Friday, August 23, 2013

In the face of true beauty...

A few years back, my daughter came to me and asked when she could wear makeup. The question perplexed me at first because the child needs nothing but a smile to make her face up. Then I realized that she was starting to see cosmetics emerge on the face of her friends and so naturally, she wondered when she could partake.

I honestly wasn't prepared for the makeup talk since I rarely wear anything but lipstick on my face. I tried it in my younger years and it just didn't suit me. I decided that I would make do with the face I’d been given and see what would come of it. Years later, so far so good, at least that’s my humble opinion.

I told my daughter that she didn't need makeup, at all…ever…in her life. I wasn't harsh but I was honest about what kept me away from becoming an everyday user of cosmetics. I told her about being 14 years old in my first high school and hearing a girl say that she couldn't even go to her mailbox without makeup and that NO ONE saw her without it and I was in shock. I’m thinking we’re 14, we just got these faces! No one here has a wrinkle line ANYWHERE!! That’s when I decided that I only wanted one face because having to be so guarded about my God given features was just too exhausting. Besides, the first time I got on the school bus sporting blue eye shadow, after an in school makeover, there were giggles-a plenty. That also sealed the deal.

I told my daughter that she wasn't ‘not allowed’ to make her face up but that it was just too early to make such adjustments, along with the fact that she didn't need it…like, ever. Apparently I was stuck on that fact and couldn't get off.

She dropped the makeup request and never picked it up again. She had apparently made her own evaluations and came to some conclusions about how she chose to emerge into womanhood. What she came up with makes me proud. Her choice of interests, her academics, her spiritual life, her social views, what makes her laugh and cry all somewhat adorn her in the most unique way. She has grown so much in so many interesting ways and it shows. We often discuss female objectification in Hollywood (which she did a presentation on for school) and how there is an expectation that women should not age in front of the camera. We find it insane not to be allowed to show your age in this society when aging is a natural progression in life.

We celebrate birthdays but begin to hide the numbers as the years go on. We hide our gray. I tell myself that it doesn't look good on me but vanity plays a major role in that decision. And as women, we struggle with the image in the mirror more and more as time goes on as if time should not go on.

A while back, I decided to go with a beauty treatment that would last a lifetime and hopefully it is beginning to take effect. I decided to rid myself of all bitterness, contempt and poisonous behavior and boy has it been a journey. I knew that my heart needed a makeover for a long time but I wasn't sure how to get there, so I handed it to God and left it with him. When God allowed me to see the visual in my mind’s eye, I tell you, I have never seen a more putrefying site. My heart looked like its own rotting corpse full of holes and puss oozing out everywhere. That thing had been beating in my chest all these years with so many pains and hurts trying to hold me together. No wonder I felt so weighted down and bedraggled.

 In the vision, when God took my heart from me, He didn't pop into a magical factory and reappear with a bright shiny new one, He kept it and it’s been with Him ever since.

There has been a constant cleansing that occurs when one has an organ so full of muck but I gladly surrender to it…most days. God is an amazing surgeon, one who sees without needing to make incisions because we are His very own design. Having my heart in His care has made all the difference in the world and I really rather not have it back.

I still experience pain and ill feelings. I still feel its pulse speed up whenever my emotions are alerted. What I don’t feel is the overburdening residue of never being cleansed and cared for. I will admit for sure that my heart is in good hands.

When our hearts are constantly being cared for to such an intricate degree, we have no choice but to be beautiful. The glow is inevitable and the aging process doesn't go away but it is displayed in the most honorable way.

Last Christmas, I bought my daughter a full blown makeup kit because I could see the depth of who she was and I trusted her judgment and confidence about her looks. I took notice that she put more stock on the inward things than outward and I knew she was ready if she wanted it. Except for special occasions, she barely uses it. The timing was indeed right… 

J sporting her natural twist and that smile.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ministry Fatigue...

Everyone I talk to lately is tired, whether it’s of work, family problems, church obligations or just plain life. There is an overwhelming exhaustion that seems to be symptomatic of something deeper within gnawing at our lives. The ironic behavior that comes from being tired is to engage in more busyness! I very seldom hear people say: “I’m tired; I’m going home to be still for as long as I can. I’ll read, listen to music, pray, meditate anything but run around.” If anyone suggests that you take a break the response is somewhat familiar: “But you don’t understand I have to work for a living” or “I’m on the committee for all the committees and they need me” or “I promised I would (insert good deed for the day here)” or “my church needs me, I’m the only one who knows how to…” Really?

So there’s no down time, whatsoever? No quiet moments listening to God before dashing out the door to save the world? No meditation? NADA?  No wonder everyone is so short fused lately. Who’s doing the listening?

Christians are absolutely the worst for feeling like what we do cannot be done by anyone else or that every task that we take on is holy and God ordained. News flash, it’s probably not. It’s probably something that you agreed to do because it would please someone else who you really admire or bring you into the next big position that you’ve wanted for sooo long or worst of all, you’re just afraid to say no.

Have you been pining away at a certain spotlight that you would love to step into so that everyone can finally see how anointed, blessed, gifted and called you are? Is there a ministry within you that needs birthing and you think that there is only one delivery room and it is manned by the church? If that’s the case, be prepared to be in labor for a long time. Do you know how many pregnant visionaries there are inside those walls? Get in line and take slow deep breaths but in the meantime, be prepared to be exhausted.

God has a habit of pulling people aside to be alone with Him before launching them into ministry. Ask David, Moses, Abraham, all the prophets and oh yeah, ask Jesus. None of these men by today's standards would be considered qualified for ministry at the time when God called them. Jesus would probably be considered far too radical to run a congregation.

The church has a habit of running people through a battery of tests, which usually consists of running various and sundry ministries or at the very least assisting in various and sundry ministries, until one has proven their worthiness to hold the beloved title of: 
Pastor GotalottodofortheLordbutnotimetobewithhim.  

Can you see the stark contrast?

With God’s method of “promotion” He pours into us, instills His love for us and teaches us from His Holy olyHHmouth in the most intimate way.

Man’s method, takes time from us, asks more of us and leaves us feeling depleted and asking God why all the time. Usually, in the end we don’t even know if we want to be involved in any ministry, let alone the one we we’re pining after.

Since I've been on my new path, I've wondered several times why we Christians and the church in general choose to do things completely opposite of Jesus example in the Bible

Jesus loved everyone.  It seems that today’s Christianity feels the need to label everyone.

Jesus broke bread and accepted those that we would call sinners and allowed His love to cover them until they were in step with Him. Today, one must prove themselves first a convert in order to be accepted into “the house of the Lord”.

Jesus was in direct opposition to religious rituals that kept to the law and made the word of God to no effect. Fast forward to today’s church and just try to scramble a Sunday morning worship service in order to allow the Holy Spirit to speak. And let’s not get started on the subject of who The Holy Spirit really is.

Jesus chose the motley 12 to walk closest with him with no regards to resume, Bible training, spiritual enrichment seminars or recommendations from their former pastors. I think you and I know that this concept wouldn't even get past the committee meeting, let alone put in practice.

Sidebar: the reason Jesus could do something so bold as to choose “unqualified” men to walk with him closely is because He could discern their hearts. Discernment is missing in many churches and has been replaced with being impressed by credentials.

Last but not least, Jesus got away to be alone with His Father, to hear His voice and be refreshed. It was during His most crucial hour on earth that Jesus went into the Garden of Gethsemane to pour his heart out to God and receive strength for His crucifixion. We often remember that He begged for the cup of death to pass before Him, I believe that it was in the moment of “nevertheless” that He received His strength.

Why would these distinct behaviors and characteristics of Christ be highlighted in the Bible only to be ignored thousands of years later? Why is the model of Christ and the early church (the one birthed on the day of Pentecost) obsolete today? Who are we to insist that Christ’s way wasn't effective enough and that love alone is too weak a motivator to change lives?

I shudder to think that many of today’s decisions are being made by too many corporate Pastors with boardroom behavior who are worn out and spiritually depleted, instead of being prayed over with passion and hunger, while being away with God on a constant basis and not just during yearly retreats.

Daily respite, constant hunger for God’s voice and the need to be alone with Abba is the only way that we will spiritually survive in a task driven world.

In a nutshell: Busyness is not close to Godliness…

“Martha, Martha you are worried and upset about many things but only one thing is necessary, Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken from her.” Matthew