Advertisements
Tag Archives: lovewarrior

Pain and Church

16 Sep

church

I saw a friend the other day that I haven’t seen in years. After the initial surface questions and conversation she broke down in tears. She shared about the many difficulties her daughter has had from a lifelong illness and also shared recent difficulties in her marriage. She expressed her exhaustion, her sadness and her hopelessness; she is at the end of her rope. As she was asking me how I was dealing with having cancer again my heart was breaking for her because she looked so defeated. What was more heartbreaking was after sharing her pain she said one of the last places she wanted to go was church; she’s angry with God, she didn’t want to be judged, and she didn’t want to hear any ‘Christian-ese’ talk. Knowing some of my past struggles and now cancer again she looked me straight in the eyes and asked, ‘How can you still have faith in God? How can you not be angry?’ Tough stuff. When did church become ‘unsafe’ for the heartbroken, hopeless, and weary? Why do we sometimes feel like we have to put on our ‘best face’ to go to church? These are just a few of the questions I’ve been asking myself for awhile.img_4188

I have a confession. When I first found out my cancer was back a year ago July, I also didn’t feel like going to church for awhile. Sometimes even now, over a year later, I still feel the same way. ‘With so much effort being poured into church growth, so much press being given to the benefits of faith, and so much flexing of religious muscle in the public square, the poor in spirit have no one but Jesus to call them blessed anymore.’~ Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church. I go to an awesome Christian church with great leaders and great people. I’ve been attending for over 20 years, have volunteered here, was on the worship team, and have gone on mission trips. I love it yet I wanted not to go after I got the news of cancer’s 4th return. Why? I can only speak for myself when I say that I didn’t want to put my happy, ‘God’s got this’ face on at a time when I felt raw, sad, and disappointed. I didn’t want to hear ‘Everything happens for a reason,’ or ‘God only gives you what you can handle.’  Phrases I’ve probably used before. Do we really think about things before we say them? I listened to a great interview with Dr. Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist who spoke about this exact thing, watch it here. She says that Christians are so used to these words and phrases (‘Christianese’) that we have stopped thinking, have we? Maybe. These phrases, words, and easy responses sometimes take away from us listening, thinking and loving the people who are hurting. Words have power and when you’re hurting you hear every single word so when you are on the receiving end of these patent phrases that we use all.the.time. you can’t help but want to roll your eyes and think, ‘You have no idea.’ I’m sure it’s all well meaning.

So what was my response to my friend? I hugged her and stayed silent awhile. Then I told her I was so sorry she was in such pain and that I truly had no words. I told her to be gentle with herself, and that it’s ok not to smile. I look back at some of my pictures from the first few months post diagnosis and I’m smiling but my eyes are not. I told her I’m not mad at God and even though I don’t want to go to church sometimes I know that I still have God and more importantly He has me. I told her churches are filled with hurting people regardless of the shine of the facade but vulnerability and authenticity can only happen if we’re willing. I shared my pain and told her that illness and in her case, serious adversity can be lonely because most people can’t know exactly how you’re feeling. I told her that for me, that is the reason I can’t let go of my faith in God. At the end of the day if I don’t have faith that God is real, if I don’t have God to talk to and if I didn’t believe He loved me I would have nothing to hope for after this life and there would be no possibility of joy in crappy circumstances. How do you convince a broken person that God loves her? You start showing God’s love by listening and loving. ‘Tell the story of the mountain you climbed. img_4187Your words could become a page in someone else’s survival guide.’ I LOVE that quote from Morgan Harper Nichols. In my low moments I don’t remember many conversations but I do remember the encouraging notes, those who sit and pray with me, and the many hugs with no words…love. Can we think on our own and not defer to a Christian-ese phrase as a response to someone’s pain? ‘No one leads people to Jesus; He leads people to Himself. All the pressure’s off; just go love everybody without agenda.’~Bob Goff

Today I’m feeling the red lipstick just because. I chose Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Love Drunk which is a deep red. Love the name, love the color. Cheers!

Advertisements

Prayer, Christianity

24 Sep

IMG_5322

photo courtesy of Kensington Community Church

Last month when I told my mom I had cancer again her first words after the ‘what’ and the ‘where’ were, ‘How can that be? We’ve been praying for you every single day since the last cancer (7 years) that it wouldn’t return. How can that be?’  The second or third time I had cancer I was invited to a small group bible study so they could pray for me…who wouldn’t want that? It was all good until one of the gentlemen started praying for my faith. Afterward he said that I probably got cancer again because I didn’t have enough faith and that his extreme faith in God is why he’s had no illness and drives a Cadillac. His faith got him blessings. I left there angry and sick to my stomach.

I am a Christian woman. I believe in the Father, his son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I try to live a life that shows that but I know I am far from perfect; the amazing part of Christianity is God’s grace and forgiveness. I have complete faith in God’s plan for my life however that looks and I believe there is a reason and a season for everything. Yesterday I waved hello to someone from my past who has over the years hardened toward me because of untruths that she has been told and she turned her back. This mature woman of faith. I wanted to finally speak my truth because there are always two sides, I wanted to forgive, and I wanted to share grace but she. turned. her. back. I forgave, I let go.

You say you’re a Christian? Show me. You have the bible memorized and can quote me verses? Nice job, but are you kind? Show me. You have your arms raised when you worship? Looks intense but do you love people not like you? How do you act outside those four church walls? Show me. You go to church every Sunday and sometimes during the week? Great, but do you condemn and curse people for offensive actions based on your judgement? Show me. John 13:35 says ‘Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.’ Is that you? Is that me? I’m trying my best but if you are quoting a bible verse in one breath then condemning or cursing a person, tribe, nationality, etc…what does that show the world? The old hymn says, ‘They will know we are Christians by our love,’ can we do that? Having cancer again gives me less energy and tolerance for stupid and lots of eye rolling as well. We are all flawed but if all the Christians would love and forgive more maybe our country would be a little less divided. Can we match our actions to our words so our legacy is one of love? We are never promised tomorrow and we are all doing the best we can, let’s do better.  ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such things there is no law.’ Galatians 5:22-23 

Now, the harder question. Does God answer prayer? When my mom asked me the ‘how’ with all the prayers I just had to shrug my shoulders and say that maybe God had a different plan and to just keep praying. I still 100 percent believe God answers prayer even if it’s not the answer we are hoping for. As Christians we always talk about God’s perfect plan, God giving us the desires of our heart, etc but we are also human so in our human brains it gets a little confusing when we think that His plan is something that we actually want or desire; healing, a promotion, a spouse, a child, a pay raise. I believe that God really cares about our hearts and the rest of the superficial stuff is secondary. I will not stop praying for the superficial stuff but I know that in the big scheme of things I have a plan and God has a plan and sometimes they’re not the same. I trust Him…He loves me, He made me.

Today I wear Lancome L’Absolu Hydrating Lipcolor in Jezebel…I know, biblical name with negative connotation but c’mon people, it’s the name of a lip color. This is the perfect deep berry shade for fall and I love that it’s so moisturizing. Until next time, Cheers!

 

%d bloggers like this: