To The Broken Ones: Don’t Let Shame Strangle You

To the Broken Ones

She sat across from me, clutching the coffee mug tightly in her hands. This was supposed to be a normal conversation in a café, yet quickly became anything but. As her words and then tears began to trickle and then gush out, I quickly came to sit beside her, letting the torrential rain of hurt and grief flow out. When the storm had slowed, she looked at me with broken eyes. Her hurt is not mine to share, but her words then and a hundred others’ could have been paraphrased thus: “I’m not even worthy anymore. I have to be perfect, to be so good, and I failed. I’m broken forever.”

Those words cut me.

I wanted to weep and scream and fight those words. Even now, I still tremble and my throat tightens at the remembering. I hate them. The choices that led to them, the beliefs that fed those conclusions to her, and the ravages they had done to her. This was my friend, and she was being destroyed. Shame was strangling her life away, and not only metaphorically. She had been pierced, so deeply wounded, and I hated that she had done it and I hated that she had been told to just throw a Band-Aid over it and I hated that she was dying inside because of it. If I could have physically walked up to her shame and thrown myself punching at it, I would have. My soul screamed and grieved at the brokenness of it all.

And the worst part is, she’s not the only one. Different words, different girls, but I’ve heard so many echoing the same conclusion. I’ve messed up. That’s it. I’m not good enough anymore, and I can never go back. Everyone, God included, is disappointed with me. I can’t go to Him after what I’ve done.

And I want to scream, No, no, no, and do something drastic, anything to take away this hurt from them. But I can’t. You can’t fight something that’s not physical. Continue reading

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We Don’t Like to Believe God

We don’t like to believe God.

Yes, He knows all things, so we probably should believe Him. Yes, He’s the truth, so we should probably listen. Yes, we’re Christians who have already believed Him in the most imperative thing of how we gain eternity and salvation. But still, we don’t. Sure, we’ll believe Him when He says, “no man comes to the Father but by Me,”(Jhn. 14:6) but some other parts of His Word, some other facets of His plan, we’re not quite sure about. We’ll follow His logic, but only so far.

God tells us we were sinners, separated from Him; and we’ll nod our heads and mourn. (Rom. 5:8) He says Christ Jesus has come to save sinners, and we shout Hallelujah.(1 Ti. 1:15) He declares He makes sinners new, and we clap our hands. He tells us we are now saints, and we shout, “Amen!”(Rev. 21:5) But then He starts to tell us who we are as saints–and we hesitate. We shuffle our feet. We become uncomfortable, unsure if He’s right.

We Don't Like To Believe God

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Abandoned Succulents and God’s Love

I don’t quite understand the current succulent craze. Perhaps you’ve never heard of it, perhaps it’s only a Southern Texas trend, yet all over, succulents are spreading. They’re in house. In magazines. In photos. On wrapping paper. In weddings.

Now perhaps this fad is a small act of defiance against this harsh climate we live in. Yes, we’ll live with the cacti, but we’re going to live with the small ones. Or perhaps it’s because succulents are small, and thus we project onto them that they’re cute. Regardless of the reason, I still don’t fully understand why people love succulents.

But one succulent helped me to more fully understand love.

Abandoned Succulents and God's Love

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Announcement and Post on TheRebelution: How Do You Define a Christian?

I was recently asked to join TheRebelution Staff as a regular contributor! You might be familiar with the site, as I’ve been published with them several times before. I’m so honored to join this team, and to be a part of their work in equipping and encouraging young people to go out, chase after Jesus, change the world, and do hard things. So you can head on over to TheRebelution every third Monday to see a post by yours truly, and follow TheReb for daily encouragement (and sometimes conviction) to love and live and work with excellence. Here’s my first post as an regular contributor!

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I paused as I read the post. It asked, “How do you describe a Christian? I’m asking because I think I have a different definition than many of you.” I clicked to see the comments, morbidly convinced I was about to witness a full-out brawl between different denominations, or the putting forth and praising of strange cult-like beliefs.

But there wasn’t.

Each person described what it means to be a Christian a little bit differently, yes. And the original questioner had a unique answer as well. But rather than the soft heresy or warring factions I had so morbidly expected, I found I generally agreed with them all. True, there was the occasional ambiguity of the precise intent of phrases like “Love everyone” because these phrases have often been co-opted by wrong ideas. But with a charitable reading, I found myself nodding to almost all of the answers. And yet none of the answers were the same. They were all different.

Does that mean I’m a naïve Christian? I hope not. Does that mean I don’t know how Christianity or doctrine works? I don’t think so. Does that mean that all of these people were confused about being a Christian? No.

Perhaps it means that we can’t truly have a small, concise definition for something so big.

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Don’t Instagram Your Godliness

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This should come as no surprise to anyone, but at risk of repeating the obvious: We’re living in the internet age. We communicate through emojis, learn through videos, and keep up through pictures. We have surmounted the limitations of space, breaking her hold on us, as we can communicate just as easily with those who live across the country as with those who live across the street. But we’re not just inhabitants of the internet age. We’re Christian inhabitants of the internet age.

And we want our online identity to reflect that. We ask ourselves “If someone looked solely at my profile, would they think I’m a Christian?”

So we saturate our online selves with spirituality. We post inspirational verses edited over sunrise stock-photos. We share the coffee-and-Jesus picture. We tweet a quote from today’s devotional; we make sure we pray a nice, theological, long prayer in our group. And everyone can see very well how much we love Jesus and what good Christians we are.

Now, I’m not saying it’s wrong for us to share online so others can see our good works.

Jesus is. Continue reading

You Have Nothing to Prove

YouHaveNothingToProve

That desperate urgency to explain. That grim dread of questions. That awkwardness of trying to fill the space with more words. We’re not strangers to feeling like we must prove that we measure up.

And in some ways we’re more susceptible to this than the rest of the world.  The homeschooler. The stay-at-home mom. The college student taking a different route. The young couple choosing accountability. The single who’s not focusing on a relationship. Because we’re different, we’re choosing a different path, so we think others inherently look on us with distrust or disappointment. We have this ever-constant pressure to explain ourselves.

I should know. I’m a graduated homeschooler, living at home, on an alternate route to my degree, and 100% single. I know they aren’t true, but in the back of my head I still hear the whispers, They think you’re a failure.

And I’m desperate to show them I’m not. If people ask me at all about my future, I’ll smile and launch into my speech about how my route is so much cheaper and faster, and how I’m not really interested in many of the things other people my age are, because I’m so busy with other work, and how I’m involved in this and that and succeeding in this and that and how planning to do this and that. Then they’ll smile and nod and go “Oh, that’s nice” and hopefully never ask me any questions ever again. I have my script, ready to rush through it at any time. But that desperate dread still sits in my stomach.

Because, really, it’s not their questions I’m afraid of. It’s not really their opinion. The fears and whispers assaulting me aren’t from outside. They’re my own. Continue reading

I’m Not a Writer (And You’re Probably Not Your Title Either)

I'm Not A Writer

I’m not a writer.

Which seems a strange thing to say, since I am here, writing this; and you are there, reading my writing. It’s even stranger when you consider that I write for this blog twice a week, and have a dream of being a successful author in the future. But it’s true. I’m not a writer. It’s just not who I am. And it’s never who I will be.

Let me explain. Continue reading