Speechless

A world of words inside my soul; how can I explain it? All the words I know can’t come close, all the pretty prose and turns of phrase are useless.

Can you translate the whispers of the deep into spoken words? Can any amount of music or painting come close to revealing true beauty? Can the glory of the sun compare to the essence behind the sun, to the lifeblood which gives it its glory? Can a foggy mirror produce the same clarity as the thing it reflects? Does the moon shine as brightly as the sun, whose light she mirrors? Sing, my soul, and speak, my mouth, although all falls short of God, although all falls short of the depth of feeling. Though I fall short, still I give my all.

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The Phoenix and the Flame Lily

This is not the name of a cool new book I’m working on (although, now that I think about it, maybe I should use the title and run with it…NaNo 2015 anyone?). The Phoenix and the flame lily (pictured) are two significant symbols that God has used with me in my life. In a way I suppose this is very personal, but there are aspects that apply to all of us, so I’ll just leave those thoughts here.

A phoenix is, as you probably know, a mythical bird of fire which goes through cycles of death and resurrection. It dies rather violently, bursting into flames and disintegrating into a pile of ashes. But then the heat of the ashes actually makes it regenerate itself, and it is hatched in that heat, and grows up again to be a glorious, fiery bird. It not only comes back from the dead, it does so with grace and beauty. It is resilient and unendingly so. It rises from the ashes of its own death.

The flame lily is extraordinary in its own right. It looks dainty, but lilies are tough flowers that usually last a long time and can withstand quite a lot. They are fragrant and look delicate and fragile, but they are strong (it is a lie that we have to be one at the expense of the other). And the color is amazing. The petals look like actual flames blazing up from the dark green stem, and they look more like creatures than flowers.

With the help of Christ, we are all like the phoenix. Things may happen, horrible things, things that shake us to our cores and shake our faith in God and His love. But because of Christ we are resilient and we will continue to rise from the ashes, stronger and better than before.

Everything around us continually says that we have to be strong, that we can’t care or feel because then we’re open to hurt and disappointment, that we have to be like granite stones, not affected or changed by anything. But the key is to have a balance; to bend when the wind blows but bounce back up when it passes. To allow things to change us in the sense that we are rough rocks being made smooth. To keep what should be kept and let go of what must go. Growth, letting go, new life, new things. That is how our life with Christ began, and that is how it will continue.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
-2 Corinthians 5:17

The Way Things Are

My heart is in pieces.Although I know that there is hope, and that there are good things in the world, and that the light overcomes the darkness, today I feel the world is in ruins, and today I have no optimism in me. We have the hope of Christ, but today I struggle to find that hope. And I have to speak up.

For how long will this suffering continue? For how long will men continue to rape, abuse, and molest children? For how long will basic human decency be a luxury when it should be just that – basic?

I don’t care about gender issues right now. I know rape is a growing threat to men as well. But right now I care that yet another little girl has been found dead and raped – not by strangers, but allegedly by a family member. A family member. She was four years old. Four years. A society where this kind of thing happens is a sick, dying, twisted, abysmal one.

For how long?

I am a woman. I have to be more on my guard. I have to be cautious even with friends. It is a reality. No, you can’t live in fear, and yet if you look at rape statistics, most rapes are committed not by strangers, but by acquaintances, friends, and family. We can beat around the bush all we want. We can go on and on about how most men are wonderful and won’t do this. We can say it is silly to be so cautious. But numbers don’t lie. Statistics don’t lie. I am asking, what are we supposed to do? Can you understand? Is this getting through? We can react with feminism and gender battles and what not, but not wearing a bra and shaving my head isn’t going to do anything. Talking about the power of women isn’t going to do anything. Arguing about the definition of man and woman and gender and whatever else isn’t going to do anything.

And I am asking, what are we supposed to do?

Apparently the reason why men rape is to feel powerful, and to make the woman feel powerless. Well, congratulations. Women feel powerless. Not only for themselves, but for their children.

What kind of a sick, twisted bastard rapes a little girl? Rapes a baby?

I’m a Christian and I believe in the love of Christ. I believe in His forgiveness. I believe that we should love others.

But right now, today, I am having a hard time with that. Right now, today, I feel like buying a machine gun…no, that would be too quick…I feel like buying every sing torture device known to mankind and hunting down the men who do this and make them suffer like hell. Because no human has the right to take away someone else’s rights, and when you do, you forfeit yours.

Dear governments of the world: you’re acting like a bunch of unfeeling jackasses. You think a few years in prison is punishment enough for rape? Good job. Clearly it’s working.

The Me Inside

ImageOswald Chambers said something along the lines of “Change isn’t adding things to become new, it’s God taking things away to reveal the you He made to begin with.” In other words, it’s becoming more and more who you really are. It’s a little sad that we allow so much to be plastered onto us; things that we think are more lovely than we are, but that, in reality, make us like works of art splashed with discordant colors and textures.

Who is the you inside? Why are you hiding yourself? Is it because of insecurities, comparing yourself to other people, wanting to be someone else? Is it because you’re afraid people won’t like you if you show yourself? Or, more likely, because you’d rather someone dislike you for something you’re not than for something you are?

I hide myself for all these reasons. But lately, the conflict has become too great, too tiring and stressful. God is working on the me inside, and she wants out. For a while I projected this on other people, going on rants in my head: “Why do they want to put me in a box? Why can’t they accept me the way I am? Why do they want me to be like them?” But that’s not the issue at all. The only one standing in my way is me. I made the box. I built the walls. I wanted me to be like everyone else.

But I’m not. And I’m writing this because I think there are many other people who struggle with the same thing, and you need to read this. But really read it; don’t just skim and go, “Oh, that’s cool.” I know that’s what you normally do with these things, because that’s what I normally do. But don’t do it this time. For yourself. Let it sink in.

God made YOU the way YOU are. You ARE unique, you ARE original. God doesn’t make copies and clones. He made YOU because He wants YOU to be alive and to be who YOU are. He has given YOU unique talents and gifts and quirks and personality traits that combine to depict to the world a specific aspect of who HE is that only YOU can depict. If you are not letting you be you, the world is missing out on something great, grand, and glorious that God wants to show. And you are cutting beautiful, breathtaking, awe-inspiring pieces of yourself off and throwing them away. You are plastering big black-out sheets over magnificent artwork that is meant to shine out and show people the heart of God, the beauty of God, the majesty of God.

So stop. It will take time, but allow God to peel off the black-out sheets. The reason why you don’t have peace despite your good relationship with God is because you are battling to be someone you’re not. But you know what? No one is as good at being you as you are. And the thing we often envy in other people is their ability to just be themselves. So do it. Be yourself. Who you are is between you and God; no one else has the right to intrude on that sacred ground. They can build you up and help you and raise you, but your core identity is a place only God can and should speak into. Let Him speak. Let Him build you with His breath. Let Him call you out of the box you’ve built.

In His name, there is freedom. Be free.

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Easter and Christmas: The “Unbiblical” Holidays

So, this morning a friend and I were chatting and I mentioned how we don’t really do the Easter egg thing because it’s not related to the actual meaning of Easter. She pointed out that I do the Christmas thing and that that’s not really related either, which got me thinking because I despise inconsistency, and I realized the following which I’ll share in case anyone else is having the same issue.

I posted about Christmas in December of last year, and how there is a lot of symbolism to me that fits with the real meaning of the day: Jesus’ birth. I’ll also post a few points today for whoever doesn’t want to click back.

Yes, the tree is a bit arbitrary, but it’s a tradition that comes with Christmas, so it stuck around. Also, we usually decorate with balloons or whatever for our own birthdays, so to me a tree is no less arbitrary than that. Christ and His salvation are the biggest gifts we ever received, and besides, if He were here on earth, we would be giving Him presents for His birthday. Exchanging gifts is a different way of doing this, and while it isn’t Biblical in the sense that no one in the Bible did it, it’s in the spirit of the Bible; giving to each other freely, being generous, gathering together, and loving each other. None of this is wrong or against the Bible, and although Christmas has been adopted by secular people and is more of a tradition than anything else, it is still a beautiful way to celebrate the birth of Christ. We make Him the center of our day and we honor Him by coming together with our friends and family and making it a priority to spend time with them. Again, none of this is unbiblical (as in disagreeing with the Bible), nor is it entirely unrelated. And this is why I think it’s awesome to celebrate Christmas.

Easter, on the other hand, has been made all about the Easter bunny and eating chocolate and hunting for Easter eggs. This is the death and resurrection of Christ we are talking about – our salvation – and it’s been reduced to Easter eggs. I can’t find anything in the secular tradition that relates to the death and resurrection of Christ, except that the eggs are hard-boiled and are therefore dead. There’s no religious significance to any of it, and no Biblical connection, and that’s why we don’t celebrate it the way the world does. I’m not saying it’s wrong to do it, and it’s not like I don’t eat the chocolate eggs this time of year or think people who celebrate Easter in this secular way are going to hell. Frankly it’s weird to me when people make a huge deal out of these things, because God knows our hearts. But I do know that over the Easter weekend, I don’t want my focus to be a bunny rabbit who brings eggs. Jesus Christ brought Himself, gave all of Himself, poured Himself out on the cross, died for our sins and gave us salvation and eternal life. That’s what our focus should be.

If your kids do Easter egg hunts, awesome and may they have fun, but make sure they know the real meaning behind Easter and let’s not water down one of the most crucial events in history. Christ died for us; all the glory and honor and praise to His name.