Thursday, August 29, 2013

Best and Worst

"I have seen the best of you, and the worst of you, and I choose both." How we as humans long to hear another human say that to us! How we long for deep, meaningful relationships, for intimacy, for love. How we ache to be known fully and still accepted, to be truly vulnerable before another and still embraced. To be unconditionally loved.

What a gift it is be loved this way. How rare and uncommon, yet beautiful. 

Unconditional love is not loving someone in spite of their flaws, mistakes, and imperfections, it's loving them in view of those flaws, mistakes, and imperfections. It's not ignoring their weaknesses and just loving their strengths, but choosing to love them- strengths, weaknesses, and all. 

Unconditional love is a choice we must make as we see the light and the dark in people. It's a choice that requires us to face the darkness inside ourselves. Because really, when we see others' imperfections we are often reminded of our own. So it's easier to sweep those flaws under the rug and just keep on loving that person, pretending that whatever we've just discovered about them doesn't exist.

But that's not really loving them. That's only loving a portion of them, a version of them that doesn't line up with reality. Truly loving someone involves acknowledging their imperfections, their flaws, their weaknesses and mistakes and saying "I see you as you truly are, and I still love you. I know what you've done, but that doesn't change my love for you. I want you in my life and I want to walk this path with you." 

Even as I write this I know it sounds impossible. I am overwhelmed by this kind of love we are called to show to our brothers and sisters. I wonder how I could ever get to a point where I am not constantly trying to self-protect, or numb out my own darkness, or live in a fantasy world where people don't hurt me. But I know it is possible. But not by my own strength. Not through my own energy that I conjure up.

This kind of love- this unconditional love for people in view of their imperfections and flaws is possible because God showed us this same love. He showed us His never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love by sending Jesus. And Jesus showed us this unconditional love that while we were still shaking our angry, entitled fists at God He chose to switch places with us and die, crushed by the weight of our sins, while we are given a new life, if we choose to believe.

And as we follow Jesus, we are called to this same love... this never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love. This love that loves in view of others' imperfections, not just in spite of.

1 John 3:16 
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dangerous Women Pt. 1: Living Alive

“A dangerous woman is alive! She knows she is deeply loved by God and grounds herself daily in that love. She delves deeply into the truth about who she is and claims her unique temperament, gifts, passions and dreams. She refuses to let fear stop her as she responds to God’s calling on her life. And out of her fully alive heart, she radically engages with the needs of the world.”
I L.O.V.E. this quote by Lynne Hybels! I feel like it does a super job summing up what I want for my life and for the lives of the women that I encounter on a daily basis. I love it so much that I'm going to blog about it. Not once. Not twice. But as many times as it takes me to dissect this sucker 'til there's nothing left.

So for today, we're going to take a look at the very first line: A dangerous woman is alive!

What does this mean? What does it look like for us to "live alive?" This morning I read an article over on storyline that was all about living in the present, not going numb, and choosing to be invested in all the moments of our life- the seemingly boring, hard, or painful ones included. The author talks about her friend who has gone through more than most of us will ever have to and she writes:
"She wasn’t waiting for the good part. She knows that these are the good parts, even while they’re the bad parts. She wasn’t shut down, going through the motions. She wasn’t holding tight till this season passed. She was right there with me, right there with her kids, right in all the glory and pain and mess and beauty of a spring night in between everything.That’s how I want to be. That’s who I want to be: deeply present in the present, in the mess, in the waiting, in the entirely imperfect right now."
I think that this is part of living alive. Being fully present in the mess, fully present in the boring. Not allowing our circumstances dictate whether or not we're engaged in life. Choosing to invest and feel and continue on even through the times that seem too painful to even look at.

This is what it looks like to live alive: to be so secure and safe within our Savior's arms that we can be fully present and engaged in whatever circumstances we face, whether our flesh would deem them worthy of our investment or not, safe for us to be present in or not, and exciting enough for us to be engaged or not.

I want to be a dangerous woman. I want the enemy to shudder when I wake up and the Kingdom of God to be advanced through my day. I want my life to showcase Jesus- the only one worthy of shining a spotlight on.

But for this to happen, I have to live fully alive. I can't keep choosing which moments I want to be present for and which I will just allow my brain to check out of. I can't keep going numb when hard things happen, shutting down my emotions so I don't have to feel all the things that God has put inside of me. I can't keep waiting for the next big thing to happen, just ignoring all the wonderful beautiful little things God is doing around me everyday. I have to live alive.

Check out Part 2: Grounded in Love here.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Summer of Walking in the Spirit

It's been awhile. Here's my list of excuses why: Finishing up the Dells STP. Catching up with the host fam. Wedding. Gender reveal party for my future niece. Spending time with certain lovely people. Support raising. Traveling.

Yep. It's been a busy last month. But isn't that always how summer goes? One minute you're sitting out in the sun and breeze soaking it all up and the next minute you've blinked and there's snow on the ground. Ok, well maybe it's not quite that dramatic, but really... where has the time gone?

So the Dells. [In case you feel like me and haven't had time to do anything, much less keep updated on my life, you can read this to see what I'm talking about, but in short I spent the last couple months living in the Dells helping run a Navigators' Program for 48 college students from around the region.]

This summer was unexplainable really. You may have noticed that I really didn't blog all that much during it. That's because I was out doing it. Buying groceries and making food for 60 people. Planning events and prepping talks for 48 students. Leading a study on sexual purity for 20 women who wanted change. Leading Bible Studies and helping train 10 team leaders. Being laughed at and laughing with 6 Chinese girls. Discipling and challenging 1 passionate woman of God.

It sounds like this summer was all about doing. But really it was all about being. Never have I felt more at home in a group of 50. I'm normally not the hugest fan of big groups, but this summer was different. I felt loved and affirmed, especially when I was just being myself. It was a summer of people getting to be themselves. Of people reaching out and loving and caring for each other and of people accepting that love and care in a way they never have. It was a summer of coming out of the shadows and calling our sin and fleshly desires for what they are and turning the other way and walking into the light. It was a summer of following Jesus in the little things and the big things. It was a summer of walking in the Spirit.

Romans 8 is all about living life in the Spirit. Verse 6 says that "to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace." I feel like I am so often looking for peace. And right here it tells me how to get some- set my mind on the Spirit. I feel like that was a recurring theme this summer. Anxious? Set my mind on the Spirit. Fearful? Set my mind on the Spirit. Overwhelmed? Lonely? Sad? Tempted? Bitter? Set my mind on the Spirit.

This summer was busy. It was filled with people. It was filled with activity. But when I was in the midst of it all, I was continually being called away by Jesus. Called away to spend time with my first love, to set my mind on things above. To walk in the Spirit. And when I answered that call is when I felt peace. When I took the time to spend with Him, to align my desires and will to His, that's when the summer became more about being than about doing. That's when I was able to follow Him with the little things and the big things. That's when I was able to walk by the Spirit.

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