Posts Tagged ‘hope’

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Lunch With Fred Phelps

February 23, 2011

On Sunday our sermon was titled “Lunch With Fred Phelps”. I go to a church that proudly proclaims that we are a liberal, Christian, church. The exact opposite of anything that Fred Phelps is. In fact, I think the people at my church are more likely to hate Mr. Phelps than the average American. The point was that it isn’t our job to change people. It is not our job to tell people they are wrong and make them change. It is our job, our responsibility as Christ-followers to love people exactly as the are. We should have lunch with Fred Phelps and not tell him how wrong he is or condemn him, but just to enjoy a meal together. Putting “love your enemies” into this context makes it even more obvious how difficult this command from Jesus really is.

After church L. and I were talking about love and I made the observation that I can totally be respectful and caring toward my enemies, but the true agape love- the love that comes from someplace that has nothing to do with worth or earning it- that I don’t know how to do. I can be the nicest person in the world, but being nice is not the same as loving someone. Love affects our actions, but our actions can be loving without the reason being love. I am completely and utterly incapable of true agape love on my own. But that’s the point. That’s the beauty of it. We can’t. We aren’t expected to. Our role is to allow God to work in our lives to create that love for others inside us. My job is to make room for God to take over until I start to see everyone through God’s eyes and not my own. Because the only being capable of true agape love is God. And the only way we can even begin to experience it is by allowing ourselves to be transformed by God. On my own the best I can do is show respect and kindness. But this is not what God has called me to. God has called me, and you, to a standard that requires submitting ourselves fully to him.

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My provider, my Hope

January 30, 2011

It’s been hard. Not really harder than expected, but harder in a different way. I’ve seen God’s faithfulness and provision as he’s provided exactly what I needed exactly when I needed it, and not a minute early or a minute late. But the waiting, the not knowing, the wondering if the next time I am in need will be the time that God chooses to wait a minute longer, has been exhausting. Draining and bringing me ultimately to a place where happiness seemed a thing of the past. Joy and peace have been ever present, but the giddy let it all go nothing to worry about happy feeling hasn’t been around in a long time. And I realize now that I’m at the end of my rope. I don’t think I could go on much longer without finding that happiness back.

Last Saturday I went to Second City. It was hilarious and in a very weird way life changing for me. It was the first time in months that I found myself truly feeling that happy feeling. The first time in months I just let go and had fun. And that night as I went home and went to bed I felt God telling me that things were going to get back to that again-soon. I went to church Sunday morning and while I can’t say I did a very good job worshiping God at church other things, community and relational things, were amazing and powerful and life-giving. Despite this being the hardest week at work I have yet had I felt a perpetual hope that this was it, this was the brink, the edge of the cliff. And it was, in ways I cannot yet fully comprehend.

The day after the worst day I have ever had at work came I got a call for an interview, which I had on Friday and by Friday afternoon I had a new job. Friday night and Saturday were spent with a girl who came out of nowhere and who makes my stomach tight and my heart beat faster and makes me feel safe. Which is beyond terrifying because I have never felt that way so quickly before, but it’s amazing and beautiful and hope building. And as I sit here looking over the past week I can’t believe how quickly and how greatly God has provided.

He is my hope, he is my salvation, he is my Father. I can see and feel and know in the deepest parts of who I am that God desires my happiness and my pleasure and my peace. Because no matter what happens from here God has blessed me when I was wondering if I could make it through another week. When I wondered what the next week would hold that would provide what I needed, God blew me away with his generosity.

I’m falling now. The edge of the cliff is behind me, the ground is below. I don’t know what it holds, but I know that God is guiding me and that he will place a trampoline at the bottom of the cliff, or perhaps I will fall and find myself broken and not knowing what comes next, but I know that God will be there to pick me up and put me carefully back together. Until the bottom arrives I don’t know which it will be, but I do know that God loves me and I know that love does not seek to hurt.

If you’re at the end of your rope, hold on. If you don’t know how to hold on, then let go. But whatever you do, trust that God is there, that God will provide. Perhaps only exactly what you need, but perhaps he will blow you away with the amazing things he gives you today, this week, this year.

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Keeping Hope

February 28, 2010

I’ve been feeling inundated with bad news the past couple of days. First Haiti- and a rekindled awareness of the devastation there. Then long term relationships splitting, death, and suicide. It’s everywhere. I look at the news and it’s all negative. It feels like hope has been lost, I feel like my hope is being threatened and attacked.

Last night a friend almost committed suicide. It caught me completely off guard because things had been going well I thought, but apparently not. She’s better now and getting help. Then I read that another “celebrity” (or in this case celebrity’s child) has committed suicide- two in the past week. There are house fires claiming lives, and completely pointless gun deaths being reported daily. We are in the midst of a war that whether justified or not is claiming thousands of innocent lives in the process.

Good things are happening too. I have friends and relatives who have just given birth or just announced a baby on the way. My cousin got engaged. People are giving time and money to help Haiti.

Somehow, somewhere, the bad took over the good. The joy of the good isn’t enough to overcome the despair of the bad. It’s hard to know where to go from here.

At the end of the day I am choosing to trust that God will show me the joy. That he will keep hope alive no matter how much the bad seems to be suffocating the good.

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Haiti and Me

January 17, 2010

Everyone has heard about Haiti, many people have donated money and/or time to help in the aftermath, and many have written about what has happened.

Tonight on the news they were reporting on this supermarket that has turned into this great symbol of hope: apparently trapped inside of a 5 story supermarket are at least 60 survivors. Workers are digging as quickly as possible to get to these survivors. It reminds me of 9/11 and the deserate work to get to survivors burried beneath many layers of debris.

Then I got to thinking about it. They were just going through their day- I mean, clearly if you think that your world is going to be turned upside down that day you wouldn’t be grocery shopping. How often do I go through the day not even thinking that maybe this will be my last day. Perhaps this will be the last thing I do in this life.

I’m not being morbid, it just made me realize some things. I keep saying I’ll figure such and such out tomorrow, or I’ll start doing ______ next month, when really this may be my last chance to do it. At my grandpa’s funeral the pastor said that we need to carry on his legacy, and I keep coming back to that. I want to live fully, I want to make a difference in the world, whether it’s recognized or not I don’t want to be trapped below rubble wondering if I’m going to die and wishing I had done more.

I want to do things, but I don’t know what to do.

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President Obama

November 5, 2008

As I go to bed tonight, the predictions are that Obama will be our next President. The crowds are roaring downtown-my sister decided to call and see if they were loud enough for me to hear…seriously? It’s a long road ahead, and while in a few months a new reign will take over, nothing will be fixed overnight. I am so thankful that I put my trust in God, who never fails and who is with us in all we do. Because I believe this will be a tumultuous time. But I trust and believe that the person God intends to have leading this country is who will be.

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Depression

September 30, 2008

The cloud hangs down, a weight that you just can’t shake. It colors the world grey, dimming the beauty around you. It gets between you and God, a formidable obstacle that seems impenetrable. You try to fight it, but the cloud keeps weighing heavier and heavier. You try to pretend everything is okay, you laugh when you are supposed to laugh, you talk about God like you know is expected, you try to be a good friend, and you keep pushing on at work. But the cloud won’t go away, and it’s exhausting to fight. Slowly you start to embrace the cloud. You stop pretending to enjoy things, you start letting go of friends, you stop caring about work, and you stop trying to have a relationship with God that seems totally impossible. You welcome the weight of the cloud as apathy takes over. In exhaustion you succomb and hide inside your cloud. Your friends stop calling, you lose your job, all you do is lay in bed, day in and day out. There seems to be nothing better to do. The cloud has become your only friend, your only comfort. It’s presence is constant and provides comfort. Besides, you don’t have the strength to fight it anymore even if you wanted to. And then They come. The people who refuse to give up. They pull you out of bed, make you get help. Reluctantly you go- not because you want to, but because you have no choice. Slowly the cloud starts to lift. The world regains some color. But it’s a depressing colorful world. You have nothing left- your friends have mostly given up, you lost your job, you gave up on God, and it seems hopeless. You wish for the cloud to return, the cloud that made everything seem okay, the comforting weight that kept you oblivious. When it hovers in the distance you run to it, but it disappears. You are left desperately grasping at straws, looking for whatever remains of your old life. You realize you have to start over. You re-establish friendships, get a job, and start trying to re-build your relationship with God. It seems hopeless, and it takes every ounce of your strength to keep moving forward. It seems that the old life, of joy and ease and love and hope, will never return. And this is worse than the cloud. Much worse. But slowly, the joy comes back, the hope you had seems to be just on the other side of this hill. And so you press on, trusting that some day things will be good once more.

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My 9/11

September 11, 2008

It’s been 7 years since the tragedy of terrorist attacks on 9/11, but that is just a part of my 9/11 experience.

I don’t remember how the day started-pretty typically I imagine. But I remember walking into third hour (my second class of the day) and having a kid from my class rush in with his giant art portfolio and turning on the tv. We watched perplexed as a plane crashed into the first tower of the World Trade Center. I think some people laughed a little thinking it was a joke, but as we waited for class to start we stared at the screen as another plane crashed into the other tower. We were blown away, and my teacher, most likely equally intrigued by the news allowed us to continue watching, somehow Antigone just didn’t compare. We quickly learned about another plane crashing into the pentagon and not long after stared horrified as the towers collapsed in a giant pouf of smoke and screams. An announcement came over the loudspeaker saying all T.V.s were to be turned off. Until at last during 7th period the T.V. was turned on for the entire hour, though silent. The last 15 minutes of class we watched with sound and realized the full truth as it was known at that point. I went to my car and headed to the coffee shop to meet with my therapist- every Tuesday we met in a back corner booth at the coffee shop- but she wasn’t there. Figures, I should have called to make sure we were still meeting. Upset, first from the national tragedy, but now from my own awkward experience of being “stood up” I got in my car to head for home. Don’t drive upset, I totalled my car. This was before cell phones dominated every day life. The cop came, and the tow truck. I tried to call my dad, then my mom, then my dad again, then home. No one answered. I was even more upset and the cop tried to calm me down, but it was just too much. But God saw and sent an angel my way- a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time was out riding her bike past the accident scene. She saw me standing there crying and came and wrapped her arms around me. I remember crying for what seemed a really long time on the side of a very busy road and not caring. The cop allowed her to put her bike in the back seat and we rode shotgun-her on my lap in the front seat- to her house. She then took me home. This was my 9/11. Please don’t take my heavy focus on my personal experience the wrong way- as I was thinking about my 9/11 I realized something that I felt I should share. Yes, it was a tragic day for our nation, even more so for the thousands of families and people personally affected- I thank God that I am not among them. But I realized as I was reflecting on it that despite this huge horrible thing going on God was still worrying about the little things- he was still looking out for the teenager who was desperate for something to hold on to- he was still guiding the events of that day. I can only think of one other day when God was so real, so present for me- and that was at the hospital with my brother. So I take two beautiful reminders away from this tragedy, and my personal 9/11 is a day that reminds me to look for God’s hand in the everyday. I have no doubt that without the tragedy and emotion involved in the W.T.C. attack that day I would not have had the emotional melt down I did, and without that I would not have needed God’s hand to reach out to comfort me. So today I will celebrate the presence of God. Today I will look for ways to be the hand of God in someone else’s life. And today I will celebrate that even in such a small way, God was able to use something so senseless, so hopeless, to bring about something profound in one teenagers life. What beauty do you find in this tragic day?