Muster the Courage to Just Be You

lalaland

Sam and I went the the movies last night to see La La Land with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. It is a nostalgic and moving mashup of old Hollywood overlaid on contemporary LA at its most plastic and self-promotional.

It’s a film about art and passion and the courage it takes to keep being you in a world that rewards you for being someone else.

As I’ve said before, I don’t believe in coincidence. Yesterday was full of hard climbs for me, on steep learning curves with zero joy. La La Land fixed all that and reminded me that love, joy and freedom is the reason for this season.

Next week, this blog will retire and something brand new, completely original and sort of terrifying will take its place. Want a hint?

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I quit my job to spend 2017 with Jesus. It was kind of an insane move that, on day one, he rewarded by grabbing my hand and running. So much has happened, New Year’s Day feels like six months ago.

My biggest struggle as a writer has always been the sense I had nothing to say. Yet, I’ve spent the last seven years wrestling with Jesus about who I am and what I’m supposed to do here.

 I think lot of you wonder the same thing: How do I make my life matter?

Maybe the reason for my seven-year wrestling match with that exact question, was to figure it out, so I can help you figure it out too.

What does it mean to follow him well?

How do I burn bright in sad and broken places?

How do I help others do the same?

How’s that for something to say?

And how ironic that by getting to know who created me, so I know what he created me for, I discovered my purpose is to facilitate that exact same process for you.

God is funny.

See I know depression. I know dread. I know anxiety and doubt. I know fear and loneliness like I know my own face. But I also know now, none of that is how he created me or you. Nor is it what he created us for.

I think so much human anxiety is born of the fact that we believe we are here for a purpose and we feel guilty for not living it.

Let’s do something about that.

Stay tuned.

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The Experience of Grace

Last night, I stood before 40 teenagers on the stage of my cowboy church and talked about smoking weed.

It’s nerve-wracking to holler about sex, weed and mean hashtags from someone else’s pulpit, but when you do, teenagers perk up. It’s like they’re saying, “if you’ve got some tools, we’re listening, but hurry up.”

Weed wasn’t the point. Knowing who you are as a son or daughter of God and what that knowledge does to your behavior, was the point. Driving home I laughed to myself and asked Jesus for the millionth time, “Lord, who am I to say a word?”

Who I am is a chosen, forgiven, beloved daughter of the Most High King – a princess short on theology but experienced in grace.

I chose to meander in Jesus’ general direction when I was 15, but to follow and obey him were out of the question because the list of what I couldn’t do was far too long. But nobody told me all the things I COULD do if I followed him. Nobody told me that following Jesus is like standing in a waterfall of grace.

Back in the day.

Back in the day.

So instead, I spent two decades indulging myself, wondering why my life felt like eating a sleeve of Saltine crackers. I did exactly whatever I wanted, which should have been awesome and sometimes was, but by the end, all I wanted was a tall drink of water.

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.” John 7:37

I think the Bible says we have to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling because nobody can really explain how good it is. It’s like describing raspberry jam or how the Carribbean Sea feels to someone who’s never tried either.

Emmanuel, Cardinal Suhard says, “To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda, nor even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery. It means to live in such a way that one’s life would not make sense if God did not exist.”

I don’t want to sell the teenagers of Wood County Cowboy Church on faith as much as I want them to jump in and swim around in it for themselves. So I told them this:

God has thoughts and plans that are absolutely specific to you, but if you’re diverting yourself with stuff that distracts you from God, your engines are idle and it will take longer. In my case it took decades.

The good news is, I figured a few things out and on Wednesday, I’m leaving for Haiti with 30 long-term Mercy Ships crew members. We’re going to do some support work for a Haitian pastor who is building a community from the ground up just outside Port Au Prince – the poorest capital city in the Western Hemisphere.

These are the Christians I didn’t know when I was 15. They are bizarre and funny and when we pray, we swim in that sea of faith together and all our ships rise at once. It’s a unique experience, one that I want for my little loves at church.

*As ever friends, the views expressed herein are my own, not that of my employer.