Tag: Truth

The men come to us wearing the truth of addiction. Its stench is a life rotting away from the denial they are caught in its grip. Their faces gaunt, their eyes flat, their hearts hollowed from its lies.

For too many food, rest, and a hot shower will cover addictions truth: it comes to destroy. They will, again, believe the lie they can do this on their own.

That lie sounds familiar because I’ve believed it too. I can do this, on my own.

I can be a good parent, a good teacher, a good friend. I can do this by myself. I’ve got this.

On my own, by myself, whichever way you’ve told yourself it isn’t true.

From our beginnings God said it wasn’t good for us to be alone. He created a companion, a helper. Later, as Jesus prepares to leave his earthly body and fellowship with his disciples, he tells us He will never leave us but send us his Spirit to be our helper.

We live with lies swirling around us. Sometimes it’s hard to discern the truth. Add to that a world that has decided there can be different truths: your truth and mine. How do we represent Jesus as truth when others say prove it or that they have their own truth?

There is a man in our program now who can’t accept God as his higher power. He needs proof. Give him a book, a study he can read, one that’s been validated in ways he accepts. This, friends, is a hard life.

My truth is that Jesus is the truth. His life showed us and his word continues to reveal it. His gift to us is choice to believe.

faith Five-Minute Friday Salvation Army

Our son was at the age where he was losing the last of his baby teeth. He was also at the age of uncertainty of a tooth fairy. He was leaning toward believing this was another fable parents told their kids much like the more famous one about, well, you know…..the fat guy in a red suit.

Jonathan called out to his dad one morning. The tooth still under his pillow, finally, he knew the truth. With his father standing next to him as he lay on the upper bunk, our son was explaining that, in fact, no tooth fairy had come. During his tale, his dad managed to slip money under his pillow without him knowing. When urged to look again, he found the money. Since his dad was standing there the whole time, there could only be one answer: there WAS a tooth fairy.

Some years ago I was attending a youth conference and one of the sessions was about truth. More specifically, it was about how the younger generation was deciding truth for themselves. So many not having grown up in the church, they couldn’t just accept the words we believed written by divine inspiration as truth. Truth became a personal possession. A choice. You could have your truth and I’d have mine.

We enjoy carrying on these traditions for our children. We like the age old fables of fairies and elves and Easter bunnies. Some might consider them alternative facts. That’s the new term, isn’t it? And it seems more and more are choosing these alternative stories as their truth.

At Christmas, we’ve seen the celebration of Santa become the main event. Who wouldn’t choose a story that has turned into “gimme, gimme, me, me, gimme, gimme, mine”? It’s a much grander story than that of a baby born to, apparently poor, parents. They couldn’t even find a hotel room. And then angels appear in the sky? Talk about a story!

Quieter still seems to be the Easter story. The one that began with the Christmas story. You can’t have one without the other. They are entwined in an inextricable way. Birth, death, eternal life. Truth.

But others would choose to believe in spring and nature and a bunny who lays eggs? Who doesn’t like a good change up here and there. It’s all in fun. And it’s far easier to believe in Easter bunnies who only want to give us chocolate and require nothing in return than believe in a Christ who asks us to take up our cross and follow him.

So there is truth but it’s only another alternative fact of the day.

Henry and I have these discussions. I seem to understand the notion of choosing ones truth. He doesn’t. He struggles with the thought that these men he loves and serves and preaches the word of God to day after day could think the bible is anything but truth. THE truth. That Jesus is THE truth. Perhaps more accurately, the truth is Jesus.

We will celebrate Palm Sunday. Several of our residents will be chosen to read the scripture for the day. They may not believe the words they read but we know they are sharing truth. And when God’s truth is read He is honored.

We will host a expression of the Seder meal and walk through the meaning of God’s salvation to the Israelites and to us, through Jesus.

We will prepare a prayer labyrinth for them. A walk through several stations as they are guided to consider their relationship with Jesus.

Good Friday will be recognized and the price Christ paid will be told in graphic detail. We will consider our sins and his forgiveness.

And Easter Sunday we will come together outside with the sun just over the trees. And we will sing and we will proclaim our truth that Christ the Lord has risen today. Alleluia!

We’ll also have plenty of those chocolate eggs. Most of them are hollow, just like the truth they hold.

faith hope Salvation Army

She was the kind of girl who didn’t know that the proper answer to the greeting, “How are you today?” was a simple, “Fine, thank you.”

At 17, her answers tended toward ailments and bold statements like “my cervix hurts”. I’m not even joking. After a few of these revealing answers to my polite nicety I stopped asking. I didn’t want to know the details of her life. A teenager in a handful of teens we had in this small congregation and I didn’t want to know the drama that lay behind her openness.

IMG_4843

Our landscape of ministry has changed and now it’s men I pass in the Center, politely saying “How’s it going?” as I never break stride in my walk. We answer “good” to one another as we move on to our destination which is not finding out how the other is actually doing.

One of the counselors doesn’t allow them to answer “good” when she poses that question. They’ve hidden behind that word and many other things and it’s time for honesty to take root in all aspects of their lives so let’s start with the basics: How are you doing today?

Panera

I value transparency and vulnerability but I have trouble finding the line. The line between over-sharing and being real. Or the line between nice and abrupt. And the other line between honesty and politeness.

One man answers, “Can’t complain” and I quip, “You can, but no one wants to hear that.” Truth.

It’s easier to be open, to be vulnerable in writing. Or in the dark. I learned that as a kid. We didn’t speak of serious things in the open. I would write a note and slip it in mama’s purse saying I needed more “feminine products”. And she would silently place them in the bathroom. No words shared.

Sometimes writing feels like saying it in the dark. No faces staring at me and hiding behind a blog title with distance between. Comments are faint words shared in the dark of cyberspace so they are safe. I can be real here. Mostly.

baby on beach edit

3 generations

IMG_9436

I can feel when one is being true, authentic. I feel if their words of praise are glossy varnish or the worn patina of life. Real is what I want to show and why I fumble at times. Those business events that demand I be nice and not so real because real is rude so I fake it and wonder if it shows. Plastic me, performing. That’s a heart issue, I can assure you.

It’s important for me to show the scars from old wounds and hurts, the fatigue that comes from stubbornness. It matters that those around us know we haven’t been spared pain and sorrow because we bear the label “Pastor” or “Christian”. But I dance around the ‘how much’ sometimes.

Do I share details of why my father threatened to disown my 18-year-old self or are those words enough? Will confession of shame and bad decisions and poor choices, will acknowledging sin in my life make me real enough without the gory details?

How much is too much me and not enough grace, not enough Him?

IMG_0913

It helps to go slow. To listen to the prompts within. To trust His voice and His time. I learning, growing, stumbling and getting back up.

I heard their murmurs when they saw I was wearing a pair of Chucks. I heard the word “bobo” uttered and spun around to give a glare, a smiling one, of course. “Fakes? You think I’m wearing fake Converse? I don’t do fake, guys.”

Or do I?

IMG_6631

Linking up with SheLoves Magazine for their July link-up for their theme Authentic. Click here to read other posts. 

faith

“Do you know how hard it was to come back? Come back through those doors?”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

In the story, the one Jesus told about the son who went out on his own to make his way,  that son found himself eating garbage. He was eating what pigs wouldn’t eat.

He set out with an inheritance and made fast friends. The kind of friends money will bring. Then the money was gone, the friends were gone, and reality came clearer into focus.

Jobs didn’t come. Maybe he wasn’t prepared. Maybe he didn’t have the schooling needed or he lacked experience. Maybe his expectations were unrealistic. Maybe he felt a little entitled. These are the rationalizations we tell ourselves.

Surely he felt foolish and alone. And here is the crossroad. The choice that looks simple to some but so hard to others.

IMG_2227

IMG_6981

“It was hard for all of us to come through those doors.” Mike knows, it’s his 3rd or 4th time walking through them. The two men looked hard at the other, you could feel their deep desire for their friend to ‘get it’ this time.

The story is the same and the story is different. The story Jesus told of a young man from a family of wealth and status lured by the grand visions of ego and the world. The lie that he needed no one. He was all he needed to follow this drug of self.

IMG_0001

Another, a 50-something alcoholic from a family with a loving wife, his high school sweetheart who’d stood by him relapse after relapse. He was lured by comfort, the lie told in a bottle that promised to soothe his regrets and hurts.

And I ask, what lures me? What is the crossroads I’m looking to? What is yours?  Is it the empty fame offered by social media? The number of likes and pins and retweets? Am I lured by comparison? Measuring my inside against another’s outside? Seems that tape measure is always within reach to gauge how I’m doing. Young enough, small enough, good enough?

It’s hard to walk through that door. The door of truth, of hope, of grace. It should be easy, but fear stifles and the lies can be louder than the truth. Or maybe my itching ears are tickled by the lies.

In our bible story, the son “came to his senses”. He came to his senses and went home. He walked through the door of humility and returned home where his father had been watching and waiting all along.

Another made that hard walk through our doors. I hope he stays. Not inside the doors but inside the truth and the truth is this: God, like a good father, has been waiting and watching for our return and he wants us to stay with him. Through the pain, through the regret, through the hurts, through the failures and relapses and not being enough because we never are, but, we don’t have to be. The only thing enough is his grace. His ocean of grace for you and me.

hope recovery

It could be my favorite story in the bible. My favorite story ever, maybe, this story of a son who was all grown and full of that knowing and left in the confidence of innocence. An innocence from living a life where it’s all there and so he took it for granted it would always be.

It’s the favorite story of many, even people who don’t know much of the bible find this story to be their story and in so many ways it is. It’s our coming of age story when the world was ours waiting to be taken only to find the world won. But here’s the critical part of the story, here’s where the real decision comes.

photo credit: Gavin Yeatts
photo credit: Gavin Yeatts

IMG_1270

He was sitting at the table waiting for the intake process. Again. Two friends were with him when I walked up and patted him on the shoulder. “Welcome back”. He’s never been a big man but he was wearing the kind of thin that comes from living under a bridge the past 7 months. He glanced up at me and the four of us chatted a bit. And here is the decision he had to make, just like the son in the story. This man in front of me, a man I’ve known for 4 years, I call his wife friend and I’ve wrapped my arms around her tearful self when he’s set out to take the world – again – this man had to make a decision. Again.

He hasn’t been in the far country of addiction alone. He’s made such a positive impact on so many when he was in recovery that they’ve searched for him. They’ve taken him food and cigarettes. They’ve prayed for him and begged him to come back. Come home. And that is where so many of us stand. At the crossroads of truth and lies.

IMG_1289

Golan Heights

 

 

 

recovery

The summer air has been heavy, moisture clings to our patio doors in the morning. Maybe that is what’s making life feel heavy. It’s so much better when things are going as everyone would like but that isn’t real life and I’m forced to live in that. Denial offers only lies and I chose truth even when it carries struggle.

A choice that seemed so right has me confused and uncertain and more than a bit perplexed. I fear I’ve disappointed a dear friend but also know our friendship is deeper than that and can withstand truth.

art journaling

Looking back on yesterday I’m sure a mystery person, unseen to me, must have declared it Truth or Dare day and I chose truth not knowing what game I’d be playing.

Another conversation had a friend, family really, sharing truth with me. Truth I’d asked for taking the dare of not knowing if it would soothe or sting. It was good and more than once my eyes teared and I think she heard my voice change ever so slightly. She’s not the tearful one but endures mine.

Still two others would call, unexpected, weariness from one finding her way in everything new in life and tears from the other, a different kind of weariness. The tearful one my daughter, like me I suppose, and hearing her tears my voice could barely be strong enough to answer her. My heart was crawling through the phone, desperately wanting to be where she lives, sitting next to her and wrapping my arms around her so her tears would be the only sound. She’s been carrying a heavy load and sometimes the dam breaks and it did and she called her mama and I am a blessed woman. We talked, she sniffed, we moved from the hard to the frivolous to the fun and back to things to come. Good things and more unexpected things.

still life

Today I feel worn from all the truth. Is that possible? Maybe I’m using the wrong word and while it’s true, their lives and words all true, it’s not really truth that is hard, is it? If God is truth how can truth be hard?

I woke with a headache. From a nights sleep with Henry away because I never completely rest when he’s gone. That a reminder of how God created us to need others. Which further confuses me as we are to need him first and most and know he’s with us always but he, himself, said it wasn’t good for man to be alone. Ahhh…..yes, a long day ahead, perhaps?

Every day always an unknown. Every day given by God in his mercy. Causing me to say, Your will be done.

 

faith

“High-strung” “Opinionated” “Outspoken” “Action-orientated” Those are all words that have been used to describe me. Most of them by my husband. Like most qualities, they can be both good and not so good.

This week, they have been not so good. They have kept me in a state of agitation. I’m not sure why. Yes, it’s been a challenging week but that’s part of the job description in ministry.

I need calm and still I wrestle against it with my will. I need quiet but will not quiet myself.

It was raining, again, yesterday. Falling steady from the sky. I put on mellow music for my drive in to work. And it was good. The calm was beginning. Until I walked in the office door and I set it aside. Email after email I’d open and the anger, impatience, opinionated self would take over.

I know better. I tell others how to do it. How to find calm, how to allow God’s peace to be their peace. And here I sit, hypocrite!

Still, I search for this peace. I start by confessing to you my self-will, my weakness. My brokeness. I’m stepping down, God. Getting out of your way. Getting out of your way to share your peace. I need that peace for others. I need that peace for me.

The sacred word is filled with peace. “Go in peace” “..a blessing of peace..” “…give you grace and peace”. God himself is peace. And he offers this to us. I take it and give it back. Take it and give it back. Not sure why I give it back. Unaware that I have until I realize it’s gone.

To find peace in the midst of chaos you have to know where to look. I know this but have been too hurried. Another confession. I grab the word again, searching his voice to find his promise of peace. Confessing my lack, my selfishness I turn again to truth. Lasting truth. Saving truth. Keeping truth. Truth that gives grace and peace. And I’m greedy today for that grace and peace.

“May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.” 1 Corinthians 1:3 NLT

Uncategorized