Professional Whiplash

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My last day at my job of five years was June 10th. My first day at the architectural and engineering firm that claimed to love me was June 13th. Last Wednesday, July 27th, I had a feeling that I should call up my friend to catch up. Between my classes sucking up every spare molecule of brain function and willpower and her parents needing help moving from their decades-long residence, neither of us had found the time to connect lately. 

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Courageous Compassion Part I

This is the first in a multi-part post I have been mulling over for some time. It wasn’t until I finished Part II that I Googled the phrase “Courageous Compassion” and discovered a book by the same title, written serendipitously by a woman with my same first name. I have added her book to my wish list because it feels miraculously like what I am working toward in these posts. The thoughts that follow are my own, and I look forward to reading her ideas on the subject at a later time.

Continue reading Courageous Compassion Part I

Glimpses and Nudges

There’s something about vision that people don’t seem to talk about. I expected that when I received a vision for my life it would be grand and detailed and all the details would be spelled out. But the vision I’m catching isn’t overt or spoken from the sky. There hasn’t been a big booming voice describing the purpose of my life these last two weeks. There is simply a trend emerging that keeps pointing and nudging me in a certain direction. I don’t exactly know where I’m going, but I’m seeing small pieces off it; teaching in a seminar, setting an example for non-profit leadership, re-organizing business structures, helping others to catch their entrepreneurial dreams.

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Genesis

In the beginning… the universe was created with order. In its original, natural state, it was created with perfect Form, as the Greeks described.

My faith was rejected by more than one person in the past based on the idea that a Christian life would meddle with and subdue and dictate the course of his or her life. It’s a common enough thought. Religion has a pronounced reputation for condemning certain behaviors. The Bible is then seen as the codified book of those pronouncements, and “all fall short” if they don’t follow it to the letter.

But what if the Bible didn’t stand to judge and condemn but describe what creation is and how it was intended to balance itself? (Christians: Don’t freak out at an idea that sounds Buddhist. There are plenty of scriptures that say we are each given gifts that are meant for the building up of the body – to balance the needs and resources of a community.) What if we began to see the Bible, not as a book of laws, but as a schematic?

…a representation of the elements of a system using abstract, graphic symbols rather than realistic pictures. A schematic usually omits all details that are not relevant to the information the schematic is intended to convey, and may add unrealistic elements that aid comprehension. – Wikipedia

Again, don’t freak out. Not everyone who lacks faith in the stories is excluded from having faith in God. Yes, I said it. You can have faith in God and not believe Noah’s Ark really happened. You’re allowed to doubt! Faith in God is not contingent on you believing everything in the Bible.

What if, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ”? What if those who judge could see the pain people suffer, which drives them to seek Substance for comfort. The Form they were created to live in has obviously failed them. Maybe it was because of their own misguided actions. Maybe it was because of the actions of others, but their relationship to mankind is disjointed. Substance is all that is left. Only their senses can be trusted – what is felt, heard, tasted – because they cannot perceive the Spirit. Those that judge believe that inability is the fault of the Sensor. But since when do we hold fire alarms responsible for spiritual warfare?

This is the true miracle of God With Us. Without Christ, there is no hope for reintegration… for anyone. We cannot have holistic relationships with each other or with Him without reconciling what-is with what-was-created-to-be. The world around us, around the Spirit within us, is degrading. Our minds can only perceive four of the multiple, universal dimensions, and it can only physically exist within three.

These relationships teach us what our perfect state is. They refine us to become more of what we were created to be: How we can live in perfect harmony with the world created for us, and how to interact with other creations that are not striving for their original, intended state.

Personally, I believe the stories actually happened, not because they’re in the Bible, but because I know God could have orchestrated those events, and I believe He did. However, the fact that I believe it doesn’t make more any more spiritual than anyone else. Faith is a gift. So is mercy, which I struggle with, but others don’t. We are all given natural abilities which bring us together. If we all had all the spiritual gifts, none of us would need anyone else.

But we weren’t created to live alone. Man was made in the image of God, fully integrated and whole, but in physical form, he was incomplete. God’s image was incomplete. Man existed without the ability to relate – to have relationship with someone else. He tended the world he was given, but his equal did not exist. God’s image was made complete in the creation of woman. Being in relationship with her became the perfect, “good” state of mankind. As Christians, being in relationship with each other is the perfect, good state of the Body of Christ.

Life and Chronicles

I’ve missed you. Since last we met, my life took on life. Fullfillment is mine. The story is yours. It inspires me to drive on. It scatters hope along the path, looking for rich soil. Some seeds fall among rocks, never to take root. Some fall in with weeds, choked out by circumstance. But where there is life, hope will begin its journey again. It will seek out those in pain. It will comfort the burdened. It will lift the broken from the pit. 

The well-lived life is a rarity. Even more rare is its record. Let its light give light to all those around it. Let its warmth stretch arms around the abandoned. Your words are a guide. Don’t doubt their power. Don’t doubt your influence. Don’t doubt your ability to make a difference in the lives of those you’ve received as friends. Don’t wonder if your encouragement will sink into the heart of family.

Be wise and be bold. Your life is worthy of connection. Your heart is well-formed for the tasks at hand.

Celebration of Life, Not Death

Warning: If you prefer to continue celebrating Easter as you always have, DO NOT READ THIS. I’m serious. This may completely ruin your day, especially if you’re a Christian. Read at your own risk of messing with your current paradigm.

I’ve been a Christian for 25 years. I grew up in the church, but I firmly established my own faith in God at a very young age. I heard a parable this past year that’s completely destroyed the idea of an “Easter Celebration.” I may not be telling it exactly as I originally heard it, but it goes something like this:

Imagine a family at home playing games when suddenly their home is invaded my a sadistic monster. He’s there to kill everyone, but the father somehow convinces the sociopath to leave his family alone. While the family watches, the father is tortured to within an inch of his life. To make it worse, the asshole tapes the whole thing and posts it on the internet. The father eventually recovers, but the video goes viral.

Now imagine this. To remind his family of how he sacrificed himself to save them, the family watches that viral video every year. And every year the father proudly stands by while they all weep and thank him for his benevolent endurance.

Now who’s the asshole?

Ever since I heard this, I’ve been completely horrified at the idea of attending an Easter service or, God forbid, an Easter production where they reenact the crucifixion. Ugh… and then to listen to someone say, “With every head bowed and every eye closed, is there anyone that wants to ask Jesus to come into your life?” My stomach is in knots just thinking of it. I think I’m going to be sick.

It’s the most twisted, manipulative, cruel and unusual way to “honor God” I can think of.

While I’m ruining Easter for you, let’s clarify a few things. The invader is not Satan. He has no power over God.  He is not God’s antithesis. He is a created being. He tempted Christ to sin, but that’s all he could do. God does not have an exact opposite. He is perfect Light, and there is no such thing as perfect Dark. Dark does not have qualities that are all its own. It is only the absence of Light.

Sin is the enemy: Any act of free will that violates the will of God… the will of Love. It separates us from God because God is perfect Love and cannot be in the presence of imperfect Love without obliterating it. The only way for God to defeat this enemy was to “become sin” – to exist in a world where sin separated the creation from the Creator and to die as a sinner would… but without ever having sinned.

This is the “Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time” C. S. Lewis illustrated so poetically in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:

…when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.

The Table – the Stone Table in the story – represents the Law: The rules God explained to Moses so He, the Creator, could have relationship with his creation. When Christ died without sin, He defeated death and was resurrected. All that separated us from God was destroyed. No sin can keep Us apart. We are Whole again. We are Reconciled to the Creator.

But the world is fallen. Although sin is defeated, it still exists and all of creation is degraded by it. Until Christ returns to create a New Heaven and a New Earth, the Reconciled will have trouble. “But take heart,” Christ says, “I have overcome the world.”

I simply cannot liken this belief in God to the one of the benevolent asshole. They are so wholly different, that Easter has become a sickening reminder of how sadly we have chosen to show His creation how much He loves them.

So I’m having an Easter egg hunt with the kids today. Because it’s fun. I’m not going to stretch the truth and tell them we have eggs because it’s a symbol of the trinity. The plain and obvious truth is that eggs and rabbits are symbols of fertility, just like Christmas wreaths, and I like those too. I didn’t wake them up at five o’clock in the morning to attend a Sunrise Service, as if we’re worshipers of Ēostre – the goddess of the dawn.

I’m not going to celebrate Easter it by glorifying the crucifixion and telling people they should be grateful for it. Not any more. Easter is a celebration of fertility, not morbidity; it’s a celebration of Life, not Death.

Lack of Rumination

Bliss by elisadelatorre | DeviantArt.com

I’m almost hesitant to post this on April Fool’s, but since I loathe practical jokes (when they’re played on me), I’m going to pretend it’s yesterday, which is when I started considering this post.

Continue reading Lack of Rumination

I AM There

I haven’t thought of myself as an anxious person. It actually drives me crazy to listen to people who worry and wring their hands because of things they have no control over.

I’m learning though; anxiety can come out in overreactions. Angst, apprehension, concern, disquiet, doubt, dread, misery, mistrust, panic, trouble, uneasiness – all synonymous with an issue I didn’t think I had.

I met with a friend yesterday who offered an excellent tool for dealing with ugly emotions. She used the thesaurus to look up antonyms, and to answer to question, “How should I strive to respond instead?”

Belief, blessing, calm, certainty, confidence, contentment, faith, peace, security, trust.

The truth I see is the root of my overreactions doesn’t come from worry, but from unbelief. Not belief in God, but belief in others. I doubt their intentions. I criticize their motives.

But I am semper fidelis – gifted with eternal Faith. What if God is leading me to use that gift in my relationships – to place my unfailing confidence in the Spirit of others?

I would rather be called to preach to poisonous snakes in a desert wasteland.

The thought of trusting and hoping in others terrifies me. At the fear of disappointment, I will wring my hands and wail. My heart will race, and I will hold my breath. What if they use this Faith against me?

God never fails. He never disappoints. My Faith in Him is justified. Or is it?

I spent five years waiting to hear His Voice, and I never doubted Him.

But I knew He was good. I knew He was Love.

Was it loving for Him to seemingly ignore me? Was it kind to disappoint me by never revealing Himself? In those moments, I believed in His kindness. I believed in His love, even though I couldn’t perceive it.

Could I do that with people?

He has proven to me that I have Faith to move a mountain of doubt. Now He’s asking me, “Will You continue to use that Gift only for Yourself, only for Our Communion Here inside of You? Or will You use it in Your Communion with Others? Will You put Your Faith in the Spirit I have placed inside of Them? Will you trust that I AM There as well as Here?”

Faith and Silence

I read Warrior Freya’s response to Morton’s Fork this morning before I got ready for work and I’ve been mulling it over for the last several hours. What would I do if I had to choose between reading and writing?

My writing is synonymous with my prayer life. It contains the thoughts of God toward me and my thoughts toward Him. It is the best way I know to be truly honest about what is happening and how I’m reacting or responding to it. That said, there was a time in my life when my prayer life was very one-sided. I would write. I would cry. I would plead, but God’s Voice was silent. I didn’t know how to hear Him.

I wasn’t more than five years old when I woke up in the dead of night with a single question resonating in my mind: “Will you follow Me?” I remember thinking of the Bible story of Samuel and how God woke him up in the middle of the night. I knew it was God’s voice. I knelt beside the bed in my grandparent’s house and prayed a simple prayer of receiving Him into my life.

Over the next ten years I went to church with my family. I learned all the Bible stories. I listened to my parent’s reaction to the teachings. And I learned sensationalism: God is in the warm-fuzzies, God is in the chills, God is in the tears, God is in uncontrollable urge to “speak in tongues,” God is in act of falling over when you “feel His presence,” God is in the shouts and dancing. God is in the manifestations. If you cannot see it or hear it, you are not seeing Him. You are not hearing Him. These things were never expressly taught, but it is certainly what I learned about hearing the voice of God.

Thank God for my dad.

My dad is also an introvert, and the sensationalist ideals never sat well with him. He argued against it for years before finally leaving the institutional church and seeking out a home group that could talk about real life, real responses, and actually hearing the voice of God.

I followed his lead to some extent. Some of my friends started going to a youth group down the road. At first I only went because I wanted to be with them. The youth group I went to in high school was growing the church more than Sunday morning service. The kids there were going to youth group on Thursdays and then convincing their parents to go on Sundays. “Big Pete” taught us about God’s love. Only God’s love. Always God’s love. Unconditional, pure, and devoted love. I knew I was hearing truth; not mystery, not sensation, but undefiled Truth.

Over time I started seeing the toxins in my Spirit from sensationalist Christianity rise to the surface… and God’s voice disappeared.

I didn’t know what to do. Where was He? Why couldn’t I hear Him anymore? Was He real? How could I know without seeing Him?

Fast-forward ten years. I was living on an apple ranch in Washington state: a retreat from the world while I was healing from my divorce. After a weekend visit to my grandparent’s house in Idaho, I was driving back to the ranch with the windows down, listening and singing along to Skillet. Suddenly God’s voice was as clear as I have ever heard it. And He was singing the words of the song back to me:

You have been more faithful than the morning sun

You have been more faithful than knowing the night will come

You have been more faithful than the changing of seasons

My eyes filled with tears. Through years of detoxifying my Spirit, He saw that I continued to trust. I continued to believe, even though I couldn’t hear Him. My Spirit knew Him, but our communication was shrouded in mystery. He gifted my Spirit with Faith. I never doubted His existence. I never renounced my belief. I had no proof of His existence in my life, but Faith carried me through those critical years of formation.

Semper Fidelis

Although I identify myself as Mrs. Spike, this blog isn’t about how faithful I am to my husband. It’s about a gift God granted me when I could have turned from Him. Always Faithful.

So to answer the prompt, I chose writing, with only the hope that someday I would read the Words I was desperate to hear. And I would do it again.