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Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

Journal In A Jar

Last August a friend of mine gave me a going away gift.  After almost a year on the island, I feel like I’ve finally settled down enough to enjoy it.  Today I opened the jar and drew out my first writing prompt.   The purple slip says, “Describe one time when you were brave.”

It was during the Summer of ’89 that I met my best friend.  We actually met a month earlier in the lunch line of our college cafeteria, but I didn’t really get to know him until a few weeks later.  The camp director hired us to be a part of the program staff, and we ended up spending mornings together down at the campfire acting out the bible stories our buddy Garfield told the campers.  We made a good team.  He and I played off each other well, and our improv theater skills worked to our advantage.  He seemed to always want the best for me.  He was always willing to give me the laugh.  He is a true theater guy.  He wants the scene, no matter how small, to be the best it can be even if the focus is not always on him.  The desire to get to know him grew even more.

Several weeks into the summer camping season we hit high school camp.  It was a great week.  I ended up counseling a group of girls that I had counseled 4 years earlier for a junior camp.  Instead of the girls heading off on their own way during free time we ended up choosing activities together.  One afternoon we had the opportunity to repel a set of columns.

Quite frankly, to me, the idea of repelling down a sheer rock wall was terrifying.  I thought back over times in my life where heights were a challenge for me.  As a four-year old we hiked up to Rooster Rock.  I made it up only to realize that I had to go back down.  The trail towards the top seemed particularly gnarly to me.   I locked my knees, which is the worst thing to do, and hugged the rock on the inside of the trail as we descended.  It was probably my first panic attack.  A year later there was a slatted bridge to cross in the Jefferson Wilderness that, to a five-year old, had huge spaces between the boards.  I was convinced that I would fall through.  Somehow my family got me to cross.  I don’t remember if they threatened me or just picked me up and carried me.  During my senior year my parents brought me along on a trip to Guatemala to see my bro and sis-n-law during their tenure with the Peace Corps.  We made our way to a set of Mayan ruins.  I was standing before amazing stone architecture begging to be explored.  I climbed right up the first one.  I was above the canopy of these expansive old trees when I realized that I was looking over the tops of the expansive old trees.  I stood for a moment paralyzed by the knowledge of how easy it would be to stumble and fall down the hundreds of steps I had climbed up moments earlier.  My brother pretended that he was going to push me down the stairs.  I almost punched him, but was afraid that in swinging my arm I would throw my balance off thereby plunging to my death.  My sweet mother gave me advice on how best to go down. It was one of the few times, if any, that I ever told her to “shut-up!”  I’m afraid of heights, but my sense of adventure is too strong.  I had to go repelling.  I had to show the girls that I could face my fears.

We stood next to the church van.  All sorts of thoughts went through my mind of what could go wrong.  My chest tightened.  I saw my best friend walk up.  He saw the look in my eyes, a look that 20 years later he has come to know so well, and said, “I have your back.  I won’t let anything happen to you.”  A strange peace came over me as the girls and I climbed into the church van.  However, as we turned up the narrow road to the columns again I felt my chest tighten.  I started searching for my means of escape, and then I looked at my campers.  I couldn’t stop now.  I was the only counselor in our cabin that stepped up to go with them.  I had to follow through.  A hand rested on my shoulder.  “I got your back,” he reminded me.

We ascended the trail to the top.  It was covered with loose gravel and made for slippery footing as I turned to look down.  There isn’t much room to maneuver above the columns, or anything to really grab onto to steady your balance.  I felt my foot slip and heart thrust into my throat.  It was the same paralyzing feeling that I had on the ruins in Guatemala.  I searched for his eyes.  He had his faded purple bandana on his head and a big smile on his face.  He had my back.  I let out a long sigh.  I don’t remember if I went first, last, or somewhere in between.  I do remember feeling complete peace as I took my first step out over the cliff.  By the time I hit the ground I realized that I really enjoyed myself, and had created a great memory with my girls.  I also knew that this new friend of mine was someone who I could trust with my whole heart.

The ascent is never that scary.  It’s when you turn around for the descent and you see where you came from that your circumstances appear overwhelming.  I was reminded that sometimes life isn’t about looking back at where you come from, but it’s about taking the next step into the future.  Repelling down the side of that hill wasn’t so that I could commiserate over the fear in the climb.  It was all about my expression of joy in overcoming the fear.

I have to admit that my idea for this entry came from my husband.  I read the purple slip to him, and he mentioned that day at The Columns.  It wasn’t the easiest thing for him either.  He didn’t normally belay from the top.  I didn’t know about that until today.  Personally I think that The LORD knew it was going to be a significant moment in building trust between us, so he gave my hubby the extra ounce of courage needed to help me be brave. 

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I used to love Captain and Tennille.  As an elementary aged girl I would play this RECORD over and over.  I think that by this time I was the only kiddo home so my older siblings may have missed that phase of music.  This song touted the power of love to make all things work.  I would hold my air microphone and sing along with hand motions,

“Love, love will keep us together<br />Think of me babe whenever<br />Some sweet talking girl comes along singing her song<br />Don’t mess around,<br />You gotta be strong<br />Just Stop [stop], ’cause I really love You<br />Stop [stop], I’ll be thinking of you<br />Look in my heart and let love keep us together”<br /><br />

I had no clue until much later what she was singing about.  It just fed my childhood ideas that if you just love somebody then everything will be okay.  I still believe there is truth to that statement.  Everybody does want to be loved.  They want to be accepted for who they are.  It’s just that it takes more than us just loving a person to have that person be whole.  The recipient of that love needs to accept it.

I was reading the other day in 1 Corinthians about love, but it wasn’t in chapter 13 like usual.  It is found earlier in chapter 8.  It says this,  “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.  The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.  But he who loves God is known by God.”

This is something that stands out to me because of how much the circles I run in value knowledge, and in so many ways education is the key to a better life.  I pray for my children to have wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.  It helps us accept the grace and love that God gave us in Jesus, and it is really important in helping us make good choices.  However, I truly believe that people can educate themselves out of faith.  And in doing so they miss out on a deep and abiding relationship with God.

Pastor Ben brought this up as he was sharing about his message for this coming Sunday.  He is preaching from Paul’s comments to the Romans about <a href=”http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%206;&version=31;”target=_blank>sin and grace.</a> It will piggy back on his message last week about how some people struggle with the simplicity of the Gospel.  The concept of grace is too easy for people.  People feel like they need to suffer more for their actions instead of just accepting the free grace given to us in Jesus’ death on the cross.

That is difficult for me to do: release the guilt of my actions so that I can experience what God has intended for me to the fullest.  I’ve learned over the past few years that my holding on to feelings of guilt doesn’t make me any more sorry for what I’ve done.  I feel as though by holding on to my mistakes I’m actually allowing the enemy to continue to try and destroy me.  By letting go of my mistakes, by turning my back on my mistakes, by repenting and turning from them I have completely destroyed the enemy’s attempt to derail me.  I have truly accepted the love God has for me.

I am learning through experience and through the wisdom, knowledge and understanding given to me by the Holy Spirit that I am loved by God no matter what.  This enables me to come out from my mistakes without holding on to the guilt.  I’m not perfect.  I still make mistakes, and still need to be reminded that it is through God’s grace that I am saved.  Nothing else will save me.

Knowledge without love is a dangerous thing.   There is no grace in it.  There is no ability to forgive.  There is no ability to build people up.  This is where legalism makes it’s bed.  We as believers must, must, must put aside legalism so that LOVE MAY ABOUND.

My heart hurts for those who cannot come to Jesus because they “know” too much.  My heart hurts for people who cannot come to Jesus in a personal way because they cannot accept the simplicity of God’s grace.  My heart hurts for those who’ve been abused by Christians who adhere to a legalistic form of Christianity.

I am so sorry that Jesus’ message of grace and redemption was tossed aside for the sake of someones need to control how God’s love is shared.  I am sorry that some people feel it is okay to abuse the name of Jesus to mask their fear, their hate, their stupidity.  I am sorry that man gets in the way of people personally knowing God.

I know you’ve read this from me before, and I’ll keep saying it until I’m blue in the face.   I believe that if we truly love people the way God wants us to then our world would be transformed.  But then that sounds too easy, huh?

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