Don’t be a hero

I should start this by saying I’m the mom of a 6-year-old.  And I watch cartoons with her.  So, since God meets us right where we are, it only makes sense that this post is brought to you courtesy of an episode of Doc McStuffins, right? (Not even kidding.)

So here’s the skinny.  Doc McStuffins is a doctor to stuffed animals & toys.  When she’s alone, all her toys & stuffed animals come to life and one of them always has an injury or illness that she fixes.  On this particular episode, there is an adventuresome, capable princess who decides to leave the tower of her castle by repelling down the side (with a helmet on of course, because we have to be safe…and realistic).  But the gallant knight Sir Kirby will have no part of it.  He rushes away to get his trusty horse to “rescue” the princess whom he believe is in danger.

The Princess successfully and safely reaches the ground only to be scooped up by Sir Kirby and thrown over the back of his horse and off they go.  At about this point, I went to the laundry room or started doing dishes or started cooking something…who knows really and didn’t see any more of the story.  But knowing how these stories go, I’m fairly certain that either Sir Kirby or the Princess or both of them ended up with some sort of injury that had to be fixed.  Because one person (or toy) thought another person (or toy) needed rescuing.

That got me thinking.  How often do we rush to the “rescue” of someone only to do more damage than good? How often do we need to be the fixer or the hero and rob someone of an opportunity to learn or grow? It’s human nature, I think, to want to protect those we love.  And sometimes the hardest thing to do is sit back and not rescue.

But how many growth opportunities and learning opportunities would we miss? I remember being 23 and single and telling my parents that I was pregnant with my son.  I had been “on my own” for about 1 year and a half.  But had a ridiculous amount of growing up to do.  I remember my parents, and a short time later my grandparents, promising to support me through whatever this uncertain time in my life held.  But in a very loving nutshell, they let me know that this messiness of life was my messiness.  And mine to own and mine navigate through.  They would be there to listen, to encourage me, to give advice, to pray for me.  But I wouldn’t be rescued from my mess.  I know, especially for my mom, there had to be times where she just wanted to ride in on the white horse and rescue me away.  But she didn’t.  And from day one, I’ve been grateful that no one rescued me.  That hard, unpredictable time was a beautiful tool that God used to shape and mold me and grow me.

I remember when Payne was learning to tie his shoes.  Any parent who has gone through this knows that the patience of Job may not be enough to get you through waiting for your child to tie shoes.  There was a day that we were in a particular hurry and completely lost my patience waiting.  I went over and told him to just let me do it so that we could leave.  I’ll never forget him looking at me and saying, “Mom, if you don’t let me do it myself, I’ll never learn.”  So much wisdom from such a young child.

Sometimes watching those we love go through something hard is like watching our kids learn how to tie their shoes.  We can fix it faster.  We know what they need to do.  But they’ll never actually learn what they need to learn to actually tie their own shoes if we keep doing the work.  That person that you love so dearly that is really struggling with life right now? They don’t need you to rescue them.  They need you to pray for them.  Because you can’t save them, but God can rescue and restore and make beautiful things.  They don’t need you to fix what you see as a mess.  Because God has a plan for that mess that you’ll likely only get in the way of.

That person? She doesn’t need your rescuing.  He doesn’t need you to save him.  You can’t do it anyway.  All of those things that you want to accomplish for that person? God wants more and better.  Let HIM do the saving and rescuing in HIS way.

Interrupted {Jesus wrecked my comfortable Christianity}

So, here’s the deal.  I’m moderately obsessed with Jen Hatmaker and when she started an email newsletter, I signed up as soon as I heard.  Then, when she emailed for bloggers to send in some info for the opportunity to review her book InterruptedI got my email in quickly.  Because I wanted her book (for free!) and I wanted to read it.  And I wanted to write about it.  But I wasn’t planning on having my comfy Christianity wrecked.  Yes, there would be some “feel goods” and maybe a hint of conviction here and there, but no wrecking.  Absolutely no wrecking.

That was quickly an idea I knew that God was laughing at when I read Jen’s prayer: Raise up in me a holy passion and then prayed it for myself.

Um, I was crying and underlining and highlighting while reading the foreword.  The FOREWARD, people.  I knew my plan to not be wrecked was straight out the window.  There was a part of me that wanted to just put the book down.  Did I really want my comfortable life wrecked? I was a little afraid of what God might ask of me…or point out to me…or convict in me.  But I kept reading.

Aside from my Bible, there is no book I own that has so many notes in the margins, underlining, highlighting, circling and tear stains.  Friends, I’ll tell you now.  If you like the cozy American Christian life and want to just stay the course, don’t even pick up this book.  If you think the American church has it all figured out and is the standard (or should be) for the rest of the world, this book isn’t for you.  If you don’t want your happy bubble popped, just don’t even read my blog.  Seriously.

But if you feel like you might be missing something…that as much as you’re fed through church sermons, Bible studies, activities and church life, yet you’re still never really full…THIS IS FOR YOU.  When I read the following, I completely lost it.  This is where I’ve been for a really long time.  And this is when I knew, beyond any doubt, that this book was for me, right now.

“I had gorged myself on all the products of the Christian industrial complex but was spiritually starving to death.  I was marked by an over consumption but malnourished spiritually, suffocated by Christianity but thirsty for God.”

I know God.  I see him show up in my life, in my family, for my friends.  I don’t doubt Him.  I have relationship with Him.  But I’m over-churched and completely malnourished spiritually.  There are moments where I’m full, but not consistently.  Not the way it could be.  Or should be.

In this book, there are eye-opening and heart wrenching facts about our country and our world that will rattle you at your core.  And should ignite a fire in you.  There are methodologies that challenge the legalist in anyone.  And, for me, there was such a fresh, new understanding of Scriptures I’ve read my entire life.

And there was also the gut punching conviction that I’ve placed way to much of the responsibility for my spiritual nourishment on my church leaders.  Because when you know something is missing spiritually, that ugly human reaction is to blame someone else.

There have been stirrings in my spirit in recent years that this book put into words.  And there has been a sense of solidarity forged in my heart that LOVE is what we should lead with.  Not judgement, not condemnation, not even opinion.  Just love.  Lead with love.

Folks, there are conversations that God & I have had through this that have reached the most intimate places in my heart.  I’m done reading the book, but God is definitely not done with me.  I could write a book on just my takeaways from this book.

I told a friend last week that I didn’t think I could “review” this book.  You can’t review something that has such a deep reach into your heart.  But, friends, I can tell you this: If you want to experience God in a new way, if you want to have a fresh set of eyes on often heard Scripture, if you’re willing to have your comfortable bubble wrecked, then this book is for you.

Have you been Interrupted? I’d love to hear your stories.  And create a little community for us to pray together as we discover what God wants to do with our interruptions.

Want your own copy of Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity? You can buy your own here or pop over to my Facebook page and enter to win a free copy of your own!

Oh Captain, My Captain

I vividly remember the first time I saw Dead Poet’s Society.  I’m fairly certain it was the first “grown up” movie I saw.  Or at least it’s the first I remember.  It was the first movie that stayed with me.  And has stayed with me to this day.  I remember it being the first time that I saw suicide dealt with on-screen.  Professor Keating inspired something in his students and in every person that sat in those late 80’s movie theaters.DPS Captain

Maybe because of the impact that movie had on me…and maybe just because he’s quite possibly the funniest human to ever live…I was always drawn to his movies.  And to him.

He was also the first Hollywood A-Lister that I remember ever speaking openly about battling depression.  He spoke so openly about the reality of his struggle.  Before him, at least that I can remember, it was a taboo topic in Hollywood.  He addressed it with that same mix of heart wrenching honesty and humor that he brought to the big screen.

A lot will be written in the coming days and weeks about his death.  About suicide.  About depression.  About how he made us laugh and cry.

A lot of people will judge & condemn.  Most of those people will be in the church world.  Those people will all be wrong.

Depression is a disease.  And like any disease, God CAN heal it.  But also, like any disease, it may be a journey.  A hard journey.  A painful journey.  A dark journey.  But for some reason, when God doesn’t bring miraculous healing from depression, suddenly the person fighting the battle is now fighting people.  People who say to quote Scripture, to pray about it and use all kids of Christian-ese.  Because if you had the “joy of the Lord” you wouldn’t be depressed.

Just like if you had the “joy of the Lord” you wouldn’t have cancer, right?

Don’t get me wrong.  There is a huge faith element in any battle we face, demon we fight or disease we journey through.  We have to have faith that God will bring healing.  We have to have faith that God will bring help.  We have to have faith that God will see us through.

But just like faith doesn’t always bring earthly healing to cancer, it doesn’t always bring earthly healing to depression.  So why does the church offer refuge for those who bravely battle cancer, but offer judgement for those who quietly battle depression? Why can we openly talk about diseases of the body in the church, but shut down when diseases of the mind come up?

The church as a whole must open up to the conversations around diseases of the mind.  And become that hospital, that place of refuge for those who are struggling.  Some churches are there.  Rick Warren’s church is one leading the way because of the devastating effects that mental illness had in his family.  Carlos Whitaker has paved the way in the Christian community for speaking openly about depression and anxiety.  But where are the other voices?

The church as a whole must remove the stigma on mental illnesses.  The church as a whole must offer the same care and community to those who battle mental illness that is offered to those who battle physical illness.  The church must be Jesus.

*I am the church.  I have been guilty of the stigma.  I must be more like my Jesus.  I must be more grace filled.*

I’m sorry you were never completely free from the grip of depression while on this earth, Mr. Williams. I’m sorry if ever there was anyone claiming to represent Jesus who condemned you in your battle.  I’m sorry that this world has lost a light.  Tonight, I choose to remember the man who made me laugh and made me cry.  The man whose heart was bigger than all of Hollywood.  The man whom his colleagues esteemed as one of the greatest.

Tonight, I salute your beautiful, messy, struggle filled life.  And the authenticity in which you lived it.  Praying you are at peace now, oh captain, my captain.

Interrupted: Raise up in me a Holy Passion

So, I posted a week or so ago that I had been given the opportunity to review the revised and expanded version of Jen Hatmaker’s book Interrupted.  I’ve been excited to have the chance to not only read this book, but share with y’all what God stirs in me.  So, after a week to settle back in from vacation, I picked up the book today to start reading.

My “plan” is to read through and once a week (maybe more if there’s something huge God puts on my heart) share what God shows me through this book.  Uh, today I didn’t even get past the book jacket.

Because, here’s the thing.  Am I really ready for God to wreck my comfortable Christianity? It’s, well, comfortable.  It’s safe.  It doesn’t push me too far out of my comfort zone too often.  And, if I’m being completely honest, I’m ok with that.  But God’s not.  And deep down in my soul, I’m really not.

Jen (because I like to pretend she’s my BFF and we’re on a first name basis) prayed what the book calls a dangerous prayer that started the journey that is this book: Raise up in me a holy passion.

So, before I even turn page 1, this is my prayer.  Raise up in me a holy passion.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey.  At the end of this, I’m going to give away a copy of the book to one of my readers.  If you can’t wait, click here to purchase for 20% off through tonight!

Grace like rain

Ya know those days that just need a reset button? Or an easy button? Or a go-away-and-never-come-back-button? Yeah, that’s today.

A project for work has consumed more time, brainpower, and sanity than any one project in one day should.  I’m stuck in a holding pattern on other projects because I’m waiting on other people.  I stink at math.  And checkbooks (no, the irony is not lost on my that I spent many years as a bookkeeper…and did it well).  It’s not even 5PM and I’d like to just go to bed and let the family rummage through the pantry and just feed themselves.  But there’s not a lot to choose from.  Because we’ve been on vacation.  And I didn’t do the best job with my grocery list Monday.  And I stink at math.

As I’m sitting in my big, comfy chair trying to will myself to finish working, an unexpected thunderstorm is coming through.  And this rain in beautiful.  And cleansing.  And refreshing.

And God softly spoke to my weary soul.

Like this generous summer rain, His grace rains down on this day.  And He reminds me that He knew what this day would hold.  And He know what I would need to survive it.  And there’s not only enough grace for today, but tomorrow, too.

I’m thankful for this rain today.  And even more thankful for the grace like rain falling down on me.