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A Tale of Two Tables (reblogged from Heather Goodman)

[This is a reblog post from my friend Heather Goodman who describes experiencing a phenomenon that is unfortunately too common in Christian community: going out to a restaurant after church where the trendy, attractive people sit together at one table while the outcasts are relegated to a second table. As Heather points out, Jesus would […]

Live from #LionLamb13

At some point tonight, I’m going to go to sleep.  When I do, I will sleep well.  Not yet though.  First, I have to stop my head from spinning.  I’m not sure how to explain all that happened today at … Continue reading

How does the Bible model Biblical discernment? (Acts 15)

Two weeks ago, Jonathan Martin kicked off his “Both And” sermon series on Biblical interpretation by looking at the story of Acts 15, when the Jerusalem church officially decided that circumcision would not be required of the Gentiles. Jonathan titled his sermon “Spirit, Word, Community” after the three components of spiritual discernment that are in […]

Being One of a Kind

 My Mom used to tell me that I was one of a kind. I knew she meant that I was not like my two sisters – who were one year older and one year younger than me. And I knew that she meant that I was different from the other folks my age as well.

I was always unique and marched to the beat of my own drummer. I read thousands of books, even ones the county librarian tried to talk me out of and called my Mom about.  I was a feminist in 1970’s redneck West Texas. I wore a t-shirt that read, “A woman needs a man, like a fish needs a bicycle.” I did not follow the crowd and made my own way. I was certain that following the crowd was wrong and that I was supposed to do something different.

It was not always easy. I was teased and made fun of at times. I was made to feel different and was, on more than one occasion, taunted fairly viciously. It was not fun. Growing up different is tough. No matter the reason one finds themselves being considered different – gender, theology, sexual orientation, religion, wealth, educational level, political beliefs, physical abilities, family issues, philosophy, size, clothing choices, gender identity, age, or whatever.

But despite that, marching to my own drummer has continued to be my style all of these years. Sometimes it has made me feel alone, sometimes it has made me feel extremely powerful, and sometimes it has made me just feel different.

Recently I read a story about a whale called “52 Hertz.” This whale has been tracked for years and goes his own way. He does not follow the normal migration pattern of other whales of his “kind.” He makes whale sounds that are on a different frequency than other whales – hence the name 52 Hertz. He was discovered about 20 years ago and continues to make his unique sounding whale call – and there seems to be no answer.

This whale is one of a kind. His sound is one of a kind. He swims the ocean alone, perhaps malformed or maybe a hybrid of two other forms of whales. He is alone – one of a kind – doing his own thing.

We have no way to know if he is lonely or depressed or enjoying his unique nature, but songs and stories have been written about his isolation and loneliness anyway.

You would think that receiving no answer to his unique whale song for decades would mean he might stop – but he doesn’t. He keeps on singing on his own frequency. And he keeps on swimming the North Pacific alone.

One of the amazing things about my own journey is that I have found others who are “one of a kind” as well. We have found each other – through our own “whale song” of sorts and we have found community in each other as we swim. Sometimes they stay for short periods and sometimes for longer. But I keep looking for the other “one of a kind” folks out there.

52 Hertz goes on and on – alone in the world.  He keeps on calling in his unique tone but for whatever reason he never receives a reply. I wonder if he just hasn’t found the way to talk in a way that others like him can understand. Maybe he’s just not accepted because he is so different. I pray for him to find peace and happiness – whatever that looks like for 52 Hertz. And maybe he is happy – we have no way of knowing what he feels. But I know what it felt like growing up as a “one of a kind” person. Luckily I have found peace and happiness.

And I pray for you to find that as well. I pray for you to find someone who can hear your whale song. Whether you feel like you will never be accepted or have already found others – keep calling … keep swimming. There are others out there listening.

Wounded Faith

 This morning I was checking out my Facebook feed and saw the above photo that intrigued me greatly.  It was on the status of a clergy friend who often posts funny photos of himself photoshopped into some absurd situation or onto someone else’s body. So I was intrigued by the seriousness of the image – which I thought was a bit uncharacteristic.

When I really looked at it, I was reminded of the many times my Grandmother or Mom would tell me that I could survive anything through faith and that Jesus was bigger than any of my problems or issues. But there were definitely times in my life when my issues, problems, concerns, or drama seemed much bigger than my faith, bigger than Jesus, and definitely bigger than my understanding of God.

But I distinctly remember being told the opposite as I was growing up. “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle,” I was told. Well, if that’s true, then evidently God has a higher opinion of what I can handle than I do.

Now I have to be honest about my life. I am a white, middle-class, highly educated, well employed, fairly healthy American woman. I am a Protestant in a vibrant community of faith and work in a vocation that I love and enjoy immensely. I have good health care and options for where I go to receive treatment when I am sick. I have a home that is warm and comfortable. My son is in a great school and had the ability to apply to multiple magnet schools for high school next year. I have an amazing family – my family of origin and my family of choice— and I know that I am richly blessed.

So how bad could my problems be? Right?

We all have secret pain. We all have brokenness. We all have wounds that do not fully heal despite all the salve we put on them. The truth is that no matter our circumstances in life – there is still heartache, pain and wounds.

Sometimes the pain comes from wounds that we are too frightened to talk about to others. Sometimes it comes from things we had no control over. Sometimes it comes from bad decisions we made in our past. Sometimes it comes from the evil some people do to others. Sometimes it comes from how society treats people that are deemed “others.” And sometimes it is what we do to ourselves.

No matter how we get these wounds – they are real. The pain is real. The feelings that the wounds and pain are bigger than Jesus – bigger than God—are real.  And no easy answers and pithy slogans on photos makes that pain go away. I know that.

But I believe that God helps to heal our wounds if we open our lives to that. I believe that our faith can and does help us survive difficult situations in our lives. I do believe that God is big enough to take our pain, to take our anger, to take our frustrations, and to take our brokenness and help us begin to heal.

For me that healing comes from my faith, from my church community, from my understanding of God’s desire for the best for me, and from the love with which I am surrounded every day.  For me healing comes in the Eucharistic meal I participate in every week with my seminary community and monthly with my community of faith. For me healing comes from a faith life that includes prayer, reading the scriptures, spending time in spiritual practices, and honoring my personal faith needs.

But even those powerful parts of my life do not automatically heal all of my wounds. Some wounds are even deeper than I want to admit. I am trying to be open to healing and wholeness. But I still have the wounds. They have shrunken over the years but I still have the scars. There has been healing and renewal, but that does not make me immune from new pain. There have been moments of complete clarity about my life and other times when everything was foggy. And I know that in all of those situations, God was with me. God was bigger than my pain, but I had to open myself to the possibility of healing. I had to stop focusing on the wounds so that I could feel the power of the healing.

The healing was sometimes as painful as the wounding—because it often involved forgiving the person(s) who injured me. And the healing was not always complete because I often held onto the pain since it was so personal to me.  And it had been such a part of my journey.

Healing comes if we open ourselves to the possibilities. It can be slow and difficult.

Wounds are not bigger than we are. Pain is not bigger than we are. Even though they feel like that sometimes – they are not bigger than God.

I have to remember that – I think that we all do. 

Guest Post: Leslie’s Update on Living in the Commune

My housemate Leslie put down a few words on how she’s feeling about commune living. ——————— It’s been eight months since we started living in a commune.  Roughly. I could just write that it’s super-fabulous, or that it’s really fun.  Though, I don’t think that really gives a true picture. I could also share that […]