We all want to be something, something more than we already are. But our motives are all certainly different. In the world, it is money and fame and self-absorption. We are propelled by always trying to be something more. The simplicity and teachings of the gospel are just too much for some with its anti-pop cultural message- the things of this world will pass away, but I will never pass away.
It is counter-intuitive to not want to get credit for our work. It doesn’t make sense to the world when believers sell everything and move halfway across the world to serve as missionaries. Many of us who are believers long for adventures like that, long for God to call us to bigger and better things, but alas, we are still in our minds “stuck” in our jobs and in our everyday lives, no “big” calling, no moving halfway across the world. This for many is disappointing. Looking around at our fellow congregants and saying to ourselves, “I wish that was me.”
I believe that so many times, the church ends up mirroring the world. We get caught up in our expectations of what God will do for us, how he will use us. We want to be pastors or deacons, ministry leaders, travel the world. And although these things may be the pathway for some, it is not for all. We are missing what God has for us right before our very eyes.
We don’t write to please others, or raise our children the way the world tells us. Our marriages are built on the foundation of Christ, not of the world. We are to be servants at our jobs, and forgive, and pray for those that have offended us and spitefully used us. We are to be light in the darkness.
Jesus did not have a formal ministry. He took the message into the world; He was among the people. God took on flesh to teach us what it was we needed to do. And those things are clear, seek the lost, preach the gospel at all times and live in the way He has called us. We have to stop looking at the way the world does business, stop bringing it into our churches. The call on your life is right where you are.
I have found that in that acceptance, there is so much freedom. I, like many can get carried away at times with where I think God should have me. But then I remember Mary at the wedding feast at Cana, “Do whatever He tells you.”
So if you are doubting your impact on your children as a stay at home mom, hate your job in the world, or simply are waiting on God to move you somewhere else, remember who you are serving, the seeds you are planting. It only takes one person to change the world. (Rest in heavenly peace Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)
“Happy are those who love you, and happy are those who rejoice in your peace. Happy too are all who grieve over all your afflictions , For they will rejoice over you and behold all your joy forever.” Tobit 14:14
I think people are still looking for it, I know I still am. For those of us that have found God but have not found happiness, we are shunned. I don’t know many happy people. I have been searching for them. Maybe they live on an island somewhere singing their happy song and dancing their happy dance. I imagine them in brown tiki looking skirts and grass -made headbands drinking coconut drinks out of scooped out pineapples. Don’t judge me- sometimes the wonderment of fantasy is the sole place I see smiling.
I am not depressed, don’t suffer from any diagnosed mental health condition. I don’t use substances to make me feel good and I don’t drink. I don’t stay away from those things because I think I’m better than anyone else, I stay away from them because I know they are fleeting and the small slice of joy they bring won’t last. I have lived there before, and I am pretty sure you have too.
Last night in a state between not fully sleeping and not fully awake, I asked God why I couldn’t just be happy. Now don’t get me wrong, I am at peace. True peace. My soul is settled like a child in her loving mother’s arms. But happiness, that is another thing.
The Lord showed me a series of events last night, asking me questions along the way.
“Look back on your life before me, what made you happy, what events or things made you smile?” He said
I took a peek into my past, it was moving fast. I thought about someone I had truly loved. This person made me happy. But the happiness faded like the autumn trees, and I was left with nothing.
I thought about graduating from college and law school and remember feeling accomplished, but not so much happy. That was expected of me. I don’t remember anyone gushing over me or telling me I was wonderful. I was on a robotic path that I had accepted and so nobody was surprised when I graduated summa cum laude from college, or received the law school’s service award. But then I remembered Jessica whose case I worked on in law school. We applied for clemency to the governor for her. I spent countless hours on her case. Living my dream made me happy, but then it ended. And on becoming an attorney to hundreds of children in foster care, I realized that Jessica’s face was everywhere. It was overwhelming, and that did not make me happy, anymore.
And so after scanning my head for some more memories and realizing that “happy” was fleeing too, I gave up. God didn’t, He was still waiting for me to think it through.
I started thinking about the day He found me, or how hard it was to be a Jewish convert, and then I just started thinking about Him, and I smiled. It’s been a couple of years now that I’ve known Jesus. Yes that sounds so very cliché. But I know Him. And unlike anything before I met Him or after, He always make me happy.
Inside that seed of peace He planted, is my happy. I realize that like so many other believers, without knowing it, I get swept away at times by the worldview of happiness. I am trying to say this in the most non-Christian way possible, because I hate when my writing gets caught up in the modern Christian dialect like “the world” or “believer.” I like worldview better, because that alludes to what everyone else is doing.
I’ve taken myself off of every social media outlet but this one. I don’t exist out there. I tried to outdo God last night by beefing up my fiverr account, but no go. He told me I was worth more than that, metaphorically more than $5.
And then He showed me this:
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you. These are the ways of the world: wanting to please our sinful selves, wanting the sinful things we see, and being too proud of what we have. None of these come from the Father, but all of them come from the world. The world and everything that people want in it are passing away, but the person who does what God wants lives forever.
1 John 2:15-17
You can sit there and try to tell yourself a million times this scripture is not for you, but it is. We all do it. If you call yourself a Christian there are words in here for you, and if you don’t I hope you see the light breaking through from behind these words.
Abandon all you know if you want to find happiness. Your preconceived notions, your quotes of inspiration on post its that only last for so long. Stop looking at pictures from the past. Sit in that scripture and breathe it. I’m dead serious. Inhale its aroma. There is a deep wisdom in there, do you see it? Don’t look at the religiosity of the statement, look at its words.
The next time you go chasing happiness like me, figure out what the last thing is you did that took you into the worldview of what should make you happy. Now leave that behind. Start walking again, this time into the light within yourself.
“A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled, since they were no more.”
We talk a lot about human life in terms of abortion. We talk about why God values the lives of the unborn. There are protests and signs and lots of press coverage. We talk about the sacredness of all life. But in this rhetoric, we leave out a lot of life, entire segments of the population.
We leave out the homeless and the hurting, those in prison, the alcoholic, the mother afflicted with a mental health condition. What about the abused child or the dirty child or the child that beat up your child? What about the lonely girl, the tired girl, the gay child? What about the screaming bigots and racists? What about the family member who you don’t talk to because you said it was o.k.? Do you pick and choose whose life gets the title of sacred? Are you God?
The sacredness of life. It is all life. It is the people we don’t like, or turn away from or make excuses about. It is the life we read about in the paper but do nothing about. It is the tears we don’t shed after our morning coffee. It is the person we see next to us in church, in tears, who we don’t turn to. Are you a part-time Christian, a Sunday attender, a picker and a chooser? Do you play with bible verses because you’re more versed than that? Are you doing “ministry,” but neglecting your family? Are you concentrating on the masses and droves of people that could be “saved” rather than the one right next to you? Are the small things just to small for you? Big screens and fancy suited preacher, ornate church, your weekend ministry, pamphlets, no eye to eye contact, no hug or hand shake, no connection, no nothing.
If you aren’t connected, if you don’t see the truth that ALL life is sacred, you have missed the point. You have missed the love. You have missed the hope that is Jesus Christ. You shouldn’t have joined the religion of outcasts.
In your highways and byways, and everyday life, you have completely missed the mark. You are preaching your own gospel, I see it everyday.
“Let us declare that God is dead, then we ourselves will be God.”
JESUS of NAZARETH, Pope Benedict XVI
I can’t help but think of so many more than the unborn. That God’s love and reach extends so much farther than that. That the Genesis telling of being created in His image becomes so cliché when I see it on products for $9.99 plus tax. That being “saved” doesn’t mean God threw you a life -line because He loves you any more than He does the person you can’t forgive. That I am not “saved,” I am free; I am free because He released me from the captivity of my own sin… I couldn’t save myself from myself.
The next time you think about the sacredness of life, think about the people you love the most- your wife or mother, your daughter, your very closest friend. All human life has such value, because at one time the people you hate were one of these, or maybe they still are one of these. If someone has breath in them, they are precious to God. Imagine the person you hate, imagine their breath, that is the God we worship that lives inside them.
To anyone who is reading this that has ever been hurt by someone who claims Christianity, let me say I am sorry. You are so very precious and beautiful, and the God of the universe loves you as He made you. I extend my hand out to you in love and peace, honoring your life for who you are. May God bless you in ways you never fathomed, and may you always feel welcome at my table.
I read a post this morning (fantastic by the way) about how to garner more comments out here on WordPress, meet and greets and the like. It got me to wonder that age old question, why am I here?
What started out as a recovery breakthrough and call from God has taken on a life of its own that led me all the way to the Catholic church. I’ve met people out here in blog-land who’ve accepted me throughout the entirety of this journey, and some who have not. I read and re-read so many theology based posts I sometimes become nauseous with the verbose and stale translations that make Jesus dead. I’ve been asked to be myself but most times I’ve been asked not to be myself. At times I don’t even know what to call myself.
The mass, it is my saving grace. Receiving Jesus weekly in the Eucharist has taken me to places I never thought I’d be spiritually. The celebration of Him, the focus on His sacrifice and the participation at His table is at times overwhelming for me. I could float off in the distance in my little Catholic life, and maybe God will let me do that. I pray God will let me do that. But it’s times like this I find and know my writing and working out my salvation is as much for you as it is for me. And I am not concerned about comments, online cocktail hours or whether you like me or not. No, the truth is so much more than that.
We try and make people conform to the way we think they should be. We say that being a Christian makes us free, but I was in bondage over people pleasing so much more than I was in the world. Even now, it is hard at times to write what God has for me, knowing it will draw your ire. But be myself I must, I know who I am, and God does too.
I wish more people would write about their struggles and realities rather than cloak themselves in bibles. I wish more people would be honest with themselves about who they are. I can’t imagine that most Christians don’t use the word moron in their everyday vernacular or get angry or feel hurt or sad. I can’t imagine why we can’t and won’t accept people right where they are, and why we need to shove the gospel down their throat like bad medicine. If I cannot be myself in Christ, where else can I go to do that? Certainly not back to the world which has nothing to offer except certain death…
We have to allow ourselves to feel, to grow, to move inside and outside of ourselves, to be healthy, to get healthy and to take others with us. We can’t exist inside a shell of who we are. We can’t be perfect. We have to reach out in the language that the person our hand is extended to understands.
So why am I here? I don’t know. I ask myself that question a lot these days. So I’ll ask you the same, why are you here, what are the intentions in your heart? Is your space self-serving, do you tear down others with your words, do you judge, do you hide behind pretty things, do you get angry and let the writer know, do you let people be free to be themselves and give them the words you know they need? What are you doing here? Well?
Politics, religion and money- the three things we are expressly told not to talk about. I talk about all three, all the time. I have had this blog for some time now and it has been the bane of my existence. I’ve begged God to make me more normal in some way, that I could ride off into the sunset in my little Jewish world and forget all this putting myself out there stuff. Until I realize that I have been putting myself out there way before Jesus came on the scene. Like the first time I almost went to jail for defending my client’s right to a hearing. My boss at the time gave me the best advice I’ve ever gotten in my whole career that I have lived and died by. With my tear-stained face he took a hold of me and said, “Melissa, if you are not pissing someone off, you are not doing your job.” I dried my eyes and went back to court ready to go to jail if I had to. Needless to say, I didn’t end up in the clank that night.
I must admit how apprehensive I have been in so many ways to voice my inner Jesus. It is quite unpopular as many of my views often are. I always seem to find myself on the other end of the argument. A team of angry ones over there and me over here. But I’ve never left the truth. I’ve stood by it, always. And now I know that truth is Jesus.
Recently, God has called me to higher places, to run with horses, to reach farther in my walk of faith than I ever have before. He’s let me play nice for a while, placate people, walk the line. I know I’ve been teetering. The Catholic thing I know got many people who know me or read me off course. People were shocked. I wasn’t. My road has always taken me places that were never in the cards. Well, at least not the cards I had in my hands.
I’ve been successful in keeping my two worlds somewhat separate. It was o.k to be like that, to be me in my secular life, but not in my Christian life. But those two lives were slowly merging. Ok, they were crashing. God warned me, and Kim Davis took the first hit.
I know some of what I write puzzles some of you who are Christians, maybe it bothers you. In my life and in my walk my intention is never to bother anyone. My intention is to tell the truth as I see it, and respect and know that I will have opposition. I experience it everyday in my “real” life. But as the sign on my desk reads, “Footprints in history aren’t made sitting down.”
So my secular life, the blog, my walk, my freelancing is all coming to a crashing, mangled, uncomfortable head. This is who God made me. I want to sit in the corner and cry over it, why can’t I just be somewhere in the background? Hey God, why not that stay at home mom thing you and I talked about it? The more I pray for some sort of normalcy, the more he pushes me from behind into an endless ocean. To give Him some credit He warned me, and I told Him I’d rather jump willingly. But I needed a little nudge, and I got it, so here I am.
The two lives I have cannot just co-exist they must co-mingle. That whole separate but equal thing is a lie from the pit of hell. We have to be who we are 100% of the time, and if I can’t be me than I can’t be a follower of Jesus, because to follow Him means to walk in truth twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I’m sick of being afraid of what people, especially Christians think of me. We as a group don’t know how to get along or how to fight fair, and we certainly don’t know how to disagree. When I read something someone else wrote that bothers me, the first thing I think is, well why is that? Usually it has something to do with me, though I don’t of course want to admit that. But as Christians, haven’t we learned by now that it is always about us?
It is painfully tiring to be someone else, so I’m just going to be me, I have no choice. If I’m not obedient, than I’m not all in. And two years ago I told Him I’d be all in. I told Him if He saved me, I’d serve Him for the rest of my life , and I meant it. And He saved me, He saved my whole life, every part of it. I am alive because of Him, so I owe Him everything, and He’s the only one I have to please.
I hope for those of you out there, whatever you call yourselves, atheist, Christian whatever you are, you stay on the path to find the truth. Be yourself always. People don’t like what you have to say, so what, love them anyway, that’s what Mother Teresa did. It never bothered her, even when people spit in her face. I am far from Mother Teresa, but I’d like to be just like her. I hope if you spit in my face, I can get on my knees and pray for you, right in front of you, or maybe just give you a hug. That is the essence of my savior. And oh, He is the essence of who I want to be.
We don’t need to pretend to be someone we are not or say we’ll pray for someone when we don’t feel moved to do that. We have to live an honest, pure and truthful life, guided by the Holy Spirit and all that God is. How ever will people see God if we are anything else?
I imagine myself sometimes quiet, walking away from everything, living my little life with my little family, punching a clock from 7-3 and doing it again the next day. For some, that’s quite alright. But for me, my insides were just not created like that- pre or post Christ. You may not understand me, but I wouldn’t necessarily expect you too. I’m not trying to be understood, I’m just living the way He’s told me to live. Out loud.
Pass this on to the one that’s struggling to just be themselves.