My Feminist Christian Schpiel: No More Sissy Ninny For Me

This is a girl after my own heart.

Quiet

I am finding I’m in the middle of a people-time crisis. I’ve been spending a lot of time with people and when I spend a lot of time with people I eventually develop a glazed-over-can’t-think-of-a-single-word-to-say persona. Last night in our Searcy community worship night in the little red house, I seriously wanted to cuddle under a blanket on my sofa and fall asleep to the sound of The Office blaring on my laptop.

We had a leadership meeting on Monday, workout and worship night last night, Adventure Cell tonight, Wellness Center class tomorrow, Gender Reveal party for McMullens on Friday… and I’m pretty sure Saturday is covered as well. I’m tired. And when I’m tired, I just think maybe I shouldn’t go to this tonight.

And then I feel guilty. And when I feel guilty I end up going anyway. And when I go anyway, I end up looking like a zombie who is pretending to be a zombie. I’m pretty sure that means I would look extra-un-dead. So in the end, because I would be of no comfort or encouragement to anyone, I have to take into consideration that I might need rest. I need rest so that I can be a source of life to people. I need solitude so I take time to see what the Holy Spirit is doing in my heart. I need quiet so I can love people well when there is loudness and activity.

Connect and Disconnect

I am learning that relationships are strictly a “learn as you go” process. To learn how to do relationships, you actually have to have them… and having relationships requires lots of transparency and vulnerability and communication. Yikes. This does not sound like the most pleasant experience in the world. It’s scary. The truth is, all of us want people to choose us. We want to be picked. I don’t want to have to manipulate someone into having a relationship with me. Manipulation doesn’t validate our self-worth. In fact, when we manipulate others into having a relationship with us, we degrade our identity. We are saying to ourselves that we don’t have enough value or enough “likability” for people to connect with us. There is not a single person in the world God didn’t create for connection with others. All of us were created as relational beings in need of affection and love, as much as some of us would like to deny it. We need eachother.

When we are living in community, connection needs to happen within that community. Honesty and transparency need to be a part of our relationships. When transparency is not there, control begins to occur. Misunderstandings. Judgement. Confusion. Relationships turn into an avalanche of issues and feelings and negative emotions. People get hurt. Vulnerability ceases to exist. But community, when done right, is such a beautiful symbol of eternity. It is worth all of the rough seasons and the challenges that inevitably come with it.

Outside of our immediate community are relationships we have developed over the years. I’ve lived in a few of different places and been a part of different community-centered organizations. Some of these people I still have deep relationships with and some of them I don’t. It’s painful to look back on some of those relationships that I once enjoyed and see how they have shriveled to almost nothing. It’s hard to let go but that little wound in my heart that says I am responsible for the upkeep of every relationship that I’ve ever had despite the physical distance, is just a yearning to know my value. That I am still worth connecting with. At least that’s what the Holy Spirit has been telling me lately.

He says it’s okay to let go. It’s okay to move on and allow myself to connect with those whom He has provided me where I’m at right now. I think holding onto those past relationships has been sort of a defense mechanism. It’s a fear of connecting with my current community (who I really value and love) and taking a risk in my relationships. It keeps me from fully entering into what the Lord has for me.

As I sit here silently communicating with the Lord about His sovereignty in my relationships, I feel His honesty and His trustworthiness in it all. He is in complete control and my heart wants to be in complete surrender. My heart must have that.

Heavenly Places

Yesterday morning I woke up and had this feeling that I had just woken up from some spectacular dream world. Okay, I probably did actually wake up from a dream, knowing me, but something had happened the night before, in my waking hours, where I began to question God… “did that really happen? That wasn’t some alternate reality was it? Like, that was for real, God?”

It took me an entire day to actually snap back into “the now” from what I had experienced and I woke up this morning feeling like I was about to find myself in a fairy tale. Yes, I said fairy tale. I don’t remember how long ago it was… maybe about a month or so ago I was sitting in bed talking to Jesus and He showed me a picture of Cinderella. You know her… the fairy tale princess who comes from living in dirty rags to living in palaces and marrying a handsome prince who is madly in love with her. Yes, that’s the girl. A few days later, while attending Freedom Prayer training, I saw the same picture… Cinderella. As I prayed with a woman about the vision I realized that Jesus was saying that this was me. I was Cinderella. Little ol’ me! What took me even more by surprise was when one of our pastors, Holly Reicks, began praying for me the next day at church and saw a fairy tale world. she said it was so beautiful that I didn’t believe it was real but she whispered in my ear… “it is soooo real!!”.

The truth is, we really do live in an alternate universe as believers. I lead this song at church called, “I See Heaven”. It’s about living in a spiritual dimension… a heavenly dimension that is so out of this world that it’s hard to believe it actually exists. Experiencing God is a reality in this world. Angelic activity is a reality in this world. Life giving things happen in this world. In this world our lives and hearts are forever restored and redeemed! In Ephesians 2:6 it says that upon salvation we are immediately sitting next to Jesus in heavenly places. This is our new reality. When we realize this is our reality, everything changes. EVERYTHING.

I don’t know how His goodness works, exactly. I know that there are people all over the world that are passionate about Jesus and still experience great pain. I know there are Believers in prison camps and torture chambers. I know that Christians are martyred daily… lots and lots of them. Somehow, I have to believe that even in the midst of such horrendous pain, these people can still live in a heavenly dimension that sustains them through it all… and not just sustains them but where they actually see the goodness of God while here on earth. I have to believe that this is possible!

Though I know we go through tough seasons for a reason; to mature and grow and strengthen us, I also know that He is OVERJOYED when He gets to show His goodness to us as a tangible reality. We literally get to experience a fairy tale world with Him. He does want us to get through all of the hard things so that we are ready for all the good things He has for us. All of those hard things are His mercy, really. They are His mercy so that we aren’t like little babies destroying the precious jewels that He hands us and squandering all that He offers.

I know that there are always going to be hard things but last night as I laid in bed, I felt the presence of God come upon me and I heard Him tell me over and over that that a new season of His goodness was ahead. That He wasn’t going to allow my legs to be broken anymore. That He was so excited about what was ahead for me. I felt like arguing with Him for awhile. But it’s ME God. I’m not good enough. I’m not special enough. I’m not beautiful enough. I’m just not enough. And He whispered back to me, but don’t you see? You’re worth everything to me.

 

Strawberry Shortcake Jesus

A few years ago, I was at an event in Minneapolis when a woman whom I didn’t know came up to me and handed me a piece of prophetic art that she drew for me. The artwork had a picture of a little girl on a tricycle and she was riding her trike down a road which led to a ferris wheel in the distance. On the bottom of the picture she wrote, “Childlike. Trust! Do not fear and be ready for high adventure! Proverbs 3:3”.

For some reason that picture, which I have hanging on my bedroom wall, came to mind last night while I was sitting in cell group. I started to think about what I was like as a kiddo. What did I do to have fun? What was my relationship with Jesus like? How did I relate to Him? And then I remembered. Yes, I had lots of fun when I was a kid. I rode my bike all over town with my friends where we hijacked all of the Butterfingers in the small grocery stores with change from the couch cushions. Like typical girls, my friends and I played games where we went “shopping” in my bedroom, pricing everything in my room and purchasing it. We went to the beach. We hiked at Prentice Park and drank Artesian spring water with our hands. We preformed cartwheels down the sidewalk and during the winter went ice skating almost every day… well you get the hint. I was a typical kid. Kinda.

I don’t know how it happened or when, exactly, it happened but when I was pretty young I fell in love with Jesus. Last night I remembered those times, having what I would call “church” in my bedroom. I lead worship (for real), I preached a sermon from my little pink Precious Moments Bible to my stuffed animals, and then I had prayer time. I remember seeing Jesus in my bedroom. I remember hearing His voice even. I remember crying because I wanted to be closer to Him. I remember telling Him I loved Him.

Right now, I am trying to dialogue with God on how these memories relate to my present life in Him. How the artwork I was given, and the journey I am currently on all correlate into one big picture. This journey of trust and adventure.

Last year, while still living in Little Rock, I was planning on moving to Texas. I didn’t want to live in Arkansas and had promised my parents I would never ever live there permanently. However, the Lord relentlessly poked at my heart and asked me to stay. It didn’t make any sense to me at the time. Why in the world would He want me here? There aren’t any churches I feel led to attend, and the ones that I have tried to plug into lacked many things that I deeply desire in a church body. WHY? It would be so much easier to move to Texas where I already have a large group of friends and get plugged back into my life there instead of this religious, Bible-belt wasteland.

And you know the story. I found my awesome church, Grace Fellowship. I lead worship there along with a few others and I love it. I have a great community that is always pursuing love and the deep things of God. But I know that’s not the end of the story. I know  that God has so many deeper things ahead for me to discover and some of them might possibly be frightening… and I suppose that is where the trust and adventure needs to kick in. There is still more ahead and I have no idea what that looks like right now but I know He is good. He is still the same Jesus that appeared in my Strawberry Shortcake bedroom.

 

 

 

 

The Licking on of Hands

Today I was hanging out with some friends and their sweet two year old boy, David. David is a charmer; blonde hair, humongous eyes, and chubby cheeks you will want to squeeze until eternity. And as most two year olds are, he was quite hilarious. If a boy can make me laugh, he can pretty much guarantee he will have my attention. And of course he had great taste in women as well… because he had a serious little boy crush on yours truly. I was in awe of the attention I was receiving from this little one. At one point, he even licked my hand. I know, I know a kiss on the hand is a little more “polite” but licking? That just shows earnestness. I like earnestness.

I felt a little like Sally Field winning her first Academy Award, “you like me! You really like me!”. Now, I know what you are thinking, “Brooke, I think you probably need a date”, but the whole scenario triggered something in me.

I think that’s how we are supposed to be… with Jesus. In fact, didn’t He say that?

Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

What I love about kids is that they have absolutely no grid for social etiquette. An Adult doesn’t go up to another adult and start rubbing their head, touching their face or… licking them. They don’t generally jump up and down and squeal with delight when they are excited about something (except for maybe my friend Celina Baird– which makes sense because she is seriously the best worshiper ever).

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think Jesus was saying we should go around and lick people. What I am saying is that maybe I got a little taste of what Jesus feels like when we give Him our attention like a little child would. When we don’t draw back from Him, fearing that we will be “too much” for Him. When everything in our heart for Him comes alive and is on display in the most “socially awkward” way possible.

I use to silently judge people who were being weird in worship. You know exactly who I’m talking about so don’t deny! You know, the ones who do the strange hand gestures or who gallop around like horses and who generally wear lots of sequins and puffy paint. I had all of these ideas about what was really going on inside of that person… they just wanted attention. They wanted to put on a show and help everyone see how spiritual they were. Blah, blah, blah. I am certain that I was probably right on some of those cases because, let’s face it, there are a lot of human beings on this earth that love attention. However, I know now, without a doubt, that there are plenty of “weird worshipers” in the world who worship in Spirit and in Truth. I had no right to judge what was going on in their heart because I definitely don’t like for my heart to be judged in that way either. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t think He would really care if our hearts were totally on board anyway. I think He likes weird worshipers. I think He actually loves it when we act like a child in front of Him.

I’m not God so I can’t gauge what His emotions are when we come to Him in this way… whether in private or in public. But I can tell you when that little boy was acting like a little boy in front of me, my heart melted. He really, really wanted my affection and my attention. I think this more than melts Jesus heart. When we really really like Him and let Him see our “like” of Him, He simply can’t get enough of us. It absolutely fills His heart with joy and delight.

Scattered

Lately, I’ve been feeling pulled in a zillion directions in terms of creative projects . The lack of focus on any particular area of creativity has me frustrated. I have so many things I WANT to do yet very few things are getting done. So many of these projects are on the verge of being finished yet the last steps to completion have yet to be accomplished. That song I want to finish writing? Yeah. Need to organize some time with a certain guitar player for the finishing touches. That novel that has been sitting on my hard-drive for what feels like decades? The thought of finishing the editing process has me breaking out in hives. That dresser that I keep saying I’m going to paint? I can’t seem to scrape up some extra cash in my budget to buy supplies (oh, and what’s a budget again?).

I keep wondering what it is that is causing me to procrastinate. Maybe it is that these last steps are just way too boring for me to hold my attention. Maybe it’s my fear of failure that my work might actually stink… stink really bad. Maybe it’s that I am scared of letting people see inside a little piece of me… a little vulnerable, somewhat broken piece that influenced both my song and my novel.

But as I sit here and ponder all of these excuses, one little whispered phrase keeps penetrating my psyche, “but I love to do these things with you. I take pleasure in seeing you do what you were made to do.” And that right there is motivating enough to remember what I love about creating characters and scenes and adventures on a page. If that is all that happens with finishing a book… if I just get to partake in His feeling of pleasure that I finished what I started… I finished an idea that He gave me, than I suppose that is all of the motivation I need.