|||||head bowed heavy but hopeful||]|
|||||gretel 'unreturnable dirt'--sweet mercy folk music||]|
marvelous mission statement and message from a semi-nearby megachurch minister:
rooted in the Word
renewed through worship
and reaching into the world
and the speaker's theme in chapel was REMEMBERING. i was skeptical when he first got up to the podium because he looked so clean-cut and comfortably-living and slicked-back, but from the first word he spoke, he was convictingly real about his struggles, his experience of trauma after the Oklahoma City bombing and helping pray with the families of the victims in the very church that was turned into a temporary morgue for them...and he drove home the absolute necessity of remembering the painful, hard things of our lives. because God is close to the brokenhearted, and his own heart broke and wept for his friend Lazarus and for all of his people, and his own body was brutally broken, so acknowledging and walking with him through our pain makes us become more like him. and because remembering our pain gives us courage, to be able to look back on how far and how faithfully God has led us since that time, and to be able to connect with those who may be going through similar hurts and tragedies. because remembering our hurts and hardships can help someone else heal from theirs, and that kind of restoration through relationships is honoring the way God made us to love each other.
in some ways i am encouraged and positively reinforced by this message, because basically my whole resolution this semester was to commit to going to counseling and remembering the struggles of my younger years, examining what I was thinking and what God was thinking about my relationships, my eating habits, my self-worth sources, my perfectionism, and other intertwined issues, and examining where i'm at now with those things (not done yet--He's still working on me, still breaking, healing, and restoring in so many ways) and how i can use these parts of my history, my story, to encourage/challenge the youth i will (God willing) be working with later this summer. so...that's been hard, but so good. but i know i've still got a long way to go to really dig into these things so that i can see and share how God's glory is shown in my life through them, through the hard things.
in other ways i am challenged and convicted by this message, because of how i can too often come across as someone who 'has it all together'. one of my friends likes to tell me that he thinks of me as a step above the pope and a step below God in terms of how spiritually 'good' i am. i know he's joking, but i also know this may be an impression i give off sometimes. and this is blatantly untrue. i fall apart at the seams almost daily, and i dig myself in some pretty deep holes over the long-term, too. but i can too easily make it appear to be true. and that doesn't benefit anyone, really, except people who want to ignore reality and believe that everyone's okay all the time, or who want to compare themselves and say hey, she seems perfect, i'll never be like that, so i won't even try, and they ignore the beautiful gifts and unique identity they have been given. [i have been all of those people.] of course i'm sure there are plenty of people who see right through me, whether they're close to me or not. i'm not under the delusion that all or most or even many people see me this way. but this seems to be a theme of my college years so far, that true community and true joy are only found and deepened through some kind of brokenness and suffering. which requires transparency. authenticity. nakedness.
Shane Claiborne puts his finger on it in this way: "community can be built around a common self-righteousness or around a common brokenness. both are magnetic. people are drawn toward folks who have it all together, or who look like they do. people are also drawn toward folks who know they don't have it all together and are not willing to fake it."
i'm so grateful for this Christ-centered community where we are encouraged to remember our brokenness, to let ourselves be broken before God and each other, and to draw together as folks who don't have it all together, and to reach out to people for whom recognizing their brokenness is not an option. it's sad that we seem to have made it an option, but it's exciting and interesting that the pastor of a megachurch would say that it's not an option for people in ministry--he says he will not choose to hire anyone on the church ministry staff who has not been broken or will not acknowledge their brokenness. everyone has been broken in some way, but not everyone is willing to genuinely remember it and remember to give that brokenness to God, to be used for his glory, to show people his character of perfect peace, healing, and love for every person everywhere.
"we gather together to ask the Lord's blessing..." i sang with the Sounds last night for a roomful of people who've seen a lot of brokenness in their lives...and i experienced it later, too, when i went for my Scripture-reading timeslot and stayed to listen to others pray and read their portions in this 48-hour effort to read the whole Bible out loud in the newly dedicated Memorial Prayer Chapel, in which i pray we would be formed even more to be people who REMEMBER, who are ROOTED and RENEWED and REACHING OUT
and restored. revived. reconciled. people of peace. of shalom, of wholeness. people who re-member.