Saturday, July 19, 2014

Values: Raw Authenticity

Several months ago, I posted part one on my values. The first value I detailed was Kingdom Family. If you missed it, you can read it here. I have delayed in blogging more about my values because I wanted to be sure that I actually am valuing what I say I value.

I finally decided today, after procrastinating on writing this one for months, I will take the brave step to share my second value. Knowing that, while I already live this one out day to day, once I state that it is a value of mine, I am accountable to it. (Scary at times, eh?!)

Raw Authenticity.

Merriam-Webster defines authentic as:

1. Obsolete

2. a. Worthy of acceptance or belief
b. Conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features
c. Made or done the same way as an original

3. Not false or imitation: Real, Actual

4. True to one's own personality, spirit, or character
Synonym: Genuine

Webster also gives a synonym discussion of Authentic, and I really like what it says.
authentic, genuine, bona fide mean being actually and exactly what is claimed. authentic implies being fully trustworthy as according with fact ; it can also stress painstaking or faithful imitation of an original . genuine implies actual character not counterfeited, imitated, or adulterated ; it also connotes definite origin from a source . bona fide implies good faith and sincerity of intention .

That value, being authentic, in itself is a huge task that requires deep vulnerability and willingness to be transparent. But when you add raw in front of it, things get intense.

Good ol' Webster says this about raw:

a. Being in the natural state: Not processed or purified. Not diluted or blended.
b. unprepared or imperfectly prepared for use
c. Not being in polished, finished or processed form.
d. Having the surface abraded or chafed
e. lacking covering
f. not protected, susceptible to hurt
g. lacking experience or understanding

When I say that I value Raw Authenticity, I am saying that I value being unfinished, rough, unmasked in the realest real of my heart. To be raw means that you have no protective covering to hide flaws. Not trying to imitate what culture, the church, people tell you that you need to be.
In this state, I am very susceptible to being hurt.
Obviously, I am to use wisdom and not throw my pearls to the pigs, but if I am to walk out raw authenticity, it requires great risk.

Authenticity, rawness, realness, all require risk.

There is no one in the world who is like me. I am the only one who looks like me, thinks like me, processes like me, loves like me.

The Creator gifted me with something beautiful that he wants to share with the world. If I am not my truest, rawest, authentic self, I am causing others to miss out on a side of our very good Father. For me to hide from others is to do an injustice to not only them, but me too.
When I am my truest self, I am more alive.
When I let the walls down and allow myself to be vulnerable and raw, I receive a greater gift. I receive friends. I find that there are others who can relate. I find other real human beings.

The more you cook vegetables, the more nutrients (life) drain from them. The more raw, the more alive.

I want to be raw. I want to be full of life.

God is most glorified when man is fully alive. 

Joyous Suffering

It's a word that you cannot say while smiling.
It's a word that leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
It's a word that you don't often here in America.
It's a word that you hear even less from Christians in America.
It's what I have been studying lately.
Is it a reality for New Covenant Believers?
Is it avoidable?
Is it a sign of righteousness?
Is it proof of humility?
Is it a Biblically sound doctrine?
Does it make you a better Christian?
Does it make you love Jesus more?
Is it worth it?

Who the heck knows?!
Because of all of this and some recent circumstances, I have began to tear apart the Word with the Holy Spirit, my Teacher.

I have shared bits and pieces with a couple good friends and have gotten varying opinions on the subject. Each friend's opinions have been encouraging, However, my friends are not the Holy Spirit. My friends are not perfect. My friends, as well versed and experienced as they may be cannot give me absolute truth on the subject. Only the Holy Spirit, the interpreter of the Word, can give me absolute truth. It doesn't matter how convincing someone's argument one way or another might be; if I am not certain that I have heard from the Lord on a matter and have made the truth my own, when things get rocky, I will sway and stumble.

I sit here tonight sorting through what I know to be true about God, life, His voice, my identity. And right smack dab in the middle of it all is this towering thing that seems to be unaffected by good effort or pleasant thoughts. This thing is the cause of much pain and struggle in my life.

Honestly, I was going to share all of the cool things that I have been discovering in the Word relating to this. All the fun Greek and Hebrew words and meanings that I love so much, along with all the cross references that I have gone back and forth, making this beautiful, complex web between. But at this moment, the only thing I feel pressing to say has nothing to do with all I have "learned" about suffering. It has nothing to do with answering any of the above questions. It has nothing to do with comparing "suffering" in the American Christian culture to the suffering (religious, political, and economical) I have observed all around the globe.

The only thing I feel pressed to say is this:

My "suffering", the hurt, ache, longing, situation, as it is, has led me to one thing... it is an experience I will never be able to have again after I die.
Once I am gone from this life, I will never feel the ache of pain or suffering ever again. I will not cry. I will not mourn, I will not be angry with God ever again.

Suffering is an experience we only get to have on this side of eternity as believers. 

I take courage and joy in that fact.

Not joy because there will be no more suffering (while that is something to be joyous about).
I take joy because this is an experience, a emotion, that the Father has created me to be able to experience here and now. Jesus felt it. God feels it. God suffers in deep emotional pain daily as He sees His children live their lives outside of Love.
God created me to be able to experience this deep emotion with Him. If He feels it, I want to feel it too.
I want to sit with the Father in the weeping room.
I want to tarry with Him in the hours of darkness, realizing that even in the darkest dark, He is the brightest light.

If He didn't think suffering was worth it, He wouldn't have created our hearts with the ability to feel this emotion.
There is a part of my suffering that the Father is glorying in. No, He is glorying in my suffering.
And I wear the crown of one who suffers well.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Follow My adventure

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Dancing Among the Wildflowers: The Beginning

I started writing this a couple months ago. I am now stuck. I do not know how this story ends. I could easily make up a pretty little ending, but truth be told, I have no idea what happens next because I am still in the middle of the story. With my own personal life - I don't know how this story ends. However, I am choosing to vulnerably post the unfinished story, with hopes that I will soon be able to return with an ending. For now, I am content with where I am in this process. There is grace for my process.
Jewel loves wild flowers. She loves picking beautiful bouquets and placing the perfect crown of flowers on her head. Spring fills the fields with her favorite flowers, summer ushers in even more.One day, while Jewel was out picking pretty flowers for her kitchen window, something horrible happened! Under the brush, hiding in the shadows, was a snake. Jewel, not knowing a snake was hiding, reached to pick the prettiest flower she had seen all day and was suddenly bitten by the cruel snake! "OUCH!!" Jewel cried as she dropped all the lovely flowers she was holding and fell back into a thorny rose bush. She cradled her injured hand. The snake hissed and slithered back in to his home under the flower bush. Jewel gathered up the scattered flowers, picked the prickly thorns out of her skin, and sobbed all the way back to her quaint little cabin in the middle of the flower field. Once home, Jewel bandaged her wounded hand. As the night carried on and her little hand continued to hurt badly, Jewel vowed she would never let that happen to her again. She began to build a big, thick wall around her cabin to keep snakes and other harmful things out. She wanted to be certain that she was protected so she never experienced that terrible pain again. So she builds. Before long, her wall became a tower around her little cabin, blocking out all sunlight. Her flowers began to die for lack of sunshine, but Jewel didn't mind because at least she knew she was safe from all snakes and danger. Spring ushers in summer, which soon passes to fall and finally winter. The last bouquet of flowers had long withered and died due to passed time and neglect. Jewel didn't even take time to hang and dry them to preserve their beauty. She instead vowed to never enjoy the fragrance of fresh picked flowers for fear of the venomous, painful bite of snakes. Inside her wall she sat, safely away from the risk of pain that comes with rosebushes and wildflower fields.
How could something she loved and treasured so much hurt her? She was wounded because of her love.
To Jewel, this translated to "love hurts" and "love isn't worth the risk". She continued to hide from love.
Eventually, the seasons turned, the snow and clouds of a harsh winter yielded to the fresh fragrance and lightness of spring and someone came knocking on Jewel's door. The sudden knocking startled jewel. She was unsure what to make of the surprise visit. Timidly and cautiously, she approached the door. The sound of her voice saying, "Who is it?" startled her even more, for she had not heard her own self speak in nearly a year. It's a wonder she even knew how to anymore. The stranger was a traveler passing through. He needed a place to stay for the night and wondered if he could set up camp in her field. Jewel consented to his request, but with a bitter tone, she warned him of the dangers of the field. The stranger didn't seem to be worried. He graciously and genuinely thanked her for her hospitality and assured her he would be of no trouble. The next day, brought about torrential rain showers, so heavy that the traveler decided to not set out on his journey. The sudden downpour caused a tree to fall. It fell right on top of Jewel's wall! Jewel shrieked at the loud crash and shatter of the tree crushing part of her precious wall of safety. She had no idea how she would ever be able to move the tree and rebuild her wall before snakes and thorns took over her safe sanctuary.The stranger, noticing her frantic anxiety, rushed to her side. He assured her that he would stay a few more days before setting out again to help her remove the tree from her wall. "Besides," he added, “The trails are much too wet and muddy for me to begin my journey today anyway." Jewel was relieved, but still fearful. The next morning, the sun broke through the clouds and peaked through her curtains. (This was odd because the sun had so long been shielded from view due to the wall surrounding her cabin.) Jewel sleepily stretched as she climbed out of bed. She heard an unfamiliar noise coming from outside, the sound of an axe chopping away at wood, and she remembered the horrible event of the prior day. She quickly got dressed and went outside to assist the stranger in the daunting chore that lay ahead.
As they worked together to cut up the fallen tree, the stranger made small talk. He commented on the beautiful spring weather, the delightful scents of spring flowers, and the refreshing breeze that blew across their faces. Jewel grew more and more bitter at his joy over spring flowers and nature. She grew quiet and solemn as he chatted away. The stranger didn't seem to notice or mind. He seemed content to carry on joyously detailing his love for spring. Eventually, Jewel couldn't stand it anymore "Enough!" she shouted. "I can't take it anymore!" "Stop with the spring-time celebration! Don't you know that it's not safe or smart to love something so much?”Startled, the stranger stepped back. He apologized for his oblivion to her solemnity over spring and got really quiet himself. In silence, they worked for the next hour. The only sounds to be heard were that of the songbirds and the breeze rustling the leaves in the trees and blowing softly through the grass.
Finally, the stranger worked up the courage to ask the question that was looming in the air. "What caused your disdain for spring and flowers?"
Angrily, Jewel stated, "Not that it’s your business, but if you must know…it's just not smart to love something so much. Thorns hurt. Snakes are good hiders, waiting to strike an innocent passerby."
The stranger gently asked, "Is that what happened to you? Is that why you built this wall?"
Annoyed by his sudden persistent interest in her personal life, Jewel retorted, "Yes."
The two grew quiet again and continued to work on the fallen tree.