A Killing Silence

A Killing Silence: and  why you shouldn’t keep it to yourself
Guest Post by Ruth

I found out last week that a college friend of mine, now a pastor and father of two, killed himself.  The reasons he left in his suicide note were vague. When I first heard the news my immediate thought was, “What could have been so bad that you would leave behind a wife and two children?”  I could come up with nothing.

And then I got mad because I realized that my friend had been lied to, by who I didn’t know, but he believed that there WAS something bad enough.

This realization made me want to run to the top of the nearest hill and ask my friends to gather so I could tell them and God all my sins, all my dark thoughts, and hidden pain. I wanted to purge myself. But how often do we really do this?  How often do we say, out loud, the things that could kill us if they are not brought to light?

Two days later, my friend Peggy, sent me an invitation to say “hard stuff” on her blog and I knew immediately it was in invitation to say the things that I keep in dark corners. While I am angry about the lies we believe and keep us trapped, I still find it hard to say the things that will expose my weaknesses, my sins.  I find it’s best to take a deep breath and then make a list.  This will be the opposite of a list I would post on Facebook…

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A Plan to Lose it All

Lately I have been a real mess. Not a quirky, things-will-come-out-right-in-the-end kind of mess, either. A gross and ugly mess that you’re sure will yield rotting surprises. I have seriously questioned my mental health and the wisdom of even interacting with other humans. My heart and mind have been dark and confusing. Even just last night, all of the worst lies came out to taunt me as I tried to go to sleep.

When I woke up (after very little sleep) I felt that same raw and twisty anxiety, but as I sat down to spend some time with God, he came quickly in just the way I needed. He didn’t soothe me with “No, everyone really loves you, it’s okay,” but instead pointed me to how incredibly faithful he is, has been and will continue to be. I think it’s only after I recognize how big and good he is that I am able to feel comforted by what he then says about who I am.

Then, at the end of class today I had a good dose of “hindsight” as I finished up my last teaching in the School of Biblical Studies.

What I got to see at the end of my teaching is how all the things that God spoke about this season before it happened  (this season being my involvement with SBS since the beginning of 2012)  have taken place…

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The Hem of His Robe

For the past few years I’ve had this problem.

You don’t really want to hear all about it, but for the sake of what I want to share, I will tell you. I have too much estrogen. You’d think this would lead to more awesome womanness, but actually it causes several problems. It’s not just constant PMS symptoms, but also constant bleeding. The good news is that I went to the doctor years ago, and although it has gotten worse, I have stuff I can take that helps minimize these things (and totally eliminates the constant bleeding).

I continue to look for ways to be more hormonally balanced by eating differently, minimizing stress, etc. The symptom that is the most bothersome to me is extreme irritability. The difference between normal grumpiness and hormone induced irritation is marked. My rational mind tells me when a situation or interaction should or should not lead to anger and when this problem is at it’s worst, I walk around in a fog of anxious irascibility. I find this side effect the most disturbing because it impacts my relationships with other people and those are what I value most. Also, I don’t enjoy being angry!

Every once in a while I run out of the medicine that helps me and I usually keep a pretty relaxed attitude about it until, three or four days later, my skin hurts and I’m trying desperately to not bite people**.

I ran out of medicine a week and a half ago and while I’m not having horrible symptoms, I did have a revelation last night about a story in the Bible. I suddenly realized that I am the woman with the issue of blood from Mark 5 (also Luke 8 and Matthew 9)…

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Crisis of Faith

What is a crisis of faith? To me a crisis of faith is any time anything (circumstances, ideas, people, desires, etc) challenges my current beliefs. When my beliefs are challenged I must wrestle with all of it and either see how the challenge really does work inside of what I believe or I have to adjust my beliefs.

It sounds pretty basic, but it’s hardly ever a fun experience.

I remember once I was sitting in a shared room with my friend Jessica. We were on vacation, we were young and we were up super late talking about the mysteries of the Universe, or men, or both. At some point one of us suggested, “What if we don’t actually exist?” What followed was both frightening and hilarious (in retrospect). Both of us could almost feel the floor of the room slide away revealing a black, sucking chasm beneath us. Although it couldn’t have actually happened this way, my memory shows the situation to me like we were both actually hanging onto the beds for dear life as the room rocked back and forth and objects began to disappear….

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Rise

I had dinner this evening with friends to talk about the work they are doing to mobilize people toward missions.

Two definitions of the word mobilize are:
1. (of a country or its government) prepare and organize (troops) for active service, and
2.
make (something) movable or capable of movement.
Those two definitions together could well describe their hearts for the body of Christ.

While we talked I was reminded of what “mobilized” me, so many years ago to get involved with missions. It started with a message from a guest speaker one Sunday in church. He talked about The Cost Of Discipleship. He related our current lives to the lives of the disciples who walked with Jesus- what they gave up, what they gave their lives for and to… I was hit square in the chest with the desire to give my whole life, my whole self to God.

A week or so later I went to a concert held in Seattle and put on by an organization called Operation Mobilization. When the wiry and passionate George Verwer got up to speak about missions, it was like he was opening the door to the thing I had already begun to long after:

A radical life lived with and for a radical God….

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Do We Matter?

This last week in class we talked about personality and team dynamics. Along with that conversation we all shared our Myers Briggs scores.

I posted about this in the past and it’s interesting to come back to the question of introvert vs. extrovert.

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This time when I read the descriptions of INFP and ENFP I strongly identified with both. Looking at famous people with these two types, I see that the extroverts are journalists and revolutionaries and the introverts are poets and theologians.

I have the real need to artistically explore and express my inner self as well as radically change and influence the the outer world. Coupling these “needs” with my previous post that what we believe about God matters, I am left feeling an urgency to study and discover. We all know that the world is not as it should be, but what needs to be dealt with and how does it need to be handled? Can one person change the world? If you think about people like Paul the Apostle or Darwin, Alexander the Great or Martin Luther King Jr. it’s clear that a single person can impact societies and generations of people….

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The Good Portion

Lately I’ve been thinking about this word, “intimacy.”

The official definitions I find don’t seem to convey much depth,

  1. Close familiarity or friendship; closeness.
  2. A private cozy atmosphere.

How would you define intimacy?

When I think about my closest friendships, I see intimacy with them in the same light that I see vulnerability. I can admit my faults and struggles to just about anyone (even to the world wide web), but how I feel right now is probably the most sensitive. What’s going on inside of me in the moment is the most vulnerable thing for me to share. I think this is because once I have thought through things, I can find a way to accept myself and communicate to others in a way that is more likely to ensure their acceptance of me. When I haven’t thought through something, I may discover that I don’t like myself and then it’s a danger that others might not like me, as well.  I’m not sure it’s the same for everyone, but I do know that when I choose to be vulnerable a kind of intimacy takes place with the person I’m sharing with. Especially if they aren’t horrified by what I’ve shared….

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The Space Between

There is this space between confusion and understanding that is difficult to handle.

Yesterday I watched a fictionalized account of the end of the apostle Peter’s life. He’s telling a Roman soldier about the days before Jesus died and I was struck by the last supper in the upper room. First, Jesus tells them that someone is going to betray him. Matthew 24:22 says, “And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” This part always gets to me. In our deepest hearts we stand before God and know the treachery we are capable of committing. For some reason Jesus allows them this time of reflection as they wonder what he knows that they do not.

Then Jesus has the disciples drink the wine and eat the bread. He tells them that it symbolizes his blood and body. Then, this Messiah about to be king gets down and washes their feet….

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Taking a Dive

An unexpected opportunity has come up since returning to Colorado. Although I had prayed several times for the upcoming Crossroads Discipleship Training School (CDTS), I had only thought a little about staffing the school. I’m not sure why, but in my mind it was far fetched. I did not know well the people who would be leading the school and I have never before staffed any school…. so I mostly just yearned to somehow be a part of what God would do, but didn’t really pursue a connection.

Then last week as I sat resting my ankle, one of the school leaders called me up out of the blue and asked if she could come and chat with me. When she had settled herself on the end of my bed, she asked me if I would want to join their team. In prayer she had been feeling like their team was not complete and when she asked for others to pray, my name came up “at the top of the list” (I put that in quotes because I don’t know if there was a literal list being written with numbered names or if it was just that more than one person who thought of me).

I told her I would pray about it and get back to them in a few days (but not too many days since they had already begun staff development).
Sometimes it is hard to hear God on something when I feel strong ambivalence….

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We Want to See

I‘m reading this book called We Want to See Jesus by Roy and Revel Hession. It’s one of those old little paper-backs with everything so richly worded and meaningful that, though it is this tiny sliver of a book, it is packed full of good stuff.

He’s talking about how, as followers of God we often look for ways to serve or ways to be better people above looking for God Himself. But that no matter how much we serve, if we are not seeking God first, our efforts will merely be selfish and prideful striving.

But how do we want God? My normal way is to have a few days a month when I am just longing for Him specifically. The rest of the time I either just want to want Him or it doesn’t even occur to me to want Him

CS Lewis, in The Problem of Pain said, “It is natural to wish that God designed for us a less glorious and arduous destiny… It is a burden of glory, not only beyond our deserts, but also, except in rare moments of grace, beyond our desiring.”

And then Hession says, “Left to themselves, men arrive at a false knowledge of God, a knowledge that only begets fear and bondage, and which repels men rather than draw them to Him.”

What do we do?…

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