what loneliness would say

My daughter lamented to me recently. She craves a deep friendship. A friendship with someone who really knows her — her humor, her heart, her laugh — and likes what she likes. I listened. And I told her that I get it. I know that feeling of wanting flesh-and-blood to “get” me and like me.

We sat with the longing for a minute. Or three. And we prayed that God would grow an earthly friendship for her. Because that’s a real need.

But then I gently led her further down the road. I tried to lift her chin with some truths that have encouraged me on this life journey.

 

loneliness

 

Because the truth is that my almost-12-year-old girl is identifying the human experience of loneliness. Yes, God graces us with human beings who love us well and give us a taste of being fully known and fully accepted. But deep down, at least for me throughout my forty years of living, the longing still pulses.

We were made with longing. And when we seek after acceptance from the created more than our Creator, we’ll always be left with a twinge of loneliness. Because nothing down here on planet earth can ever reach the chasm that cleverly hides in our soul.

God made friendship. He gifts us with relationships. He’s graced me with precious people who speak life to me and laugh with/at me and…tell me when I have stuff in my teeth. We’re designed for relationship and need relationship. Don’t hear me say we don’t. But earthly friendships will never touch that deep down place designed for our God. They can’t. At their greatest potential, they lead us to Him.

 

I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.
Selah
Psalm 143:6

 

After my daughter and I talked, I paused and recognized a dialogue that’s been whispering behind the happenings of my own recent days. A dialogue where I admit a taste of loneliness. A dialogue through which I’ve seen the sweet invitation from my God to press more closely to Him.

Our world shouts of surface-level-relationship. But if in its midst you’ve tasted loneliness, be encouraged. It’s just your soul beckoning its Maker.

 
Fill me, Lord…

Has loneliness knocked on your heart’s door?
How do you respond?
What does it look like to “press into God”?

 

racial injustice. now what.

I’m diving right in with some thoughts on racial injustice and the complex mess we as the (un)United States face. Because that seems like a fun, light-hearted thing to do. Or not.

I was sitting in Starbucks when it hit me. I’ve been wrestling with shame and guilt over the fact that I’m a white girl. It’s like I want to apologize to everyone of a different color who crosses my path for being born this way.

But…that’s not a helpful train of thought. Or from Jesus. So I’m stopping that. Because we can’t choose the color we’re born, but we can choose what we do while we’re in the skin we’re in.

 

racial injustice

 

The morning before the Dallas shootings I had posted the essay by Propaganda from Relevant Magazine onto Facebook — not knowing that his words would shed even more perspective when I woke up the next morning to news of more death. In the essay, Propaganda talks about “white privilege” — a phrase I’ve always despised so instead I’ve mostly ignored. But as I’ve tried to prayerfully peel back the layers and implications of the phrase, I’m seeing what seems to be unreachable depths with the issue of racial equality in this nation. Which can be paralyzing.

I’m an idealist at heart. I’ve always been the type who sees the silver lining and wishes we could all just get along. I like the idea of everyone holding hands and singing friendship songs with the smell of sweetness in the air. But in reality, there are American systems and mindsets in place that discourage, and straight up constrain, that from happening. And when we place those systems, for hundreds of years, on human hearts, we’re left with a painful mess.

So it brings me back to square one — that hopeless square that tempts me to throw my hands up and say, “The division and confusion is too big and too craptacular, so I’m just not going to do anything.” Silence.

But the heart of God is for His kingdom to come to earth. (Matthew 6:9-15) Jesus ushered in the “kingdom of heaven” when He stepped on this planet. His Spirit comes to live inside those who believe and follow, placing His kingdom into the heart of man. And in Christ, we’re commanded and empowered to call forth His kingdom into our broken world, one life at a time.

Yes, our world is jacked up. People bathe in deep seeded hatred. And it seems that lasting change sits far out of reach on some tall mountain mocking us for our efforts. But the God I know can crush mountains that hinder His love. The God I know can bring dead people to life and give sight to the blind.

 

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
(Revelation 7:9, Come, Lord Jesus.)

 

But what are we to do? How can individuals change a system that seems to so deeply define the fabric of a nation? I don’t know. If I did you could write me in for president. But I do know there are some basic truths that could steer us towards a solution.

 

Truth #1: Whatever our skin color, God has us where we are with purpose. And that’s where we can begin to make a difference.

Whether we’re running a corporation, stepping into political office, making overpriced coffee drinks, or playing with our kids at a park, all of us have opportunities to encourage racial justice where we live. All of us have some influence somewhere. Now we get to choose what we do with it. We can bury our head in the sand and pretend injustice isn’t happening outside our front doors. Or in the love of Christ, we can open our eyes and seek to understand the state of our culture so that we can then be conduits of God’s kingdom on planet earth, right where we stand.

Which leads to truth #2.

 

Truth #2: Words are power. Start a conversation.

Once we’re willing to admit that there are still significant racial problems in our country (hello!) then we can start conversations. We can reach “across the line” and ask honest questions in efforts to understand. Understand hearts. Understand struggles. Understand perspective. And if we’re already in relationships with people of a different color, then let’s not allow fear-based silence to take hold. Start conversations and then take those conversations before the Lord in prayer. His heart is for unity. He hears the prayers of His people. And He alone can heal and move hearts.

 

Truth #3: Hope still exists.

The morning of the Dallas shootings my kids and I went to the pool. I watched as kids of all colors played together, taking turns jumping off the side and catching balls. And I thought, “There’s still hope.” Yes, systems and structures are in place. And we cannot deny a history dripping with injustice. But systems can change by people who are changed by the gospel of Jesus. History can be forgiven and healed by a God who truly binds up the wounded heart. And the next generation in the hands of a mighty God, walking boldly in His Spirit, could be the key.

I’ve had a couple of friends tell me that they will have to have conversations with their kids (because they’re African-American) that I won’t have to have with mine. And that sickens me. But I’m thinking that I need to be having honest conversations with my white kids that (unfortunately for the moment) these particular friends won’t have to have with their kids. I need to teach my kids that because of their skin color, they have a unique responsibility in this nation. They have a responsibility to stand in the gap when they see injustice. They have a responsibility not to be silent but to speak out. They have a responsibility to use this “white privilege” — as much as the phrase disgusts me — as an agent of change so that maybe, just maybe, the phrase will truly be a piece of history when their kids are born.

God still sits secure on His throne. And because of Him, there’s still hope. Change may seem like a long way off. It may be a long way off. But change can begin when people, in the hands of an Almighty God, grasp the depths and height and width of the love of Christ so that His transforming love then spills out. Change can happen through me (and you) right where God has us in the skin He’s placed us with the people before us, to the glory of the God of love.

Amen.

 

Disclaimer: I believe that the love of Christ transforming the heart of man is ultimately the only solution to all human atrocities, including racial injustice. All are welcome here but I’m primarily addressing those who believe the same, calling us out of our possible slumber.

 
Fill me, Lord…

I almost turned off the comments on this one but, what says you?
 

an invitation to be not-fine

I have lots of internal conversations that take place beneath the folding of laundry or the making of dinner or the running of errands. And I really would like to write out some of those internal conversations into blog format more often. But lately, it just isn’t happening very often. Maybe I need to rethink my definition of blogging. Maybe I should call it “blurbing” instead of blogging so that it wouldn’t feel as daunting.

Blurbing — {v.} short blurbs of thought written out on a blog; less intimidating than blogging

That’s what I’ll start calling it.

Blurb no. 1.

I listened to a podcast series the other day while flying to the Spanish Wells (more about that trip in later “blurbs”). It was three interviews by Dr. Dan Allender of Dr. Keith Anderson regarding Anderson’s newest book A Spirituality of Listening. The third interview sat with me a while.

 

an invitation to be not fine

 

Anderson was talking about lament and how (my paraphrase –>) the American church in particular (and our culture at large) has neglected the power and reality of lament in this broken world. We’ve become a culture obsessed with the victories of life to the neglect of a time for lament in the midst of the hard stuff.

Yet some forty percent of the Psalms are laments. They’re words spoken from the depth of soul in the middle of despair, mourning painful realities. Not hidden despair. Not fake “I’m fines” from plastered smiles. But real words from real hearts dealing with real issues — real anger, real pain, real regret, real fear.

 

But I call to God,
and the Lord will save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
I utter my complaint and moan,
and he hears my voice.
Psalm 55:16-17

 

As I sat on that plane, the idea of lament affected me. Because sometimes I want the ending — the victorious result — to the point that I’m not honest with myself (or others) about the deep struggles within. I so want to reach the “win” that I feel restless and uneasy with the undone.

Maybe as Christians we subconsciously think there’s something wrong with us or wrong with our faith if we’re not “fine.” Like we should be “ok, already.” But in all reality, we won’t be completely “fine” until Jesus comes again. In the meantime, there’s wrestling. There’s struggle. And there’s a place for holy lamenting.

God has graciously been drawing quiet folds of my own heart out of hiding. And I’m seeing that in being honest about the undone places, I allow Him — the ultimate Healer — in to mend.

So consider this an invitation to be “not fine.” Maybe not all over Facebook or with everyone we see in the grocery store. But “not fine” before our good God and even with a trusted friend. He waits to meet us and touch us right there.

 
Fill me, Lord…

Have you ever walked with God through a season of lamenting? How did He meet you and heal you in that?