in which i go through all five stages of grief.

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. They blend like watercolor running down my face. Sometimes, they come like a whirlwind, overwhelming my senses in a matter of minutes. Other times, they move sluggishly through my days and weeks. And even though it is scary and painful, I try, for the life of me, to feel them fully: to turn over each piece and carefully examine and learn from them. No one ever tells you that self-awareness, us-awareness,  is like a geological dig.

I shovel through the layers and discover.

This is not an easy task. It hurts so, because we are missing something way deep down in the marrow of our bones. 

And we try to fill the void: some with sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll, and some with rules and standards and expectations.

This is not an open letter, nor is it a passive aggressive response to someone in my past who has hurt me. 

Actually, its the opposite. This is a reminder that I need to hear the truth of the gospel every moment of every day. An etching on my heart that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. A reminder that I must examine my own heart before rushing to question the motives of others.

Sometimes, I wonder at our anxious need to dichotomize so fiercely, and then I remember what Tony Campolo said about movements: they can surely exist without a God, but never without a devil. 

There must be something to blame, to rage with all our might against.

So we turn to other people; perhaps those who interpret scripture differently, those who have different ideas about how the world works, those who love differently than we do. We make devils out of each other, and all the time the real enemy of our souls laughs and basks in the pleasure of our division.

Do we really even need him anymore?

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Admittedly, it has been difficult to shake the anguish that ensued following World Vision's announcement that they would allow people with same sex attraction to work alongside them in meeting the needs of the least of these, and then their reversal of that decision due to the loss of support by thousands of evangelicals. I scrolled through tagged social media posts until the weight of the hate became too much to bear. I have struggled to find words.

I am a sinner. 

Daily I find myself lying, cheating, acting out of spite, and willingly rejecting truth. I am quick to become anxious, quick to say harsh words to my husband, and slow to work my way to a position of humility. I get caught up in discord instead of living peacefully. I rush to point my finger at someone, anyone, else, before even considering admission of my own shortcomings.

A couple weeks back, I journaled that I am tired of being fallen.

I'm also tired of the idea that I am somehow allowed to withhold grace from someone who I find undeserving. I'm physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually wrought from the mentality that we have to hate those we disagree with. I don't know how people live like that.

"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." Martin Luther King Jr.

When WV decided to offer an olive branch to its homosexual employees, Christian leaders everywhere called it a disaster. They said the gospel was at stake. Lifelong supporters revoked their sponsorship of needy kids, numbering up to ten thousand. Social networking was a riot about how WV had given up on not only a biblical view of marriage, but scripture as a whole.

Rarely, if ever, have I seen such a vile response from those who claim to represent Christ.

Christ, who was friend to the tax collector and prostitute. Christ, who turned the tables of the the merchants in the temple. Christ, who, with the last of his breath told the man dying next to him that he would see paradise. He would leave the ninety-nine for one and was always more concerned with those people residing in the fringes.

Christ, who lived and died and returned to redeem me from the grips of my sin.

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I don't write this to stick it to other Christians. Because the truth is, I get it. Somehow or another, I've run the gamut of trying to fill myself up. My pendulum swings the same as everyone else's. When chasing the idea of freedom didn't work, I turned to chase the idea of being able to control my life.

I don't write this to downplay sin. Scripture is very clear that the consequences of sin is death. The death of dreams, the death of relationships, the death of a thousand tiny pieces of our souls before we ever even leave this world and face the ultimate consequences of our decisions. Its happening all the time, and it breaks me in two that we so often put a period where God has placed a comma. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. And why aren't we better at offering the gift?

I don't write this to get a radical response. Writing in the public eye can be incredibly unforgiving. For some people, this could be a deal breaker, and I get that. I also don't expect anyone to rush to agree. I barely even expect anyone to read it. Then again, I could wake up tomorrow and this post be viral. But none of that is the point. I've given up writing to try to change your mind and am beginning to write in order to change mine.

Because I am responsible for changing culture, and I have to start with myself.

I am writing this, screaming it from the rooftop, to say this:the gospel is never at stake when I offer grace to someone I am at odds with. 

Because the heart of the gospel is that God offered grace to those who were at odds with Him.

He offered grace to me. 

May these words be hidden in my heart, lest I forget.

safe place.

I read a father of four + pastor's tweet last night: "teach your children that they are broken." I wish there was more to this tweet. I know that there is more to this man's heart than this example of fifty-one characters which has heaped backlash from every direction. I know he is doing the best that he knows how and giving every last molecule of his being for his children. But if this is truly all there is, my heart grieves, and I wonder how such a home could ever be safe for ones that are tender and growing. Because if you search for what is ugly and broken in this world, it will render you ugly and broken. The pain of the world will shake you to your very core.

To say that some(one)thing is broken implies that one must work to fix it, else it is worthless. Adding emphasis to this implication only serves to bring about shame. Within the confines of this mindset, we must toil and strive to manufacture our own safe place. To stop at brokenness communicates that we must finish the work of grace. It incites fear, which scripture says stems from the threat of punishment.

I must admit, I give in to this mindset far more frequently than I should. Perhaps you are in the boat with me. Perhaps you catch yourself throughout the day repeating things like "I'm such an idiot," or "if I could just do this better." The truth is, its difficult to believe that you could be loved as you are, in your yoga pants and unkempt hair, trying to get dinner on the table by the time your husband gets home from work and help your kids with their homework.

I promised my husband I would work on not shrugging off his "I love you's."

I watch the news every night, and hear of some new atrocious crime that has been committed, and sometimes I lie to you just to get through the day. Because I know that I am imperfect. I can be incredibly selfish, and painfully judgmental. Anyone close to me could tell you that. And I don't have to tell you things are bad, because you are already keenly aware.

What the world needs to know is that there is more than this. There is a way out.

The way out is Christ. Because of His death on the cross, we are no longer bound to sin. Because of His resurrection, we are whole and holy before the Father. Christ, who was friend to the prostitute and tax collector, who saved the adulteress woman and spoke words of conviction to the proud. Christ, who said "blessed are the merciful." Christ, who said "go and sin no more." Christ, whose dying declaration fulfilled the law.

If you're using shame and fear as tactics in evangelism, please stop.

And if you have been scared or shamed into believing a gospel based on obligation and performance, please accept my most humble apology.

Scripture says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. The Word assures us that nothing can separate us from His love. Nothing you could think or say or do could make the Father love you any more or less than He does. Grace is a completed work.

And that, my friend, is a safe place to rest your heart.

You, me, and everyone we know.

Somebody tell me where God lives because if God is truth, God doesn't live here. -- Andrea Gibson

I am slowly learning how to live a quiet life. That said, words are truly the only way that I know how to meet with the Good One, and so this is my altar. This is how I reach up, and one of the ways that I know to reach out. Sometimes, I cannot come in peace, so I come in the only other way I know how, which is in pieces. It takes strength to be weak. I write because I believe in the Bride. I write because what I want to do, I cannot muster the courage to do, but what mindsets and behaviors I don’t want, I find myself addicted to. We could all be so much better. Things can be different, if we choose.

I realize that the Truth is divisive. Some have manipulated this mindset to excuse their malice towards others that they deem less. But the table turning Jesus was far more concerned about the people on the outside of the temple than he was about those who thought better of themselves on the inside. He came for the sick. He left the ninety-nine for the one. To use Christ's actions in the temple as justification for our own hatred of others not only displays a gross misunderstanding of the scriptures, but a gross misrepresentation of the gospel.

We have so many lofty theological discussions, and can recite our dogma forwards and backwards, but I wonder if we really understand. I wonder if when we look at the living and active Word we can really say that we know Father God's heart and character well enough to understand that His ways are not our own. Hallelujah, His ways are not my own.

Again and again, we have chosen the lie that leads to our fall. Moreover, we have become the liars. We tell homosexuals, Muslims, people of other political affiliations, that they are not worthy of what Jesus did for them. We have created the culture of "us four and no more," and have clung to it out of fear of what we don't understand. We are prideful and rebellious, labeling our own sin, our lies, our lust, our adultery, our idolatry, as somehow less shameful than others. Christ met with the foreign woman at the well,  he allowed the bloodied woman to touch him, and he reached for the leper. Our lights are off, and we like it better that way. We don’t like seeing ourselves, don’t like others seeing our broken parts. We are both the prodigal, and the older son, who feels as though he has been forgotten and allows himself to become bitter. Yet the Father says “everything I have is yours.” The book of James says that we do not have because we do not ask. Scripture is beautiful that way. It is convicting that way.

From the fall, humanity has had in mind that God is somehow holding out on us. Why then, are we not satisfied with all that we have here on this earth? Why do we not answer the knock on the door and allow the Lord to come in and eat with us? This craving to experience glory has been rooted in our souls since the beginning of time. Knowing this, how could every breath not be worship? We have been called out of the darkness and depravity of the grave, and yet we still wear our grave clothes around like security blankets. We live by a law that emphasizes our shame over his grace, condemning both ourselves and our brothers and sisters. We don’t want to know who we are, because that would mean realizing our responsibility to live in light of his gracious response to our depravity.

We do not act justly, and we do not love mercy. We have become like the pharisees whom Jesus himself rebuked. We know the law, and we debate it down to the punctuation in order to prove ourselves wise and others wrong. There is a vast difference in calling out sin in someone’s life in order to prove that you are right, and bringing something to their attention for the sole purpose of becoming holy. Somewhere along the way, that got blurry. So we end up obsessing over sins that we do not struggle with, pointing them out in others, saying to ourselves “well at least I’m not that person.”  We walk around like we don’t have the answers, as if we are not the best representation of love that people have to go on. We still don’t know what love is.

As we approach Easter, I think of what has become known as the Triumphal Entry. Israel was looking for a king who could defeat Rome and put the nation back on top of the political chain. But Jesus didn't come to agree with anybody's politics. He was a king who came to be a servant. He offered himself, he met people's needs before he ever offered his opinion. As he entered Jerusalem on a donkey, he was met with scores of people who expected him to save them from Caesar, instead of saving them from their sin. He wept over the city, knowing that he would soon be viewing them from the tree that he had been nailed to, beckoning them to come and take up their own crosses as well.

Recently, I read a friend's Facebook post about an aunt who recently passed away from cancer. She wanted the comfort that her aunt was in heaven, as she did know the Lord, but her aunt was a lesbian, and because of this, my friend was unsure. My friend was met with people quoting scripture about how the unrighteous will never inherit the kingdom of God.  My fiance and I are currently looking for a church for our wedding that is geographically favorable for both of our families, who live four hours apart. As we have contacted pastors, many of them have told us point blank that they only allow members of their church to get married there. One even said that "they can't let just anyone in their church."

Nine out of ten young people walk away from their faith in college. It is a staggering statistic, one that I have heard many times in my four years at a Christian college. I finally understand why the number is so high. Why would anyone want to become part of this?

So to you, me, and everyone we know, I am so sorry. I'm sorry for the lies I have believed that have made me less of a person. There have been too many to count, and they sneak into my soul looking for what they may destroy. They never deliver on their promises. They have planted fear in my heart that only Christ has the power to uproot. Lies about my body, lies about the world and love and sex and how to reach the top. Lies about how close I should get to you. I believed them all. I swear I didn't want to, but I drank the poison because it brought the numbness. The poison was easy.

I'm sorry for repeating these lies to you. Perhaps not in words, but in ever more powerful actions.

I am sorry for treating your dreams and hopes and fears and troubles as if they are somehow less than my own. I'm sorry for my graceless inability to rejoice when you rejoice and mourn when you mourn. I'm sorry for my lack of humility, and what things I have said out of my own unstable understanding. I attempted to offer silver and gold, but had none but cheap counterfeits. Lies about holiness and grace and standards, and how close you can get to me.

My friend Andy once told me that everyday is an opportunity to react well to the gospel. If sin is not responding well, not believing the truth, then living according to these lies would certainly more than qualify.

The outrageous thing about grace is that it destroys our economy. I want my walls to be torn down.

I want a fire strong enough to burn down every bricked building, every pew and pulpit, until all that remains is the Church. We could be so much more.