• quote-Lily-Tomlin-man-invented-language-to-satisfy-his-deep-5351

    When Complaining Is Ministry

    OMGeeee guys! This is going to sound crazy, but I think it would take me the rest of my life to explain what I’ve learned in the last week. None of you would still be reading by the time I got done explaining it all, of course. I get really geeked over weird things.

    I’m having one of those times where all of a sudden, everything starts to make sense and a path forward is becoming clear. And I’m super excited about it. You’d have to know me personally to understand this, but I never get super excited about anything.

    I’m one of those people who you should only bring your ideas, plans and dreams to if you’re looking for a solid critique of them. Otherwise I’ll probably give you a seemingly unenthusiastic word of support. Not that I won’t support you, just that I’ll be using all of my self-control biting my tongue because I know you need my support and not my advice. It’s hard to show how enthusiastic you are while biting your tongue.

    Strangely enough, this is a trait my husband doesn’t always find endearing in me. He’s told me that he wants to be rich enough to create his own echo chamber so he’ll never have to hear anyone disagree with or criticize his ideas again. I keep trying to tell him what a bad idea that is, but some people just have to learn things the hard way, I guess. So I’m not saying anything about it anymore.

    Personally, I dislike learning things the hard way. I’d much rather have other people learn things the hard way for me. Of course, there are those things you just have to learn for yourself. Once you get past wisdom like, “don’t take your duelie* out on the ice when it’s only been below freezing for a week” and “rich people spend all their time working so their children and grandchildren can grow up to be stunted, damaged people”, most people have no idea what they are talking about. So often, you have no choice but to make your own mistakes and figure out your own lessons for yourself.

    I certainly looked for a way out of having to learn things the hard way. And I’ve learned a great deal in the process. But I finally had to accept that there is no one out ahead of me who could give me some answer, some word of wisdom or practices or set of rules to follow that would make everything alright. It’s not just that I’m so wise and out ahead of everyone else, spiritually speaking. (Although that does play its part, of course. I should be catching up to the kids with Down’s Syndrome in another 20 years or so.) It’s also that in the end, some things are like death. Or labor. They have to be experienced to be understood.

    I’m hardly the first person to figure out that there’s  no answer anyone can give that will end my suffering, of course. But I think I might be more willing to shamelessly complain on the way than most. If you’re a jerk, that makes me a complainer. If you’re a kind, wonderful human being such as my readers are, that makes me brave and vulnerable. Which I’m always a bit amused to hear people say about me. I only share things that don’t make me feel vulnerable and don’t make other people look bad. If what I share sounds brave and vulnerable, that’s just a sign that not enough people are being honest. Because, trust me, it gets much worse than what I’ve shared here.

    We’re always told not to complain, but I think it can be helpful to keep a few complainers around. Have you read the bible at all? Complaining is biblical, people**! The complaining is one of the reasons I keep returning to the bible. Often the promises and praises sound like taunts and betrayals, but the complaining? That’s real life, peeps.

    One of the unique and valuable characteristics about the bible is the lack of sugar coating. The writers were honest about how much pain they were in. They were melodramatic and intense and blunt. And because they were so open about their pain, I knew that my pain wasn’t a sign that I had unwittingly gone astray. Being in that much pain didn’t mean God had abandoned me or wasn’t real. Sometimes people who follow God walk through terrible suffering. I know it because my bible tells me so.

    Hell, I know it because of the cross. When Jesus suffered, there was no buffer between him and the rest of the world. He didn’t get to retreat to his bedroom or into loving arms as he suffered. He suffered in front of us. He lost all control over his story. He fell in real time in front of crowds. He felt pain beyond what he could be stoic enough to bear in front of his mother and brother. Every cry, every yelp, every inch of skin and bodily function was there for the crowds to see.

    Me? I do my suffering in private and then sift through the details and decide what I’m comfortable sharing. I might look brave, but that’s only because we’re all really scared. Jesus was vulnerable. I’m just less beholden to shame than most of y’all. But no matter what the world would have you believe, there’s no shame in suffering. Jesus did it after all.

    Maybe one day we’ll know how to become wise and live in union with God without walking through all the pain and suffering. After all, there are videos on YouTube of women having orgasms while giving birth. Mr. Rodgers was so happy when he was told he was going to die that his family requested that he at least pretend to be upset that he was dying. Jesus is now worshipped  as King. There’s hope for us yet. We are teachable, after all.

    This is probably one of those things you have to experience to really understand, but I do have one little thing to share with others who are in the process of learning things the hard way. It helped me to hear it when all hope was gone, so even if it’s a bit premature, I’d like to add my voice to the great cloud of witnesses who have said it before: trust God. Even when he seems utterly untrustworthy or like a figment of your imagination. Faith is believing what you cannot yet see, after all. Just a teeny, tiny bit of faith will get you through the darkest night. And if you can complain a little on the way, call it a ministry. ;)

    *For those of you who don’t live someplace where people drive on ice, a duelie is a truck with four back tires. Also called a big bootie or fat ass truck. You’re not allowed to take them through automatic car washes. Every year up here in the Northern Tundra, some dude with a duelie drives out on the ice before it’s thick enough and puts his truck through the ice. And every year, that year’s genius is interviewed on the local news. Inevitably he informs the rest of us that the local officials warning everyone to stay off the ice might be on to something. Because who knew, right?

    **Complaining can be a problem. If you complain about something every day, you are complaining too much. Save complaining for important things like intense suffering and itching, not petty stuff like broken bones and bad traffic, k?

  • ymnohome

    People Are People

    This week we’ve been looking at common reasons that God doesn’t answer our prayers. Today we’ll look at the problem of people. As in other people. When people refuse to cooperate, refuse to change or follow God’s leading, prayers tend to go unanswered.

    Sometimes it can be a matter of people who God would have serve as answers to your prayers not taking up the call. Other times it may well be people who are behaving in ways which are harmful and hurtful and you’re praying for God to change them. Yet they just keep doing what they are doing.

    At this point, I could get into a long discussion about free will. But for the moment I’m going to leave that for another day. Instead, for the sake of this discussion, I’m going to work from the assumption that we each make our own choices. Further, let’s posit that God’s interference with each person’s free choices is generally limited to allowing the negative consequences of them to become so unbearable that they may eventually change their ways.

    So, when the answers to our prayers require another person to do something or change something and they don’t do it, our prayers will go unanswered. Even when providing an answer to our prayers would be God’s desire.

    This begs a question. When it would be God’s desire for our prayers to be answered, why would God allow people’s exercise of free will to interfere with that desire? Why doesn’t God just temporarily short-circuit people’s free will to obtain the desired end? Or why doesn’t he do like he did with the apostle Paul and basically hold them hostage while he gets them all straightened out?

    The issue, it seems to me, is that it is God’s intention that we take care of each other. That we be looking out for each other’s needs. And that we be seeking each other’s best interests. But that requires us to have a certain level of maturity. And in order to gain that maturity, we need to grow up and decide on our own to do right by each other. It’s not something that can be done for us.

    If God is always stepping in and pulling Jedi mind tricks to use people to answer prayers, humanity will never grow up. He’d be no different than the parent who picks up their kid’s messes, does their homework and otherwise enables them to remain immature and irresponsible. Yes, it creates an easier and more pleasant experience for the kids. But it’s stunting.

    There is so much unneeded suffering in the world. It can be a hard pill to swallow to that God isn’t going to step in and fix it or force other people to fix it. instead, like all parents sometimes have to, he’s going to let us fall and fail until we’re finally willing to take responsibility for the mess we have made. Look at the pain we’ve caused. And get to work, with his support, in fixing the wreck we’ve created. And until we human beings get to the point of being willing to do that, there’s going to be a lot of unanswered prayers.

    Which is all well and fine on a theoretical, big-picture scale. But maybe not much help when faced with our own unanswered prayers. Or someone who is causing us to suffer and refuses to change. When we’re in this position, there are two truths to hold onto.

    The first is that God will not allow anything to happen which cannot be redeemed. This is quite different than saying he won’t give us more than we can handle. I’ve certainly had more than I can handle come my way in life! Rather it’s saying that if it’s happening, I can trust that eventually it will be redeemed. God will bring good out of it, even if it’s awful and not his will for you. And the good will be greater than the evil and suffering you’ve had to endure.

    The second is that if we want to live in a world with fewer unanswered prayers, then we must be the sort of people who are answers to prayers ourselves. We must be more aware of and attuned to the needs of people around us. We must be more willing to make some sacrifices for other’s sake. We must be more determined to live and act out of love instead of indulging our anger, self-righteousness, selfishness and fear. The world cannot change if we do not change first.

    I could probably keep this series on reasons for unanswered prayers going for several more weeks. But for now, I’m going to end it tomorrow with a post on what I think is the most important and unrecognized reason for answered prayers. It’s a good one that you may never have heard before, so be sure to check back tomorrow!

  • juice-cleanse1

    How the Dark Night of the Soul Is Like a Juice Cleanse

    Recently one of my friends on facebook did a 10 day juice cleanse. Now, I’m always a bit sceptical about this whole concept of a cleanse because I want to believe that I can eat all the chemical food I want, in moderation and be just fine. Plus I’m really, really bad at fasting so it  must be unnecessary and probably bad for you, right? But I know a lot of people swear by them.

    Anyways, while doing the cleanse my friend felt pretty crappy for a while. First she was achy and tired like she had the flu. Then she had such awful sinus congestion that she thought she might have developed a sinus infection. And she lost her voice. By the end of the 10 ten days though she said she felt fit as a fiddle and was glad that she had persevered through the whole thing.

    The reason she felt so awful during the first week of her cleanse, the theory goes, was because during this time her body was releasing all of the toxins which had accumulated over the decades. While the whole cleanse concept seems a bit dubious to me, this rang true. Because it’s exactly what I and many others who have or are walking through the dark night of the soul have experienced – spiritually anyways. In fact, following along with her cleanse induced suffering and redemption made me think this was a pretty darn good way of understanding the dark night of the soul experience.

    The dark night of the soul is a phrase coined by John of the Cross who wrote a poem by that name and a book explaining it back in the 16th century in Spain after experiencing it himself. Today the phrase gets tossed around a lot to describe almost any particularly difficult spiritual phase – particularly one which involves spiritual dryness or a sense of separation from God. According to John, there are actually two dark night experiences which some Christians may experience.

    The first is the dark night of the senses. During this experience, any sensual experience of God is removed from the person. That “Spirit raining down/God moved/presence” experience which many of us have during worship, prayer or particularly profound moments just disappears. And it takes comfort, peace and security with it. (I wrote about this experience here.) This is very confusing for many people because no matter what you try – more prayer, worship, fasting, service, confession, spending time in nature, meditation, fellowship, etc – it doesn’t help the person going through it to re-connect with any sense of God’s presence or Spirit moving.

    The dark night of the senses is a weaning process which prevents a person from being dependent on and greedy for spiritual experiences which bring pleasure and comfort. This happens so that we can learn to receive and experience God more directly. When a person comes out of the dark night of the senses, they are left with an ability to sense God’s movements in a more subtle, refined and interior way, even in the absence of any sensual experience of God.

    The second, far less common experience is the dark night of the soul is best understood as a process of purification and purgation of the soul. John of the Cross says, “The dark night is a certain inflowing of God into the soul which cleanses it of its ignorances and imperfections; habitual, natural and spiritual.” It’s like a juice cleanse for the soul. And it will make you just as sick.

    In his explanation of the dark night of the soul, John goes into great detail about the process of this inflowing of God and the cleansing of the soul. The end result is that the soul is perfected and purified to such an extent that it is able to be united completely with God. Being united with God is the ultimate goal of any serious spiritual seeker. Yet the dark night of the soul, properly understood, is granted to relatively few people. Most likely because there are relatively few people who are willing and able to endure it.

    By all accounts it is one of the most horrible, desolate, hopeless experiences any human can walk through. In fact, when John explains how to discern if someone is having a dark night of the soul experience, the checklist of symptoms can basically be summed up as “are you seeking God desperately yet weak in spirit, faith and body, completely crushed, desolate, without hope, unable to be comforted and so miserable that you would rather that God allowed you to die than to continue going through this . . . and do you still want God desperately despite all of it?” Spiritually speaking, it is as close to experiencing the journey of the cross as any human can have.

    The reason for this, it seems to me, is much the same as the reason my friend’s juice cleanse made her sick; while being fed only what is good and pure, the soul releases its toxins and makes you miserable and sick. John puts it this way: “the divine fire of contemplative love . . . expells [the soul's] impurities, blackens it and obscures it, and thus its condition is apparently worse than it was before, more impure and offensive. For while the divine purgation is removing all the evil and vicious humours, which because so deeply rooted and settled in the soul, were neither seen nor felt, but now. . . are rendered clearly visible . . . the soul – though not worse in itself, nor in the sight of God – seeing at last what it never saw before, looks upon itself as not only unworthy of His regard, but even as a loathsome object and that God does loathe it.” In other words, the person going through the dark night experience becomes extremely spiritually sick.

    Like the toxins being purged from my friend’s body when she did her cleanse, every dark and ugly thing in the soul is exposed and pushed to the surface during the dark night of the soul. The common experience of thinking that we are suffering because God is angry with us or disapproves of us is intensified. A soul going through the dark night experience is already suffering and now, seeing so clearly their faults, limitations and sin nature, they can hardly imagine that God wouldn’t and hasn’t utterly rejected them.

    When my friend did her juice cleanse, the release of toxins which made her feel so sick happened when her body was deprived of anything except nourishment which was completely natural, healthy and pure. If she had cheated and snuck in a snickers bar, her body would have absorbed the refined sugars, chemicals and hydrogenated fats to replenish their stores and re-establish a more comfortable equilibrium. She would have felt better in the short run. But her body would not actually be able to rid itself of its toxins completely enough to no longer be dependant on them. It is very much the same thing with the dark night of the soul.

    One of the characteristic traits of a dark night of the soul experience is that nothing brings comfort or life to the person having it. It’s as if the person going through it is deprived of any spiritual sustinence except for that unsatisfying, dull manna that I wrote about last week. Often this happens because every creature and worldly comfort is withheld from the person due to circumstances – ie life just goes all to hell. (John of the Cross was locked in a tiny room with a small window, too high up to look through, with no change of clothing or light and fed a starvation diet for 9 months when he had his dark night of the soul experience.) When things which would normally bring comfort and a sense of life to the person do appear, they are unable to take any comfort or joy in them.*

    It’s a perfectly miserable experience. And generally not one which we can get through without some “cheating”. As John explains, people going through a dark night of the soul will sometimes experience a reprieve from the suffering. It feels like being able to breathe fresh air after being locked in a stuffy, humid room or feeling sunlight on the face after years in the dark. In their excitement at their release from the dark night, the person usually thinks (and hopes) that they have reached the end of their suffering. That God has completed his work in them. But really, this reprieve is a lot like being allowed a Snickers bar and a ham sandwich with an extra serving of manna.

    Some people who have suffered through all the purgation they are capable of enduring and consenting to will not go back into the dark night. They will be much improved by their experience, but the work will remain incomplete. Their union with God will be partial and still subject to the vagaries and frustrations of life. Other people who are able and willing and who God has determined to purify completely will be put back on their manna diet and plunged back into the suffering of purgation.

    My friend was apparently able to de-toxify her body in 10 days, without cheating. But it seems that our souls carry a lot more toxins than even the average American’s body does. The dark night of the soul experience can take decades to complete, although it’s often measured in mere years. Most people who enter into the dark night never do complete it in this life time. But for those who are able to endure to the end, the promise is the soul’s most ardent desire: complete union with God, complete peace and joy and our full restoration to our true identity.

    *A dark night of the soul experience should not be confused with clinical depression. Nor should clinical depression ever be explained away as a dark night of the soul experience. An inability to enjoy good things in life can be a sign of both depression and the dark night of the soul. In fact, sometimes they can happen at the same time. In my experience, on of the main ways to tell the difference is that clinical depression is almost always accompanied by distorted thinking and obtrusive, unwanted thoughts. In a dark night of the soul, the thinking is so clear that every blemish is seen and every excuse is wiped away. There is an absence of obtrusive, unwanted thoughts and instead one’s ability to think things through or reach conclusions is often quite diminished. Clinical depression can and should be treated. The dark night of the soul can only be endured.

  • grief3

    The Gift of Delayed Grief

    My early twenties weren’t exactly a stellar time. Within a short period of time I was raped twice. I found out I was pregnant shortly after I decided to take Jesus’ words that it’s better to enter the kingdom maimed and had broken up with then boyfriend. The people around me didn’t exactly rise to the occasion. One woman I told about one of the sexual assaults told every-freaking-body. A man she told became so belligerent towards me that I had to interrupt his screaming rant to let him know that if he laid a hand on me, I would call the police and have him hauled away. One of my dearest friends died after a life-long struggle with a rare blood disorder.

    I had been studying to become a high school English teacher, but would now need help so I could complete my student teaching in order for that to happen. Instead, I was sent out into the world without so much as a chair to sit in or a bed to sleep on. I became homeless and wound up in a homeless shelter/half-way house for single mothers. My roommate was an orphan who stole a ridiculous amount of money from me. The other women there were children of drug addicts, forced out by violent step-fathers, recovering from addictions themselves, etc.

    Some of the people around me felt free to demand that I go into hiding and then place my child for adoption so my siblings, relatives and community wouldn’t know of my shame. (The idea that perhaps a person who has already had their right to self-direction grossly violated shouldn’t be told what to do with her own baby didn’t register, of course. And no, this wasn’t the ’50s. It was the mid-90s)

    After I had my son and decided to follow God’s leading and raise him myself, family and friends refused to have anything to do with me. Some went so far as to tell me directly that I wasn’t welcome to come around anymore – particularly if my son was with me. I did manage to eventually finish my degree, but what sort of work to pursue with a degree in Literature and Communications still eludes me. I was poor, alone and directionless beyond knowing that I needed to care for my son.

    There were a few brighter spots. My then 16 year old sister was supportive and actually happy about her new nephew. A local church held the only baby shower I had until a couple of my husband’s friends’ wives threw a spectacularly under-attended shower for me when I was pregnant with my 5th child. So, at least I had a stroller when my son was born. Continue reading

  • Not really relevant. Just funny. ;p

    I Guess Jesus Was Telling the Truth

    There’s a saying that you should never put a period where God has put a comma. But as my readers know, there does come a time when one has to wonder how many commas can fit into one damn sentence. Which is where I’ve been for the last few months. I’ve allowed comma after comma to be added to the ongoing story of my life until it just seemed ridiculous to continue thinking that somehow, this story was going to work itself out. So I decided that this time, I would put that period in and take a look at how things looked.

    To a certain extent, I suppose this is a pretty normal state of mind for an oldster like me. I’m going to be 40 in a few weeks. Surely now is as good a time as any to stop and take stock of how it’s gone so far. And the verdict is, they’ve gone pretty damn crappy. In fact, the prospect of another 40 years of more of the same practically sent me into a death spiral.

    Part of it was that by this point I had slipped into depression which brings what is bad into sharp focus while dimming one’s view of what is good. But a lot of it was that as I looked back, I saw a life lived following God and his ways the best I could. This had lead to me making what more realistic, sober minded people would see as some poor decisions, but every step of the way, I simply trusted in God. Until I just couldn’t convince myself to allow one more freaking comma. The time had come to put that period there. Looking at my life, all I could think was, “I followed God and trusted him. And this is where it got me? Seriously?”

    The problem has been where to go from here. If I got here by following God the best I could, then maybe I needed to find another way of doing things. However, as I mentioned, I’m getting to be an oldster now. I’m a bit set in my ways. I don’t really know any other way to live than the way that I have been living. Being selfish and angry and shallow and materialistic just seem like soooooooo much work. I’m to lazy for all of that. Old dogs and new tricks.

    I read a post a few months ago (can’t remember who wrote it at the moment) in which the writer basically said, “if you ever find yourself poor, worn out, mourning, yearning for things to be set right, not up for the task in front of you, sick of all the conflict, friendless and wondering why being a good person doesn’t seem to do you any good, Jesus says you’re doing it right. He says you are blessed. In fact, he says you should be rejoicing.” Continue reading

  • 1107_poverty

    “Me Too”

    Late last year, I read an amazing article about a pastor who became friends with the notoriously disgraced Ted Haggard. (For those of you who don’t keep up with such things, Ted Haggard was a prominent conservative Evangelical pastor who had been caught hiring a male prostitute to join him at hotels for “massages” and crystal meth.) After his scandal broke, Haggard had gotten counseling and then restarted his ministry. Most of us watching from the outside scoffed at the idea of him as a legitimate minister at that point. But in that article, his reluctant friend described Haggard as “excited that the only people who would talk to him now were the truly broken and hurt”. Think about that. Jesus said, “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” And that’s what those of us who are following in his footsteps are supposed to be doing as well. Prior to his scandal, Haggard was the leader of the National Association of Evangelical Churches. He was a founder of a large church in Colorado Springs. This was a man who was surrounded by and ministering almost entirely to the righteous (or at least the outwardly righteous). It was only after he was disgraced and lost everything that he found himself walking in the steps of Christ serving those who, like himself, were too broken to even hide their sin and sickness.

    Now, I certainly don’t mean to imply that hiring prostitutes and using drugs is a great way to put yourself on the road to serving Christ. But I do think that the story of Ted Haggard has something to teach us. Most Christians want nothing more than to live safe, respectable and prosperous lives. And we are loathe to do anything which would imperil that. To the extent that this allows us to avoid sin, that is fine. But too often, the result is that we are also avoiding becoming the sort of people who can really reach out and serve those who are not righteous but broken.

    Of course, life is not always so kind as to only send you troubles which you have chosen to set yourself up for. Accidents, injuries, sickness, loss and other human beings often intrude on even the most carefully constructed lives. And when they do, the nearly universal response is to ask the basically useless question, “why me?” We feel that somehow life has been unfair to us. We line up all the reasons we don’t deserve our injuries or the scandal of failure as evidence of how unfair life is being to us. But as the saying famously goes, life isn’t about us. Continue reading

  • god-watches-over-us

    Psalm 73 ~ A Meditation for the Weary, Bitter, Stumbling Soul

    These were the words I needed this week:

    Psalm 73

    Surely God is good to Israel,
    To those who are pure in heart!

    But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling,
    My steps had almost slipped.

    For I was envious of the arrogant
    As I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

    For there are no pains in their death,
    And their body is fat.

    They are not in trouble as other men,
    Nor are they plagued like mankind. . .

    They mock and wickedly speak of oppression;
    They speak from on high.

    They have set their mouth against the heavens,
    And their tongue parades through the earth.

    Therefore his people return to this place,
    And waters of abundance are drunk by them.

    They say, “How does God know?
    And is there knowledge with the Most High?”

    Behold, these are the wicked;
    And always at ease, they have increased in wealth.

    Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
    And washed my hands in innocence;

    For I have been stricken all day long
    And chastened every morning.

    I haven’t made a secret of the fact that I’ve been on a wretched and miserable path for a long time now. But what I’ve been a bit more reticent in sharing is that seemingly at every turn, there have been people just waiting to condemn me for my wretchedness. Those who did evil to me would criticize me for walking down paths they had helped to push me onto. Those who turned me out when I was weak would point to my homelessness to condemn me. Those who cut refused to have me around would express shock at the company I was able to keep. Those whose actions crippled me complained bitterly that I was lame and slow no matter how good my work was or how remarkable my healing had been. When I would point to God as the northern star I was following, the response was just like in this psalm: “what does God know? Is he going to pay your bills or fix your car or mend your relationships? Forget God – look at the mess you’re in!” Continue reading

  • statue-with-tears

    Suffering as Service

    I don’t know why, but from the time I was a kid, I have had this idea that there is a certain amount of pain and suffering in the world that gets distributed across humanity. Like suffering was an actual thing with quantity that could be measured in cups and miles. Or maybe tears and hours of agony. Some people are dealt a larger portion of this suffering than others. The way to reduce the amount of suffering in the world is to process what comes to you and let it go. Pain and suffering that doesn’t get dealt with, gets passed on to those around us. It can even be multiplied in this process. The ability to suffer without passing it on to those around us is part of how we can serve the world. A person who can endure a lot of suffering without passing it on is performing a real service to humanity.

    Like a lot of highly sensitive people, I have spent my share of time crying over people, circumstances and suffering that I do not know, have not encountered and can do nothing about. (I wrote about how I learned to stop doing this so much here.) Even as a kid when I would find myself crying over people and events that affect me not one whit, I would pray, “please let every tear I cry be one less that those going through it have to cry.” It doesn’t make much sense and I have no reason to think that it works that way, but I hope it does. The burden of grief should be shared, not multiplied after all. Continue reading

  • your-life-story

    Suffering and Stories

    “Then it was you who wounded Aravis?”

    “It was I.”

    “But what for?”

    “Child,” said the Voice, “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”

    ~ The Horse and His Boy, C.S. Lewis

    This will probably sound absurd, but there have been times that I have found myself seriously affected by the suffering of people I have never met and could do little or nothing to help – sometimes to the point of sitting up at night crying. War crimes victims, tsunami survivors, women in Afghanistan, parents of starving children. Such are the perils of being ridiculously sensitive. What finally helped me to avoid being emotionally overrun by the terrible suffering which plagues this world was the passage above. The Christ character of the Narnia Chronicles, Aslan, is explaining to the young Shasta a series of difficult, frightening and seemingly unfair events that had occurred. When Shasta asks about his friend, Aravis, he is informed that’s part of her story. I love that concept. We all have a story to live. “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.” Those people who live on the other side of the world and are suffering sometimes unspeakable things? They have stories to live as well. Continue reading

  • Bibledude.net has a series of posts on the issue of fatherlessness that you can check out by clicking this picture I cribbed from him.

    Why Christians Have a Moral Obligation Not to Have Sex Outside of Marriage

    Bibledude.net has a series of posts on the issue of fatherlessness that you can check out by clicking this picture I cribbed from him.

    Everyone has a theory to explain the breakdown of the family: culture, government policy, the sexual revolution, poverty, racism, global trade, etc, etc.  A few days back, I shared my theory: unresolved trauma from often horrific life experiences.  I said I was going to write about what I think Christians have a moral obligation to do in response and that is what this post is about. Now, before you snort and click away, allow me to explain myself . . .

    A few years ago, the ex told me about a woman he knew who lived in a high poverty area and had put her 14 year old daughter on birth control pills.  The girl was an honor student, insisted that she wasn’t sexually active and didn’t intend to become sexually active, and didn’t really want to be on the pills but the mother insisted.  I told my husband that I thought it was probably a good idea.  Not necessarily because the pills themselves would keep her from getting pregnant, but because the discipline of having to remember to take one at the same time everyday would serve her well. 

    Many of us grew up in homes with bedtimes, we sat down for meals with our families, got handed a vitamin with breakfast by mom and could always find a quiet spot to do homework.  Often we don’t appreciate the way these simple routines and disciplines shape and prepare us to manage our lives in the real world.  Including using birth control methods effectively.  

    A fellow RA in college went to the local county health department and came back with a bag that looked like this. Flavored! Colored! Many sizes! The bounty overfloweth.

    I was a poor single mom.  I have known a lot of much more stereotypical poor single moms (ie not just the black sheep of an intact, well-educated, upper-middle class family).  I can personally attest to the fact that is not hard to get condoms or birth control pills.  People practically throw them at you when you’re a college student or a single mom.  The problem is I have known more than one person who became a parent while a bag of condoms from the local clinic sat on a dresser across the room.  Continue reading