“You’re a bad kid. I’m sick and tired of you.” These were the words of my father as he physically beat me.
“I don’t want to be with you anymore. You mean nothing to me. You’re not worth it” These were the words I heard from my ex-wife while in divorce proceedings.
“You will never do ministry again. You’re not cut out for this. I don’t ever want to see you here ever again”. These were the last words from a pastor who dismissed me from ministry.
May 30, 2017
“Pick a card that shows the phase of life you are in right now…”
I walk around the table as everyone is eating, looking at all the pictures that are laying strewn all over. Pictures of trees, carousels, babies, beaches, cars overflowing with people, delicate spider webs, foggy roads… and a solitary girl, standing facing the camera, hand raised to block her face from the camera’s gaze. That’s the one… I realize with a jolt. That solitary girl who is there in front of the camera, but choosing to be faceless. She’s there, but not there. It’s such a sad picture–full of insecurity.
They say our social media is a highlight reel, and they’re right! I wish I could tell you that it all matches up but the truth is, it doesn’t. Believe me, there’s a whole other side of life behind the scenes. A lot of you know this, but I know there’s a lot of you that don’t. Only those close to me have been in constant prayer over me to kneel and stand by my side. This isnt easy to admit and say “out loud” but I think it’s totally worth sharing. I’ve been in a battle. A battle within myself. A spiritual battle, physical and emotional, all at once!
The first time I recall truly hating Valentine’s Day was when I was a sophomore in college. I had been cheated on by two different boyfriends in a year’s time, and I felt the need to vent that anger to anyone who would listen! I remember rallying with my girlfriends to decorate black t-shirts sponge painted in white, pink, and red with messages like “My Valentine is Ben & Jerry’s,” “Kiss this Cupid,” or my personal favorite on my t-shirt reading “Happy Satan Day!” I donned my black t-shirt with its anti-love message for the world to see because on the inside, my heart had been broken one time too many. Each year as this day would come around, my heart grew darker and bleaker for everything this one day stood for. I let it steal my joy year after year, and I spread that darkness to those around me all in the name of heartbreak.
It’s January 2019! Before jumping in to make all those goals and resolutions, I think it’s awesome to reflect on what we want 2019 to represent, what we want this year to stand for.
To that effect, and in what’s become a yearly tradition of one of my favorite communities, Cornerstone church’s young professionals, my words of the year are…
So the new year is upon us. Everyone will be asking, “What’s your New Year’s resolution?” Saying things like “New year, new you!” And pressuring others around themselves to start a change and even bragging about their own deflating resolutions. The gym will be full of people throwing themselves into exercise effort’s to improve their health, kick off the holiday pounds, and miraculously find a way to get those abs showing instead of flab without actually making a permanent change.
So why make a New Years Resolution? Why go to all the trouble of thinking something up when your effort isn’t going to last? Why bother?
For some people November and December are magical months that just seem to defy gravity, their hearts feel lighter, a skip is added to each step, crisp air fills their lungs and their spirit soars above the heavens. They spread cheer and believe everything is a miracle.
But what are holidays like for the lonely, the broken, and discouraged? For a person who just can’t seem to catch a break, and life is slowly closing in on them. This is a season where financial, health, and family seem to work together to derail us from joy. The busy feeling of the hustle and bustle, agitated overworked retail workers near the breaking point, intensified family drama, and the loneliness that is amplified in every moment of this season that seems to stretch forever.
You may have heard the phrase “The straw that broke the Camel’s back” before. While that seems like a ridiculous notion, that something as light as a piece of straw could break anything, there is a breaking point for everything. Camels are known for being able to travel long distances in the harsh desert, and even carry burdens as large as 1000 pounds on its back. A wise owner of any creature is careful to keep it from being overburdened or overworked, but a foolish or unknowledgeable owner might overestimate the Camel’s physical capabilities.
I have read the “The Parable of the Prodigal Son” a thousand times. I have heard pastors draw out from the older son’s conversation at the end of this parable.
Here is that conversation.
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’