Tag Archives: people

Getting out of the boat

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boat-1869215_1920The smallest things often have the biggest impact on how I view myself.

I’m pretty small stuff in the blogosphere, and believe it or not, no one has made a negative comment about anything I’ve published. Not one.

Until just recently. And it wasn’t even a negative comment. It just questioned the wisdom of telling a story that wasn’t mine. No, I didn’t plagiarize or take credit when credit was not due to me. And I got it all straightened out – at least I think I did – to everyone’s satisfaction. And that’s all I’m going to say for fear of hurting someone’s feelings or sounding judgmental.

But what I realized during that short and rather insignificant series of emails and revisions is that I’m pretty thin-skinned. Not so different from most everyone who shares my personality traits of peacemaker and wimp.

It kinda bothered me that the criticism – and not even the words, just the fact that they were said – stirred up an odd combination of stuff: defenses, rebuttals, explanations, pride, shame, insecurity.

So, as I was pondering and praying about this, God, as is His way with me, sent a song: Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns:

Oh what I would do to have the kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I’m in – onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone,  into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He’s holding out His hand.

Oh, those crashing waves. And, evidently in my case, even the tiniest of ripples. The unsettling feelings I have that, as soon as I click Publish, I will step out into the waves of people, their ideas, their bias, their perspective…

And I will become subject to how they choose to crash in on me, telling me I’m wrong, reminding me that I’ve always been wrong and sinful and less than. Telling me I’ll never amount to anything, I’ve got it all mixed up, I’m not who I say I am. I’m losing the spiritual war.

I can’t really be a Believer.

I find myself in conversations during which critical or smug comments about the twisted beliefs of “them” sound curiously like something I believe to be true. I remained as small as possible when the Bible-study discussion turns a corner straight into controversy. Can we please just go back to our “purpose-driven lives” and stop talking about it? Please don’t make me step out into the waves.

You all know what I’m talking about. Those issues for which placards emerge and parades are formed. Ideas and positions that, for some reason, have become political issues. The tough ones.

Sides are chosen. Lines are drawn. Camps are pitched with big tents and strong, deep stakes.

Good golly, Miss Molly. Please not that. Not camps.

Oh what I would do to have the kind of strength it takes to stand before a giant
With just a sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors, shaking in their armor,
Wishing they’d have had the strength to stand.

That’s me. Wishing with all my heart I had the strength to face those giant issues with just a stone’s worth of courage, ready and willing and unafraid to use the voice God gave me to bring the simple, good news of Jesus to all who can hear.

At times, the good news of Jesus comes wrapped in tolerance, a trait that many of my fellow Believers call “giving in to Satan” or “watering down the Gospel”.

But isn’t it possible that those in the “other” camps wish we’d look past the camp label and just talk about Jesus?  About how much He wants all campers, no matter where they pitch their tent, to meet Him in Heaven.

I’m not a Bible scholar. I don’t know or understand a fraction of what many giants of the Faith have already forgotten. I’ve been lazy and disengaged so much of my life.

And, my lovelies, maybe I’m completely, utterly, and unforgivably wrong. Maybe I’ve been lulled into the narrow, false notions of peace and privilege for so long I can’t see beyond us four and no more.

Maybe. But as I listen and learn, I’m more and more convinced that Jesus made the foundations of Truth pretty clear. He said…

…”I am the Way, the Truth, the Life.” (John 14:6)
…”Love Me with all your heart, mind and strength.” (Mark 12:33)
…”Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:33)

I know there are a lot of other beliefs and issues and sacraments we, as Jesus People, hold near and dear. I hold them close. But honest and truly I believe that one truth and two commandments sum up what’s the most important in all of Scripture.

Every other single solitary thing
runs a pretty distant second.

And, with that, I believe I just stepped out of the boat.

 

The foundations of truth: Jesus is the Way, love Him, love others. Click to Tweet

Deserve

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whatever you did
for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for Me.
Matthew 25:40

Boy oh BOY, I’m so excited!

I’ll start at my version of the beginning. Andy, my son-in-law, got my daughter, Ana, a purse for Christmas and asked me to wrap it. I confess I thought briefly about finding something else to put in the box, hoping that Andy wouldn’t notice I kept the bag for myself.

Oooo-la-la, I LOVE it.

On the front of the bag, a small patch was appliqued: Carry the Story. And underneath were the words Handmade in the USA by a woman who sought refuge here.

Good golly, Miss Molly. I was hooked.

This little bag was made in Glen Ellyn, right there in a little shop on Main Street. The sewing studio is at the back of the store, open to the public, where women who sought refuge make a living for themselves and their families.

Families who have run for their lives from situations so desperate, most of us will never be able to either picture or imagine.

Situations so ugly or cruel or dangerous that these women and their families were willing to leave everything behind just to escape.

Some of these women left professions of prestige and value. Some of them are educated at the post-secondary level and brought a wealth of ideas and wisdom with them to the United States. But language, connection, and wardrobe barriers have gotten in the way of finding positions worthy of their abilities.

So they come to Re:new five days a week. Having learned how to use the powerful industrial sewing machines in the studio, these artisans work with their hands, make friends and quality products, and live a life they never expected – but for which they are grateful every minute.

As I left my first ever meeting as an Associate Board Member of the Re:new Project, I thought how much these women deserve respect … how much they deserve a life of peace and contentment.

As I said the word deserve in my head, a few bells went off and pretty loud. For in recent days, I have seen this word used so many times it has become like a drone in my ears. He deserves this or that because of his good – or rotten – behavior. She deserves something so much better because she is such a wonderful person. They don’t deserve a bad rap just because they made a mistake.

I am particularly off balance about deserving happiness. As in …

  • You deserve to be happy. stevemariboli.com
  • You deserve happiness simply because you were born. (LiveLuvCreate.com)
  • I won’t settle for anything less than I deserve. (facebook.com/YouAreMyOxy)
  • You deserve happiness just as much as the next person. (awesomelifetips.com)
  • You deserve happiness in your life… (wisdomtoinspirethesoul.com)

You get the idea.

It’s just wrong. We here in the First World take a lot of time and exert a lot of effort making sure that we – and all of the ones we love – are happy.  We find what makes us happy. We get rid of what doesn’t. We expect it, we work toward it, and, when we have it, we take it for granted.

Happiness. Being happy. Being free of misery and burden. We deserve it, don’t we?

I’ve heard stories about families that fled the Rwandan persecution and genocide, starting over and making their homes in the United States with the help of compassionate organizations like World Relief.

All I can think of when I hear Rwanda is the story told by an observer whose name I don’t remember, but whose words I’ll never forget. As an outsider, a member of one of the relief organizations, he told of how he witnessed countless and nameless, bruised and bloody bodies crashing down a river, getting caught in swirling currents, unceremoniously dumped there as victims of a sweeping wave of violence and hate. A force so ruthless, 800,000 Tutsis were killed in three months’ time, the result of a twisted sense of revenge by a majority being ruled by the minority, and a government-led insurrection encouraging neighbor to kill neighbor.

I don’t know all of these Rwandan families’ stories, but I know that what they endured reached far beyond the inconveniences of a leaky roof or disrespect by a boss or colleague. I know that what you and I may consider unacceptable could be in the little detour category for these brave refugees.

I know that running out of half-and-half, making my morning coffee wimpy and sad with only 1% milk, cannot compare to days without enough to eat or drink while sustaining a life on the run.

I know that being assigned a queen room when we booked a king with a view of the Magic Kingdom – and booked it well in advance – cannot compare to sleeping on a cot, or even the floor, with a sense of dread and anxiety.

Honestly, my lovelies, just writing these words leaves me humbled and ashamed of my own sense of entitlement.

I hope and pray that my contributions to the Associate Board of the Re:new Project will in some small measure contribute to the comfort and happiness of a refugee woman who simply longs for peace and safety. I hope and pray that every moment I spend planning events or raising money or getting to know these admirable souls will enrich their lives – as I am sure they will enrich mine.

I hope and pray the next time I grumble about an empty container of half-and-half or a room without a view I remember writing these words. I simply must not continue to feel deserving of happiness or safety or convenience or peace.

And I hope and pray if – and when – I am confronted by sadness or danger or inconvenience or war that I demonstrate the same determination I see in the faces of those who have gone before and lived to tell their stories.

The faces of these lovely women who sought refuge here.

If you have any questions about the Re:new Project, please comment. I’d be honored to tell you more about what we have in the works!

 

I must not continue to feel deserving of happiness, safety, convenience, peace. Click to Tweet