What does it look like to love and show compassion in the midst of pain? How does anyone keep giving when they find themselves in a despicable situation? How do you combat the instinct to withdraw and shield your heart from further damage?
I went to see Risen (2016) yesterday afternoon. I was hoping the story would put a new perspective on the story I’ve heard and seen a thousand times. I was blown away by the impact it had on me.
“When Dorothy pointed out a problem, she also offered several solutions, and she always showed up when it was time to do the hard work of implementation” (Jennings & Stahl-Wert, 2004, p. 25).
This is bullshit! was my exact thought. My eyes narrowed as I read the lines again. I was simultaneously enthralled and furious.
Scripture says different things to me at different times in my life. I don’t know how many times I’ve read the eighth chapter of Romans, but today it reminded me that God is sovereign and He is with me.
… we are children of God
… the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
… the Spirit helps us… For we do not know what to pray for… but the Spirit himself intercedes for us… And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit… And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose…
If God is for us, who can be against us? … Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? … Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us… (Romans 8:16-37)
Being falsely accused on the level that we have faced these past few days screams so much injustice in my face that it’s taking a tremendous amount of willpower to keep from being severely defensive.
It isn’t a simple misunderstanding that could be cleared up with a few clarifications. They’re pure lies – fictions without any basis in reality, meant to discredit us in the Legal Guardianship case. I’m afraid. No one who knows us believes the lies, but will the court believe it? God, let them have discernment. Let the facts speak.
“Faith, my love,” He whispers. “I have given you a shield of faith. Know that I Am with you. Know that I will win the battle. Believe that there is nothing to fear. I have called you to this purpose. I will work all things for good.”
“He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.” (Psalm 37:6)
Sixteen days left. God, let it be over then. Please.
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.
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.
I would like to thank Hannah at To Knit or Knot for nominating me for the Liebster Award!
11 Questions. 11 Answers. Here are the questions for her nominees:
1. Do you have a favorite day of the week?
That would have to be Wednesday. For a couple years now, I have spent Wednesdays working from home. It’s the best way I have ever found to break-up the week. As a self-motivated introvert, I was so happy when my manager agreed. I get a lot more done from home without the interruption of people stopping by to see me throughout the day.
2. What is your favorite food?
I eat Mexican food most often, but if I had the money I would eat sushi all the time!
3. Are you an early bird or a night owl?
I’ve always been a night owl.
4. How did you decide on the name of your blog?
Semper Fidelis is Latin for “Always Faithful.” I wrote a post about it a couple months ago called Faith and Silence if you’d like to read the full story.
5. What is your favorite memory?
My first day at Washington State University. I very rarely take “selfies,” but I did that day. I stopped by the restroom on my way to my first class and caught sight of myself in a full-length mirror. In jeans and a t-shirt, I was radiant. I survived the darkest time of my life that year and I was moving on. I was embracing a new life. I was transformed. I’ve never felt more pride and compassion for myself as I did in that moment.
6. Would you rather listen to a song that you intensely loathe 10 times, or a song that you love all day?
I don’t mind listening to songs I like over and over again. I’d rather listen to a song I love all day. I don’t think there’s much risk I would grow tired of it.
7. Who is your best friend?
I have a few very close, dear friends, but I’ve known Christen the longest. I met her in 1992, the third grade. We’ve had many common interest over the years, but one I never would guessed we would share is that we are both raising children that are not our own. I have grown more profoundly grateful for her than ever these past two years. Being able to relate to someone about the struggles and triumphs of fostering children is a gift. The memories and trust we’ve developed over the 23 years we’ve known each other is a comfort beyond any words I can express.
8. Roses or Daisies?
I like a bouquet of roses as much as anyone, but in general I like expressions of love to be more permanent, which is why I usually dry them if I receive them. Daisies are happy little flowers, but I don’t mind that they fade. It isn’t as depressing to watch as a fading rose. I’d choose daisies if I had to.
9. What are three things that fill in the blank for you- “I love….”?
1) I love my husband. I would say I’m sorry for being so obvious, but I’m not sorry. He is my match, my soul… he is everything I never hoped to wish for. 2) I love my sister. She is the most kind, forgiving, joyful soul I have ever known. 3) I love my home. Last April we moved into the first house I’ve ever rented as an adult. We looked for months and I would have happily moved to several of the places we saw, but Spike always had something better in mind. We actually signed the lease on this house before I even saw the inside. He was sold on it, so I rightly assumed I would love it too. It was a risk, but I never felt like it was.
10. When is your favorite time of year?
Spring is my favorite time of year. Everything is green and it’s not too hot and it doesn’t get dark before I’m off work.
11. If you had to live on an island with only one food, what would that food be?
If it were earlier in the evening I would do some research on the food that provides the most well-rounded nutritional values. That’s my choice, intellectually, I would want the one food that would keep me the most healthy. Psychologically though, I would probably want the food that brought me the most comfort.
My Liebster Award Nominations:
My 11 Questions for the Nominees:
- Who would you want with you if you were stranded on a deserted island?
- If you could do anything you wanted right now, what would it be?
- If money was no object, what would you do all day?
- Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
- What is your favorite book?
- What is your biggest success up until now?
- What does your perfect day look like?
- What is the one thing that should be taught in school that isn’t already?
- If you were to create a piece of art, what would the subject be?
- If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?
- How would your friends describe you?
I look forward to reading your answers!
Liebster Award Rules
- Thank the blogger who nominated you.
- Answer the 11 questions that they set.
- Nominate others with less than 200 followers.
- Let them know about the nomination and the questions.
I had an amazing appointment with my naturopath yesterday. Let’s start off with the fact that he gave me a homeopathic remedy for my allergies that blew my socks off (or my nose out? that’s gross). He gave me the little bottle at the beginning of the appointment. My ears were itching, throat was raspy, and eyes were watering. A dropper-full of that formula and half-way through the appointment, I felt 90% better! He said continued use will make even more effective. Signed up for that!
After talking about the life changes I’ve experienced over the last few months he said he was going to do something he’s only done a handful of times in the last ten years of his practice.
He gave me three gold stars.
It sounds like a ridiculous, juvenile reward, but he was so proud to give them to me! I was just as proud to receive them.
The first star was for the fact that I admitted to needing help. I didn’t accept that clinical depression was simply my lot in life, as it is in my lives of my family members, and I should just get used to the idea. I didn’t throw in the towel and continue to watch myself slide deeper into depression and malnutrition and obesity.
The second star was for recognizing the unforgiveness in my life and not brushing it off as something that didn’t affect me. He said many Christians may see that forgiveness is needed, but they only pay it lip service. “I’m saved. I’ve forgiven. It’s done,” but when they’re in the same room with the person they “forgave” or they hear their voice, their physical reaction gives away their insincerity. Their hearts pound, their eyes narrow, their chests tense. They may have spoken the “magic words,” but their spirit is still starving for forgiveness, and their body is paying the price.
The third gold star was for taking steps to alter the course of my life. Three months ago I had barely enough weepy motivation to get through the day. Today I’m waiting on an acceptance letter to a university to finish my bachelor’s degree, I have a hearing date to gain Legal Guardianship of my goddaughters, I’m on the warpath to make a career move, and I’ve naturally stopped overeating (which, I don’t think I’ve mentioned before).
My heart sings more sincerely. I am transformed. I am mighty.
Three gold stars, justly won.
I didn’t mean for this to get so out of hand, but apparently I have an opinion about this.
I woke up, wide-awake, at 6:00 this morning. I made some coffee and cleaned the kitchen. Spike came out and joined me at about 6:30. He usually gets up about that time, but he doesn’t usually speak. I don’t either, but I was somewhat chatty this morning, talking about the book my friends and I are reading: The Scarlet Thread. I like Francine Rivers, especially Redeeming Love, but I’m having a hard time with this one. It’s 300 pages of terrible marriage followed by 75 pages of all you need is Jesus. I’m not knocking the power of Christ, but really? The heroine has a revelation that she’s been a bitch and her marriage gets to go back to normal after all the horrifying things she slung at him for three years? I don’t buy it. I guess that’s why it’s a romance: a completely unrealistic portrayal of real life.
If I sound pessimistic, I am. Marriage might be able to recover from that kind of communication breakdown. Anything is possible, but I’m passed the point of encouraging anyone to think they will be the exception to the rule. You cannot disrespect your husband and expect to stay happily married. You cannot dump on his dreams and his goals and his vision and his desire to provide and protect and expect him to lovingly wrap you in his arms. You can have one or the other. Your husband is not a robot. He hears the shit you say and he isn’t likely to forget it!
I am speaking from a position of judgment and observation and also from first-hand experience. I don’t speak in absolutes very often, but I am absolutely convinced of this. The moment a wife turns down a path of disrespect for her husband, it marks the start of her journey toward divorce. Sometimes the loss of respect is warranted, but if she cannot regain it, the marriage is doomed.
If you haven’t read Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs, I would highly recommend you do before you even think about marriage, especially if you’re a woman. Our culture trains boys to love their mothers and their girlfriends and their wives. It puts the pressure on them to buy flowers and sign greeting cards and be sappy in order to let women know they’re loved. But the other side of that equation is what the man gets out of it. Men want to be loved, of course, but never as much as they need to be respected. A man needs to know he’s respected more than anything, and our culture does a piss-poor job at showing women how to do that.
The traditional father figure in Modern Family is a joke. The guy that tried to stay married and have kids in Friends is a joke. Women who manipulate and condescend and judge and harp are heroes in the media! Voicing your opinion and putting a man in his place is heralded as a sign of a strong and independent woman – but she is not likely to make a relationship last.
Hear my heart, women – you probably don’t have any idea what kind of damage you’re doing. Until reading this, you have been innocent and oblivious of your crimes against men. But I have to say it, because our men never will. The don’t dare. The moment they say they need respect we will nail them to the wall as chauvinist pigs. They know we will, so they suffer in silence. They absorb every emasculating comment and tone and spirit because they love us. God help them, they love us! Do your part, and respect them! If you do not or cannot respect them, for God’s sake, don’t marry them in the first place.
[End ranting and raving.]