Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Wailing Woman

I had just stepped into the bathroom when I heard her.  We were both in the lobby of a clinic for adults with permanent disabilities.  Graciously, I walked in the door that morning.  She was wheeled in, under the constant care of an attendant, orthotics strapped to her ankles and calves.  The skin on her knees was severely chapped.  I assumed that along with cerebral palsy, she was living with epilepsy. 

When I entered the lobby she was carrying on a conversation, but as soon as I had turned the lock to the rest room door, the woman sitting just outside began to wail.  It wasn’t a tantrum.  There wasn’t a hint of high-pitched whine in her song.  Selfishness wasn’t what motivated her cry.  What arose from this woman’s soul was sorrow.

I began to wonder as I stood there washing my hands if the sound I was hearing was what resonated in Jesus’ ears as he walked the streets and people cried out to him in need.  How could he stand it; the unrelenting wail from someone who was deeply crushed?  Her bellows interrupted the silence of the waiting room, challenging what was acceptable and polite. 

Part of me wished that it would stop.  How could I really be here? I stared ahead at the adult length pressurized bed that was set up in the bathroom.  You read that last sentence right.  A dignified changing table lay in front of me with hand sanitizer and directions for care-givers mounted on the wall above.  Some of the adult patients here need to wear diapers.

I considered how I hadn’t worn diapers since I was a toddler, silently thanked God for my independence, and continued to focus on the piercing cry outside my door.  I was drawn to it, wondering how Jesus would react to this situation if he were me standing in this room.  Somewhere deep within the winds of her scream, I could hear a whisper To this you were called.    I closed my eyes and imagined Jesus for a moment, standing on a dusty street, hearing this all too familiar noise, sensing a call to act.

I walked out the door and took a seat, unsure of what to do.  I wanted to get up from my chair, walk across the room and sit next to her.  But, asking what’s wrong seemed inappropriate, not only because she was a stranger, but because I knew the answer.

Everyday this woman wakes up in a body that doesn’t work right.  The spasticity of her muscles has confined her to a chair strangling her ability to walk, move, and bend.  Every day looks the same: lonely, dependent, disappointing.  Instead of living a life that has gradually sprung upward from childhood to independence, her life has come to a screeching halt; instead of a dorm room, a group home, instead of a college text, an expanded cable package.

Her constant doctor’s appointments have become the focus of her calendar.  This is the only time she has a chance for another person to see her outside her home, a variation in her routine.  Doctors are continually prescribing drugs, inquiring how she’s doing.  This is how I’m doing!  Her cry seemed to demand.  You’re all here to treat my body, but it is my soul that is crushed!

I wanted to join with her in in her confession, because in that moment I was pretty sure she was the most authentic person in the room.  The clarity at which she was admitting her need was so transparent it was scary. I wondered if this is why Jesus was so drawn to people like the woman in front of me, why the gospel is full of accounts of Jesus encountering need.  I’m hurting, I’m broken, I’m in need.  See me and my pain! She seemed to cry without hesitation.  No hiding.  No pretending.
I wanted to move towards her, but instead I sat in my chair and buried my head in my paper, reading Dear Abby.  Moments later, a social worker came out and wheeled her away so no one could hear her.  I was relieved for the quiet but unsettled in my response.  Why do we quiet the cry of the hurting, preferring our comfort, ignoring those in front of us who are honest about their need?

 Photo credit

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What if?

I love being seen.
I love being greeted with a smile and a hug.
I love when my nieces realize I’ve come over for a visit.
I love standing behind a microphone.
I love adding flair to my outfit.
I love hearing laughter after telling a joke.

I’d love to be well known.
I’d love to be successful.
I’d love to speak more often in public.
I’d love to publish a book.
I’d love to know more people.

I love being seen.


Wonder with me:

What if the “big things” God has called you to do, were actually small?
What if instead of striving to be bigger and better, your goal was simply to remain faithful to the things that were in front of you?

What if you accepted the invitation to be hidden?
What if no one knew your name?
What if you often went without acknowledgement, without thanks?

What if your influence only reached a handful of people?
What if you never developed a following on Twitter, no one liked you on Facebook, or read your blog?
What if that was okay?

What if you paid the most attention to those who were ignored?
What if you walked into a room and changed your focus?
What if you stopped asking, “Who sees me?  Who do I know?”
What if you started asking, “Who needs to be seen?  Who needs to be known?”

What if you let others see your unpolished parts?
What if you looked inside your heart and embraced who you really were?
What if you found the courage to quit comparing yourself to others?
What if you realized it isn’t a competition and you haven’t won or lost?

What if it was about being seen by God, knowing He is well pleased?
What if?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How do you think God sees you?

This summer I was asked, “How do you think God sees you?”  I didn’t have an answer at the time, but I have taken some time since to ponder and let my imagination run wild.  Enjoy!

Paul ends 2 Corinthians with this sentiment: May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

I imagine the Holy Trinity sitting around an old wooden table, laughing, eating crusty bread, and drinking dry Merlot.  They’re reclining, wearing white robes and sandals just like the pictures in Sunday school class.  They crack a few jokes and maybe even text OMG to the Father.  (Why not?  That would be funny!) Suddenly the conversation changes as the three talks seriously, specifically about you and me.

The fellowship at the table has been rich and deep, but the Trinity decides that they want it to be richer and deeper still.  They want to include us at the table.  Jesus looks to the Father, nods to the Holy Spirit, and says, “I’ll go.” 

Jesus gets up from the table, takes off his heavenly robe and puts on humanity.  He steps out of the door of heaven and onto the face of the earth.  You and I are lost, but Jesus begins to search; walking through darkness, carrying light. 

In no time at all, Jesus finds you.  Maybe you’re in the back corner of a sanctuary.  You can’t draw near to Him because of all that cripples you so Jesus moves towards you instead.  Maybe you’re lost in the crowd, stumbling shoulder to shoulder, trying to push others out of the way.  You’re straining to get ahead.  Jesus is suddenly standing before you at the Stop sign, asking you to slow down, to follow Him.  Maybe you’re sitting alone at the lunch table, feasting on shame, loneliness, and despair.  Jesus sits down next to you, bites into an apple and smiles.
Wherever you are, in a corner, on a crowded street, alone, Jesus finds us and sees us in all of our poverty.  He sees our dependence, our lack, our need, our sin.  He sees all of our darkness.    But instead of turning away, Jesus looks deeper into our souls and sees value, beyond what we could ever hope to be worth and in a remarkable act of kindness, seeing all of us; for all that we are, turns towards us and says, "Hey, want to be friends?"

“I want to walk with you all the days of your life, and when they are over; I want to take you to heaven to meet my friends.  We have a place at the table waiting, just for you.”

Photo Credit

Friends, how do you think God sees you?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Walk is back!!!

Dear Readers,

As the school year came to a close, I realized that I needed to take a break from blogging.  I needed to spend some time staring at the wall.

 As spring leaped forward into summer, I found myself on my bedroom floor sobbing, “I just can’t do it anymore!”  The energy it took to produce something every week left me exhausted, the public nature of social media left me exposed, the idea building a platform left me feeling like there was a tower in my life that needed to come tumbling down.

Ironically, I was staring at the wall, when it happened—suddenly I had the inspiration I needed to keep going.

It was the end of June and I had gone for about two months without writing.  I was the little kid in art class, Crayola markers sprawled out on the table, looking up at her teacher with teary eyes and a quivering lip.  “I don’t know what to draw!”

I lay in bed at night imagining myself to be a granite quarry.   Maybe all the natural resources in me have been stripped clean.  Maybe I have nothing left to offer.  Maybe I should close my MacBook Pro and never open it again.

One night, I woke up at 1:00 in the morning and crept downstairs to surf the Internet.  I wanted to know what Wikipedia had to say about writer's block.  Like a frantic hypochondriac addicted to WebMD, I scrolled through the list of symptoms and silently agreed that I had every one of them.

Do I have any business calling myself a writer?
What if the words never come back?
Am I always going to feel this empty?

My pastor asked me what my hopes were for the summer.  I told her, “I need to hit the pause button.  I need some new perspective.”

She suggested that I study what the Bible has to say about “seeing” in Genesis, Exodus, and Psalm 139.  I was in the midst of this bible study when I found myself staring at the wall during a writing retreat.    There was a Power Point presentation ahead of me and the voice of the facilitator ringing in my ears, “Writing is about observation…” 

I had an ah-ha moment just then and as I walked back to my room I began to imagine myself as the recipient of CPR.  There I was lying on the floor, but Someone had just breathed life into me.  Now I was full of inspiration.  I began to write with hunger and hope. 

I pulled a piece of paper out and penned these words:

Sabbath rest, I am learning, is about refocusing.  It’s an invitation to loosen our grip on productivity, so we can be gripped by the One who wants to produce something in us.  It’s letting the ground lay fallow for a season, trusting a new crop will eventually be planted bursting forth with life!  It’s accepting that when we are empty, we are in prime position to be filled.

This year, I want to write about what it means to see: to see others and God, and to let others see us.  I’m excited to explore this topic and I want you to enjoy me on this journey!

Thanks for waiting, praying, encouraging. 


P.S.  My pastor is planning on running the Grand Canyon from rim to rim on September 15th.  Read about his amazing journey and how you can be involved supporting a ministry for women in Ethiopia called Eyes that See.