April 6, 2013
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.
February 16, 2013
[I've reread this at least twice in its entirety and I'm not sure if it is coherent but I'm going to tag it as "babbling brook" and then no one can judge me]
I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately. I guess you could call it meditating.
One of the things I like about the Anglican church is the liturgy (you read prayers from a book). It’s like guided meditation in some ways. I don’t come from a liturgical church background, so reciting the creed on a weekly basis, lighting candles in a certain order because they symbolize things (which is part of my job if I’m a greeter at the Eucharist service – the service where you eat the bread and drink the wine), and praying aloud the Psalms, or confession… there’s just so much meaning behind it all. So much to think about. Even confessing our sins (something I must admit I did not do on a regular basis) has added so much depth and meaning to my worship experience.
I got ashes “imposed” (rubbed/smeared) on my forehead for the first time on Wednesday. It’s a symbol of the ashes we come from (dust!) and the dust to which we will return. It’s a symbol of mortality, and a reflection on our sin, which has caused death. And since I’m also studying Romans, I’ve been reflecting on that new life that is to come… that resurrected life (which I have never really thought about or been taught about, and kinda considered irrelevant).
I’ve started to be a bit more content with the “now and not yet” reality of the Kingdom of God. I’ve started to realize that the Kingdom of God is not the church (thank God), but the church is a sign that points to it (to the best of its ability). And that uneasy feeling I have, that sickness I get in my stomach when there is such injustice and REALLY NEEDY people are ignored by the EXCEPTIONALLY RICH (a.k.a. Torontonians)… is an appropriate uneasy feeling… and a feeling that shouldn’t get resolved, and won’t get resolved, in this pre-Christ’s-return world.
One of the really important things I’m learning is to look at Christ for affirmation. So basic, and not profound, eh? My friend Jon just wrote a blog about it, sort of, about how people will hate you if you follow Christ. I mean, people hate everyone, and even if you close yourself off into a teeny tiny community of people who only think and believe the same things you do (it would have to be an exceptionally small community) you’d still have haters. How incredibly awful and discouraging… but anyway…
One of the reasons I never wanted to be a teacher (despite going to Brock, land of the teachers, and getting an English degree, which has few uses except as proof that you know how to read and write, and probably are well-read enough to teach others how to read and write) was because growing up I kinda hated my teachers. Not all of them, but I had some livid hatred for a good handful of them. Never was one for authority. Didn’t like them making me be quiet, didn’t like them imposing their will on me. RAR! I am ONLY CHILD, HEAR ME TALK TO MY FRIENDS ALWAYS!!!
And I never wanted to be hated by a child as much as I hated some of my teachers.
I guess I looked at my emotional response and thought, “They are awful people, because I felt this way about them. I never want to become awful like them.” I think I’ve reached the age where I’m recognizing that perhaps my hatred wasn’t the truth about them. I’m learning to doubt emotional responses. Emotions are real, but they shouldn’t be the foundation to our decision-making process. They are transitory, and not how we should judge truth.
I’ve slowly… slowly… slowly… started changing my mind about teaching. It’s surprised me. I’ve come to acknowledge I most likely will teach one day. Not as a teacher who has gone to teacher’s college, but in some shape or form. Especially if you view preaching as a form of teaching. And I want to preach.
And preachers are not 100% liked ever.
If you stand up to say something, people won’t like you.
Some will, some won’t.
And there’s no way, no matter how much you tell people what they want to hear, that you will get people to like everything you say.
…to a people pleaser.
But if you look beyond your audience, if you look beyond your detractors, and if you look – dare I say – beyond your loved ones’ opinion, and look to Christ, then you will find love.
Christ, when you say what he wants you to say, will be like, “Holy high five!” (Hah!) You can be assured that in this world of people who are not in line with Christ’s will, you have spoken a truth that needed to be said, and your ultimate refuge, after the critical attacks, is the love of Christ. You are doing the Father’s will. Christ did that too, and his closest friends left him at the point of his greatest success/failure (salvation for all/death). It’s a painful road, but it leads to the salvation of souls… it is worth travelling.
Christ, when you say something wrong, is gunna be like, “Whoa, no. No. Repent.” And then you can humbly admit to your audience you were wrong, and that you hurt people, but you are STILL LOVED. Maybe they can’t forgive you. Maybe they’ll never agree with you. But it’s not ultimately their forgiveness or approval that will provide for you the courage to get up and keep going. It’s Christ’s.
Looking to Christ. That’s where you will find love, and encouragement, and correction, and through it all, love. Both for yourself, and for those who hate you. Keep looking to Christ.
Those are my thoughts.
January 3, 2013
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
Hebrews is a great book. You should read it. (Here’s a link.)
But it’s also hard to interpret. Apparently. I had to preach on it last semester. I didn’t. Had a bit of an anxiety attack that morning. Whoops.
But when you read that chapter, Hebrews 6, you start to see that hope is an anchor, and that sturdy bedrock, that foundation you hook into, that keeps you grounded, and safe from the rushing waters and roaring waves…well, that’s Jesus.
Jesus isn’t the anchor, he’s the bottom of the sea. Your choice to hope in him – to have faith, to trust, rely – is the anchor.
At least, that’s my understanding of this verse.
The concept of choosing to believe is something I’ve reflected on quite a bit since my husband left the faith. In his words, he “discovered Christianity wasn’t true.” He can’t choose to believe in God because he sees no evidence. Everything – to him – is explainable, and a god of the gaps is no god anyway (I’d have to agree).
Perhaps life is the boat-in-the-ocean metaphor for all of us. But we throw our anchors in to different things.
January 3, 2013
Via Jamie the very worst missionary.
Why does the universe work? Love.
And when it doesn’t? Hate. Sin.
June 28, 2011
Rachel Held Evan’s latest post. Scroll down to see my alternative list.
Despite what some may say, these twenty-five things really shouldn’t scare Christians:
1. Someone leaving the phrase “under God” out of the pledge of allegiance before a golf game
2. Sharing civil rights with gays and lesbians
4. Target employees that say “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas”
6. The media
7. Missing God’s will and accidentally going to the wrong college
8. Theological differences
9. Suddenly getting asked to explain the religious symbolism in “Tree of Life”
10. Mormon presidential candidates
12. Conflicting interpretations of Scripture
13. Bringing the worst maccaroni and cheese casserole to the church potluck (I’ve lived through this, believe it or not.)
14. Getting left behind
15. Not being “relevant”
16. Women with opinions
17. Nice atheists
18. Sharing the gospel
19. Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Tea Partiers, Communists, Anarchists
21. Statues of the Virgin Mary
22. Separation of church and state
23. The gay “agenda”
24. The removal of plastic, light-up manger scenes from courthouse lawns
25. Being a religious minority in the U.S….(especially when we’re not)
An alternative list:
1. Someone leaving the phrase “under God” on the front door of your basement apartment.
2. Giving civil rights to manta rays and thespians
4. Target employees
6. The meat in convenience store burritos
7. Missing your bus and accidentally going to George Brown college
8. Grape seeds
9. “The Tree of Life”
12. Conflicting interpretative dance
13. Uncooked chicken
14. Reading Left Behind
15. Not being “cogent”
16. Women with onions
17. Nice bee-keepers
18. Sharing lice
19. Cats, Public washrooms, Libraries, Tea, Russians, hipsters
21. Statues of Madonna (the singer)
22. Separation of you from your belongings
23. Gay “dayplanners”
24. The removal of plastic, light-up manger scenes when you need a place to hide from the robbers who figured out you’re “Home Alone.”
25. Being a bubbly sorority sister ….(especially when you’re not)
(all of this is a joke… I have nothing against Mormons, cats, or dayplanners produced/designed by homosexuals)
April 23, 2011
This year, there has been no lenten season (for me).
Just reading the odd blog by people who are more religious than I.
‘More religious’ meaning, more … committed, faithful, focused, centered (I refuse to believe that “centred” is the correct spelling, spell-check).
I forgot about Good Friday being “a day to go to church.”
My thoughts have glanced briefly over Easter, and they’ve uncomfortably moved on.
But I’ve yearned for meaning. For it to be significant to me.
I’ve said a prayer, here and there, asking God to save me, you know, yearning for that which was given on Easter 2000 years ago. Salvation.
I’ve felt the hunger – a very familiar ache – for the bread, Jesus, to fill me, sustain me, bring me back to life.
But I haven’t done much to find it. Hoping instead for the short path to the end of my sorrows instead of the long, painful, uphill journey to peace once more.
Why don’t I want to follow, follow the Shepherd out of the rocky cleft, or wherever the hell I am. Bleating, pathetic, stuck, lost. Up and out and away back we go right?
Have I lost my faith? Do I not believe?
Might as well have. My belief makes no difference. It doesn’t change my actions. I am as good as spiritually dead, without the bliss of ignorance or delusions of self-righteousness.
But I’m not losing my faith. I’m just losing my life. I’m drowning in “should dues”. I should do this, I should do that. I know exactly what I should do. But I do not.
I’m struggling tonight, before Easter Sunday, to see how the risen Christ, the saviour, will save me from myself. Or is His love so big he’ll let me go my own way? If it’s up to me to choose rightly, I don’t know if I ever will. I don’t know how to follow.
April 10, 2011
I downloaded an app called Moody Me. It’s free. You can record your moods with it. I recommend it.
3 The lace you see when you look up beneath the tree branches and see the sky.
4 warm breezes in the Spring
7 Ginger cookies
9 Tax returns and my husband who filed my taxes
10 J. I. Packer and “Knowing God.”
February 22, 2011
From this post.
Yes, I traced it.
And Jamie, did you get the book I sent you? It was about prayer and had a guy on a swing on the cover.