Tag Archives: Christianity

The day Donald Trump became president

“Mom? What’s an olive branch?”

“It’s a sign of peace and reconciliation. The olive branch as a sign of peace that goes way back into early Bible times.”

“Mommy, do you think what Mr. Trump said in his victory speech is really his heart on the inside? I’m confused.”

“I don’t know, buddy. I’m confused too. I hope the Trump we see in the speech is who we really experience as our president. We have to give him a chance now.”

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Today is where the rubber meets the road for me as an advocate for love and Jesus. Will I choose to love radically, trust radically, and believe there is something bigger going on here than I can see? Or will I remain in a place of fear, cynicism, judgement and distrust, both for God and Trump?

I understand now why Jesus was so unsavory and scandalous to people in his time. It is far easier for me to love the people whom Trump ridiculed, abused, and cast aside as invalid. What’s hard is loving Trump. But that is exactly what Jesus would do. Love in its truest form is hard and humbling. President-elect Trump is a hard an impossible guy to embrace, trust, and radically love as a human being right now let alone as a leader for my country. While Jesus certainly wouldn’t condone (and would likely challenge) Trump’s words and behavior thus far, Jesus would accept him, love him, and hang out with him. At the same time, He’d call out Trump on the hardness in his heart and give Trump the choice of pursuing a new self or remaining in his current self. Any repentance and transformation that would take place would happen between Trump and Jesus only.

That space between Jesus and Trump isn’t my place to be. Jesus calls me to pay attention to my own heart…

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I’m very uncomfortable as I process the history that’s unfolding before me. But it’s when I’m most uncomfortable that I know God is working inside me. Ultimately I find myself squirmy in my own heart as I examine my beliefs juxtaposed with my feelings.

I believe in Love–capital L. I believe divine Love includes ALL people, and that means Trump too. It has to. And while Mr. Trump hasn’t shown a value for all-inclusive love, that does not give me the right to cast him off in return, and to do so would make me hypocritical.

I believe in unity and peace; I believe the more division we have, the more vulnerable we are to Satan’s wiles to perpetuate hate, violence, and fear. To turn my back on our new president makes me part of the problem. True to God’s nature, the only way to unite and experience peace is to do the exact opposite of what we’re doing now in angry recoiling and harsh backlash. We have to draw near to one another and come along side President Trump if we want to experience the unity that defines our nation.

I also believe in innocence until proven guilty. I confess the media has done an excellent job in convincing me that Donald Trump is a criminal on multiple levels; if I am going to remain true to my beliefs and values, then until he is proven as such I have to radically trust his innocence. I’d want that for anyone else.

Fair is fair regardless of my feelings. It’s okay to feel shocked, uncertain, and disappointed (I refuse to feel fear); however, it’s important to not let my feelings blind my values. Otherwise I am simply a fair-weather Christian, living out my values when it’s easy and feels good.

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Here’s the bottom line for me and what I’ve literally told my children today:

  • “God took one of the most vile, dangerous men in the Bible, Saul, and turned him into Paul. Paul became one of the greatest advocates for God’s love and kingdom; he is one of the most revered people in Biblical history. We have to trust that God can and will do something amazing with Mr. Trump as our president. I believe He will.”
  • “God is far bigger than Trump and Clinton and this election and our country. What we’re experiencing today is evidence that we are not as in control of things in this world as we think we are. That’s humbling and that’s okay. With humility comes wisdom.”
  •  “Our job in our own lives is to continue loving people the best we can, being kind more than ever, and living a life of love, no matter what. So we are going to pray for President Trump; we are going to pray for our country; we’re going to stand up for what’s right when called to do so.”

If someone didn’t trust me, I’d want the chance to prove my trustworthiness.  I’m willing to give President-elect Trump my open heart, my open mind, and a chance to make American great again.

Welcome to the presidency Mr. Trump. May you experience support, growth, and a successful career as the United States President.

 

 

 

Christians are not all the same

We’re not all the same, you know. Us Christians. About the only thing we have in common as a collective church is that we believe Jesus to be the Son of God and He’s our savior. When I say I am a Christian, that’s what I mean. Jesus is my savior, so I follow him. But each Christian is unique in living out what following Jesus means.

What I want you to understand is that I am not one of the Christians who will keep you at arm’s length with a Bible flapping in my outstretched hand showing you how you’re living your life wrong. (The only time I’ll keep you at a distance is if you’re physically, mentally, or emotionally harming me or my loved ones. And even then I am not going to stab you with Bible verses.)

I don’t believe you have to repent or “be right with God” before he’ll wrap you up in His arms to love you. If you want Him, if you need Him, if you desire your life to be different, then turn around right now–as you are–because He’s there with his arms outstretched waiting for you. If there’s repentance that needs to happen, it will happen and it will happen between you and God. Just the two of you. When it’s time, you’ll know because you’ll feel a conviction in your heart–a tug, a knowing, an understanding you can’t explain, a gut-wrench that pulses up your body and makes you a little bit dizzy–and you’ll want to be forgiven and healed from the wrongdoing. You’ll want to be made different.

God will never force you to be different, clean, or “good enough” the way some Christians will. I’m sorry if that has happened to you already. Truly sorry.

Personally, I’ve never seen nor experienced Jesus wait for repentance before he offers love, grace, and mercy. Some Christian’s believe grace isn’t free. I disagree. The best example I have is when Jesus was on the cross being tortured while literally hanging by nails, and he lifted a prayer to God on behalf of his torturers: “Forgive them, Lord, for they do not know what they are doing.” Call me crazy but I don’t think the lynch mob having their violent way with Jesus was “right with God” nor were they repented. Heck, they didn’t even believe Jesus was God. Yet, Jesus, went to bat for them with God anyway. Because he loved them.

He loves you the same. And I’m guessing you haven’t even lynched anybody lately. You don’t have to be a certain way to receive God’s love. Just be you. That’s enough.

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 Of course, you could say, “No way is this true. Dumb Bible speaks fantasy.” Wouldn’t it be great if it was true, though? If this God, this Jesus, this wacky Holy Spirit Christians talk about were the real deal?

Well, I believe 100%. I believe in that LOVE.

And because I believe, and because I love Jesus and I want to do my best to follow him, this is what it means for you and me as friends:

If you are labeled as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or some other sexually oriented specific gender/non-gender label, then I am going to be your friend. I will draw you in close and honor who you are without conditions. I’ll will support your fight for the right to love and live how you need to love and live. If you’re hurting then I will pray for you, hug you, and take you out for coffee.

If you are thinking about an abortion, then I am going to listen to your story, your pain and fear. We’ll wrestle through your options together. I am going to tell you that if you keep your baby, you’re going to be okay and God is going to love you and take care of you and that little baby through the hardships. I will tell you that if you abort your baby, God is going to love you and take care of you and that sweet little baby through the hardships. I’ll tell you that I hope and pray you choose life, but if you decide abortion is the only way, then I’ll help you find a clinic that is safe, help you find followup physical care and mental health support, and help you find healing for your heart.

If you struggle with mental illness and/or are thinking about suicide, then I am going to listen to your story and your pain. I am going to ask you directly if you’re safe and if you’re not, then I am going to find a way to get you help. We’ll wrestle through all your options together. Suicide is an option, but I promise there are better ones. I am going to tell you that you matter, and if no one else sees you, know God sees you and He loves you. And if you don’t believe it, that’s okay. I am going to help you find good mental health support, and I am going to pray for you anyway.

Pick a hot topic and I’ll keep going. My point is:  Right or wrong, sinful or not, I believe Jesus walks with you and God loves you. I don’t worry about nor require your repentance to accept you or hang out with you because that isn’t my concern. My concern lies solely with whether or not you feel loved by God.

Some Christians may argue that you have to repent and get right with God in order to truly earn the love and the grace Jesus offers. I am not one of those Christians. We aren’t all the same. He loves you as is. And so do I.

Why being a Christian makes me tired

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” ~Jesus

If Jesus gives rest then why am I so tired?

Lately I have noticed an underlying, general message that Christians need to be doing better: Loving deeper. Serving more. Putting faith into action. Going where Jesus goes. The call for action doesn’t seem willy-nilly; there’s plenty of Scripture to back up the instruction. Not to mention, there is our messy, broken world filled with hurting people; the need for Jesus’ love is dire. Love is action and there isn’t enough. Since I am a Christian, I take this call to love better–be better seriously. If we need to be better, then I need to be better.

With a load of desire on my back to please the Lord, and a side pouch of guilt that I wasn’t doing enough in the first place, I seek out where the needs are and I go and I do the work. Trying to be better. Trying to learn more. Trying to love deeper. Trying to be more like Jesus. Not just out in the world with hurting people, but also in my personal life as a wife, mother, friend, sister, and daughter.

Consequently, I often have a very full calendar with things to do, people to visit, meetings to attend. If I see a bit of white space in the schedule, I fill it in because it seems wrong to have free time. Or more accurately, I could be using that free time to be serving… “doing better.” While I am “resting,” I could be emailing the girl at church who was struggling last week and offering some words of encouragement. Since I have the white space, I might as well volunteer to make that flier for the fundraiser. Since Thursday is a free night at my house, I could serve at the homeless shelter. Since that church event is happening in a couple of months, I could fill in all the white space with helping organize it… if if feels like too much, well, at least the commitment is only temporary.

Have you ever said, “Things will settle down when this, that or the other thing is over”? I have, too often. The problem is things never settle down because the white space returns and we fill it in again… overloading the schedule over and over again.

As I begin to wear out from being overwhelmed by the doing, I start hearing a conflicting message from my trusted Christian friends and leaders: “You are enough.” “All God wants is you.” “Be still and know that I am God.” “Take care of yourself.” “Just be.”

Well, now I am just confused. And tired.

I went to God with my confusion: If I am supposed to be doing better, loving more, being more like Jesus (of whom I will never be), then how am I possibly “enough”? I am tired, but I am called (and I desire) to go out and use the gifts you gave me to serve others.

He reminded me of THE most important lesson I learned in anorexia recovery: Ignore the voices in culture and listen only for His voice.  While the “be-better/do-more-for-God-and-here’s-how” messages are loud, very few encourage “listen for God to tell you what to do, where to serve, and how to love.”

There are things I want to do for God and things Christian culture expects me to do for God… none of which God has asked me to do for God. It’s when I engage in those things I assume I “should”  or “could” do because it makes sense in serving the Lord that I get completely overwhelmed. I want to discern between the call of God and the call of Christian culture. The only way to know where God is calling me is to spend time with Him in prayer and hear his voice.

He has given me work to do and the gifts and talents to do that work. The only things He’s called me to right now is to minister to my family and to serve in the mental health ministry as he instructs. Not to mention, to follow His lead each day with the encounters he orchestrates with other people. That’s it. And it’s plenty! And it’s good!

And guess what? When we say “we need to do better,” it devalues all that we have already done. God isn’t sitting on His throne with his arms crossed saying, “All the stuff you’ve done is fine, but you need to be doing better. Look at what you aren’t doing.” Nope. He’s holding us in his arms saying “I love you. Good job! Hey, let Me help make this work easier for you so you don’t get so tired, okay? In fact, I have something different for you to do.”

Being a Christian makes me tired when I am busy doing what I think I should in order to be better. Being with God gives me energy, direction, and rest in order to do the work He needs me to do. Never will He over load my plate and never will he tell me “It’s not enough. Do better.”