Walking a Dangerous Line: When Talking about Politics Becomes a Bloodbath and How Christians are Contributing to the Carnage.

Well, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve written in this space, and since I last wrote a lot has changed – not only in my personal life but in the world. 

I took a job at a wonderful counseling agency here in town, had another baby, moved into a new house, quit my job at the counseling agency so that I could stay home with my kids right before a mandatory quarantine (talk about timing), and began walking through a global pandemic with the rest of the world. As we all know, the almost-nine months of 2020 have already felt like 9 years, and there’s no need for me to remind anyone about it.  

So, why, of all times, have I decided to write on here again? Well, first off, I’m no longer employed and my kids just started going back to Mother’s Day Out, so, naturally, I have a little more time on my hands. Secondly, I’ve almost written several mini-Instagram posts on this topic over the past 8 years, and today just feels like the time to officially put my thoughts and concerns out there. 

Photo by Joseph Chan

Before I jump in, let me preface this by saying this post is strictly for Christians. It’s for people who have a deep faith and hope in Jesus on both a head and a heart level. It’s for people who have come face-to-face with their own depravity, imperfections, and inability to always do the “right thing” both internally and externally and have also realized that there is nothing they can do to “fix themselves.” In response, these people have realized that they desperately need the remedy that only God can offer – the act of Jesus dying on the cross to redeem them from their sins and imperfections so that they might be able to have a relationship with a perfect God. A relationship that is both hard and beautiful. 

Again, this post is for Christians – these people who should understand how broken they truly are and who should rejoice in the grace (unmerited favor) they have been given. It’s for these people who should know that perfection on this earth is utterly impossible to achieve, that the world isn’t the way it should be, and that know that their hope isn’t found here. It’s found in Jesus. 

So, if you are one of these people – if you are a Christian – I’m writing to you. And please know I’m writing with the sincerest of hearts – not out of a place of judgment – but out of a place of concern and love. I want to be your friend. I want to do the good works that we have been called to do together (Ephesians 2:10). I want to spur you on – and I want to be spurred on by you. I am just deeply troubled, and I feel as though I need to say something. 

So, here you go. Please don’t hate me. (Or at least talk to me about it, if you do.)

Christians, I think we are walking a dangerous line. 

I’m not talking about a dangerous line in wearing yoga pants or spaghetti straps. I’m talking about an even more dangerous line. (Hopefully, you picked up on my joke here.)

It’s the line of talking politics. Or more specifically – it’s the line of talking politics in a way that never gives thought to the potential consequences of the words we are choosing to use and the tone we are seeking to convey. It’s talking about politics without hesitation and in a way that is disconnected from our primary purpose and identity – our identity as Christ followers who were created to worship and glorify God. 

As Christians we are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:15 &16), we are created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10), we are called to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), we are regularly encouraged to stand up for the widow, orphan and poor/those most vulnerable around us (Isaiah 1:17, James 1:27, Micah 6:8), we are called to do “nothing from rivalry or conceit,” but to humbly “count others as more significant than [our]selves” (Philippians 2:3), we are encouraged to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), we are called and encouraged to be and do a lot of things, but why? Why does God ultimately want us to follow him and to worship Him?

Because when we display who God is for other people – when we allow the Spirit of God to transform our lives so that we look more like Christ – we glorify God. And when we glorify God, people are drawn to worship God and follow Jesus themselves (Matthew 5:16). And that is the command Jesus gave us – that we might go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). And when we are making disciples, the world is changed, not only in America, but world-wide. And not only while we are here on earth, but for eternity. 

So the question on the table is this: Are we doing this?

When we are engaging with others about political things, are we focused on our primary purpose, or are we focused on something else? Is our primary purpose to continually point out our own brokenness and our desperate need of a Savior, so that others might also come to know the true rest and restoration found in a hope set on Jesus or is our purpose to get others to vote for the political candidate we like? Are we helping people see that Jesus is the only one who saves, or are we presenting all of our arguments on why one particular party should be trusted to save our nation? Are we seeking to make peace with others, or are we seeking to get a thrill out of arguing? Are we trying to display all that we know, or are we humbly seeking to understand both sides? 

Please hear me, I’m not saying talking politics is wrong. I understand that talking about politics should have a place in the public square if we want to all become informed and active citizens of the country we live in. I understand that talking about politicians and processing what they have done or what they hope to do can be intriguing. I even know that analyzing policy and how it’s affected America can be fun at times. And I believe it’s important. 

My point is, if you’re a Christian, you should be extra cautious in how you talk – or type – about these things. 

At the end of Colossians, Paul writes this:

“Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

– Paul to the church at Colossae (Colossians 4:5-6)

If you are publicly proclaiming yourself to be a Christian, then you are publicly proclaiming that you follow Jesus. And that’s a REALLY big deal. If we as Christians believe that a person coming to know Jesus is the deciding factor between eternal life or death – then being a Christian in the social square of social media has MAJOR implications for people’s lives.

If you are a Christian, how you talk or type has the potential to either push people towards the beauty of Jesus or to do the opposite. It either communicates compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and love for others (all things Paul calls Christians to possess in Colossians 3:12-14) or it doesn’t. It either communicates that you believe every living person has value because God created them with it, or it doesn’t. It either communicates a desire to understand the other side or it communicates pride and arrogance. 

I understand that we are called to speak truthfully, and many of us feel as though that’s what we are doing. We feel as though we are standing up for the unborn, we are standing up for women’s rights, we are standing up for the preservation of history, and we are standing up for those being mistreated by systems, laws and others because of the color of their skin. And we feel as though we have to yell the truth from the top of a building in order for everyone to hear – but if we aren’t doing it in love, then it’s just going to add to the noise (1 Corinthians 13:1). It’s just going to contribute to the bloodbath of political talk in America. We are just going to add to the carnage, instead of being a remedy to it. 

How we talk about things matters. Our words could have an eternal impact. Please…from one Christian to another, can we please be careful?

Again, I am not coming from a place of judgement. I have engaged in political conversations in ways that probably weren’t beneficial. I have gotten irritated and quickly remarked on someone’s post without taking a step back to reflect if my post was in line with my primary purpose. And I have regretted it every single time. 

Please know that I know I’m not all-wise. I have so much to learn from all of you. In fact, I have learned a lot from what some of you have posted, and I am thankful that you care about the issues that you care about. But from where I’m sitting, we, as Christians, have to start doing something differently. We need to assess how we are talking about politics online and we need to strive to do so in a manner that demonstrates the grace, love and humility of Jesus every step of the way. 

Some Examples/Observations:

Being a Christian who cares about the souls of humanity and who is interested in politics can be hard. It’s oftentimes difficult to navigate the choppy waters of when to speak up and when to remain silent. I don’t have all of the answers, and I oftentimes find myself questioning whether or not I should engage in politics online at all. But, over the past 8 years, I’ve picked up on some things that might be important for us to know as we seek to engage in political discussions on social media, if one chooses to do so:

Picture taken in 2018 to document my
feelings after voting in an election.
  • First – and potentially most importantly – even if your intended “target audience” is Christians, they are not your only audience. You are on social media, your audience is probably more diverse than you think. This should make us extra cautious about what we say. (Remember Colossians 4:5-6.) 
  • If we are standing up for life in the womb or if we are standing up for humans out of the womb we have to examine why. If our answer is because we believe all humans – in the womb or out – have value and dignity because God created them, then we can’t talk to people or talk about people (be it the other party or a political candidate) like they don’t. It’s not logical to do so. Rudeness is rooted in the belief that some people aren’t worthy of receiving love and respect – that they lack in value. It goes against the idea that all men and women were created as image-bearers. If we are truly “pro-life from the womb to the tomb,” then there isn’t any place for belittling others – no matter how much we dislike them. (James 3:7-10 could be helpful here.)
  • Christians arguing about the sin of other people has rarely – if ever – been attractive to someone who doesn’t know Jesus. In fact, I would make the argument that a lot of people have run from the Church because they felt as though that’s all the Church wanted to do. 
  • Praising politicians or parties regularly, consistently and whole-heartedly can easily come across as worship – and when both politicians and both parties are incredibly imperfect I think we should question if they deserve the amount of devotion we are giving them. Is it communicating that Jesus saves or is it communicating that our chosen party or politician saves?
  • The most “just” person to ever walk this planet was – and always will be – Jesus Christ. If we aren’t seeking to mimic him in the way we treat people – especially people who have a different worldview than we do – then we should question if we are doing things properly. Are we having compassion on the woman in adultery, or are we casting the first stone (John 8)?
  • I know topics such as systemic racism and sexual assault are worthy of discussion. Analyzing whether or not change needs to happen and how it needs to happen is both complex and important for the growth of a country, BUT because these topics are especially sensitive and historically complicated, we need to tread with caution. I only truly know what it is like to be me, and you only truly know what it is like to be you. We only know what it is like to be a person of color if we are one, and we only know what it is like to have been sexually assaulted or to have been wrongfully accused of sexual assault if we were. I’m not saying this should completely silence people who don’t fit into those categories, but it should add a level of humility to any conversation we are seeking to have about the people who do. Is what you are saying going to invalidate the real experiences of people who have walked through trauma or loss? Is it going to invalidate potential truths that you don’t know about? Are you all-knowing? Are you all-understanding? Is what you are saying compassionate, loving and kind or is it blunt, hostile and arrogant? 
  • If you are posting memes that are calling Republicans “Nazis” and Democrats “lazy socialists”, you are helping to contribute to the political divide that we see happening all around us. Memes can be funny, but they lack nuance, typically over generalize, cause hurt more than they cause understanding, and they continually group people into Groupthink camps that people might not deserve to be grouped into. To raise your voice against stereotyping and then post a meme that stereotypes, could make you come across as either blindly biased or hypocritical. And if people think you are blindly biased or hypocritical, they probably won’t trust you when you are trying to convince them that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
  • Typically, someone chooses to be pro-democratic socialism, pro-capitalism, or anywhere in between because they think it’s going to be best for Americans over the long-run. Getting defensive and assuming that a person lands where they land because they are “an idiot” or they are “selfish” isn’t going to promote good conversation. If you are confused on how someone could land where they land, ask them good questions. Sure, some people may not really know what they are talking about, or maybe they haven’t spent the amount of time required to truly understand the policy behind Capitalism/Democratic Socialism or the potential consequences of Democratic Socialism/Capitalism, but the desire to “do good,” is probably an underlying motive – and hopefully some common ground can be found there. (Proverbs 15:28 or Proverbs 17:27-28 could be helpful on this front.)
  • Christians who are voting for Biden are voting for a pro-choice ticket, even though they may not consider themselves to be pro-killing babies. Christians who are voting for Trump are supporting a president who decreased the number of refugees we allow into the United States, even though they may not consider themselves to be “for” keeping men, women and children in life-threatening or certain-death situations. If you dig into conversations with both of these people, you’ll find that they believe the topic is “complicated” and they have landed where they have based upon a wide variety of issues and historical facts. It’s okay and healthy to disagree with people, but if you aren’t willing to actually listen to someone because you disagree with them, then how willing are you going to be to actually listen to someone who doesn’t believe in your God? If you call people names and/or condemn them to hell because their views are different than your own, do you actually think people will want to listen to you when you talk about your God being gracious and good? 
  • Speaking of complicated, The United States of America is not mentioned in the Bible and Jesus didn’t live in a democracy. In fact, God first ordained Judges as the way to govern His people, and then allowed the Israelites to have kings after they were dissatisfied with His first choice. Scripture doesn’t tell us how to think about voting. It does supply us with the attributes of God, it does allow us to get a glimpse of Jesus and his character, it does show us good models for how to operate as a Church, and the Bible does consist of commands given to the Israelites, historical people, and the early church that we are to take into account today, but it doesn’t tell us which party to vote for. We can use these things to help us determine which party to vote for, but the Bible doesn’t tell us exactly – so should we act like it does? 

Ultimately, if we believe we are recipients of the most outrageous display of love and grace ever – Jesus dying on the cross for the sin and imperfections we deserved/deserve to die for – then we should have continual grace and humility towards other people. We aren’t perfect, and neither are they. We aren’t all-knowing, and neither are they. We are just humans, made by a perfect God, who are trying to figure out how to live in an imperfect world. 

Our words matter. We can’t change that. 

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear…Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

– Paul to the church in Ephesus (Ephesians 4:29-32)

May we talk to people in a way that highlights the character of Jesus. I love you, friends. 

How Einstein Helped Me through My Eating Disorder…Kind Of

einstein picture
I did not live when Einstein lived, so I obviously did not take this picture. I got it from a YouTube video called “Albert Einstein Explaining E=mc^2.” (P.S. The video is in his own voice which is pretty cool.)

I was once told an interesting story about Albert Einstein.

Ron, my 71-year-old friend, once told me that Einstein had a laboratory of white walls. As Einstein lived life, both inside and outside of his laboratory, he would think, making note of important thoughts by scribbling them down on the surface of one of his walls. Eventually, as one would expect, his walls were covered with random thoughts, equations and notes. One day, while in his lab, Einstein began examining his walls. Slowly, he began taking equations from one wall and piecing them together with other random notes from other walls until he had a simple theory we like to call the Theory of Relativity.

I like the story, because I think this is how life goes. We all have our white walls. We all try to figure out life. And we all do so by piecing together the things we have experienced with what we know or what we’ve heard from others.

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine asked me how I overcame my eating disorder. Honestly, I think it has been one of the biggest “white-wall experiences” of my life.

Overcoming an eating disorder is by no means a linear, step-by-step process, as rarely anything in this life truly is, but there were several pieces of information that made the whole thing make more sense to me. As time went on, I kept examining my white-walls, and eventually the facts that I had scribbled fit together, giving me strength and wisdom to fight the battle well.

So what were they? Here you go…

One: We all have a “natural healthy weight.” **

In our media-filled world, it is so easy to think that there is only one way we as females are to look (which as we all know, changes by the decade). When I was in middle school, it was Brittany Spears. You know, the skinny but some-what athletic look with a huge emphasis on the abs. Today, it seems to be either the super-thin Taylor Swift body type or the totally toned look of Kayla Itsines with a huge emphasis on the gap between one’s legs.

When I was in the trenches of my eating disorder, I was exhausted. Working out for an hour-and-a-half each day and restricting the food that I was eating kept me malnourished and cranky. It also kept me scared. Each dessert was a potential pound gained and each weekend away from exercising was a potential downfall. The anxiety was crippling and the inner emotional chaos was tiresome.

When I was out of college and I really started studying the idea of “intuitive eating,” I discovered just how influential genetics are to body weight. I also learned that trying to fit my naturally size [fill in the blank] body into a size zero jean was just not supposed to happen. If I wanted to run that course for the rest of my life it would mean non-stop stress and mental consumption. Learning that I had a natural healthy weight that could be maintained in natural and healthy ways was freeing…eventually.

Two: God created our bodies to be able to distinguish between hunger and fullness, and if I eat within hunger and fullness, I will be the size/weight I’m supposed to be. (Meaning, I would achieve my natural healthy weight.) **

This very simple idea was HUGE for me.

When I was in high school, my sister was a guest speaker at a conference on body weight and exercise. The basic premise of her whole talk was eating within hunger and fullness, a practice I had totally abandoned. You see, when you have an eating disorder, you learn to ignore hunger until you don’t even remember what feeling hungry feels like.

After college, when I got serious about my eating/over exercise issues, I clung to this truth. I began paying attention to hunger and fullness. (Which our bodies were designed to indicate through growling.) If I was hungry, I would eat. If I was full, I would stop. And something amazing happened: I gained weight until I stopped gaining a pound. Three-and-a-half years ago my natural healthy weight was reached, and my weight has not fluctuated and my jean size has not changed since.

Today, I try to make healthy decisions (both in the realm of food and exercise), but I ultimately eat everything in moderation. If I want pizza and I haven’t had it in a while, I’ll go for it. I eat one dessert almost every day, and I don’t freak out over bread. I’m telling you – it’s incredibly freeing.

Three: My identity is in Christ, and it’s permanent.

As humans, we walk around with an assortment of identities. Some people place their identity in being a mom, a working professional, a wife, an entrepreneur, a musician, or all of the above. For a long time, I placed my identity in what I looked like and what others thought about me. (I can still struggle with these things from time to time.) However, over the past seven years, I have come to appreciate my identity as a Christian more and more because it means that ultimately, my identity is wrapped up in Christ.

The problem with finding my identity in how I look is it’s fleeting. It’s not going to last forever. For some people, the “perfect” body can and will last until they are in their 60s, but rarely do you ever find a supermodel who is 80. Placing one’s identity in how they look is temporary. Our looks and our bodies (and most everything else in this world) will eventually fail us – it’s a proven fact.

One thing that lasts into eternity, however, is my relationship with God.

Knowing that I’m accepted by the one who’s opinion really matters has motivated me to not build my life on any foundation that is temporary. You see, God accepts me regardless of my performance (Ephesians 2:8-9), there’s nothing I can do to change the way he feels about me (Romans 8:35-39), and I seek to remember this daily.

Four: It was worth it.

Any addiction, or addiction-like behavior, only comes to an end when the addict decides that the addiction is worth giving up. If you’ve heard my story in full, you know that this moment came for me when my niece Macy was born. Instantly, a little girl was in my life, and I knew that she would be watching me. The things I idolized she would potentially idolize. The things I deemed important would probably influence her.

I did not want her to watch me struggling with food and exercise. I did not want her to think that she was defined by how she looked. And it suddenly became worth it. It was worth the extra pounds, it was worth the bigger jeans, it was worth letting go of my “super fit” image.

If I wanted Macy to be defined by anything, I wanted it to be the unwavering, never-ending love of God. A love that’s not dependent upon her performance or failures, but a love that rejoices in her unique personality and imperfections. The last thing I wanted her to do was obsess about her weight or external appearance because she saw that I did.

A lot of times we pass on our vices to the next generation, and sometimes it’s just not worth it.

I’m not saying that my nine-year battle ended in an instant, but the truths above created a formula that eventually, by God’s grace, led me to freedom. I still love working out and eating healthy, and I believe that everyone should do both, but there is a line between healthy and unhealthy and it’s not dictated by a weight, muscle mass, or pant size.

As I continue to run this race, some days are harder than others, but overtime the struggle seems to get easier. For those of you struggling, the first step is the hardest, but freedom is possible. There is hope.

** “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works” by Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D., & Elise Resch, M.S., R.D., F.A.D.A. was a helpful resource in helping me think through noted topics

What I learned from Alcoholics Anonymous and DJ Tanner

The mister and I arrived to Massachusetts a couple of weeks ago. After traveling across the country two times amounting up to over 80 hours in the car and living out of three houses, two apartments, and six hotel rooms in a 2-month time span, we were more than ready to be back home where we could do laundry regularly and sleep in our own bed. (Being able to find the bathroom in the in the dark is wonderful, too…it makes life easier, especially on my overly bruised legs which are sick of being hit by random things in the middle of the night.)

Since we have been here, I have been reflecting on this past year.

I remember one year ago when we first moved into our little place in Cambridge. I remember feeling so optimistic but also a bit nervous about what the year ahead would hold. I was excited to be back in Massachusetts, and prayed over our time here. I prayed that the Lord would grow the mister and I as individuals and that our marriage would be strengthened. I prayed that the Lord would use me, and that I would be willing to follow Him regardless of whether or not it seemed easy. I wondered about what our days would look like and who we would become friends with. I thought about being a student again and wondered what that would like like as a married woman. Last time I did the school thing, I was a single young adult.

Most of all, however, I wondered what people would think of me. Would they like me? Would I be accepted? I hoped so. I mean, I deeply hoped so. And this bothered me…continually…

Last year humbled me. I saw social anxiety and old insecurities resurface in ways that were both alarming and internally exhausting. Idols had taken a hold of my heart, and I was paralyzed by self-concern. At the same time, I wrestled with why I was struggling and tried everything I could to jump off of the people-pleasing, approval-needing, train I was on. I battled and I fought, but for some reason, I just couldn’t break free.

Today, as I sit here in the same place I sat one year ago, I can honestly say I am in a better place. Although I think my people-pleasing, perfectionistic, and approval-wanting desires might always be something I have to wrestle with, today I care less about what others think of me than I did a year ago. I am not struggling with anxiety, and I feel at peace about the year ahead. My thoughts do not continually go back to some image I am trying to maintain, and my heart feels more free.

So what happened?

As I reflect on the past year, I can vividly recall three events that the Lord used to dramatically reshape my thinking and reorient my heart. They were not things I sought out for change, but they were things the Lord knew I was going to come across – and I am thankful that He put them in my path.

CO711 – This random set of numbers and letters is the description number for the group process class I took this past school year. As part of the class, we had to split up into small groups and practice doing group therapy. The only premise was that we had to be the clients, and we had to be real with each other. (In case you don’t know, I’m studying to become a counselor…that’s why I take weird classes like this.) Anyways, in the group everyone opened up about their lives and the things they were struggling with, which means I opened up, too. Toward the end of the group, one of the group members encouraged me with something – and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

During our last session, one group member turned to me and said, “Lindsey, my hope for you and for me is that we would make God our glory instead of ourselves.” I was baffled. What did he mean? What does it mean to make God your glory? I spent the summer reflecting on the statement, and after many attempts to wrap my head around the meaning, I came across Psalm 62:7:

“On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.”

Making God my glory means making Him my security, my hope, and my strength. It means placing my identity in Him – as someone loved and cherished – and finding my purpose in Him and who He created me to be. It is the opposite of self-exaltation and fame for fame’s sake. It means banking on Him instead of myself. It means focusing on Him and his grace instead of my own achievements. It means laying down my own efforts to gain recognition and, instead, trusting Him when he says I do not have to earn self-worth. It means abandoning a life focused on self for a life focused on Him.

Although I knew that finding my identity in Christ was huge, this summer I engaged with the idea in a new way. I began to dream about what it might look like. I began to hope for it.

Alcoholics Anonymous – For my addictions class, I had to attend an AA meeting, and it was mind blowingly powerful. In a world that preaches self-reliance, AA seems to stand out. As I sat in the circle and listened to people vulnerably confess their inability to heal themselves, I was reminded of my own tendency to white-knuckle my way through life. I thought about my own disabilities – my inability to hold my tongue at times, my inability to calm down in certain moments when I get angry, and my inability to stop thinking about myself too much. I reflected upon my own powerlessness and my desperate need of the Lord. I left the meeting feeling encouraged but also challenged to seek God instead of myself (and my own idea of what goodness looks like). I felt motivated to stop chasing the world and what it wants of me and began praying that Lord would help me fix my mind and heart on Him.  As the leader of the group blatantly said in his testimony, “[You] have to stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and focus on [your] relationship with God.”

It was a stunning experience.

Full House Documentary –  A couple of nights before the mister and I left for Boston we were watching a Full House documentary with my mom. I listened as the narrator covered each character one-by-one and explained what the different stars are known for and what they had become. When they got to Candace Cameron-Bure (DJ Tanner), they made one statement that caused me to reflect upon my own life. Some narrator who was wearing big glasses looked at the camera and said, “Candace is probably equally known for her faith as much as she is her career.” As we drove back to Massachusetts, I could not get the narrator’s words out of my mind. Although I can’t say that I know all of Candace’s stances on theology, and I’m sure we don’t agree on everything, I appreciate her. I appreciate the fact that she stands out in the midst of an industry that praises moral relativism and fame. I admire her boldness and honesty in the midst of people who disagree with her. I mean, it takes a lot of strength to stand up for what you believe in when what you believe is not popular. It’s a lot easier to sway for the sake of acceptance.

Candace reminds me that it is possible. It is possible to delight more in God’s never-ending love and less in the world’s temporary praise. And for someone who can struggle with seeking acceptance over God’s glory, this is both refreshing and challenging.

Last year was a whirlwind, but I’m thankful for it. Last year proved to me that I am so incapable of being the person I want to be alone. I desperately need the Lord’s help. I need his refinement, his gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) reminders, and his comfort. I need his help. I need his assistance if I ever hope to fix my thoughts on Him and the things that really matter in this life.

When I look back on where I was a year ago, I am thankful. I am thankful for a God who is powerful enough to change minds and hearts and for a God who is worthy of our praise. I am also thankful that He uses the weirdest things to shape us.

Cheers to another school year!

“Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” – Psalm 105:3-4

The Beauty of Psalm 5

Psalm 5 is absolutely beautiful.

The Psalm provides a stunning picture of David’s vulnerability and need for God. The Psalm is a prayer – and throughout it, David reminds himself of truth and praises God for his steadfast love (v.7), His ability to provide refuge (11), and for the blessing God brings to those who trust in Him (v. 12).

My favorite part of the Psalm, however, comes in verse 8. Here, David cries out to the Lord for help:

“Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me” (ESV).

This prayer resonates with my heart.

My enemies may not be physical people, but I have some enemies.

Comfort tempts me to stick to my own schedule, my own plan, instead of submitting to God. My idol of acceptance lures me to alter who I am or what I think so that others will accept me more. Anger tries to convince me that relief is found in release, instead of remembrance of truth and words of love. Lies and negative self-talk seek to make me feel bad about myself – to disorient and distract me from the truth of who I really am in Christ. Security tries to convince me that money matters more than surrender, and discontentment aims to fill my mind with pessimism. Anxiety plays with me so that I seek refuge in myself, and my own clinched fists, instead of trusting God. Fear tempts me to stop moving so that I am stuck in places that are old, stale and dry. Loss begs me to despair.

You see, my enemies may not be people, but I have enemies. And sometimes they are fierce.

I’m thankful for David – for his truth, his boldness, and his confidence in God. You see, I think David got it.

“But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house.” – Psalm 5:7 (ESV)

David didn’t do anything to deserve God’s love. It wasn’t based on the good he had done, the skills he had been gifted with, or the successes he would have in the future. In fact, David did a lot of really bad things. He committed adultery, he murdered an innocent man, he lied, and, at times, he was gripped by passivity to the point of being an absent father and king.

Yet, David was covered by the grace of God. He rejoiced in the love of God and that love gave him the security he needed to cry out – to pray for rescue.

How easily I forget.

As Christians, we are not alone in fighting our enemies. We have a God who loves us, and because of that, we can boldly approach Him.

“Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.” – Psalm 5:8 (ESV)

Cry out, remember, and trust. He can help. Exhale.

Exercise and Motives

It’s snowing in Boston…again.

In fact, it hasn’t stopped snowing. We have officially received over 60.8 inches within the past 30 days, breaking the record for snowfall set in 1978 (http://www.wcvb.com). It’s been insane…and cold…and wet…and kind of annoying.

You see, I’m from Texas, which means a multitude of things, but mainly, it means I’m used to warm weather. It also means I’m not used to snow blocking my sidewalk, burying my car, or keeping me indoors for hours on end. I’m not used to my gym being closed or having to put eight layers on before I venture outside. The struggle is real, y’all. And if I’m being honest, it’s awful.

Because of the things mentioned above, I have been running the stairs of our apartment complex for exercise. It’s gross outside, my gym is closed, and I need something to do, so why not?

This morning, I rolled out of bed, did some laundry, and then contemplated what I was going to do with the rest of my day. School was cancelled again, but I still had a couple of hundred pages to read for my class tomorrow. On top of that, I was incredibly tired and did not feel well. Still, out of habit, I veered toward my athletic shorts. As I contemplated running the stairs (again), a feeling of dread began to drift over me. As I put my shorts on, I stopped to think:

Why am I doing this?

Sure, I need exercise, but I don’t feel well at all.

I pushed forward and put on my tennis shoes.

Okay…really…why am I doing this?

I mean, I have worked out every day for the past two weeks. Do I really need to exercise today when I don’t feel well, and I am behind on school work?!

As I reached for my ear buds, I heard my sister’s voice inside of my head telling me exercise won’t save me, and I took my shoes off.

As many of you know, I struggled with an eating disorder and addiction to exercise for nine years of my life. Because of this, I have had to set up some pretty stern boundaries around exercise and food. With food, the rules are decently clear – eat when I’m hungry, stop when I’m full, and focus on food with nutritional content understanding that moderation is important. With exercise, however, my boundaries are extremely motivationally based, and are therefore a little hazier.

I mean, motives themselves can be hazy. Why do we do the things we do? Are we doing them for ourselves? For others? Or a mixture of both?

Anyways, this all leads me to my point…

Motives are powerful.

They lead us to make decisions about whom to date, whom to hang out with, what activities to pursue, and how to spend our free time. They help us decipher which colleges to attend, which jobs to take, and whether or not we should have kids. These things are good, perhaps, but they can also push us in some weird directions, if we are not careful.

Why are you doing what you’re doing? Why are you dating that guy or that girl? Why are you hanging out with that group of friends? Why do you spend your time pursuing the activities that you do? What is your goal?

During my recovery, I realized my addiction to exercise and my obsession with calories was rooted in my desire to be accepted. I wanted others to approve of how I looked, and I thought that if I felt accepted by others, I would feel okay about myself.

Basically, I realized that wrong motives can turn good things into bad things.

I think to some extent we have all realized this.

Ice cream is great until we seek it for comfort and we eat too much. Pushing our kids to do well in school is the right thing to do, but then we realize we are doing it because it makes us look good, too. We date, which is normal, but then we realize we are dating some guy, even though he’s not the best, because we are fearful of being alone.

It happens. Motives move us.

I don’t know where you are. You may be making wonderful decisions based upon relatively good motives, and are enjoying the freedom that involves. But I think I’m safe in saying, most of us aren’t there. In fact, many of us are probably doing things in order to be accepted, loved, comforted, appreciated, affirmed, or praised and feel trapped because we fear losing the acceptance, love, comfort, appreciation, affirmation, and praise those things bring us, if we were to stop.

Again, the struggle is real.

Every day I have to remind myself that I’m accepted by the one whose acceptance really matters (Galatians 3:26, Psalm 139, Psalm 27:10, Ephesians 1:13-14). I have to remind myself that He is a God of comfort, (John 16:33, Romans 15:13, Philippians 4:6-7), and that He provides life (Isaiah 44:1-3, Acts 17:25, John 1:3-4).

Two things last forever: the hearts of men and the word of God.

Your motives may lead you to seek a variety of things thinking that they will save you – they will give you acceptance, true meaning, or whatever.

The problem is the things won’t last, and they won’t fix you.

Your Lamborghini is going to break. Your hair will gray. Your skin will sag. Plastic surgery will stop working. Your money may lose its value. Your kids will grow up.

Then what?

Motives are powerful – and sometimes they push us to find meaning in things that were never intended to provide it.

What are you banking on? Why are you banking on it? Will it last forever?

For nine years I believed looking a certain way was the answer. I thought it would give me meaning and the acceptance I was looking for. Today, I can still struggle with believing that lie. But the truth is no matter how hard I try, no matter how strong the motives…

Exercise can’t save me. It was never designed to.

***Special thanks to Pete Briscoe and his sermon over idols for reminding me to think though my own.***

The Potential Inner Danger in Keeping All of the Outer Rules

To be honest with you, I don’t really have a lot of time to spend on this post. In fact, I’ve been struggling to find time to anything lately, which has put me in a really weird spot in a lot of areas, but I did want to share with you something I’ve been meditating on for a while.

Over the past 5 months I’ve been reading and studying the book of Mark.

In June, when I was trying to decide how I was going to spend my time in the Word, I decided that I needed to know more about the person and work of Jesus. I mean, Christianity is supposed to be about following him, right? I felt as though I had a lot of big decisions to make and as the mister and I were about to walk into a new chapter of our lives (studenthood), guidance was desperately needed.

As I’ve read through its pages, my jaw has been on the floor multiple times. Jesus was quite the controversial figure. Through all of the passages and all of the stories, one truth has stood out the most to me…

Following Jesus is not just about what you do – it’s about the condition of your heart.

Mark 13:38-40 displays this quite clearly:

Jesus says, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

Hold the phone! What? Let’s rephrase this:

“Beware of those within the church who seek to draw attention to themselves by exalting their own biblical knowledge, who enjoy the praise and fame they get from others around town, who think of themselves as better than others at church and at social gatherings, who only care about their own needs, and who say long and eloquent prayers for the sake of looking holy.” (My own interpretation)

“They will receive the greater condemnation” (Mark 13:40).

But isn’t being religious all about what we do? Isn’t it about reading the word of God, going to church and saying long and eloquent prayers? Isn’t it all about avoiding sex before marriage, not cussing, and wearing modest clothing? Isn’t it about not making any big mistakes externally? Isn’t it about showing others how obedient you can be?

The scribes seemed to have it altogether, too.

They worked hard to gain their position within the church. They tried to obey every rule and appear to be as holy as possible. However, this meant that their faith was in themselves, and their hope was in what others thought of them – not in the Lord.

Obviously, those who truly trust in the Lord tend to walk in certain ways. This is why James proclaimed, “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17). I believe that those who have a heart set on God will abide by his word and seek to live a life of love and purity, but the point is, their heart is set on God. Their heart isn’t set on a list of rules they have to keep, it’s set on the gratitude of the cross and the grace of God which moves them toward a place of inner and outer obedience – not white knuckled self discipline.

Lately, I’ve felt so confused by the theological differences of those around me. I’ve wondered how can we all read the same book (the Bible) and land in different spots on various issues. I’ve been wrestling with Paedobaptism (baptism of infants) and neo-baptism (baptism of adults), the biblical view of how a church is supposed to be run. I’ve been trying to find the right answers…but in the process, I’ve ended up farther away from the point of the whole thing…


It’s not about what I know or what I think I know. It’s about love. It’s more about my heart than it is my hands.

“The most important [commandment] is, ‘Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment great than these” (Mark 12:29-31).

Following Jesus isn’t about knowing everything. It isn’t about appearing to be perfect. It’s not about pretending. It’s not about making sure you abide by certain rules such as not having sex outside of marriage, not cussing, or devoting yourself to continual boundry-less service. It’s about getting messy with the maker the Universe. It’s about placing your heart under the umbrella of his grace and allowing that grace to change you. (Which will probably lead you to a place of joyfully or trustfully following his commands.)

I don’t know where you are, but wherever you are, take comfort in the fact that Jesus came to save and heal the sick, not those who think they are well (Mark 2:17).

Where is your heart? Are you concerned about impressing others or are you sitting under the care of God? Are you endlessly striving to perform a certain ritual of good deeds while ignoring the arrogance and pride inside of yourself? Are you looking at the sins of others and thinking you’re not that bad after all? Do you get overly focused on what you know theologically instead of loving others?

My heart has a way of getting twisted sometimes…

Exhale. Rest. You don’t have to be perfect. Confess your shortcomings; don’t try to hide them. God loves you. He cares about you. He can heal any addiction, pain, hurt, hang-up, or deep seeded issue that resides in your heart.

Praying that I have a heart that is set on Jesus, not on myself, or my own glorification.

My Take on the Movie “Noah” (Without Revealing too Much)

The mister and I went and saw the movie “Noah” this weekend – and to be honest with you, I was kind of nervous.

Picture from imdb.com.

Just like anyone else who has ever anxiously awaited the release of a movie about a historical figure they have researched and studied (ex: “Ray,” “Walk the Line,” or “The Aviator”), I was interested to see how the movie “Noah” portrayed the actual story and person in the Bible. Was it going to completely destroy the message of the story, or was it going to portray what the true story does – hard-to-swallow justice, grace, and hope?

I was pleasantly surprised.

Just to be clear from the get-go (and state the obvious), the movie “Noah” and its biblical story do not match exactly. In areas where the biblical account is both loose and firm, Darren Aronofsky (the director) took quite a bit of creative liberty. Although, I personally found some of these things hard to watch (because they were in complete opposition to the actual story), my encouragement to everyone is the same: Read the actual account (link to actual account) and then see the movie, but remember…it’s just a movie. I am fairly certain the director is not a historian and was not set on portraying the story as it actually happened in the first place. (Exhale…it’s going to be okay.)

At the same time, I wouldn’t use the movie to formulate a comprehensive opinion about God – you should probably check out the biblical account first. (And explore the other biblical texts surrounding it.)

Alright…now to my point:

Although there has been much controversy surrounding the film, I think there are several truths that exist within it. And because I know you’re dying to know my opinion (just kidding), I’ll share them with you:

“Noah” is faithful in reminding me that we were all created.

Throughout the movie, a constant theme is creation. The creation story is told and retold several times, and special effects are even used to show how creation may have happened. God is referred to as “the Creator” and it is clear that all He created was created for a purpose. It’s a compelling truth.

None of us were an accident. Out of nothing, God created something. He created the animals, the trees, and you and me. How it happened is secondary (for I think it could have happened in a variety of ways), but it’s obvious that it happened. Out of nothing, came something, so where did things come from? (Even with the Big Bang Theory, the matter had to exist beforehand. Even if we evolved, we had to evolve from something.)

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” – Genesis 1:1-2

“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.” – Colossians 1:16

“Noah” displays the fact that we are all broken.

The “men” in “Noah” are scary people. They are a society of people bent on pleasing themselves, even if it hurts others. Because of this and a few other elements, the movie is quite dark.

Sometimes the world we live in is, too.

Murder, injustice and manipulation surround us. Just watch the news or read the paper, and you’ll see it clearly. We are prone to want what we want for our own benefit. Perfection within the human race does not exist, for even in the midst of our good deeds, we can hold selfish motives. Noah wasn’t perfect. I’m not perfect. And neither are you.

“For all have sinned (a archery term meaning we’ve “missed the mark”) and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 6:23

We need to be saved from our mess.

“Noah” illustrates the hard-to-face fact that the wages of sin is truly death.

This is a common theme throughout the movie (obviously).

God created us. He didn’t have to, but he did. And just like a painter, he didn’t create us without a purpose. He created us to be something beautiful – a race full of love, joy and peace. He created us to enjoy him and his creation forever.

He told Adam and Eve to continue the human race – to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). At the same time, however, he gave them a choice. They could choose to live the way God intended them to live (in peace, love and harmony) or they could go their own way (a way that made them feel powerful and in control).

He gave them a tree and told them not to eat off of it…but they did.

They chose to cut their own path, make their own rules, and pursue a life of “happiness” apart from God – and we still seek to do this today. We put all of our hope in things that don’t last forever (our bodies, our wardrobe, our friends, our jobs, etc.) and we use these things to feel better about ourselves. We think these things, over a relationship with God, will satisfy.

We get so distracted by making ourselves god that we ignore the fact that a real God truly exists.

God is clear on what we earn for doing this.

“For the wages of sin is death…” – Romans 6:23

There’s hope, though.

At the same time, “Noah” presents the truth that God is a God of grace, redemption, and second chances.

Although the wages of sin is death (just like the wages of mowing somebody’s lawn might be $75), there is hope.

“But the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23


“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9


“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:8&9

When no one else could save us, God sent Jesus to die for our sins. All of our sins were cast on him and he paid the ransom for our lives. He calls us to seek him, to know him, and to follow him.

He’s a God of second chances. If you see the movie or read the book, you’ll hear this anthem ring.

“Noah” reminds us of the power of trusting in God.

In the movie, Noah was continually in danger. This is something the biblical account doesn’t tell us, but I’m guessing it’s true. (Think about it…if a flood comes and only one person has a boat, what’s going to happen?) Noah continually risked his own life to stand up for himself, his family, and the calling of God. He trusted that God would accomplish his purposes if only he was obedient. No risk, no danger, no outcome was too great. He trusted God and kept walking.

When I reflect on my own life, I have to wonder if I’m doing the same thing. Am I standing up for what I believe in and trusting that God will accomplish his purposes in my life, or am I fearful of the ways in which others will perceive me? Am I distracted by fear, or am I joyfully walking through this life knowing that even in death, I will have life?

“Where O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” – 1 Corinthians 15:55

Trusting in God comes with assurance in this life and the next. I can rest confidently in Him.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28


“I’m convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, nether the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38 & 39

May we not miss out on the opportunity that comes our way.