I Wonder If God Is Getting Antsy…

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“Mama!  You said we can’t put any food in that trash can.”

Shit.  She’s right.  How do I explain to her that orange peels dry quickly and don’t mold the way banana peels and apple cores do?  One day she’ll have mastered the basics of trash etiquette — today is not that day.

Lucy is five.  As far as she knows, nothing that enters or exits her mouth may enter that trash can, the one that we use exclusively for overdue bills and Christmas cards.

Grapes?  Gross.

Crackers?  Yep.

Apple sauce cups?  No way.

Orange peels?  Yes.  They even freshen up the smell of the bills and papers piled on top.

One day it’ll click, that orange peels are okay.  In order for my daughter to mature and improvise creatively she needs a comprehensive understanding of my trash laws.  Before Picasso began abstracting he spent years mastering the true and literal human form.  Imagine the moment he realized the fullness of his capabilities!

I can’t wait for her to place that piece in the parenting puzzle.  My parent’s rules aren’t the only way!  My mama taught me to think and I think that the moisture content of an orange peel is low enough.  Plus this zest will make their bills smell great!

A couple weeks ago our church publicly and beautifully announced our support for our LGBT brothers and sisters.  The Love and Unity in that sanctuary poured out the big front doors, down the crumbling front stairs, and ran rainbow-y through the streets of downtown Denver.

“God!  You said that homosexuality was an abomination!”

Shit.  She’s right.  How do I explain that the Bible, My holy Word, is true and foundational, but also fluid, mobile, and alive?  One day they’ll understand that Jesus, My Boy, filled in those contradictory gaps with His boundless Love.  One day they’ll trust the gift of my Spirit in them enough to start building on the solid ground that Scripture established.

Gay?  Yep.

Trans?  Yep.

Muslim?  Yes.

Addict?  You bet.

Republican?  Sure.

Democrat?  Okay.

It doesn’t make sense to me, either—I have no clue how this Grace and Love thing works.  All I know is that God wanted me even when I put my son in the NICU after years of abusing pain meds AS I WAS, no questions asked.  Surely God wants my gay brothers and sisters, immigrants, and congressmen.

The American Fundamentalist & Evangelical church is riding a wave bound for the shore, where it will crash—destroying many egos, identities, and seminaries in the sandy collision.  For too long we denied the testimony and life of Christ and the power of the Spirit moving through all of us.

We were afraid of what a truly Christ-led life would look like.  Instead of looking at the vast forest of redemption, unity, and love that the Bible creates, we chose to look at the trees—abortion, LGBT rights, divorce, etc.  Wouldn’t you rather get lost in a forest of loving, redemptive, living Truth than spend your days arguing over whether a single tree belongs there?

We can honor the good doctrine Evangelical fundamentalism gave us, yes.  But I believe God is calling us forward, daring us to step deeper into that wooded, holy chaos.

The Law sets a good, solid, true foundation.  Period.  End Story.

I wonder though if maybe God is starting to get a little antsy with our reluctance to let His/Her Spirit of Love and Unity begin to mature our understanding of that Law?  Both/And.  What if, like a good parent, God can’t wait for us to get creative–abstractive even–in how we live, love, interpret & apply the Living Word?

“Babe, one day you’ll be able to put orange peels in that trash can, too.”  I assured Lucy.  And I smile, knowing that the day for me has come, it is here.  Yours is, too.  We are waking up!  Do you believe in a Loving Parent inviting you to build something bigger, braver, more inclusive, and more Loving?

The orange peels, the precepts we believed immoveable?  Turns out they may actually move.

We take our lead from Christ.  His very breath and blood flow through us all, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in Love.  We aren’t five-years-old anymore, we were born for this.

 

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Steps 6 & 7: Light It Up

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You know in middle and high school when you begged God to make you less proud, less shallow, less fat, and less horny?  I’ve been asking God to make me better for as long as I’ve been applying mascara.

The sixth and seventh steps give us permission to accept the gift of our humanity.  And guys, God adores humans.

6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

So the three hernias popped out, the lights flipped on, I confessed, and could breathe again.

Now what?

Only the raddest transformation ever.  When my darkest corners and inside bits detected Light, the little curled-up Claire decided to unfurl for the first time in decades.  Rubbing her sensitive eyes she stepped into the warmth, into the Love that only a Higher Power can provide.

Good lighting perks up even the dullest complexion, and I felt beautiful despite my mistakes and my mortality.  I began to trust the God of cancer, the God of death, the God of addiction and chronic pain, the God of weary mamas and politics, and even the Middle East.   Because who could reject the Love that takes you no matter what?  Who could resist such a persistent and wild holiness?

My eyes adjusted to the blaring brightness, and at last I stood—mouth gaping— before a God I pray I never define.  No more checking identification at the doors of Heaven, no more defending a God who never asks for my defense.  Just surrender, humble surrender.

Extending outrageous grace and love to people I thought I disagreed with became easy and necessary.  I could see their Light, too: LGBTQ, Black Lives Matter, Evangelicals, felons, my husband and kids, ISIS, my mom.  It had wrapped me up and held me close, so that’s what I’ll do to everyone else.

My prayers shifted direction as abruptly as my car does when a kid demands a potty break.  Since there is no condemnation in Christ, asking for forgiveness and help was simple— I was free and careless just like the murderous David or the yucky debt collectors.

The hard part?  Recalling that, in Eden, God called the Clay that became Claire Good.  I’ve found that all my problems arise from memory loss.  A forgotten whisper from the Higher Power: you are a beloved child of mine.  Shhhh.  Remember.

I don’t think “sin” is our defect, because we are human, and God expects humans to fuck up.  The defects aren’t pride, rage, lust, or addiction–those are the humanity.

The shortcoming is believing we are anything other than Good.  When we forget that God so loved the World, we forget that God so loves us, and everyone else.

Instead of: Lord, give me more self control, forgive me for eating the entire apple pie and disrespecting my body temple.  Try: Lord, forgive me for my memory loss, help me remember I’m a divine child of a Good, Hard, Wild, and Loving God.  

Where are your dark corners?  What part of God and the Bible and yourself do you defend, even if sometimes it feels too hard and sort of untrue and makes you sweat a little?  How big (or little) is the box in which you keep the Highest Power?  What if I told you everyone has God’s Light and Love pulsing through them?  Right now.  Yes, even him/her/them.

What if I told you that perfection is your name and goodness is your game?

Your defect isn’t your skin color, your income, your religious affiliation or voter registration.  Your shortcoming isn’t that you love someone the same gender as you or that you’re divorced or had an abortion.

We fall short when we forget to turn on the Lights.  God, take my humanity and hold it close.  Help me remember.

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Ironing

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God, you are so confusing to me lately!  I feel afraid, but also comforted.  Big shifts and stirrings in my faith and my understanding make me afraid that I love You less…

I’m thinking a lot about the inconsistencies in the bible.  Or rather, the inconsistencies we wrestle with and see, because I believe somehow, ultimately it all fits together.  That context & translation, not divine origin or infallibility are the roadblocks in our way.  These inconstancies make it so hard to iron out the pages.  The bible is living, breathing, and wrinkled. We humans prefer our surfaces nice and tidy—flat.  You though, God?  You are wild, scary, and boundless in how You lived and how You Love.  By choosing an ironed, easy-to-look-at, and easy-to-live faith, we also choose iron of a different nature—slavery.  Iron bars and iron shackles.  We confine You in our jail cell with us.

You are not easy.  Jesus, You were the rabbi who didn’t always observe the Sabbath.  The rabbi who instead of leading onlookers in stoning that adulteress, reminded us all of our own unfaithfulness—then dared us to cast the first stone.  A rabbi who welcomed, instead of shunned, the little children.  When we wanted a heaven-sent victor to come and conquer the world in God’s name, You humbled Yourself to death on a cross and conquered hearts in a whole new way.

You broke it all.  You ruined religion with Your unbridled tongue, Your fierce defense of the defenseless.  You rejected the idea that any single person deserved salvation more than another.

I’m so confused by Christians who claim to know God’s heart for gay people (God’s heart for anyone, really).  I’ve heard some of us cite Scripture out of context, much like the Scriptures involving women’s rights.  Matthew 7:13-14 seems to be a favorite, used to bolster up the beliefs.  (Because when we remove Love and Grace and Mercy from the equation, everything needs to be bolstered.)  The road is narrow, yes, but what if it’s the opposite of how these people perceive it?  If mainstream religion/Christianity says no to homosexuality, then wouldn’t that be the wide path?  The easy, ironed path?  Wouldn’t the narrow way, the harder way, be to CHOOSE LOVE?  The bloggers, pundits, and preachers I’m thinking about say that they love gay people, it’s just the sin they hate.  I get this.  I really do, I even think it can be biblically “defended” (keep in mind context though).  And honestly, it’s how I used to think.  It’s how I defended myself and bolster up my belief.  It was such a safe, ironed-out answer.  But it didn’t make me squirm like a wrinkled rug on my floor does.  It didn’t make me squirm like I do when I read about all of Jesus’ interactions.

I interpret that logic, love the gay person just hate their sin, as “I love the Super Bowl!  I just hate football…..”  How can you love something if you vehemently reject a huge part of it’s identity?  From reading what I’ve read, I have yet to find anything that left me thinking the author would die for the type of person they just spent 1000 words trying to convince me they “loved.”  Except, that’s exactly what Jesus did.  Also, so what if it’s a sin!?!  Why do we care!?  Isn’t God big enough to handle that?  Cast the first stone, I dare you.  I don’t think we love the LGBT community, I think we love ironing…

God, I am so confused by You.  I am so confused by the contrast of Romans 5:18-19 against Matthew 7: 13-14.  I don’t understand how You lived and how You loved.  Every day I am stuck in this wrinkled existence, help me see the world the way You do.

I know what it’s like to be the Other; I went to rehab.  The scarlet letter I wore stood for Addict, though Adulteress could’ve worked in a pinch.  Some people believed, still believe, I am flawed.  The God I met at rehab though, and the God I’ve met every day since, is a God—YOU are a God— who adores even a scarlet-lettered mama.  So I am confused by You, and I don’t really enjoy the position it puts me in.  But I know You, and I love You.  The scars on my body (from cancer & cutting) and the scars on my heart (from trauma, and addiction, and much much more) remind me of the God who has proven, for decades now, just how real and good You really are.  I trust You.

My physical/emotional/spiritual brokeness taught me and teaches me just how deep into love You really dig.  You go down to our core and awaken an understanding we gain through no other means.  Only when we receive the FULLNESS of Your Love can we extend it.  I don’t understand it, just like I don’t understand You.  I don’t know how I find the kind of love I do.  Just like a wrinkled dress I pull out of the laundry bin, it makes me feel uncomfy.

How could I go back to the iron of before?  To the slavery of thinking and believing I know what You think.  You only Love, and that Love births every one of Your other characteristics.  It is Your source, THE source.

Just help me Love, Jesus.  I want courage, strength, and bravery to live the way You lived down here.  That is the narrow way.  Your life was the narrow path, You went against popular beliefs & strong-held religious ideals of Your day.  You are all I have in my attempt to do right & good.  You walked the narrow path, and in doing so gave us the road map, the guide.  It’s full of ups and down, mountains and valleys, hidden and treacherous obstacles, and holy heights.  Wrinkly and ripped and inconsistent, it resembling nothing like a freshly printed map humans can so easily decipher.  Please make me okay with the folds in the maps & fabrics of this existence, Lord.  Help me Love in spite of them.

 

(Note:  Some parts of this post sound similar to parts of a sermon Michael Hidalgo gave at Denver Community Church a few weeks ago.  This was written before he gave that sermon and before I heard that sermon.  I gave him a head’s up–he knows, it’s all good ; ))

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