Lenten Devotional 2015

IT’S FINALLY DONE!!!! And today I got an email from a group asking me to write one for them. I almost said no, but I’ll do it. Of course I will, because, you know, as hard as it was, it was fun too… So, if you so chose, here is my Lenten devotional on Wonder in the Wilderness. Enjoy.

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Don’t Sweat the Small Things (she says gagging)

By the end of the day I have a project due. In January I took a class called “The Bible and the Ecology of Wonder”. The final project was to be a reflection on that subject, we were encouraged to be creative. I could have written a sermon, which I did and preached for the congregation when I returned on Psalm 139. I could have written about a photograph that I’ve taken, I had free reign, a creative final project. I decided (because life isn’t hard enough) that I would write a Lenten Devotional on Wonder in the Wilderness. I combined the theme of the class (Wonder) with our church’s theme for Lent (Thirst in the Wilderness). “I’ve never written a devotional before, not a full one, this will be fun,” I thought. (I know, I need to get out more if that is my definition of fun). I asked for an extension knowing my life was crazy and I would need more time. The deadline I gave myself was today, Friday the 13th. I needed to have it done by today because Sunday is the last Sunday before Lent and I need to get it into my people’s hands. I will also post it on this blog… As the week progressed I started to stress, but not for the reason you think. I started to stress because I wasn’t stressed about it. My lack of stress was causing stress and I started to wonder (see what I did there…) about why. The answer was simple in the most complicated way possible. “Don’t sweat the small things.” I used to loathe that saying. Still do, really. I worry, I have anxiety, I’m a problem solver, I like solutions. I get to solutions through my worry, anxiety, and thinking through scenarios. I have learned not to fight this. Fighting it makes the monkey mind worse. But as this year has progressed, as a reality of what I thought was a “happy” marriage has fallen apart, as I have taken on the reality of divorce, shared custody, financial strain, in addition to the everyday stress of being a pastor and mom, I have learned that I simply cannot sweat the small things. Getting a doctorate is not a small thing. Really it’s not. But in comparison to the health and emotional wellbeing of my children? Small thing. Worse case is I ask for another extension, other worse case is that I fail the class. Not the end of the world. If I do my children will still have food on the table and a roof over their heads. I will not lose my job. But I still need to finish it (so finish this blog dumbass and get to work!) Why? Because it’s a dream of mine. Mine. No one else. I am doing this for me. Education is selfish, in my humble opinion. I didn’t know that until I was out of school with a master’s degree wondering why I felt as if I wasn’t doing anything for myself. Education, learning, reading, furthering your mind and skill is selfish. Until you use it, until you share it. Like art, sharing is what is important. I could have all knowledge, I could be the smartest person, I could know the ins and outs and why things work and how, but until it is shared, it’s just mine. I learn it for me. I think for me. Until education or thoughts are applied, they are completely selfish. This is my theory at least. But I digress. The point is I believe in sharing, I believe in bettering the world and myself. I also believe that there are real stresses in my life, that getting this project done is a priority for me, and that makes it worth while, and in all honesty, I am celebrating the fact that it is almost noon and I am still writing content. This is self love. This is progress. This is a small thing, and I am grateful. heart_6.inline vertical

She Loves Me…

She loves me not…She loves me… She loves me not.

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“I love you” They’re the greatest 3 words in the world. I love you, SO much. There is nothing sweeter to hear or as sweet to say, I love you.

I type these words through watery eyes, tears streaming down my face. I’m learning an important thing about myself. I need someone to love.

It is common wisdom today to say that one cannot love another without truly loving themselves. Do you agree? I’m not sure that I do.

When I first fell in love I had no love or self-respect for myself. See this post if you missed it. I loathed myself, but seeing myself in the eyes of another helped me to fall in love with myself. But it’s not enough.

I’m alone, I’ve hit several “rock bottom’s” over the last year. I begged and pleaded my husband not to leave me, not to leave our family. I offered to compromise myself and my beliefs just to keep it together. I’ve gotten drunk and had a couple “close calls”. A voice in my head told me to have some self-respect, but it hurt too much. I don’t know how to love myself without someone to shower that attention on. Even as I write this there is a voice in my head saying that isn’t really love, it’s selfish, but I’m not so sure.

I need to love. It’s not like a drug or alcohol in terms of need, it’s a need as in my need for air.

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; … 11Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. –1 John 4:7, 11-13

I do love myself, I do respect myself, but I do it through acceptance of people I know and trust, people whom I love and whom love me. I learned to love from their love. It’s the incarnation of God, it’s the movement of the Spirit, it is the nature and essence of love. I need someone to love, and not just anyone.

Today I’m in Atlanta, I’m taking another doctoral class. It’s called The Bible and the Ecology of Wonder, cool, right? right… so… yeah.

In the middle of class today we were watching a video of astronauts talking about their awe of the moments they were in space looking at the earth and the “heavens.” As you can imagine they were describing deep and profound senses of wonder and awe, even if they didn’t use the words, they were describing an experience of God, the experience of something so vastly beyond themselves, yet felt so rooted and deeply connected to it.

I started to get emotional during the video, like… really emotional.

I suddenly realized I hadn’t been standing in wonder recently. “Wonder also requires courage” our professor had said in an example of one definition. I kept rolling and rolling around the idea, staring at the astronauts from their suits and shuttles and lunar modules. Wonder also requires a safety, a grounding, I pondered.

You have to feel free to wonder, but in order to truly feel free, you have to feel safe enough to allow your mind, your heart, your imagination to soar. If you are paralyzed in fear you are not wondering. You have to move past the fear in order to feel free enough to be in awe, reverence, or curious. You have to have the courage to let yourself go.

I’ve cried most of this afternoon knowing that I do not feel that freedom, I am paralyzed in fear. I am afraid to allow my imagination to soar because I no longer have my net, I no longer have my grounding, I no longer feel courageous. Because I no longer have a person to pour my love into that I knew, or at least thought, that I could always count on. That I had exposed myself to on every level. Who knew every dream, every fear, every flaw. Even if he didn’t, he did.

I had someone to love, who loved me, or so I thought, to allow me the sacred gift of feeling safe in order to allow myself to soar, in order to allow myself to move beyond fear.

Some will tell me I have to find that grounding in myself, but here’s the simple truth. I don’t want to. And I don’t think I’m meant to. I want to share my life, I’m meant to share my life.

I can love my kids and they can love me, but I cannot make my kids my life partner. I have a best friend whom I love tremendously and she would help me bury a body if need be, but she cannot be my everything either. Not only would the body we bury have to be her husband’s, but we would end up miserable for a variety of reasons.

There’s a song we used to sing to the kids in VBS:

“Love is something when you give it away, give it away, give it away, Love is something when you give it away, you end up having more.”

I miss wondering, being curious, and exploring – my faith, myself, another – it was an ongoing mystery, a courageous adventure, a wonder. I miss being allowed to love and expose my inner most self to someone fully. I feel incomplete, less human, sad without it. It’s not that some magic soul mate is going to come along and “complete me” it’s that in loving them, myself, and loving us love is perfected. For if we love one another, God lives in us and God’s love is perfected in us.

This is not just my faith, this is my experience, and my truth. This is who I am. I am a child of God, meant to share my life and my love.