Unfriending

It’s obvious, but needs me a good remindin’, that not everyone called “Friend” on Facebook is a friend. It’s why I don’t care about everything I see on my newsfeed and despite vigilant unfollowing nevertheless find myself overwhelmed by how much must be scrolled past (#firstworldproblems).

I went through my Friends list today and removed over a hundred people. It’s not much but it’s a small stab at the problem of information overload and I hope my newsfeed is better for it.

I doubt the cleansing is over (sinister laugh).

To be frank, though, I’m not concerned that I’m becoming a heartless sociopath, because I care about many hundreds of people in my life and on FB, in my circles of friends and acquaintances. Facebook, unfortunately, has become a place where there are so many people sharing intimate details of their life (family photos) it’s like a white noise of baby announcements and timed runs and OMYGOSHEVERYONEISPREGNANT.

*ahem* Anyway.

I drew this, with regards to how scrolling through my FB newsfeed can make me feel like everyone is pregnant or has babies, when in reality, it’s just Facebook: land of young moms:

FBboolean

There is a disproportionate amount of newborns and pregnancies on FB because of how effective it is at disseminating adorable baby photos to family & friends (the people that actually care). Some I’m able to ignore but sometimes it feels awkward…like I’m standing in a room full of strangers who are friends with each other but not me and I’m wondering why I’m even there. Or it’s like being forced to stare at an advertisement while waiting for a bus or subway to arrive - an ad for Coca-Cola or LifeMates – you might be able to ignore it if you hate coke or are happily mated, but if you’re lonely or thirsty that day the ads just make you feel it more acutely.

THUS, the cleansing.

Time to make Facebook a little FRIENDLIER and a little less STRANGE (because I’m unfriending the relative strangers on my friends list… in case that wasn’t clear).

Know thy audience

I find it hard to be motivated to write here when I don’t know who I’m writing for. Who is my audience? (WHO ARE YOU, READER?)

The Good News isn’t good news in a vacuum, it’s not news unless there’s an audience with a history. Newness implies there is oldness, some sort of context. Con text. With text. With words. What are your words, what’s your story that creates a landscape, that create a dialogue, to receive good news?

There is a place to preach gospel to myself. A personal blog is a good place for that.

But I want to preach gospel to you.

Who is in the congregation behind the glowing screen?

(and out in the ether the question hangs)

Awkward, Awkward Moments with Christine

All from today, Sunday. I work at a church.

Me: We’re getting into the Bible, and the Bible is getting into us!

Intelligent child not getting the subtleties of language making a scene and derailing the conversation with comments akin to: OW! That’s going to hurt! and enacting something akin to being gutted…

Me: Well, the Bible isn’t going to fly into us…like a … *tries not to use militaristic language but fails to come up with anything other than:* BULLET…HAHA…we don’t want the Bible FLYING into us like a …*tries to use an age appropriate word for children in grade 2 but only comes up with:* PROJECTILE… When we read things they go INTO our eyes, and when we hear things they go INTO our ears, and …*manages to avoid talking about eating the Word of God despite knowing that at some point that is good theology* SO WE WANT THE BIBLE TO GET INTO our HEARTS! AND MINDS! *thinks of the aliens from the Simpsons*

Man who makes balloon animals: Ok this thing is for girls! Girls like this. Can you guess what it is?

Me, going with the sexist answer: Shopping?

Visiting mom: Candy? Chocolate?

Me: Oh, I love chocolate!

Man working on balloon: Nope, girls and women like this…

Me: Control!

Man: … did you just say control?

(the balloon “animal” was a Cinderella)

 

(Earlier, with same balloon animal man, who has the ability to completely disarm you and make you open up because of his balloon animal-making hypnosis)

Man: So where are your kids?

Me: Mine? I don’t have any kids.  I’m the children’s minister.

Man: Well, you could still have kids… right? Unless, that’s impossible.

Me: *he’s probably not asking me if I’m fertile, no one asks that…what’s happening, is he asking if I’m single?* Oh no I’m married! I could have kids. 

Man: Ok I wasn’t sure if as a minister what the deal was with…*motions to church*

Me: Oh, yea! The Anglican church is fine with women priests…being married… we’re cool with … *trailing off as I realize my inclusivity list is getting awkward* ... divorce…d people…

 

3115698759-1

 A parishioner is giving green onions grown from her garden to one of her friends, who has now a whole bag full. I come over because I can smell them, and she offers me some which I eagerly take. I then proceed to walk around for twenty minutes with fresh cut green onions, chatting with people, smelling strongly of onions, and occasionally holding them at arms length away from the conversation hoping not to overwhelm folks with my onion smell. 

Joy is a habit.

I am a HUGE FAN of Ann Voskamp. Huge fan. 

table-fan_300

Today she posted this, and while normally I’m resistant to anything that hints at “just think positive” as though cognitive behaviour therapy isn’t really hard… I like the little play on words:

10368825_839298066082369_2129705079156283688_o

When you think of joy as a robe, joy is an article of clothing you put on, you are acknowledging that joy isn’t your birthday suit, it isn’t that au naturel way of being. Joy is of the Lord. We are anxious, pessimistic, fearful beings at times, and as much as we want to be reprogrammed (love that song) we unfortunately can’t change ourselves with the flip of a switch. What we can do, however, is put something on that is new and uncomfortable at first and wear it so often we are moulded into it, it transforms us, we become trained in it until it becomes natural. We are organic beings that grow and wilt and need time to change. We need to work at new things, train ourselves to be different that what we are naturally. 

And I love the imagery of a habit. Humility marks the life of a monk. You put on that robe to remind you that to be something you are not naturally takes swallowing your pride. And being at risk of being a shiny happy person.

mh299_3_1

Birth Control

A woman in victorian garb using her parisol to threaten the advancing stork-w-a-baby-hanging-around-its-neck.
No you have never seen anything better than this.

 

I love Buzzfeed.

This post is written by a member of the community and like all things on the internet, tended to get a bit…reductionist: We Asked 24 Women Why They Don’t Use Birth Control…

There are a few assumptions one could make about this topic:

  • It’s obvious from the content of their answers that they’re referring not to birth control at large (which includes anything used to prevent birth, such as condoms, spermicide, IUDs…), but “The Pill.”
  • They could be catholics.
  • They could be allowing for “Fertility Awareness” methods that mean you don’t have sex during that particularly fertile window. Still birth control, technically.
  • They could be like the Duggars, and hoping to have 19 children.
  • They could be against all forms of modern medicine and not vaccinate their children or accept blood transfusions.
  • They could be lesbians!

The point is, we just don’t know. These are women who have made deeply personal, and hopefully well-informed decisions based on a lot of factors. Their religious background, their moral compass, their understanding of medicine as well as their own bodies are all factors in making this decision.

But alas, when it’s presented on a piece of white cardboard, it just seems so simple, doesn’t it?

One assumption that many of the cards suggest is that The Pill is for women that can’t control themselves. This is unfortunate. We love to divide ourselves into these camps of people who are morally righteous and pit ourselves against those whom (we judge) aren’t.

Comparing ourselves against others just distances us from others… which seems to be the noble goal but it’s a temporary ego boost for long-term loneliness, anger and doesn’t get us any closer to God.

The only righteous one, the only good one (you know, fully, completely, ultimately good – the one who makes completely informed decisions because he’s all knowing and is a fair yet merciful judge) is God… surprise.

So quit throwing stones. Keep reading other’s stories. Keep practising compassion and if you’re really interested in informing young women about the potential risks of The Pill, then go into education, or medicine!

But for the love of God, put down those signs.

What’s the most important stuff in life

Food.
Sleep.
Reading (the Word of God, and the words of a whole bunch of other good folks)
Um…
Friends. (or perhaps “People”…you know, spending time with them, giving to those in need… family).
Faith (church, things like retreats, and praying.)

Art. Like, being creative. Making stuff. Maybe “making stuff” or “building” or something is the “thing” and then “food” and “art” and “quilts” comes from within that…

 

Anything else you can think of?

Be Kind

From www.society6.com on Kindness. (you can find all these and order them on t-shirts, mugs, get prints, etc. by searching “Kindness” and “Be Kind”)

8914668_5433973_b

9352339_14450829_b

10559419_16304033_lz

11120276_13142141_b

11528559_7193488_b

1229058_2637243_b

1561021_16700721_b

1579745_8068542_b

1632487_14164280_b

1632576_8625831_b

1632608_11510233_b

3645494_8909637_b

4128238_5508927_b

4200077_5590482_b

4445169_15559512_b

5843029_4887074_b

7860698_12454678_lz

8821728_2042249_lz

I can’t think of one characteristic that stands out more distinctly than the kindness of my co-workers … co-priests that work to bring people to Christ and live out being in Christ … and how incredibly healing and restorative their unrelenting, surprising kindness is… it’s like walking with Christ  … and being constantly blown away by undeserved sweet kindness that fills long empty, hardened parts of my soul.

Thank you. Your humility humbles me. Thank you for serving me.

Year End Report

Here are a few lines excerpted from the report I wrote on the “Field Education” component of my degree. This is in regards to my work in from September -  April.

 

Image

 

What do you feel you have learned at this particular placement?

  • How to conduct an efficient weekly meetings that fosters closeness of a team by covering both the encouraging and challenging aspects of ministry, giving time for praying for one another and sharing “what everyone needs to know”.
  • Creativity, flexibility, as well as problem-solving skills is essential when it comes to week-to-week planning of Sundays or major events. Good planning is key for a Sunday morning to run smoothly, and to avoid stress, but things will still pop up unexpected – we’re constantly learning and growing and developing our ministry to better meet the needs of those we serve.
  • Working near a coffee shop where you can go and clear your mind is key to productivity.
  • The support of a team is incredible for feeling confident and courageous, like your co-workers have got your back in putting on a Sunday morning. None of us work in silos, we do many events and activities together and we meet weekly as a whole team to make sure we know what’s going on in the church generally. It is a great environment for ministry.

Add any further comments you would like to about your “readiness for ministry.”

I feel ready to do my job, but obviously still lack experience at this point in areas of ministry that are pretty central to the role of a priest. I still don’t “feel the call” to the priesthood but I do feel that ministry in the church is where I wish to continue. I believe that I have grown in my confidence in my abilities as I’ve experienced the life of this parish, and recognize that the great unknowns of ministry – as they become known – are making it easier for me to envision myself participating in the future of the church. I still feel a ways away from ordained ministry, but I recognize that I am on that path (however long it may be).

Rick Warren’s son commits suicide

Tonight I was browsing through Facebook when I saw a friend from university had commented on a post about how Rick Warren’s son had died. He was 27, and had succumbed to mental illness. He had taken his own life.

I read the article. It was sad. It was familiar (dealing with mental illness myself, I’m drawn to the stories, and they seem to be drawn to me). It felt familiar. But it was in a new context. It was in Christendom, Evangelical Christendom. The mainstream. America.

I am sad for Kay and Rick. Parents of three adult children. This child of theirs, twenty-seven, had been sensitive. Had benefitted (they mention) from medication, doctors, counselors, prayers. But…had nevertheless chosen to take his own life.

It’ll sound like words I shouldn’t say. Another language. Foreign. misplaced. But I say them anyway: “I get it.”

I get why.

I get that pain of mental illness. I get the suicidal thoughts that seem to set up camp in the brain and come back, time and again. Sometimes I feel like I look at my life and think, “Will I become a statistic?” Nothing keeps my friends and family – my husband – from experiencing tragedy. And I see this son, who just so happened to have the mental illness, and the stars aligned in a sad array and his end was tragic. “Suicide.” The stories of such an end stand out in memory. I know of a friend of a friend. Someone’s cousin. The brother of a T.A. I’ve read articles, books, blogs. Maybe you haven’t read stories like this but I read them. My eye and heart are drawn to them and I read.

Battlestar Galactica  Do you remember the character who killed herself? She had a night of fun…and then there was the quick, unexpected pulling of a trigger. And as much as you didn’t like the character (as a selfish consumer audience member), you realized… she was loved in her world. She was missed. It didn’t make sense to those she left behind and they didn’t want life to be without her. You felt the void she created by dying. Credit goes to their performance. I felt it. It was awful.

Suicide marks the lives of all those who know the self-killed.

There is a part of me glad…

That the statistics worked out that someone famous would have a son who died. Not because I have anything against Rick, or the rich and famous. Not because I want anyone to reach that point of despair where they’re pushed beyond the brink. But because I know that because it’s Rick’s son, more people will feel less alone when it happens to their son, father, brother, sister, wife, child. Perhaps the conversation will happen, about mental illness, about suicide, before it’s too late. Maybe lives will be made better due to better understanding, familiarity. Because it happened to the son of a famous, influential pastor, perhaps guilt will have less of a foothold on those left behind.

This young man, although life became too much for him, through his death can bring others awareness of suicide and the dangers of mental illness. How amazing that even in our greatest weakness, God can shine light in darkness, heal, restore, redeem. But we shouldn’t be too surprised, after all, God’s greatest victory involved bringing salvation out of death.

Come, Lord Jesus.

& Thanks. For being here with us.

life is short and sweet

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.