Friday, January 25, 2013


I have never had to look into someone's eyes before who thinks I am going to hurt them.
It was the strangest, most desperate feeling.
"I'm not going to hurt you." Over and over. "No one is going to hurt you here."
I could see that she did not believe me.

Some days I want to give up. 

Awhile ago, in my own pain, I was asking God for answers. And he kept answering me the same way, with the same words from Isaiah 61. 

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion-- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor." 

When Jesus tells the people what He's about in Luke chapter 4, that is what he tells them. Those words.
They have been important words to me before, when I was asking who God was, and what he was doing. 
They are a lifeline, now, as I join in carrying the pain of others. Asking with them, or more often, for them, who God is and what he is doing. 

I hesitated while typing "carrying the pain of others." How very codependent. How very over-responsible. How very exactly what I am trying to figure out how to do. It is precisely the struggle of my particular humanness. I can't believe that I am to do nothing, to take on none of it, to be indifferent or unaffected. But, how am I to bear it? What can I even do? It's crushing and I feel crushed. 

My friend Marcia was leading worship at church a couple weeks ago. She sang one of my favorite songs. The bridge of the song is, "Take my life, take all that I have. With all that I am, I will love you. Take my heart take all that I am. Jesus, how I adore you." And as her beautiful voice led me, the Spirit joined me, and I lifted my hands and surrendered and confessed. 

I confessed that I forget sometimes that the deep desire to bind up, to proclaim freedom, to release from darkness, to comfort, to bring beauty joy and praise, that desire does not originate in me. I didn't come up with it on my own. Therefore, I am not equipped to do it on my own either. I confessed that it is easy for me to think that God is a tool of mine. He is my gift to give people. My solution to a problem I am fixing.

I surrendered to Him, because it is quite the other way around. The desire, planted in my heart, is His and He planted it there. I am a tool of HIS. I am a gift HE gives. I am a small part of a solution to a problem HE is fixing. A wound HE is healing. A fight HE is fighting. Has fought. Has won.

Ah, yes. My God is for the brokenhearted! Take my heart, take all that I am, with all that I am, I will join.

I prayed it as I looked into her eyes. 
He is for our broken hearts.
"Come Lord Jesus," on repeat. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Bold Love (Course Correcting)

I've been increasingly angry lately. Did you read my last blog post? I've been getting really angry at the violence in this world. I've been listening to angry poets, saying angry words, and writing angry blogs. I have been naming this anger "passion" and and I've been wielding it is a tool to inspire action and conversation. This has been a disappointing quest. Disappointing and dissatisfying and ineffective.

The question I keep asking is, “why aren't we (me, you, someone, anyone) doing anything about this?” I hear so many stories of senseless pain and there are no answers. No one seems to see. No one seems to be doing anything. And sure, some people are doing something, but it isn't enough. It isn't enough! This has been the battle cry of my last weeks.

One of my favorite things about how God loves me is that he gives me good books. Not just good books, right books at the right time. I picked up one the other day off a shelf at work. Bold Love, by Dan Allender. It was a direct answer to my current struggle, and to be honest, quite a blow to my pride and arrogance.

I don't know how to sum up what I'm reading. It's a lesson I'm learning and it's new to my heart. But I'm offering this half-thought as a course correction to my last post, as quickly as I can offer it, because God is clearly telling me to turn and go the other way. I'm sorry for the tremendous amount of quoting, but this book is so good and these aren't quite my words yet.

I read this: “Who wants to struggle with God as one looks at the blight of injustice? There are days when I talk to a young child who was physically and emotionally bloodied and torn into pieces by a man's sexual and power lust, and I want out. I want relief. I frankly don't care how I find it, but I want wings to fly above the countryside littered with crushed souls.” Yes, I thought. That is what I want if I'm honest—relief and a way out of feeling the pain of a fallen world. Allender goes on to write of himself in these situations, “[I felt] a distant and protective possessiveness toward those who were suffering. I wanted to ease their pain (and mine) by striking dead their Egyptian abusers and leading them through the desert to the Promised Land.”

I've been angry and I knew that. What I didn't realize is that I am angry at God. My cries for the action of people around me are masked cries for his action. My energy toward my own action has been an angry, anxious, arrogant effort to do what God (seemingly) will not. If he will not act on behalf of these women, then I will. If he will not stir the passion of his people, then I will. Behind my anger at God, my mistrust and disbelief in God. It is this place I've lived the past several weeks.

My convictions against injustice are not wrong and have not changed. But the energy behind them, to relieve my own suffering, to act out of mistrust in God, well, He is calling me elsewhere.

Away from anger and arrogance, but not toward passivity or numbness. I've been asking the question, “what is the third way?” And with Allender's words, God has begun to answer:

It is possible to face injustice and suffering and work for its demise as a response to the gospel. The consequence of my injustice has been paid for by His death and resurrection; therefore, I long to see others who are unjust come to taste the humbling delight of His kindness. Or injustice can be fought as a screaming protest to God's silent inactivity. ...The difference may not be easily noted, but in time the energy of hatred versus gratitude will be sensed in those who receive their strength and kindness. One will serve with humble, quiet grace and the other with angry, demanding assertion. One fights for a General who has already won, and the other for a revolution that is in question. One hates injustice, and the other hates God who has not dealt with injustice according to our timetable. (I paused a long time after reading this. On this sentence, I asked forgiveness) The latter enters the fray with a frenetic, scrambling energy that is busily in control; the former with a centeredness that is strong and passionate, but that is never inconsistent with a deep concern for the one with whom the battle for justice and love is fought.

In the face of injustice—which is daily and monstrous—one either learns to aggressively ask the hateful question, “Where is God?” or ask, “Who is God, that He bears His own sorrow as the unjust succeed and the just suffer?” The enraged assertion attacks injustice with furious self-will; the struggling question waits honestly in trusting silence for God's perspective. This kind of trust is not a passive, other-worldly asceticism that smothers present groanings beneath a pious futuristic hope. Rather it is a passionate, pregnant confidence in a God who will enfold an honest struggler in strong arms of comfort and love.

I am correcting my statement. I needed a reminder. This is who I want to be for my someday daughter, my someday son: a passionate, honest struggler. One who has patient and expectant confidence in a God who enfolds me in strong arms of comfort and love. A woman who is strong and passionate and full of humble, quiet grace. A woman in love, wanting to know more of who He is, why He does what He does. Not accusing. Pursuing. I offer this as a confession and a stake in the ground. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

What to Tell My Someday Daughters, What to Teach My Someday Sons

Phil and I have been thinking about having children someday soonish. I checked out What to Expect Before You're Expecting at the library because I fully intend on being crazy like that. Marcia bought me a baby names book for Christmas. I flip through it and I find a name for my son. It's easy. I can see myself holding him. I can picture him crawling in our house. I can imagine him playing touch football with his friends. I am committed to trying to teach him a life of nonviolence, though everyone says this impossible. People laugh at me when I say I won't buy him toy guns and tanks and swords. “You can't do it, Kylee,” multiple moms who know have told me, “boys will be boys.”

I cannot find a name for my daughter. There are beautiful names. But I can't see myself actually having a baby girl named anything. I'm afraid to have daughter. To imagine her as a real person is to imagine how beautiful she will be. How precious and complex and unique and wonderful. And to imagine that at all is to imagine the heart wrenching truth that this beauty will be wounded. I don't know what to say to her about it. I don't know how to teach her about this world or how to be in it. 

I am surrounded by women most days. The large majority of my coworkers are women. All my clients are women. And each of these women, to varying extents, carries with her a story of violence visited upon her because of her gender. These stories change us. 

And every time I hear another story of violence, something grows in me. I don't know what to call it. It is largely composed of anger. How does this continue to be something so unaddressed in our society? Worse, in our churches? How is it that millions of people rally around abortion issues or equal job opportunities for women, but so little is done about this violence that is everywhere? Where the hell are those bumper stickers? Where is this education program? Who is preaching this sermon? And how are we supposed to do anything about this in a world that has made an ethic of nonviolence “impossible” to teach? I'm not typically an outspoken person on political issues, or really any issues. But maybe I'm just sick of that. Maybe that's not the person I want to be for my daughter, my son. 

Things that I believe that I am scared to say I believe:  I believe in the sanctity of life. All lives. I believe unborn children have a right to live, and so do children who die in war campaigns. I believe in nonviolence. I actually don't think it's impossible. I believe that the church has done a terrible disservice to its daughters. I believe it's time to do something different. I believe there is another way. 

I know that anger is not the answer. I know that hate does not solve hate. I know that “love” is the answer. I know that God redeems all things and can make broken things beautiful. But I am tired of “love” equaling out to doing nothing. To staying silent. To acceptance. I am tired of God's redemption being an excuse for our lack of real love, passion, action, and boldness. I am tired of people throwing up their hands and saying nothing can be done, and I'm tired of joining. It simply isn't true that the issue is bigger than the solution we have. It can't be true that our God is powerless or has no ideas. I don't know what the answer is, but I want to be a person looking, praying, crying out for one, or at least something closer.