Monday, October 28, 2013

permission to chase {page seven}

it came again, the silence. that breathing calm after the storm that often follows a bursting of bravery. the words -- my own words, those from the lips of others -- have been burning deep within me, a fire in my bones.

i've felt a little unravelled and a lot vulnerable. i opened my heart to the world in my last post, gutting myself and pouring out my grief toward the broken Church like a drink offering on the ground. so many thought i was dropping the title of Christian into the mud and making a point to stomp and grind my heels against it until there was nothing left. 

:: but that wasn't it at all. instead, i took the moniker and set it loose on the sea, like a message in a bottle, a page out of my Story. 

i want to reach out and take the hand of every person who wrote me harsh or concerned or confused. i want to draw them into my arms and whisper, i'm scale-shedding. i'm not leaving Him on the sand. on the contrary, He and i are wandering the beach together. He's not afraid of wandering. 

 i am the lover and the loved, home and the wanderer, 
she who splits firewood and she who knocks, a stranger in the storm.
:: adrienne rich 

those words up there, they epitomize this thing i'm doing, this thing i'm letting Him do. i'm letting Him strip me down, bare and scandalous. He knew the scars were there, but i'm letting Him see them. i'm dropping the arm and letting the tears fall. my eyes are closed, yes, but the arm is down. 

i said before i was tired. when i was young, there was this slogan, this little smiling fish swimming the opposite direction of all the other frowning fish. go against the flow. but i couldn't help but look at that little fish and wonder, aren't you tired? 

i always thought the point was that He lifted off the too-heavy yokes, stripped away the heavy chains that were exhausting to drag around. He never wanted to trade one weight for another. 
Mandy etched words in the front of my copy of Thrashing about with God :: to the one who chases Light and makes space for sacred selah. we've never met, but she breathed those truths over my soul like oxygen, and i'm gasping, even though i had no idea just how empty my lungs were. i'm breathing in the Holy, the Wild, the Spirit, the Lion's Breath. it's all my soul can handle. 

i feel like my spirit has dreadlocks, twisted knotted things of beauty cascading down that i'm just starting to appreciate. but the well-meaning Church keeps pressing a comb into my hand, whispering, you're knotted. go straighten yourself out and come back in. you'll fit better. 

but i'm drawn to the One that's beaming Light down into my soul, the One who broke my chains and turned me wild and fierce. i'm running, flitting, chasing after Him.

and i can hear His voice on the wind,
I like your hair. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

permission to not be a Christian anymore {page six}

{photo via dramaticelegance}
i've been sitting on what to write in this post for more than a week. i was so excited when i wrote my last post, so excited about my own bravery to share pieces of my story, that i wanted to share more and more and more. and then the brave went away, and i sat in all the silence. 

because i've come to a realization over the past several months. it's something beyond what i ever thought i would acknowledge :: something i never thought i'd be brave enough to say. 

i can't be a Christian anymore. i just can't.

and i know those words cause a certain level of discomfort to billow up in the stomach of those Christians who read them. there's something that sits wrong, the instinct to grip me by the shoulders and say, no, wait, no, don't say that. that's not right. don't do that. don't say that. 

but before you throw a rock at me, ask me what i mean. ask me what i'm giving up. because honestly, it's not Jesus that i'm giving up. not by a long shot. i refuse to give Him up. 

but i'm giving up my supposed white robes and taking the Israeli dirt covered one instead. i'm spending time with the unclean ones instead of the ones that whisper. and I'm picking up the lame ones that the Church has hobbled one too many times. because i feel like the Church is locked in this childish game, the one where fingers grasp an arm and connect hand to face over and over with the chant, stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself. 

and then they wonder why the bruised ones don't return.

it makes me cry, hard and long, a keening wail into the night. i feel so like Him in these moments, screaming, oh God my God, why have You forsaken me? because i feel so alone, like i have love smeared all over my hands but everyone else is afraid to get the stains on them.

it's that word, that strange word that has become so warped and twisted. they will know us by our love. it's written there, in black and white. but why do they know us by all the things we hate? the laundry list of the things Christians won't touch is too long. it's like whiplash, what i'm allowed to eat or drink, where i'm allowed to shop. because we should be making a stand, right? they should know that we don't give money toward this and that and the other thing.

but instead, i'm closing my eyes on the deck of the ship, and i can hear the roaring of a dragon. it's me, with scales on the ground and skin ripped and bleeding. and He has claws and eyes...piercing, calm, quiet eyes. and He's tearing, and rending, and gashing, and i'm getting smaller and smaller and smaller still.

{via pinterest
the point of being with Jesus is not to be made bigger. the point isn't to be seen on the streetcorners with signs of broken bloody babies and screeching murderer into broken lives. the point isn't to grasp the arms of the ones with rainbows on their cheeks and glare into their eyes to make sure they know that they're sinners and we hate them.

and people on the street are catching my arm. do you know Him? do you know Him? and i say no, i don't. but He knows me. and He knew me before i was the Christian definition of desirable. He knew me when they dragged me out and flung me in the dirt. and He wrote in the dirt and they walked away in silence. He knows me. 

i'm tired. i'm so tired of being forced to act like i know Him, all of Him, every in and out and twist and turn of this thing called Christianity. if this is what Christianity is, then that's not a title i claim. i claim one thing, and one thing only.

i'm still thrashing. but i claim Him.
and He claims me.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

permission to not have answers {page five}

i realized something today. i realized that i've been talking so much about all the permission i have found in telling my story :: but i haven't really told you any of my story. which is actually relatively funny, seeing as how i've become more and more free with sharing my story with the world in recent months.

there's a certain level of fear that comes with telling my story. it takes bravery to stand up and stammer out, i grew up Christian because i was supposed to, not because i chose Jesus above everything else. it takes a strange amount of courage to admit that from a very early age, i was that person, the one that gripped people by the throat and dragged them to the feet of Jesus whether they wanted to be there or not.

i made sure they knew they were sinners. i made sure they knew they were going to hell. that is, unless they became Christians.

i remember the girl in the department store, the one that i cornered at the age of five and asked, if you died tonight, do you know where you'd go? and then came the words that scarred the little missionary in me for a very long time :: uh, yeah, why are you asking crazy questions? 

that was my persecution, i was sure. and so i soldiered on, relentless in my pursuit to change the world for Jesus. i was on fire. or rather, i thought i was on fire. but i had no idea what i was doing. i had no idea what i believed. well, i believed what everyone else around me believed. i knew what i was supposed to think, and that was what i thought.

it wasn't until i was seventeen and i experienced the quietest moment of my life that things started to change. and it wasn't until even later still that i received permission from myself and from the One who sees me to question everything. i never would have dared to even think the things that now are the mantra of my entire existence.

{via pinterest}
not too long ago, a precious soul-sister sent me beautiful words, etched in paint and ink, that i have held close from the moment my eyes first beheld them :: He is not threatened by your questions. i grew up in a place where my questions meant my faith wasn't sure, and that wasn't okay. i was just supposed to trust, to lean, to go with what i knew, and knowing equaled faith.

there wasn't any mystery. there wasn't any wrestling. there weren't any questions.

except i had a lot of questions that didn't have answers. i didn't understand why those around me shouldered these heavy chains and walked with their heads down, murmuring about joy in their souls but with such strange oppression on their faces. this is what God says, they chanted, this is what we must do. but they wouldn't touch the broken ones that lined the road. and they looked me in the eye and held out their hands to me, Christian me, church me. the one that fit.

and then i had to wonder, what if they knew my story? would they hold out their hands then? because i know what i was, before this strange thrashing freedom came, and i would have crossed to the other side of the road. 

and it was then that He made Himself known to me, this strange Voice that loomed out the darkness.

:: dearest daughter, I have known you long. 

and this Voice, this Lion...He didn't seem threatened by my not-knowing. in fact, it seemed to fit. because He wasn't safe, which felt so foreign. He was supposed to be safe, to be full of facts and thick black lines, and there weren't supposed to be any questions.

but i had so. many. questions.

{via pinterest}
and i found myself standing on the edge of the sea, feeling the spray from the waves soaking every inch of me, through to the skin. and He murmured, deep into my soul, oh dearheart, I know there is a sea of questions. but I AM the great bridge-builder. and I can wait for you forever. 

i've never felt so fragile, as though a wind might knock me over. but then, i've never felt so free, as though i'm riding on the back of the warmest, wildest One i've ever known. i still have so many questions. but answers are slipping in, finding their places, one little scrap of wood at a time. and slowly, a bridge is forming.

i am fragile. the wood is strong.
and i can feel the flames building inside me again.

{this was written as part of a synchroblog to celebrate the release of Addie Zierman’s book When We Were On Fire. i'm honoured to stand beside her and a thousand others as we speak our stories, share our pieces. won't you join us?}

Thursday, October 10, 2013

permission to write {page four}

{via pinterest}
ever since i started writing, i've had that little itch. the one that leads to names on covers and best-seller lists and signings in book stores where people match face to paperback and whisper, "that's her. she's the author."  

i can't help it :: i want my writing to mean something. i want to make it onto lists and to be seen, for that hand to go around another's shoulder and point, "see her? she writes for Glory." 
i just wish i knew how to leave the fame-wish behind and put the influence dream in my pocket for later.

but then, maybe i don't want the fame. because i'm messy, and messy is it's own thing. see, people want to see that woman behind the table as someone put together, something just like them except way more collected and tidy. they want the ones with the smooth hair and perfectly straight-lined scars, the ones that speak softly, i was broken, but i'm okay now. everything is in place. 

but i'm not like that. my scars are jagged, messy. there's nothing tidy about my story, no straight lines and smoothly paved roads. my roads are the country ones, up and down with hills that keep the valleys invisible until you're in them, with twists and turns and the occasional pothole. there's paint in my hair and one of my heels broke on the way up that last cliff. 

it's like there's an invisible line of church people, queuing out the door, murmuring in that way that blends together in that strange buzzing roar where the words can't be distinguished. i don't have know what they're saying, not really. i can see it in their eyes.

she has a lot of questions. she said...that word, that one i can't say. she doesn't fit, not anymore. her veil is falling off, it's sideways. someone should go fix that for her. 

my hair is a mess because i've been wrestling, and there's dirt on my face and tears in my eyes and it's streaking down and dripping muddy water off my chin. i'm wearing Grace and not much else, and there's fingers pointing from all directions. and sometimes, i'm so raw that it hurts to be touched because i've been clawing off one layer after another and it burns like Fire. 

then it comes, the ripping, the throbbing, the tearing. and it's not pretty, it's bloody and messy and there's scales on the ground like broken glass and i don't recognize myself. and then i see the flash of gold behind me, and i know. i'm being reborn, and everything is shredded and sideways, and those scales are gone, right off my eyes and i'm blinking into beams of Glory.

and that's how i know i need to write. how i know the permission that has been set in my soul since before i learned to hold a pen. i need to write :: for the imperfect, for the ones clinging to the hem of the only One who sees them. for the dirty, for the messy, for the thrashing. 

for the ones like me. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

permission to drink {page three}

two years ago, i wrote this post. i didn't know how much this post would affect me. i didn't know how much it would linger, even in the years that followed.

i don't think i realized just how little permission i was giving myself in my own femininity and my own faith. the more i write, the more i tell my own story, the more i discover secret links of the chain that was holding me down. this post was another inch of the door, another chapter of my story that i was letting into the open.

:: i was learning to let my story breathe. i was learning how to have faith. 

but there was still that guilt. there was this whispering little tug at the back of my mind, pulling me away from the freedom and reminding me just how much more comfortable the darkness much safer i felt when no one could see me.

i was like the kitten that hides under a couch, the tip of her tail poking out, but absolutely sure that no one can see her. she was invisible, and that was okay. 

but i never had permission to be unseen. isn't that funny? i didn't have permission to tell my story, and it felt safer when i wasn't seen, but then, i was an extrovert. being seen came with the territory. tucking myself away wasn't okay, it wasn't part of the plan for me. was it? i grew up in the church, and that was my faith, and that was my way, and i didn't ask questions because i was just supposed to know. right?

the other day, i told someone about this book i was reading, thrashing about with God, and she gasped. it was obviously unintentional, soft and completely without drama, but it was there. she looked at me and said, oh, is that okay? to do, to read, for you, i mean?

and then they came, the inaudible words, soft and bitter, clawing at my confidence.. is it okay? are you sure you know what you're doing? what does He think of this? you're too wild. what would they think if they could see you like this?

i'm learning for it to be okay. i wanted the floor to open up and swallow me whole. and she smiled and made a few more little comments before she found a reason to slip away into the crowd. and then i realized :: it's okay. i'm okay. He sees, He knows.
i gripped the book a little tighter and smiled, maybe more of a grimace, but i managed to turn up the corners of my mouth and choke out,

it's okay.

the more i tell my story, the more pieces of me i let out, the more i feel like i'm being poured out as almost a literal drink offering on the ground. and it's exhausting. i see all these things happening around me and i feel pulled in a thousand directions. but who's doing the pulling?

there's no handbook laid out for exactly what the qualifications are to be "good enough." except there is, and everyone else seems to know every single word. and here i am, sitting at my computer, with my hair in a messy ponytail and feeling so much wild-er than is considered "appropriate."

but He isn't safe. He's good, oh, so good. and i have a Lion at my back to roar bravery when i'm the stammering clumsy mess who can't make my story come out right. it's pressing myself against the banks of the river and lowering my mouth to the water. unsure, but drinking deep, because He has swallowed up much and i am thirsty.

i have permission to drink.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

permission to rest {page two}

{photo by dramaticelegance}
sometimes i feel like i'm on the edge of this giant stone wall, a step of sorts, doing my very best to climb up and reach my long-ingrained goal. and there's the Christian crowd behind me, cheering to the point of a din behind me, that's it, you can do it, keep climbing. don't stop. 

what i need, though, is someone to come alongside me, grasp my hand and whisper, it's okay if you need to stop. it's okay to breathe. it's okay to stop. then comes the gasp of horror. they're telling you to stop? no. wrong. no.

stopping is not what we Christians do.

but maybe it's what i need to do. i feel like we so often focus our magnifying reading glasses on those words of Jesus teaching and walking and travelling and performing miracles and doing that we forget the resting. 

come to Me, and I will give you rest. 

i forget that i am Lucy. i am Peter, plodding diligently ahead, ignoring the signs and never resting, only ever traversing on. but He came to her at night, in the selah of the woods, and called her lioness. He promised her great renewal. 

as she rested. 

sometimes i wonder if we can even hear Him anymore through the din of our own good intentions. there's things expected of us if we bear that moniker of Christian,fingers intent on pointing out exactly which stones should be walked on, and which ones are too sacred to touch. 

we have made Jesus untouchable. and in turn, those of us who find the gasping bravery to reach out and grasp Him have become the whispered ones ourselves. we've wandered into the building wearing sunglasses and perish the thought we take them off and actually see. 

we have made following Jesus less important than following the rules. 

in telling my story, i can look back at where i've come from. i wish i could reach back and tug the sunglasses off my eyes and take the gloves off my fingers and whisper, Jesus doesn't mind fingerprints on His face. you can touch Him, dearheart. 

you can stop and breathe. it's okay.