Aloft

Don’t fall
As you have fallen
Heart aching
Stand your ground

Searching for the one
Finding many
Choosing to stop believing
Though you can’t quite let go

Floating through the air
Anti-gravity
Not needing anything to hold onto
Because arms are holding you

Everything is taken care of
Simply follow that voice
No need to worry
As you’ve made the best choice

Hearts heal
And yours isn’t broken
Mistakes are forgotten
You can feel it

Constantly afraid
Refusing to relax
It’s time to stay put
You were made to rest

Sabbath
For as long as you need it
You’ll know when it’s over
Be still

Find what you live for
It’s right in front of you
Unfolding like a rose
Thorns nonexistent

You’ll never have to fall
Arms held out to catch you
Holding you high
Aloft

Advertisements

Casualty

Even as the price has been paid
I cannot bring myself
To be like the rest of these
Whole people
Asking me to dance in freedom
Before a loving God

Why cannot I
Just sit at the feet
Of my loving God?

In the quiet
Basking in a glory unknown
Though they cannot see my freedom
As it has not been fully realized
Does not negate its reality

I am free
Just feeling caged in
By the warriors around me
Not their prisoner
Not ready to be another casualty
Please let me be

In My Doubting Midst

I gave my heart to Jesus when I was five years old.  I even have a rock that says so at my parents’ house.  Is this something that I remember?  Not really.  Are there tons of other people who probably had the same rock and have since tossed it out?  Probably.  Are these people still considering themselves Christians?  Maybe, maybe not.  But that’s not the point, is it?  I just wonder, was I brainwashed?

I’ve only known a Christian life, even when I haven’t wanted to.  I went to church with my family every week, and it was normal.  I went to a Christian school for eight years.  I read the Bible in class.  I sang songs about Jesus with my classmates.  I was warned of the dangers of having non-believing friends.  So I never even had a choice not to believe.  

The small town I grew up in didn’t have a Christian high school, and there were so many other things happening in my family, that I had no choice but to go to a public high school.  The thing is, I was excited.  I never talked about my faith or my upbringing at school, because growing up it was something that had just always been known.  Everyone had always known I was a Christian, because they were all Christians too.  We had all made commitments to stay “pure” until marriage, and to not drink, and to never smoke.  There was never really any discussion.  So going to a public high school where very few people knew me was a chance for me to entirely reinvent myself.  

However, there were some other factors.  Right before I started high school, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and had to leave town for treatments quite frequently.  I also was experiencing my first conscious episode of depression.  It never occurred to me to wonder where God was in any of it, though.  

I started cutting myself, but I still prayed.  I dated guys, but I didn’t have sex with them.  If I liked someone, I would bargain with God.  I would tell him that I would stop cutting myself if just this next guy would ask me to be his girlfriend.  And after that happened, I would start again, because I couldn’t stop.  

By the time I reached my sophomore year of high school, I had isolated myself from my Christian family, too afraid to tell them that I might have doubts.  I started hanging out with two friends that had no desire to have anything to do with God, one of which was homosexual.  My mother really frowned upon it, but it was okay.  I told my friends that it would be less scary to tell my parents that I was pregnant than it would be to tell them that I didn’t want to be a Christian.  Neither of which really seemed like a possibility anyway.  I wasn’t pregnant, and I didn’t know how to not be a Christian.

I had taken God out of the equation entirely.  My faith had become about church, and family, and shame.  

But then I had the opportunity to go to LA with my church’s youth group to go to a conference for New Year’s Eve.  My parents, with no idea of my doubts, were all for me going.  So I went.  And I experienced my first real encounter with God.  During one of the services, while I was dwelling in my own darkness, one of the speakers called me out.  Not by name, but by heart.  He said exactly what was on my mind.  He spoke of being unlovable, of being broken, of wanting to die.  Which was everything that I let define me.  At that moment, everything inside of me came pouring out.  God spoke to me.  I gave him my life, for real.  He told me where to go to college, and from that day forward, I made plans.  

I thought I was healed.  I thought that I was only dealing with depression because I was trying to walk away from God.  It wasn’t long before I found that I was entirely wrong.  But instead of being honest about my depression, I hid it, because if you’re a Christian, you must be happy.  Although all evidence spoke otherwise, I for some reason believed that following God meant that there were no more problems in your life.  This meant that I was doing something wrong if I was still experiencing crippling depression.

I ended up graduating high school and going to Bible college, heading toward a theological degree, and thinking I’d maybe be a youth pastor.  Except I had social anxiety that was only getting worse, and the idea of leading any kind of group was terrifying.  It took me more than a year to realize that I had maybe made the wrong career choice.  

I suddenly fell in love with writing, but knew that God had called me to be where I was at.  And then I broke completely.  Everything within me screamed at me to end my life.  I had no reason to feel depressed and empty, but I was.  I experienced small highs, and devastating lows.  I wanted to transfer schools and get a degree in creative writing, but even more, I wanted to end my life entirely.  

I had a good group of friends who begged me to get help, and when I wouldn’t do it on my own, walked with me as I did what I needed to do to get healthy.  I was finally diagnosed with manic depression.  I went home for Christmas break and decided to end my life.  Instead, I failed.  

I couldn’t understand where God was in this.  I couldn’t understand why God would make me with a mind that didn’t function correctly.  I wanted to know his plan.  And I wondered if he had no plan at all.  I wondered if he was cruel.  But after a few months of meds and counseling, I stopped wondering this.  I was better.  I was okay with the way I was made.  

A few months later, I stopped taking meds all together.  Probably a mistake at the time, but I had made it through.  I spent another year and a half without having any major episodes.  I didn’t want to end my life.  I wrote a lot of poetry and music.  And I accepted myself for who I am, because it made me a better writer.  However, that wasn’t good enough.

Towards the end of my senior year of college, I started dating a guy who wasn’t a Christian.  And then my grandmother died.  And then he stopped talking to me.  And I went on a drive up a mountain, wondering if I should drive off of it.  I sat, with my feet hanging off the edge, and I contemplated.

I contemplated the pros and cons of continuing on.  I contemplated leaving my faith behind.  I contemplated what my life would have been like if I had gone to a different school, if I had pursued something else, if I had lived somewhere else.  Because I couldn’t come to terms with a God who would allow me to go through life unable to have rational emotions.  I couldn’t grasp why he hadn’t healed me.  I could see no good in this, I could see no plan.  But I decided to drive home anyway.  I yelled at God.  I told him how angry I was.  He had to know that I didn’t want to follow him anymore.  Even though I was about to graduate with my degree in theology and ministry.

For the most part, I kept my doubts to myself.  I blogged about them some, but to the majority, I was a good Christian girl.  I had decided I was going to move to Portland and live with strangers and get a crappy job and write and drink.  But instead, my mom went out of remission, and I felt God calling me home, even though I was angry.  Even though I wasn’t sure I wanted to follow him.  Even though I was broken.  

But that was more than a year ago.  And I spent the last year learning to hear God again.  I stopped dwelling on the theological implications of my doubts and my beliefs, and I just listened.  

A couple months ago, I found myself at a jungle church in Costa Rica with my Finnish roommate and a team of missionaries who barely spoke Spanish.  God pointed out an elderly woman to me and told me he was going to heal her.  So my roommate and I started praying for her back, because that was where she had said there was pain.  A minute or so later, she looked up at the light and started crying.  With my limited Spanish, I could only deduce that she could see.  She could see the light.  She could see the light!  But wait, we were praying for her back.  And that was healed too.  

So yeah, sometimes I doubt.  But maybe I don’t need to anymore.  Because I saw God do exactly what he said he would, without knowing or understanding his plan.  He healed the blind in the Bible.  And he healed the blind right in front of me.  So in my doubting midst, there is hope.  That day, that woman saw the light.  That day, I saw the light too.

Oh Mighty Smiter

A girl I know brought a guy that I kinda know to church on Sunday.  I say that I only kinda know him, because he’s a bartender at the resort I work at and we’ve had conversations, but I’ve heard a lot more about him that may or may not be true.  We get along and he’s funny, and I’m not going to have a problem with him that he didn’t give me himself.  I do my best not to judge people by what I hear about them.
Anyway, I was in the sound booth and they both came over to say hi and he said to me, “I’m surprised that I’m still alive, walking in here.  I thought I would have caught on fire.”  And then he looked up and said, “Please don’t kill me!” As if he was talking to God.

After he walked away I started thinking about where this way of thinking came from.  Why do people who don’t know God immediately go to the idea that he is angry and a smiter and a killer.   In the movie Bruce Almighty, Bruce calls out to God and says, “Smite me, Oh mighty smiter!”  But God doesn’t smite people, at least not often.  Sure there are a few stories, like Sodom and Gomorrah and Ananias and Sapphira, but those are not God’s main characteristics.
And then I think about the famous Christians; the ones that think they speak for all of us.  They tell people that if they don’t change their ways, then they will burn in hell.  That is their opening line. They carry signs that say “God hates gays.”  But God is love.  How did we forget that?  1 John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  I mean, come on!  It’s right there!
God forgives.  He is a God of mercy, even if we don’t deserve it.  All he wants is relationship with us.  He made us because he loves us.  And he didn’t destroy us after the first sin in the garden because he loves us.  He could have ended it all and started again.  I think I would have.

Why don’t more people know the story of the woman that the Pharisees brought to Jesus, the one that they caught in the act of adultery?  He did not condemn her.  Instead, he bent down and wrote in the sand.  We don’t know what he wrote; all we know is that all of Pharisees left after Jesus told them that whoever had no sin could cast the first stone.  He asked the woman where her condemners went, and then told her that he also does not condemn her.  Then he said, “Go now and leave your life of sin.”  That’s all in John 8:3-11.

Jesus was one to forgive sins.  And once sins were forgiven, people changed.  If you’re willing to change, why would he condemn you?  God loved first.  He gives us so many chances to get things right.  So why don’t people know this?  It’s not funny.  I have so many thoughts and not enough time to put them all down, but does this make sense?
I think it might be time to rid the earth of the image of God as an evil killer who destroys those who don’t obey him.  He is a good Father, the best Father.  He works with us and forgives us.  Sometimes he punishes us, but only to push us in the right direction, and never out of spite.  He is not spiteful.  And he is not a regular smiter.

At His Feet

At His feet, nothing really matters anymore
I can gaze into his eyes
I can bow my head and cry
At his feet, I can be broken

There is no worry about who’s watching
Because I know that he’s watching
At his feet I can be myself
I can shed my broken shell

At his feet I can find the joy that I’m always searching for
Even if it comes in an unexpected form
What more could I even ask for?
At his feet I am rescued

All else fades away
Overtaken by nothingness
This is what I needed
Just to sit at his feet

At his feet there is no worry
Even with enemies on all sides
There is a peace worth striving for
He reminds me that I’m worth dying for

I would give my life
For only one moment to sit at his feet
To bask in his glory
Surround by his love

He is unexplainable
And his mystery will always intrigue me
But at his feet, none of that really matters anymore
At his feet, I can be broken

Costa Rica. Pura Vida.

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything, which is rare for me.  But I actually have a good reason this time.  I’ve been in costa Rica doing some encouraging mission work with my school.  And let me just tell you some of the things that happened on this trip.

First off, before I even left the country, $125 appeared in my passport.  So that was cool.  That was the beginning of the unexpected.

I hear from God a lot, although I’m not always aware of his prophetic voice.  My school has a pretty big focus on the prophetic, so we give and get encouraging words a lot.  But never in the capacity that we did in Costa Rica.  The thing is, I have a hard time fully trusting that it really is God’s voice I hear in the random thoughts that enter my mind.
The first church, the one that we spent the most time with, the pastor just let us do what we were going to do.  My whole team went up and were expected to have a word for someone in the church.  There was a woman that God had been speaking to me about, but I thought that I was hearing him too clearly, that it was too easy, so I assumed it was me and not God.  But there was no one else that God was speaking to me about, there was no one else that I had a word for.  So I just told her what I heard, how proud God was of her, and how much he loves her, amongst other things.  I didn’t even know that she had told her brother that morning that she was feeling like giving up her position in the church.  God used me to tell her exactly what she needed to hear in that moment.
The next church we went to was a “jungle” church.  It was outside on Tuesday nights in a open space of dirt.  When we were greeting different members of the church, God told me he was going to heal a specific elderly woman.  I didn’t know what was wrong with her, but I knew she was going to get healed.  My roommate and I were praying for this woman’s back, because that is what was bothering her.  We didn’t have a translator and I only speak a little bit of spanish, but when we asked if there was anything different, if she felt any change, she started weeping and looking at the light and wiping her eye and thanking God.  Anu and I didn’t know she was blind, but God opened her eyes, and now she can see!  Her back got healed to.  In fact, I think that almost everyone we prayed for that night got healed in some way.  It was mind blowing!

We went to a church in San Vito, which is up this steep, windy road on the top of a mountain.  I ended up being one of the team that preached there.  I talked about how no one needs to be a pastor in order to be a minister or to be used by God.  Jesus was a carpenter, I’m a writer, and lots of other people are used by God everyday who are not pastors.  There was a group of missionaries who are in Costa Rica to help with drug rehab, but are right now just starting up a youth group.  A few of them added my team and I on facebook.  One of them sent me a message a couple days ago to tell me that he was really encouraged by what I said.  That he had never felt called to be a pastor, but was doing full time ministry in another country.  This in turn was really encouraging to me.

Costa Rica.  Pura Vida.  Rich Coast.  Pure Life.  God is doing things there.  He opened eyes and ears, and made the lame walk.  People are learning to hear and trust his voice.  And I will never be the same.

Love: Measured

One could ask how much I care, how much I love
But it cannot be measured
Not in inches, not in miles
It just is.

And I want to say that loving is all I know or what I do best
But the falsity in this statement is silencing
Coming over me in waves, I am shown the errors in my ways
Yet I’ll keep going

Being carried ever forward by these feet that walk toward you
Strengthening my gait when I am almost overcome by weakness
I know I’ll catch up again

You’ll wait for me in my distractions and some day we’ll laugh about them
Because these situations really are laughable

And I’ll probably never understand why I sometimes take my eyes off of you
Every time I feel myself sinking in the waves like Peter
Yet you always catch me
I haven’t drowned yet

So maybe make your voice a little louder for a while
Because your delicate whisper is almost being drowned out
Not for lack of listening, I declare
But do I even know it?

I say I’m aware of your forever presence
Only, in acknowledgement, they’d say I am lying
And maybe I am, subconsciously
Because the best thing in life would be to be engulfed in your overwhelming presence as time stops and fades in the background

Be in my foreground
In front of my eyes
The ringing in my ears
A voice singing to me

You sing about me
You write about me
You write songs about me
You tell them the truth about our love as you see it
And you always see it right

So measuring my love is merely a waste of time
As it will always be dwarfed by who you are
But I’ll keep saying it “I love, I love, I love you.”