When Life’s Not Fair -or- The Still Loud Voice

Sometimes people say they hear God’s voice in a quiet way. A whisper, a feeling, a knowing, a little nudge. Well, That’s not what happened to me this week.

Monday morning I went to the chapel service at Denver Seminary and we had a guest speaker. She shared a story where someone who had just met her asked if Affirmative Action was “fair”. She, a black preacher, said she’d answer his question if he’d answer hers. 

“No, I don’t think it’s fair.” Then she raised her eyebrows and said:

Is what Jesus did for you fair? You don’t seem to mind taking full advantage of that act.

She said, “I’m not sure what made this guy think I was a politician instead of a minister!” (Don’t worry, the politics part ends here!)

As Christians, we often think it’s our job to make life fair for all, but it’s hardly the example set for us on how we are to live.

I thought her comment was interesting and tucked it away. Then I didn’t think anything of it again.

Until 6:30PM.

I joined a recovery group in town and went for the first time. During sharing one woman said she didn’t think she was being treated fairly in her marriage. “Men get away with everything, but I can’t get away with anything and I hate it! It’s not fair.”

The leader of the group very graciously said in response, “What Jesus did for us wasn’t fair either… We’d hate for Jesus to be fair with us. It’s the only way I get through. I know I can give others what they don’t deserve because I have an immeasurable love which I don’t deserve.”

I still felt for the woman, it’s not easy to hear. It’s not easy to live out.

The thought going through my head was, twice in two days, huh? That’s pretty weird…

Then I realized (mom life can be so hard) it had actually been less than TWELVE HOURS! Not two days.

Hmm… I guess I’ll tuck it away.

7AM came on Tuesday and I was finally getting some time to myself…

on the toilet, of course.

It’s the place I’ve been doing my devotional and trying to find some inner peace… #momlife… I opened my devotional to find the SAME STORY!

Life’s not fair.
No, it’s not.
Neither is what Jesus did for us.

And, once again, I thought… third time this WEEK… Wait… No! This DAY?! It’s been less than 24 HOURS and I’ve heard it three times! THREE TIMES!

I almost threw the book across the bathroom. “What the heck, God?! Is this the most cliche thing happening in the Christian world or is this the LOUDEST still small voice I’ve ever heard?”

Life’s not fair.

My almost three year old picked this one up already and I have no idea how. I cringe when I hear it. “Not faaaaair, momma! Not faaaaair.”

As easy as it is to roll my eyes and say, ugh, three year olds… I realize it’s also been the cry of my heart lately.

This life is better than I deserve in so many ways, yet I still have the nerve to complain: not fair.

Student loans: not fair
Addictions and depression: not fair
My husband took a shower today (*I didn’t): not fair
People without kids will get to sleep in when Daylight Saving comes: not fair
She has a newer car: not fair
He has a better job: not fair

As much as I don’t, I whine. And as much as I whine, I wine. Kidding…but maybe not.

I want to be content, but today I’m just not.

I want life to be easy, but today it’s just not.

I look to God and say, “What the heck?! Did you forget about me? Have you forsaken me?” And I realize God’s most beloved said the same thing.

Which helps me realize: He hasn’t forgotten me. He hasn’t left me.

And I felt Jesus tugging at my heart, “It wasn’t fair, but it was worth it.”

Jesus story ends up being the greatest story ever because he trusted God in the journey.

I’m not ready for my journey to be over yet. So, I’ll keep going in the midst the not fair and be thankful I’m in good company. Not only am I in good company, but I’m also happy to benefit in the “not fair” of Jesus.

Thank you, Jesus, for your “not fair”.

Comment below what’s your “not fair” today and something you’re grateful for! I’m glad you’re in this community with me!

Find Your Freedom

Bound.

That’s the word I would use to describe the first 25 years of my life.

I made a few mistakes early in my life, we’re talking by the time I was 5, and I determined not to make mistakes anymore.

I lived under my own magnifying glass. I didn’t get my whole life perfect every moment… but I was damn good at making sure people didn’t find out about my mistakes.

My parents raised me in a strict Christian home; I’m grateful for a lot of their “strictness” and boundaries. But in the context I was raised I was also convinced that God would bless my life and make a “straight” path for me–straight to the top, I thought–IF i never made a mistake.

But then I experienced loss and I hadn’t done anything to deserve it. My brother’s best friend, who was like a brother to me (only one I had a giant, secret-crush on), was in a car accident and died when I was seventeen.

That moment changed my life forever. My Christian world kept “comforting” me by telling me he was in a better place because he loved Jesus.

So that’s what Jesus brought us. He set Tyler’s path straight to heaven… and I ended up in a sea of depression. What is the point of living when heaven has no tears. Tyler is in a better place and I’m stuck here in this hell hole without him.

I’d lived so “perfectly” for the world to see. People wanted my “happy”, “perfect” life. But I was dying.

And I was stuck. I could keep working hard, pretending to be happy and hope one day Jesus would come through for me. Or I could throw it all away and… then what? If I lived for myself I was certain Jesus would punish me and how could I find happiness then?

Either way I wasn’t happy.

So I kept giving it my all.

Waiting for the day Jesus would poor his blessing on me and take away everything that made life hard.

Bound.

I very figuratively had chains on my ankles keeping me in church and doing the “right things” so Jesus would love me. I had chains on my hands trying so hard to be perfect, so I wouldn’t let myself do anything less the holiest of holy things.

I loved writing, but I should be serving in the Nursery for church. I loved travelling, but I should be giving my money to the poor. I loved art, but what a waste of time for someone as smart as this girl.

Bound.

Have you ever been there?

Stuck in job that sucked your life? Unwilling to try something new because you were afraid to fail? Afraid to tell the people in your life about the deep pain inside, the voice telling you you’re a waste of a life and you might as well quit? Just quit breathing.

Have you ever prayed that God would take your breath away so your death wouldn’t be as painful to the people in your life as suicide would be?

I have. More than once.

And the church? Yeah, if I dared trusted them I heard the usual:

“Any unconfessed sin in your life?” Yeah, probably. I’ll pray and confess again. “Just rejoice in the Lord always, Paul did when he was in prison!” Alright, I’ll sing another song.

Pray harder. Give more. Do more. It was exhausting.

And to be frank, my commitment to the American church just about sent me to my end.

I was 26, my soul was dying, and my marriage was dying.

Finally, my husband and I went to see a counselor. We were both at our wits end, personally and relationally, and the church had been only unhelpful. We didn’t know where else to go.

We told our counselor about some of the things we’d experienced in our church. He couldn’t hide the eyes widening and the worry in his questions.

For the first time, someone I trusted was giving me the freedom to doubt what I was being taught in our charasmatic evangelical church.

Freedom.

Freedom from church? Freedom from doing right and praying more?

Doubt.

Isn’t doubt a sin?

Over the course of the last five years I’ve been on a journey. A journey through doubt and questions… and being embraced and loved in it. A journey to freedom from a “god” who controlled and criticized every move I made. Yeah, even though I thought he was “God” I know now he was just “god”.

I still try to get things right, mostly because I’ve done it for so long. But I’m learning to embrace my mistakes and celebrate my failures– though it usually comes after a few tears.

I have come to a new kind of relationship with a God who is loving, compassionate, gracious, and forgiving.

Now, my heart breaks when I hear of others who are fighting for self-worth, striving for perfection, and pretending to be okay when their souls are dying.

I’m here to stand beside you in your mistakes, celebrate with you in your failures, and walk along with you until we find our freedom.

Why am I here writing this blog? Because freedom.

Because I’ve been bound, but I’ve found a new way called freedom. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it’s scary as hell. But it’s always better than being bound.

I want to be a part of a community of people who will be real with one another. I want to create a place to share our failures and our successes–be as small or large as they are. I welcome you to join me if you’re interested in finding your freedom too.

Comment below if you need freedom in your life and let this community know something you’re letting go of.

I’m letting go of doing life alone. I hope you’ll join me.

How To Actually Love “Those People” -or- How I Became a Modern-Day Feminist

One of my favorite passages of scripture has been Psalm 73 since I was in high school.

It’s basically one big complaint of a Psalm. 

This guy, Asaph, writes about how he’s frustrated because the good people in the world have hard times and he watches the evil people flourish.

I’ve always had this very complaint against God. Little ol’ me over here merely surviving while SINNERS take the cake.

Ugh.

Is there anything worse in the world?

Two of my brothers had girls “ripped” from their hands by worthless guys. You know, the good guys are supposed to win the good girls. Then some slime ball weasels his way in and snatches her up—AND he gets away with it?!

I’ve come to find out I have a list of people I don’t think should be better off than I am:

  • Fundamentalists
  • Homosexuals
  • Abortionists
photo by picjumbo

But it’s okay for you to be better off than I am if you:

  • started from nothing and worked hard
  • treat others kindly

Oh, but if you got lucky and married into money, then, pshhhh.
You really are nothing and I mostly just hate you.

Just. Not. Them.

I think this has been the cry of Christians throughout history.

I re-watched “Jonah, a Veggie Tales movie” with my 2 year old recently and it smacked me in the face like a Ninevite with a fish. (You’ll have to watch the movie, I guess…)

God tells Jonah to go to Ninevah and ask the people to repent so he can have mercy on them and Jonah says, 

“I”m not aware of any Ninevahs in Israel.”
“THAT Ninevah? Perhaps you’ve never been there, well of course you haven’t! A God like you would never go to Ninevah.”
“Ninevah should get no chance to turn, they’ve earned your wrath.”
“No, it cannot be. Your messages are meant for me and my brothers.”

Then I thought about the chosen people and “everyone else”
Then there were the Samaritans.
Then there were the Gentiles.
Then there were the “uncircumcised”.

So who is it today?

The Mormons? The Arabs? The Refugees? The Homosexuals? The Women?

The only thing is, I can’t find a time in the Bible God didn’t make exceptions.

He accepted Rahab, the woman prostitute.
He accepted Ninevah.
He accepted David, yes the King, and the rapist and murderer if we’re honest.
He accepted the tax collectors: Matthew and Zaccheus
He accepted the children.
He accepted the thieves.
He accepted the gentiles AND the uncircumcised.
He accepted SAUL (the one who became Paul, who none of us would have accepted if we were alive back then.)
He accepted the slaves. (Read Philemon, I know I hadn’t until Seminary.)
He accepted the women.

The other thing shaking up my thinking in this is the story of Peter with the vision and the sheet.

God says: “What God has made clean, do not call impure.” (See Acts 10 CSB)

I think humans have found new ways to label other humans as impure and I don’t think this was ever in God’s master design

And, now? I’ve come to realize I’m on that list.

The list of people who once may not have been “acceptable” to others—though I don’t believe it to ever be true about God—and so I have been very sobered.

I’m a woman. There’s nothing I could ever do to really change it.

I like being a woman… but some people, even today, think I’m less than because of it.

Man–sorry, no pun intended–am I glad God accepts me.

I’m glad God would say to Jonah, “Go after her.”
 Even if Jonah wouldn’t want to.

It makes me look at who “those people” are in MY life and then I want to run to them and say: 

“Yeah, I was there too.
But the good news is for all people.
That means people JUST. LIKE. US.”

Just like the homosexuals, just like those who’ve had abortions, just like the addicts, just like Arabs, just like the women, just like you and just like me.