays with her husband 20 years after the fact has her integrity called into question. I am not a Democrat. I’m not an American. I actually have zero opinion on her as a presidential candidate. But she extended mercy to her husband. And that’s worth something.

Compassion shown, even to one who has offended you……..

And all of this is just rambling to get you to read these words and listen to this song because it speaks to me deeply and maybe it will speak to you too:

“Mercy Came Running”

Once there was a holy place
Evidence of God’s embrace
And I can almost see mercy’s face
Pressed against the veil

Looking down with longing eyes
Mercy must have realized
That once His blood was sacrificed
Freedom would prevail

And as the sky grew dark
And the earth began to shake
With justice no longer in the way

Mercy came running
Like a prisoner set free
Past all my failures
To the point of my need
When the sin that I carried
Was all I could see
And when I could not reach mercy
Mercy came running to me

Once there was a broken heart
Way too human from the start
And all the years left you torn apart
Hopeless and afraid

Walls I never meant to build
Left this prisoner unfulfilled
Freedom called but even still
It seemed so far away

I was bound by the chains
From the wages of my sin
Just when I felt like giving in

Mercy came running
Like a prisoner set free
Past all my failures
To the point of my need
When the sin that I carried
Was all I could see
And when I could not reach mercy
Mercy came running to me

Sometimes I still feel so far
So far from where I really should be
He gently calls to my heart
Just to remind me

Mercy came running
Like a prisoner set free
Past all my failures
To the point of my need
When the sin that I carried
Was all I could see
And when I could not reach mercy
Mercy came running

…..When the sin that I carried
Was all I could see
And when I could not reach mercy
Mercy came running to me

Stories to Tell And Secrets to Keep

Good morning 2015!

Do you want to know how I awoke today? To pictures and surprised comments blowing up my Facebook feed. You see, my friend Lise had twins yesterday and she kept it a secret! Yes, she really did. “How”, you may ask?  She just did.

I caught her in it about 4 weeks ago. She was on bed rest and she said something that made me curious but I didn’t push the issue. And then she ‘fessed up. If you’ve ever seen a woman pregnant with twins there’s a line on her abdomen that is drawn between the two babies- the borderlands. I’ve seen this before. Let me tell you a story that I’ve been wanting to write for a few months now….

Early last year we got word from family members that a new baby was on the “to be made” list for 2014. Family who have had to go a more planned and medical route for making a family. It happens. This would be their fourth. There’s more to their story that isn’t mine to tell. When I saw T. for the first time in February and she was SO sick, I chuckled to my husband that I thought she was having twins. I’ve seen it before- so sick, so early.  She asked me point blank if I thought she was- what could I say? I had to smile.

I always wanted twins. My aunt had twins when I was a teen and I loved the thought of two babies and double the love and snuggles! I was always a baby person. Even from a young age I would be the one who would hold the babies rather than play with cousins or friends. In church I was always on the nursery schedule. My teen years were spent babysitting- sometimes 6 nights a week. I loved little ones. Dirty diapers, temper tantrums, bedtimes, bath time, feedings- none of it bothered me. I knew someday I wanted to be a mother and in the mean time, I enjoyed the chance to love on everyone else’s babies.

So back to the story….

In April we got a message privately:

twin announcement

And so it was confirmed. But as you can see in this photo, this couple was not new to the parenting gig and I knew right away they would need help; and lots of it!

I sent C. and T. a long-winded message(of which I am quite proficient I’ll have you know).  I let them both know that having been the new mom of four babies in five years, I was well aware that they would need help. Whether it was twins or not made no difference, a fourth pregnancy is exhausting. I think my words to T. were like this: “you will hit a wall and you will be done- you will need to sit and do nothing…and that’s when you need to call me.”

But here’s the thing:  they live an eight hour drive away. This is not as easy as jumping in the car for a weekend. And so as May and June rolled around we all had to start figuring out what was going to happen. I sent my daughter there for 3 weeks in July.  Summer heat and a pregnant mommy is hard enough but add an extra bump and this mom was going to need extra hands and feet for trips to the park. But it’s all good:  Emily loves those kids and those kids adore Emily. So off she went…

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Can I admit that it was right around this time I started to panic? I was worried.

I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do it. I thought I was too old; too out of touch with little ones and busy households. I figured I might clash with T.’s housekeeping style(I have no style- she’s super organized). I felt inadequate and suddenly realized maybe I over-promised. Have you ever done that? Said you could do something but when the time came, you felt too small for the large task? I didn’t have my own house in order. I wasn’t in great physical shape. My fibromyalgia symptoms were flaring up more aggressively over 2014 than previous years. Mornings are brutal. Pain management was sketchy at best and I was suffering with unexpected random migraines. HOW was I going to jump in and fulfill mothering and housekeeping? I just didn’t know. But I will tell you what I did know:

This family didn’t have a lot of options. Yes, they have family. But family with little ones and obligations. And I remembered back to my own struggles with a newborn and three little kids: you just cope. You just maintain a level of chaos and then POOF! one day, it’s over.

 So I waited and prepared the best I could. I finished up some custom furniture orders and tried to get my kids ready for the fall– a whole month early.  August 1 I received a message from C. “When can you come?”

So this was it. I thought maybe they could hold off until late August. I asked for 2 weeks. That was terrible. But I wasn’t ready. Thankfully, they had one option for temporary help. Long story short- that was short lived and they had to scramble till I got there on August 19.

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6:30  a.m. is really early to wake up when you are used to teenagers and no morning obligations. REALLY early.

But that first day, we did okay. And then the next day, we did okay on that too. And we just found a loosey-goosey, mumbling, fumbling rhythm.  I’m pretty sure I drove them nuts. I could barely form a coherent thought before 9 a.m.  I’m not a busy homemaker. But you know what? I was there and T. could sit all day and be the host for her two growing babies. That was my job: to keep the home fires burning while she did all the hard work.

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So the days turned into weeks and E. started school, an early snowfall leveled me with my ONE AND ONLY migraine while I was there. 32 weeks turned to 34 and we all breathed a sigh of relief. And then…..babies! Two gorgeous, healthy, beautiful babies were born at 34 wks 2 days.  A boy and a girl. Both over 5lbs. Both with minimal issues.

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For the baby lover in me, holding these two precious beings was about the best thing ever. But that wasn’t my job. My job was E.- 6yrs, L.-4 yrs and M. – almost 2. And we had some good days. ( and some not so good days). And I cooked and cleaned and laundered and watched and waited and rescued and mediated and rested and woke early…..and then it was time for me to go home.

I would have loved to stay and be the baby cuddler and diaper changer. But 5 weeks was long enough. The babies came home, Grandma moved in, my job was done and that was that.

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You see….sometimes your job is not what you think it is. Sometimes your job is just to be available. And do the work.

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Saying goodbye three days after the babies came home was a little more emotional than I planned.

And sometimes when you do the hard things, you make bonds and friendships for life. Because there is NOTHING like washing another man’s underwear or watching a new mom pump her milk for hours a day. Nothing. :)

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Part 2 is coming up on another blog…..all about how to help new parents and how NOT to help. Believe me…there’s a BIG difference.

New

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Lamentations 3:22-23

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are NEW every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

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And so it begins. This new year.

It’s interesting and thoughtful of our forefathers to have placed the celebration of the Birth of Christ in this month preceding a new year,isn’t it?

The revelry and celebrations that carry on for weeks it seems- feasts and gatherings, too much food and too much drink, concerts and choirs.  It all becomes so loud and crazy and we love it and then we need it all to stop.

I sometimes can’t get enough of the songs and the carols- worship in the halls and malls and bells peeling and choirs singing. The lead up is incredible. And then it’s over.

We want to shove our trees back into their dungeons, squirrel away the ornaments and the candies for another season. We beg for it to come and then we beg for it to go.

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Solomon had it figured out long before you or I ever thought about a tree or gifts or what shall we eat. He had it all wrapped up in this :

Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

…..a time to keep and a time to throw away.

Do you think King Solomon and all his 700 wives ripped the page off last year and started January with a list of things to do and baskets to give away, throw away, sell and purge?  I wonder sometimes….

I don’t do resolutions. Mostly because I’ll break them too by the time week 3 rolls around. Enough of the breaking. We’re already broken enough, aren’t we?

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Cleaning.

Organizing.

Prioritizing.

Purging.

Dieting.

Goals.

Focus.

What do we  I really need to focus on?

January is the morning of our new year. You know, the morning…where the sun breaks through the darkness?  The time of day when nothing is spoiled yet. That part of us that yearns for schedules and focus- that’s the part that craves the morning. We are in the morning of 2015. And thank God for mornings- the night is so much better knowing that morning is coming soon.

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Psalm 5:3  In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.

Psalm 30:5 ..weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

All I really need to write on my list of things to do is this:

In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus. 

because HE makes all things NEW. (Revelation 21)

You might also like this from Mrs. Gore’s Diary:
A New Wish

Sprinkles ! {And other thoughts on Christmas Eve}

So, you baked a cake. Betty Crocker at her finest. And it’s crumby. And not very pretty. It’s Jesus’ birthday- so the  Bible tells us so…..and little ones want cake!

Is your Christmas Eve kind of “meh”? Is it underwhelming at best?  Pathetic and hopeless at worst?

Well, as I learned in all my baking years, preschool teaching years, mothering years…..add sprinkles! Sprinkles fix…..ALMOST…anything.

If you want to bake a good cake that everyone will eat, don’t worry about the batter, worry about the frosting and the sprinkles. Add LOTS AND LOTS of sprinkles.

Here’s some Christmas Eve sprinkles for you today:

The cake: I went shopping in Costco yesterday. WHAT. A. ZOO.  People took their kids- big no-no. One mom chastising her 12 year old son for taking off. She proceeded to threaten him with removing some privileges and presents…..yeesh mama, bad move. Leave the son at home next time!

The sprinkles:  Aisle after aisle of people pulled over with their carts, meeting up with old friends and neighbours, catching up on by-gone years. Seriously, every aisle I went down there were people stopped, chatting, laughing, sharing and hugging. SPRINKLES!!

The cake: I went to Dollarama today to buy stocking stuffers. 10 men lined up at the till. Oh dear. Please tell me they have bigger plans than this. One man, older(kind of sweet actually), smelling the vapour rub. Ummm, no dear, I don’t think that’s the parfum de jour. Yikes!

The sprinkles: A dad and his two boys leaving the store, skipping, excited, with two gift bags and some tissue paper. Excitement. SPRRINKLES!

The cake: A really grouchy comment on my blog this morning( I deleted it) kind of set my mood off. I do try my best to shrug off rudeness but it does grate on one. Why can’t people take a step back and just see the beauty in the broken?

The sprinkles:  I was in a grocery store THIS MORNING(bless my heart!) and at the last aisle was a dad and a couple kids. The one little boy was eating a cookie and he said, “thanks for the cookie, dad! It’s so good!”   Dad,quietly..wandering away….”you know I didn’t make it, right?……..But it’s pretty good?”   Happy, sweet moment. SPRINKLES!

You see, we’re all broken. And we’re all going to have crumby days and eat crappy food and be with grouchy people at some point. But there’s ALWAYS a sprinkle or two to find! And if you can’t find any, then BE THE SPRINKLES!!!

A Viral Post and Holy Ground

Dearest readers,

I don’t even understand how this has happened. Last week when I hit “publish” on a post that I barely thought through, I was hoping maybe I’d get 200 views. Not because the number 200 is magical and a fantastic goal to strive for, but because that’s a little more than the number of friends I have on Facebook and I happen to know that most of them are suffering with various ailments, dilemmas, hardships, worries and struggles.  I prayed, “Lord, just use me to share your love and your message.”

What happened since then has been THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of hits and shares with my daily totals topping the 10’s of thousands and only growing. I am dumbfounded and in awe.

Lately, I haven’t blogged much. Actually, 2014 saw very few posts from me. I have so many in my drafts folder but I’m overly critical at times, think way too hard, or don’t think at all and then they sit there.  Unpublished. Wasting away in a forgotten corner of the interwebs. Blogging has always been , for me, a virtual journal of life and journeying through. Sometimes inspiration strikes me in the oddest of places at the weirdest of times.

And then Thursday happened…..

I have felt like I’m walking on Holy Ground. And I “know that there are angels all around…”

I didn’t want to really post a response. I didn’t want to edit. I wanted it to remain. Jesus is coming…….and the brokenness and waiting is part of the preparation.

So, I’m not adding to that message. I didn’t want it to be cynical. I didn’t want anyone to feel that all hope is lost. It’s not.

Jesus is here. He is Emmanuel, God with us. He is moving and speaking and whispering to His people. Through His people.

May I instead, point you towards more inspiring posts to encourage you? You may not feel it at this moment, but there is a place for you to rejoice this Christmas. It is okay to laugh unexpectedly in spite of your situation. It is okay to giggle at silly gifts and look forward to a big feast. It’s okay to stay home and watch stupid movies and play games. Or maybe, just smile in line at the grocery store. It’s all okay. And you know what else is okay? You are. You are here. You made it! 2014 is almost over and you’re still standing. Maybe you’re wobbly. Maybe you’re hurting. But you’re here. And you will be okay.

Sarah Bessey is one of my favourite author/bloggers and she tells stories like nobody I know.  Please go read this:

The sacred and holy moments of life are somehow the most raw, the most human moments, aren’t they?

But we keep it quiet, the mess of the Incarnation, because it’s just not church-y enough and men don’t quite understand and it’s personal, private, there aren’t words for this and it’s a bit too much.

the rest of the post is here: http://sarahbessey.com/in-which-we-get-this-part-of-the-incarnation/

Then there  is Ann Voskamp who completely levels me every time she writes. This post today is such a poignant follow up to my own Merry Broken Christmas. It is a must read for sure:

What if Christmas was about seeing Christ in that family member you think just stinks —- seeing Christ in that neighbour you’re tempted to be offended by, in those politics you’re offended by, in the people you’re offended by, in the point of view you’re offended by? 

What if Christmas gave us the Gift we need to walk through suffering, live for justice, lay down prejudice?

What if Christmas demonstrated how to overcome suffering and evil with good, demonstrated how God overcame the world’s suffering and evil forces by willingly laying aside His power and becoming a helpless babe, demonstrated how the strong turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, seek peace – quietly lay themselves down so that there might be peace on earth and good will toward men.

see the entire post here: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2014/12/how-even-pain-division-cant-steal-our-merry-christmas-with-a-spoken-word-poem-an-advent-lament-a-brave-merry-christmas/

And then, a few of my own posts. Christmas is my favourite thing to talk and write about. I do it a lot. Honestly, there isn’t enough Christmas in the world.

A couple of years ago I did a 31 Day series on Redeeming Christmas. It continues to get views at this time of year with some posts being particularly popular.

The Ones Who Hate Christmas

The Secret Giver

It’s Complicated 

Christmas Eve message~Merry Christmas

MERRY CHRISTMAS MY FRIENDS! May the peace of Jesus be the greatest gift you receive.

Merry Broken Christmas

“I’m getting a divorce.”  She whispered it; her voice cracking under the weight of what that sentence held. She could barely contain the sob that followed. It’s a week before Christmas and her family is broken.

I watched a funeral procession go by today. There were dozens of cars following the hearse and two limos. Obviously, someone who was well loved and valued in this life is being laid to rest today- a week before Christmas. That family will never be the same. Their Christmas is broken.

It’s been 19 months since Emma died. She was only 15. Her parents are experiencing yet another broken Christmas. There is no getting around it.  The family table is missing someone. Time does not heal all wounds. Christmas is broken.

In Peshawar, Pakistan hundreds of families are burying their children today. Mourning. Wailing. Scars that will never heal. Trauma that is too painful to relive. Fear. Jesus, come quickly. Broken. So broken.

It was 2 years ago this week that a madman ripped bullets through tiny bodies in small town America. Tiny lives obliterated. Broken families. Broken lives. Broken school. Broken nation.

Michael Brown‘s mother is a broken woman. And because her son was shot down, her city and country are broken too. Politics aside- these people will never be the same again. Violence against police. Violence against each other. Violence in the name of justice. Broken system. Broken nation. Broken world.

In Ottawa this Christmas, Nathan Cirillo’s young son will have to unwrap presents without his daddy.  He will never have another Christmas with his dad. His family is broken. These lives are broken. Our world is broken.

I could go on all day.  Every week there are more horror stories. Sydney, Australia.  Seattle, Washington. Portland, Oregon. Calgary, Alberta. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The family of Donald and Shirley Parkinson in Unity, SK…..I knew Shirley. She was a light in the community. A light that was tragically and violently snuffed out at the hands of her own husband. And now her daughters are left with this legacy of brokenness and unanswered questions.

It would be nice to say “Merry Christmas” and be completely oblivious to the world around us. But that would be lying. The fact is, more of us are broken at Christmas than whole. And I’m here to tell you that’s okay. In fact, your brokenness is exactly why Jesus came. Your brokenness is the dirty, filthy stable. Your brokenness is a manger made for feeding animals, not for a King. But Jesus will come anyway. He will come and He will stay and He will cry IN your brokenness, WITH you. Because Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us.

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We have to put away this notion of a perfectly decorated tree, perfectly adorned houses, perfectly wrapped gifts, perfectly planned meals and perfectly pretty people.  Jesus didn’t come for any of that. And actually, it’s quite offensive. If your world is so perfect and sanitized then you have no need or room for Jesus. You are simply the Innkeeper telling Jesus to move along because there is no room for Him. That concept shocks and scares me. I don’t want perfection to the point where I have no room for Him in my life, in my home, in my family or in my brokenness. I would rather take all the sad, scary, horribleness WITH Jesus, than perfection without Him.

Mark 8:34-37 (MSG) Jesus says…..

Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?

Psalms 147:3

He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.

Even Mary, who was so young and so unprepared for what her life would be like, knew that the coming of Jesus was not for the free and the satisfied, but for the oppressed and the soul-crushed.  Her words are powerful…these words that she uttered from deep within her spirit knowing that soon she would bear a son who would save her people.

Mary’s Song(Luke 1)

46 And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.”

My husband and I had one of those epic, smackdown fights last night that don’t happen often but really shake us to our core. We are so imperfect and prideful. We lash out in defense of our own agendas. None of it is even important. But we made it more important than anything else. We’re broken.

We have four children but we rarely see or speak to one of them. Broken.

For a couple of years we have had little to no contact with my inlaws. Deep wounds. Toxic, painful memories. Dysfunctional relationships. So broken; all of us.

Money troubles, relationship troubles, family issues, job worries, houses in need of repair, unfinished tasks, assignments overdue, marks falling, everyone failing. Struggling. Barely existing. Trying too hard to get no where.

If this sounds familiar, you’re in the right place. The Saviour is coming. He is on his way to find a place to be born. Is your heart ready? Is it open?  Christmas Day is a week away but Jesus is born every day in the hearts of mankind. All we have to say is “yes Lord, I’m broken. Come and fill me. Come heal me. Come live in my brokenness.”

The woman who is getting a divorce….I didn’t know what to say. I choked back the tears as they started to fall. Her words were amazingly poignant, ” there is nothing to say- just pray. Pray, pray pray.”

All I want for Christmas is to be broken enough to be the stable and not the Inn. 

Merry Broken Christmas.

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[Some Christmas thoughts | Chris Martin Writes
http://chrismartinwrites.com/2014/12/24/some-christmas-thoughts/caption id=”” align=”aligncenter” width=”480″] Click on this to read another blog about imperfect, broken Christmases.[/caption]

 

and a follow up after nearly 200,000 views in 5 days! Wowie!  A Viral Post and Holy Ground

I love comments but due to some unfortunate and egregious comments I am now shifting to managing comments through an approval process. I’m sorry I even have to do this on Christmas Eve but clearly the very broken are lashing out at me; someone they don’t even know. But the overwhelming majority of you have been gracious and kind and for that I am so thankful.

I Crossed the Line

When I see a really adorable baby in the grocery store with a frazzled, tired looking mom, I bust out of my introverted non-eye contact self and tell her how cute her baby is or how brave she is for confronting the cold or line ups while toting a car seat. It may only take a very short moment and I certainly don’t do it to make friends; we don’t exchange numbers or even names. I just give her that knowing nod- the affirmation she needs to press on.  I’ve been there. I’ve been that mom. And I’ve been on the opposite end of having glares, stares and “what a shame” glances. Listen, we don’t all LOOK great ALL the time. We don’t all do our shopping the same or mow our grass the same. And we certainly don’t raise our kids the same. My kids often had unruly hair, dirty faces, messy clothes and no shoes. But they’re loved and cared for- I assure you.

 

I’ve been trying to write this post for weeks. Maybe months.  You see, I’ve crossed the line.  I’ve crossed over to a new way of thinking. I’ve grown up.  I used to be a black and white thinker.  I was the “what a shame” woman without children shaming the frazzled, exhausted mother.  I was the judgy woman who labeled people I did not know based on how they looked or acted or spoke. I. WAS. THAT. PERSON.  And for the most part, so are/were you.  We all make too many assumptions on people by what they wear or how they wear it.  We hear stories of little boys wanting to take “girly” backpacks to school and we poo-poo the parents for allowing such an action.  We are GREAT at our passive aggressive stance on anyone who is sinning differently than we are.  We are. Christians.  We are AWESOME at telling other people about THEIR sin and how GREAT we are at NOT DOING what they are CLEARLY doing WRONG.

 

I’m going to take a leap.  I’m going to jump from the old-school way of thinking that there is absolute black and white, sin is sin, hell is real, my need to point out your faults kind of judgment.  Do I still believe in black and white?  Mostly.   Do I still believe in sin and hell and God’s judgment? You bet.

I will tell you this- I am just as confused and concerned as anyone.  I know what my Bible says. And you know what else? Those who do not profess the Christian faith even know what the Bible says.  People KNOW what the Bible says about sin. What the general public doesn’t know, doesn’t understand is why a faith that is built on the LOVE OF CHRIST, on the foundation of LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOUR, on the premise of FORGIVENESS AND GRACE is so HELL BENT on telling them what they’re doing wrong and how bad they are. It sickens me daily. I see it played out over and over and over again, online and in real life.

 

Christians!! If you really want to reach people for Jesus, stop telling them about their sin(which they already know) and show them how you’re going to love them in spite of it! Because I hate to break it to you, but you’re a sinner too.

I don’t know when it first happened~ this idea that some sins are worse than others.  I don’t know how it happened that God-fearing , righteous holy rollers decided it was perfectly OKAY to publicly shame, yell at, berate, mock, tease, bully, hound and condemn to Hell those whose sin is of a particular nature.  You do know that all sin is selfish, right? Read the 10 commandments(which I might add are not the only 10 sins- there are literally 100s if not thousands of sins listed in the Bible).  If sin is about selfishness, then worrying about the colour of paint on my walls while my neighbour has nothing for supper tonight is sin.

If sin is selfishness, then buying supper at MacDonald’s before I pay my debts is sin.

If sin is selfishness, then pushing my way in front of a little old widow in the grocery store is sin.

We all sin.

We all sin daily.

We are all sinners.

We are all sinning daily.

Each night since I was a little girl, I fall asleep AFTER I have cleared things up with the Lord. My nightly prayer goes something like this:

“Lord, I know I messed up today.  I know I spent more time on Facebook than I did with you. I realize I was short tempered with my kids and I love them and I’m sorry.  Dear Jesus, I don’t want to hurt you or hurt my family, but I know I do- so I ask you to forgive me and help me do better tomorrow. In your name, Amen.”‘

ann voskamp quote

You see, I cannot share Christ’s love with others if I don’t realize that my need for Him is also desperate. I cannot be a light in the dark if I have surrounded my own heart with darkness.  We are only as effective in our crusade to be the hands and feet of Jesus if we are willing to humble ourselves as he was humbled, if we are willing to walk where he walked, if we are willing to touch the dirty sinners as he did. We have to be the Jesus who, the night before he died- the night before one of his best friends gave him up to the soldiers for some pieces of silver- if we’re willing to wash the feet of the ones who will hurt us.  Jesus did. That is love. That is grace. That is mercy.  Jesus didn’t yell in Judas’ face. He didn’t berate him. He didn’t have to. Judas knew he was guilty. Judas already knew that what he was going to do was wrong but he was willing to do it anyway. Because of selfishness- even in the face of his own friend.  Let your heart and mind sit on that for a while.

We have a mission:  Love God and Love others.  Jesus did NOT give us a mandate to judge.  In fact, he said the opposite: “don’t judge anyone”.  As hard as it may be for some super duper McJudgy Pants Christians to admit- your judgment and subsequent condemnation of others is actually pushing them AWAY from the throne of grace of which YOU represent!  Your theology, your interpretation of the Gospel and the words of Christ will only be heard and received if you serve them on the platter of grace and love.  If you feel it is your duty to defend the gospel at all costs- even at the cost of someone’s spiritual life, you do not represent the Jesus Christ whom I love and serve. And ya, that makes me judgy.  I am a sinner too.

This week, the internet exploded with the news that World Vision would now NOT DISCRIMINATE against those who profess to be gay. So , you know, to show the world our love and all , Christians took to their keyboards in contempt- disavowing World Vision, dropping sponsorship of small, helpless, innocent , hungry children. Because that’ll teach ’em! Right? Right…………..

I have seen some pretty ugly words. I have read things that should never, ever, ever come out of a Christ-follower’s mouth or mind. Good gracious, people, what are we doing?

Can I be honest here about my feelings on the gay issue?  I’m on the fence. I know what my Bible says.  I know that homosexuality is listed as A SIN in the Bible. I also know that adultery is listed in the same sentence.  I also know that lust(looking at someone and dreaming and drooling about them in our minds would be covered in that) is also listed.  You know what else is listed? Drunkenness. As are many other sins of the flesh. So now what? How do we move forward as people of grace and mercy? How do show the way of the Cross, forgiveness, and justice too?

I’ve crossed the line. I have grown up. I have realized that hammering and pounding my fist in profession of my faith is NOT the way to win souls and influence anyone. I have gay family members. Do I shun them, hate them, pour salt on the open wounds they are already feeling from the church? What about my family members who are in adulterous, fornicating, relationships? Do I prevent them from coming into my home because of their dirty, sexual sin? Who am I to judge the condition of their hearts? Who am I?

I suspect God is waiting for His Church to put down their slings and arrows.  Like a good Dad he is waiting for us to calm down and grow up.  The temper tantrums need to stop. The finger pointing and line-drawing has to end.  He is waiting to see how we handle the next phase…..the part where we start receiving people into HIS Kingdom with all of their messes and sins and troubles, knowing they aren’t perfect and neither are we. He is WAITING for us to open wide our doors and be people of love.  He is quite up to the challenge of worrying about who is sinning, how they’re sinning and how to let His Spirit speak into their hearts. That is His job, not ours.

1 Corinthians 13 is often quoted at weddings. But at the end of it is a curious verse about growing up….I think there’s something to that.  I don’t understand all of what God is up to. I don’t understand why we continue to sin when we know we shouldn’t, but we do. We all do.  We learn to love and then we learn to BE LOVE.

1When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

I really would ask that comments remain respectful. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but comments that go the way of judging sin will be deleted. For real. Because I can. And I’m tired of Christians fighting about what is sin and how we need to tell the whole world about their sin. Over it. Not gonna have it.

Also, read these opinions and pleas from very gracious, wonderful people:

Jamie The Very Worst Missionary’s Post

Jen Hatmaker’s Post

Kristen Howerton’s Post

And this very sobering thought from Benjamin Moberg