A Wound in the Body

I had a rather difficult conversation with a friend from church who I haven’t talked to in a while. And while I was grateful I could offer advice and listen to the pain they were experiencing, it left me unsettled. Both mad and sad.

Have you ever felt that way?

It’s awful.

This friend spoke about some frustrations in church life, the desire to be recognized as a leader after many faithful years of volunteering, and simultaneously the loneliness and hurt they were feeling within the church by peers. In both areas it seemed like they felt forgotten.

It’s a difficult topic to try to uncover but I feel like it needs to be said..even if it’s not eloquent and way too wordy.

Now, I’ll give it my best try.

For much of my life I have witnessed…unsavory parts of church. Unsavory because..let’s be honest, just because people are Christians and attend church, doesn’t mean they still can’t be mean or worldly. I don’t think it is humanly possible to enforce perfect and ideal treatment within the church, but I also think there are some things I notice within my own church and quite honestly, every church I have attended that cause me sadness.

Ultimately and unfortunately people are still people.

Now I don’t think that is abnormal. To be able to look in love at a place you call home, and see what might not be working.

So here’s my burden.

I want the pain expressed by my friend and the pain expressed to me by various other people I’ve connected with to be constructive when it comes to church staff. I want them to have an opportunity in an open forum of people experiencing the same frustrations, to speak directly with the staff who make decisions and create leaders. Often times it can seem like the higher you are within a church staff, the more you see the church as a whole and not necessarily on a granular level.

I don’t profess to know the intricacies of managing a church and its attendees but I know what it’s like to hear the anguish of a friend. I know what it’s like over the course of recent years, to teach classes to women and hear the same pain my friend expressed: the feelings of being a total wallflower even though you are actively involved or to feel like there is no place for you amongst your peers because they value the wrong things, or while volunteering to overhear other volunteers joking about “how things are.”

I wonder, if it has to be this way. At what point should you be concerned for your “body” and vocalize it?

To speak plainly..is it so wrong to wonder what your place in church is? To wonder where that person or mentor or leader is, who can guide you towards your proper calling? To notice the hard work you have put in and realize you might be ready for more? Who can release you to be more of the leader you have proven to be? How long do you wait?

Likewise do you pray and wait for the proper leader to say, hey, it’s not okay that you are feeling alone and isolated from your peers, here is what we can do?

Can’t we do better?

It can be hard sometimes to want to make your church better. I felt that after the conversation and quite frankly, I don’t feel like I have any power to change anything except what I can do in my own life for her to encourage and include her and to offer advice. But sometimes I still feel like I’m just one person and I hope for a larger change.

In some quiet time in my room I reflected on 1 Corinthians 12 MSG:

25-26 The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.

My heart related to “if one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt”. Because it’s true. To me, as a non-pastor, as a non-staff member, as just an attendee of the same church, I felt oddly like I let this person down.

I immediately felt like, I might not be a paid staffer of this church, but I’ve felt these pains before, and I’ve heard so many others express the same pain, so I know that it’s important, and I’ve tried in my own small way to make a difference and yet, what more do I do? And simultaneously who do I really think I am?

I suppose the final question is..

Is it human nature to feel voiceless at times in of all places, God’s house? Or do we, the Church, sometimes lose perspective?

Are churches meant to be perfect, no, but can there be more opportunities for the house of God to have “dinner talk” around the table with all members? Can we without judgement feel free to express concerns with the highest level of church, and if so, when? Where is the opportunity? Could the vantage point of people in different capacities at church be beneficial? I think so.

Would love advice or feedback below.

 

SOAP 11/20/16

Good morning!⠀

This morning I had my tea and am ready to dive into a SOAP for you guys.⠀

For those who don’t know, SOAP stands for:⠀

Scripture⠀
Observation⠀
Application⠀
Prayer⠀

Scripture: Isaiah 43:18-19 – MSG

Observation: It’s Sunday.

For me that’s the end of one week, and on the brink of a new week starting with Monday.

So, you can choose to look at the past week, the past month, the past year, or the passed past. Or you can look at Monday as an opportunity to allow God to “do something-brand new”.

Application: I will not stew on anything that has gone wrong this past week. God is with me and He is creating new things!

Prayer: God please help us to trust you. Help us be both alert and present to what you are about to do. Open our eyes. Amen!

Comment below with your O, A, or P!⠀
SOAP is also posted on jesscbnyc.wordpress.com⠀

Without Rival

I had a somewhat devastating revisitation of some old feelings over the weekend.

I don’t feel it everyday, but REJECTED is still a label I can carry.

The difficult thing is a lot of these things have been worked out over many years. Many prayers, out of body/walking like a zombie days, and many steps towards healing and forgiveness.

So why does this happen?

Sometimes even I can wonder if I’ve made any progress at all when these intense feelings come back into my heart. And yet, I know that I am better than I have every been in my emotional strength and validation through Christ.

But it’s a mind game.

Trust me.

As sad as it was, I am reminded that the proverbial “mat” or “cross” still needs to be picked up daily.

Even though I have made so much progress, the Enemy is allowed to test me if God allows it. I might not like that, but it’s Biblical. Open: Bible See: Job

#ohsnap

But sweet friend, no matter what your heart feels, be reminded today that you are so so so so soooooo special. And if you struggle with the feeling of rejection, know that you’re not alone.

And God is funny like that. Saturday night I found myself in somewhat of a sob-fest, and felt the Holy Spirit remind me that I bought a book called “Without Rival”. I decided that out of the mini pile of books on my agenda, that it’s time to open this one. To remind myself I am not rejected but accepted. Not run-of-the-mill but unique. My heart’s cry was for that.

And you know how silly and wonderful God is?

I got an e-mail Monday morning inviting me to join Propel’s next book club…on (drumroll) Without Rival.

The timing is pretty uncanny, huh?

So if you haven’t already, join me in reading what I know will be a heart-changing book. Reminding us that we are without rival and unique.

Double tap if you are looking forward to my quotes and insight from the book!

Tag a friend who is WITHOUT RIVAL!

SOAP 11/11/16

Isaiah 62:1-5 (MSG)

1-5 Regarding Zion, I can’t keep my mouth shut,
    regarding Jerusalem, I can’t hold my tongue,
Until her righteousness blazes down like the sun
    and her salvation flames up like a torch.
Foreign countries will see your righteousness,
    and world leaders your glory.
You’ll get a brand-new name
    straight from the mouth of God.
You’ll be a stunning crown in the palm of God’s hand,
    a jeweled gold cup held high in the hand of your God.
No more will anyone call you Rejected,
    and your country will no more be called Ruined.
You’ll be called Hephzibah (My Delight),
    and your land Beulah (Married),
Because God delights in you
    and your land will be like a wedding celebration.
For as a young man marries his virgin bride,
    so your builder marries you,
And as a bridegroom is happy in his bride,
    so your God is happy with you.

Scripture: Isaiah 62:1-5 MSG

Observation: The book of Isaiah is my favorite book in the Bible. And this scripture is one that has touched my heart many times. For much of my life the word REJECTED was something I identified with. I had my fair share of rejection, bullying, infidelity, anxiety, loneliness, etc and therefore this word was how I felt. I felt rejected. I didn’t feel like anyone truly cared for me. And yet in this verse, the prophet reminds me and you, that we are no longer called rejected or ruined. Instead our new identity, our new words are DELIGHT and MARRIED because God Himself is delighted in you. He is married to you. The very word delight means to be greatly pleased in. God is greatly pleased in me. God is greatly pleased in you. The definition of marry is to unite in close and permanent relation. That’s cool! God isn’t some guy who is grumbling and disappointed looking down at you. He is happy to be united with you forever, no matter what has happened to you, or how you feel about yourself.

Application: Every time I feel rejected, I can call upon this scripture by the power of…Google. LOL. Or the Bible app. And know that I am accepted and cherished.

Prayer: God, you are so cool. I like how no matter what has happened to us or what we have thought about ourselves that Your acceptance and pleasure in who we are is enough to wash away any pain or negative label life has put on us. You are a good, good Father. Amen.

Money Money Money

I don’t profess to be an expert in any way when it comes to money.

Growing up my mom was in and out of work. And while my dad held a steady job he wasn’t always the most generous. So in short I learned from my mom that money is sometimes there and sometimes not and from my dad that money is there but that we won’t use it.

Growing up money was something I knew was important but I also knew that I never wanted to be the type of person on the proverbial treadmill chasing financial success at the expense of my own personal sanity and whatever future family I had.

My current financial status is mostly debt. Student loan debt mostly, and a dwindling debt on a credit card from less financially ideal times. All in all, I think I’m ok.

Sometimes though, I can find myself worrying about money again. At present, my mom is employed which is a huge blessing, but she isn’t the best with money, so I am trying to help her manage her bills in conjunction with when she gets paid and how much she gets paid so she doesn’t fall into debt.

We are also hoping to get a leased car for the first time this year because our current used car is on it’s real…last legs. Truly by the grace of God that it’s still driving and a cool 240k miles on that engine. In addition, my mom has needed a new mattress for years, and finally had to throw it out (long story, another post), and our church is going to Israel in April and it’s always been my mom’s dream since she became a Christian in her 20s to go. I would like to go as well, because well, Israel- Jesus – and the experience of being able to share that with people from my church.

On and off this week so far I have found moments where I have been worried. Meaning, I’m almost done with my credit card debt. A huge success that hasn’t been the easiest hurdle. And the thought of having to perhaps, put Israel on my credit card until my mom can pay it in a month or two is…terrifying.

Money. Money. Money. Right?

And yet, I am reminded that God is in control. Not only is He in control, but I am not. That is always something I need to remind myself of. I can do what’s necessary. I can be fiscally responsible all day long, but God is still ultimately the one in control and I need to rest in that.

What do you think? Is this something you struggle with? Are you killing it at the money game or are you trying to figure it out still? Comment below and let me know!

82 Children Rescued in USA

https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/operation-cross-country-x 

Human trafficking is a huge modern day issue.

I personally know two people in real life, that I’ve interacted with, who have been victims of sex trafficking. If I think about that long enough, it seems insane. How is this possible? How is it such an issue that I can know people, not just hear about it on the news?

When I saw this article from the FBI I was both happy for the work being done, and also reminded how there are so many more people who haven’t been reached yet

There are 27 million in bondage across the globe*

1-2% of victims are ever rescued*

The average age of a trafficking victim is 12 yrs old*

Those statistics are shocking.

Instead of being crippled by the problem, I’m glad to be a part of organizations that support A21 which actively fights to rescue victims and prosecute perpetrators.

*Source: http://www.a21.org/content/human-trafficking/gl0ryw 

 

SOAP 11/5/16

Jeremiah 29 (MSG)

10-11 This is God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

12 “When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.

13-14 “When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.

“Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.

Scripture: Jeremiah 29: 10-14

Observation: I love the way the MSG version of the Bible communicates/summarizes the scripture in a poetic and easy to understand way. We know that the Israelites will be slaves to Babylon for 70 years but the moment that time is up, God will bless them and take care of them.

Application: There are many times where I can look back at mistake I’ve made. Or sins I’ve committed, and felt very distant or punished by God. I can also remember feelings or rejection by God or that He didn’t care for me or acknowledge my pain or neediness. But time and time again I can look at this one line “when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you aren’t disappointed”. And I can say, without a word of a lie, that this was and continues to be my truth. When everything else I wanted fell away, died, didn’t work out, that’s when I fully feel like my whole being was given to God. This doesn’t negate the fact that I was a Christian my whole life and followed God, but it shows that God will always want to remove more of you to give you more of Him. What might have seemed like a punishment was actually His way of protecting my heart and mind from things that will always disappoint. To keep my perspective turned to Him and not put pressure on myself, or friends, or relationships, or jobs, or anything for my value or compass.

Prayer: God, thank you that no matter what we do, you promise to take care of us. You lead us through valleys and you hold our hand up the mountain. You desire to always keep us in communion with you and to continue growing and learning. You are everything we seek. Thank you for your presence and love. Amen.