Already Included #67 – Too Small

By: Sarah Nyhan

I think we’re probably all guilty of trying to dumb down God; trying to make God smaller than He is. Forcing Him in a box that is the size of our choosing.

I don’t think we can imagine a box that is big enough for God. I think that’s the point.

When I don’t understand, what do I do? Do I rush to defend God? When I’m disappointed? When something tragic happens? When it seems like too much time has passed?

Do I sit quietly and wait for Spirit to give me what I need? (Do I even really know what I need?) Or do I go to my mind and my heart to construct an explanation?

I spend so much time trying to carry these burdens on my own. When I actually bring them to God in the moment, it feels like almost instantly I’m given what I need to move to the next step.

The Israelites come to mind. How they wandered in the desert of their own strength for so long. Many other stories. The same theme.

It’s not natural for me to give up; I’m so used to using my mind to work things out. Now learning more and more to be ok with saying “I don’t know” and turning to God for help. Like a child. Welcomed!

And tonight I was thinking about how God could heal the whole planet with a Word. Maybe He already has outside of our experience of time and space. But even if not, He could make it all clear and fix everything right away. We see this in the stories of Jesus. Healings. Even with the time of His surrender in the garden; all the soldiers fell down with a Word.

So this God of ours does not need us to defend Him. He is more than capable. He does not need us to explain Him. We can point the people with questions to The Source. Maybe we don’t because we don’t practice what we preach in that respect. Maybe deep down some or even most of us don’t really, really trust this God we sing about… because we don’t go to Him enough to remember. We have a mountain-top experience and then we try to live on yesterday’s manna today; it’s not for us. His mercies are new and fresh every morning. Even every moment. What happened to the manna that was hoarded in fear?

What happens to us when we turn back to our own strength?

Do we not think our Creator is powerful enough to write in the sky so all could see? Or speak so that all could hear? Even those that say they don’t want to or they don’t believe?

Do we really believe God is so impotent?!

I’d be remiss to give you my peace right now. Because it was for me. And you need your heart spoken to. God is that personal. That invested in you. So I encourage you. Whatever it is today. Whatever it is in this moment. Even in unbelief, ask.

Already Included #66 – Human

By: Sarah Nyhan

Ask and you shall receive.

I am learning. Instead of spending hours, days, week, months, years, etc trying to solve problems on my own.

There is a such a huge difference between knowledge and wisdom.

I find Holy Spirit is ever-willing to give me what I need to heal. So that I can truly move forward. Not just stay (pre)occupied.

And so that’s how the following gem came to mind yesterday.

“Why am I in this place, Father? Why after all the work I’ve put forward?”

Born from questions about why it appears that I’m “back” to “dealing with” the “public”. Ugh. Such a heartless way to put that. And the crux of the whole situation.

Because a long time ago I fell into a very siloed environment. That’s the sanitized way of putting it. Groupthink is a different way that still tiptoes around the heartbreak and tragedy of it all.

And I lost myself there. Truly lost myself.

When I started to wake back up, the identity crisis that followed has maybe been the most difficult part.

It would have been so easy, painful but easy, to stay. To just go along to get along.

But thank God, at least the part of me that has always fought for Truth didn’t completely die. That saved me.

I pretty much saved myself. With help for sure. Trinity never leaving me to get comfortable apart from healing and wholeness. Ever-ready always; not alone for even a moment. Caught even before the second I turned from what was killing me.

But we still have to take steps. And mine haven’t always felt happy. This wound was and still is very gnarly. Too-long neglected. A spiritual sepsis, if you will. Emotional, mental, social – even physical manifestations; probably more accurately described as devastations.

And this is where I am finding myself. Outside of everything I knew. Coming alive again. Learning how to be human again. Literally. Discovering who I was during all the years before. And with great excitement (when I’m able to tap into the hope in and around me) discovering who I have the potential to be.

What I like about me.

That was never a statement I heard before. “Sinners” in the hands of an angry “god” do not talk about what they like about themselves and who they could be apart from leveling up in the religious multi-level marketing programs more commonly referred to as “churches”. Shame and fear keeping people firmly in line. I remember 2 Timothy 3 contributed to my freedom in that regard.

But no physical lottery. Very little of what I would refer to as physical deliverance.

Out for sure. And apart. But not really feeling IN anywhere new either.

Until I realized freedom wasn’t just jumping into a more comfortable prison cell. No, freedom is galaxies and more. And everything in between. Way more than my brain and heart felt it had the capacity for. Crawling back into the cage I escaped had its appeal in certain respects and that regard.

I can feel the anxiety in my chest when I think about it even now. This is not a game, folks. This is not just intellectual belly-gazing. These questions are everything for some people. Life and death.

That’s one of the reasons God proceeds slowly (as we see it). Ever-patient. THE Great Physician. With THE surgical precision. One step at a time. Versus the shock jobs I was trying to execute on others, well-meaning as I was. We really don’t even know how to help ourselves. Much less arrogantly judge another.

And so I find myself in what felt like a pit. I thought God abandoned me to myself.

And finally I think maybe I even off-handedly, flippantly asked for an explanation. An answer. To make sense of something, anything.

It’s like Holy Spirit doesn’t even waste half a second. Instantly an understanding unfolded in my mind. A revelation, if you will. In the truest sense.

And with it, mountains of peace. That way-surpassed my original understanding. Not the intellectual kind that you try to force. But an undeniable rest that washes over you. Where you feel like a child should be able to feel: safe. Secure.

And the unveiling was this: I need these people. I need people. Period. So badly. Especially these people not drowning or drowned in religion. I need especially these people to save me by helping me see. All there is to see. And get back to myself. To who I used to be.

I used to have fun and be funny. I used to laugh. I used to do things with people without an agenda. I used to appreciate things. I used to value what was important. I was able to work and be of service.

People used to like me. Obviously that’s not the point. But it bears considering. Why is it that people turned away with such finality? We wore it as a badge of honor. But now I’m not so convinced.

This pit, as we may see it, is a rehabilitation. Akin to a physical therapy clinic for our minds and hearts. A gym for our spirits and souls. With an excellent Trainer who is buidling up our capacity to receive Love. Which will then overflow organically. I’m convinced this is how the world will truly be changed.

We prayed and pray for these things, folks. But our blessings don’t always come in the packages we expect.

“Oh, help me love like You, Jesus.” It sounds good. But when the next level of healing starts, it confuses us. We don’t see it for what it is. Maybe for a long, long time. Not realizing how truly blind we were and are.

Not realizing these people have something to teach us. Thinking we will be the teachers. Puffed up in our own minds and hearts. Stomping all over those we consider below us. That’s what religion does. That’s the death “satan” drags in. Audacity.

Until one day our eyes are opened and we realize these people have been showing us the grace we never showed them. These people have been showing us the love we held back from them. As bait to try to manipulate their behavior. God does NOT operate that way! Forgiveness precedes repentance.

We didn’t get it. We were trying to “save” them. And we were the ones who needed saving. They were and are the ones who continue to offer us salvation. Much to my surprise with a big dose of humble pie.

It really will be ok. We will be like special forces. Once we get to the other side. Even so much as we realize God and this world and this experience are too big to ever really get there, to arrive. But what I mean is there are milestones. And you can go back and extend the same that you were given to those coming alongside.

And to those who won’t touch the “god” of religion with a proverbial 10-foot pole, you’ll now understand why. And understand how to explain The REAL God to them.

Not even really explain though. More so extend an invitation. To experience for themselves. Trinity will be so happy to help you navigate that. And it’s in those moments where the joy I feel seems like my heart doesn’t even have enough room to hold it all.

Where it doesn’t make the past worth it, but I certainly feel hope that maybe future redemptions might someday outweigh all the grief about all that now appears lost.

Because, God. Right? Not willing that even one be left behind. Not using us apart from our hearts and our best interests also and equally in mind. Knowing who we deeply care for. Happy to involve us. Even when we don’t yet see or understand.

He knows what a great view it will be at the top of the mountain. What good things Trinity always has in store for us. Patient with our cries. Patient as we resist.

Remember, we prayed for these things.

And now we can also pray to help see this, all of this, as more than punishment. Whatever “this” is. For even you.

And so I encourage, I extend an invitation to you, to ask. Simply ask. For understanding. For eyes to see and ears to hear. For where Love is in all of this.

It made all the difference for me. Like clouds of night to a dawning day. Instantly. As only God can do.

Because we need hope. And we perish without vision, the vision, a vision, in our hearts.

For your healing, for our collective healing, I encourage you to ask. Honestly. I think you will experience a deep welcoming. And part of you will return.

Step by step, we will re-turn. To God, to ourselves, and to each other. Not as in pressure to perform dreaded, lifeless behavior modifications. But the becoming reacquainted with The Life already in and aching to burst out of our hearts!

Already Included #65 – Forsaken

By: Sarah Nyhan

The more I think about it, the more I wonder if the primary question we as the human race struggle with is: are we alone? Did our Creator spin us out into the cosmos and leave us to ourselves? Is He a deadbeat dad who sends occasional greetings, takes us on a few weekends, and sends the minimal amount of support to keep us surviving? Or is our Abba more?

We treat others the way we believe God treats us. I think of many men in my life who treat me how their fathers treated them. They seem quite unaware that they have understandably but incorrectly confused the character of the god their fathers represented with the character of their true God the Father.

Picture the plot as a movie.

The first scene is Job. Doing his best. Thinking he has to appease a diety in order to secure the well-being of his loved ones. Surely a man of his means would be well-acquainted with hard work. And things go well enough for awhile. But then disaster strikes. After years and years dedicated to trying to stay on top of things, loss after loss. And to add insult to injury, the others that seemed to live a life of flippant disregard stand in judgement and maybe even comfort as we seem to be drowning in suffering. I think Job, like I imagine most all of us, judged God and said at least in his heart, “You have forsaken me. You have left me alone.”

That sets the theme for the movie. The bulk of the rest of the movie fleshes out the problem for us. We get very invested as it progresses.

The next scene in the movie is Adam and Eve. Maybe Adam first. Standing in the garden. Naming the animals. This beautiful garden. These amazing animals. But no physical partner for himself. Maybe it was then that Adam judged God and said, “You’re not good, God.” Maybe God then said, “It’s not good that Adam be in this state of feeling separated from Me.” Maybe Eve was sent to help Adam come back to realizing who and Whose we truly are.

This is not necessarily Biblical, but many Bible teachings paint Eve as this beautiful supermodel, and I now wonder if Adam, who was and is very good, woke up to an Eve that was less than he hoped for. Maybe he was unimpressed. Maybe he resented God for giving him THIS woman to take care of. Maybe he wanted to be worshipped instead of doing any work. Maybe he wanted a mother more than a wife.

And maybe in the excitement of the newness of it all, Eve, who was and is still very good, was unphased for awhile. But maybe Adam’s attitude grew on her after awhile. Maybe the hours she spent with him grew more weighty in terms of the time she spent with God. Maybe she got lost in Adam’s treatment of her.

And maybe they both, eyes focused on the appearance of things, eventually turned to their own strength. That turning being the turning away from God; and more to the point – unto themselves. And each other.

Maybe Adam’s feelings of abandonment cried out as, “You’re not good, God. You left me alone with all this work and then you gave me THIS woman! Look at her. How could you do this to me? After all I’ve done for You. I trusted You. I guess You don’t care. I guess it’s all up to me. So fine, forget You. I’ll go take care of myself.” Out of his mind. Literally. Off to futile attempts to save himself by working the wrong gardens.

Then we have Eve. Maybe her feelings of abandonment looked like, “I thought I knew You loved me, Lord. I thought I knew where We were going with this, where You were taking me. I followed You here. I trusted You. But look how this man is treating me, how he is hurting me. Do You even care? How am I supposed to save him? How am I supposed to save myself? I know I am here for a reason. Maybe I didn’t try hard enough. I will do better next time.” As she follows Adam out into his delusions. Both of them buried in the work of their own hands.

And so it continues. The next scenes of the movie are more of the same. Each character, each generation wrestling with the same question in different ways. All getting right up to that breaking point between logic and… And what? I like to think of it as THE deep calling in our souls. The jump. To welcome the mystery. To let go. I feel like the rest of our joy, the real explosion of the full manifestation of our existence, lies just over that line. Of holding onto ourselves versus letting ourselves be held.

But I cannot do even that on my own. I am just a child. My faith in my own faith has been proven inadequate time and time again. Where is this Jesus I hear about who can save me? Who can save us?

He hung on a cross we constructed for Him. He did not arrive and lead us out of Rome. He did not bring back our children. He did not give us the spouse of our dreams. He did not give us dominion over our oppressors. He did not feed and clothe us so that we could sit at His feet and watch the world go by.

No, this Jesus’ arrival was very different. I call it healing now. But it rarely looks that way to my broken heart. It looks a lot more like work. Like the painful practice of digging shattered glass out of a wound and sewing it all back up again. One stitch at a time. Coming back and back and back again to soothe the pain and nurture life back into what was torn and ripped apart. Making sure the slightest burn of a wick is not snuffed out. Righting and rehabilitating every bruised reed.

But I find myself woefully inadequate for this, God. That seems more like Your department. I am only Your child.

And that is the point. The pinnacle of the story. The climax of the movie.

The camera pans to Jesus hanging on a torture and annihilation device that we constructed for OUR JUDGEMENT of Him. His head torn apart by thorns we ripped into His skin. The blood soaking His hair and pouring down His face. Strips of skin and muscle torn off of his torso, back, legs and arms as He stood while we whipped Him mercilessly. “Here, after all that, carry our murder weapon on Your back all the way up that hill where we will humiliate You by hanging You naked for all to see. This is what we think of You.”

Naked. Just like in the first garden. Redeeming every last bit. Willing that none should perish.

And He stood there. He took it. He could have called down legions of angels. But he walked towards us. He embraced us in the midst of OUR rejection.

And then AS US, he hung on that tree. Cursed by us. And he shouted out what we shout out: “My God, why have You forsaken me?!”

Plot twist! “No one knows the Father except for Me.”

All of Psalm 22. Not just the first few verses.

No one knew the REAL Father, the REAL Abba except Jesus. He hung on that tree AS US. To show us we have nothing to fear! Not death, not each other, not even ourselves, and certainly not our Creator God. Who took it all when we gave Him our worst. When we give Him our worst. He wasn’t mad then. And He isn’t mad now. We threw our worst punch and He didn’t flinch. He doesn’t flinch. We are just toddlers who don’t understand. He knew that and He knows that. We are still very good. He has never been done with us.

Jesus came back. He lived a life we can live. He showed us what Life is available for and to us. A more abundant Life. That WE are invited to step into. To grab a hold of. To enjoy. To reclaim what has always been and always will be ours for the taking.

Not that His sacrifice was insufficient and He expects us to lay ourselves upon the altar of everyone else’s abuse and depravity. No, I am not suggesting that formula or any other. There will be trouble, but I think it’s a lot more simple: start by receiving God’s love. We can practice this even now. Even if it means calling out to a Father we maybe don’t even yet let ourselves acknowledge we long for and asking Trinity to help us know, see, hear, and more importantly experience Truth and Love.

If it is true what they say, He is The God who sees, who hears, who listens, and who does not turn away. I can’t do that for you. Maybe my words are sometimes beautiful. But I’m just a messenger. This God, this life, is about relationship. Real relationship. And all the messiness that entails. You are already included. As you are. Because of exactly who you are. Not in spite of.

This Abba does not do abandonment. This Dad never stops scanning the horizon in anticipation of celebrating our re-turn-ing. Yes, His servants have it good. But Jesus doesn’t call us servants. He calls us friends. Spirit longs to have us rest in Their embrace. Are we willing? What will it take?

We live this story collectively. We live this story individually.

What else changes if Jesus came to show us what more is available to us? That how He lived in union with Father and Holy Spirit is exactly how we can also walk on this earth. That what He did, we can do. And more! Not through our own strength of course; but as we say what we hear OUR Father say, as we do as OUR Father does. Would that change the narrative?

I am just here to tell you that God loves me. And Trinity loves you also. And once you get it, once you really get it, once you’ve lived it and really experienced it, you will want everyone else to experience the same. It won’t feel like a chore. You won’t feel pressure or guilt. You won’t have to fake it. Your questions will be welcome and your honesty will be wanted.

You are wanted.

And just like most movies, there will be a final scene. Rarely the end of the story; most times a new beginning. And as for the Bible, I think the books after the Ascension showed very real humans wrestling with how to go forward. Highly likely that there were mistakes, if we go back to the judgement paradigm, along the way. But it’s all about relationship and healing.

So what if we look at Revelation in that light? Letting Jesus define everything. And letting Revelation be just the last scene of that particular movie. Like a good essay: Job telling us what we are going to be told. Genesis and all the other books doing the telling. Jesus the crux of the chiasm. His “why have you forsaken me” even more so. And then for all the love of God, Revelation just being symbolism (much lost on this culture) that simply tells us what we have been told. That simply unveils what happened in and to us.

There is no fear in love.

My friends, will you join me? I long to sit at the table in union with you. The celebration that never ends.

Why Bother With The Bible?

An interesting clip from a conversation with Phil Drysdale.

As a writer, it has been easy for me to transition to this idea of the Bible being a collection of writings that form a conversation. Hence, the subtitle of this blog of mine: participating in the conversation.

As they discuss in the clip, I used to definitely use the Bible as a ouija board, per se. I literally would open it randomly and point to a verse and consider how it applied to my situation and then proceed forward accordingly. I no longer do that. But I think it’s important to talk about since I think many can relate.

Other points I especially liked from the video include the concept of “wrestling with God” being associated with the name Israel. And also Jews opening the Bible to start conversations versus Christians opening the Bible to end conversations.

Already Included #64 – On Hold

By: Sarah Nyhan

Control issues gone awry. Sometimes you are a person who, justly or even not, feels the need to prove a point. Probably to others. Who maybe don’t care or more likely are also probably successfully maintaining much control by playing the game of refusing to acknowledge the point to you despite all evidence and all your attempts.

What we feed grows. What might have been only a part of your life can then morph into an identity as you hold onto this mission and probably put many other things in your life on hold while you wait. For their acknowledgement, their approval, their apology, etc.

And here is what I have learned after a few decades: you have to give yourself permission to know, to feel, to grieve, to live, and to move on.

They are comfortable enough; their comfort depends on you playing the part they probably set you up to play. As long as you and others participate in the dance with them, the likelihood of them feeling uncomfortable enough to reconsider their choices is, in my opinion, very low. Especially in this society, where we have a high enough level of social mobility to where they can easily find someone, even many, who will take your place.

It can feel very lonely on the path of pursuing better for yourself. It can feel hard to find hope. But there are others out there. We can take back true control when we start creating a life we want versus waiting for anyone to give it to us. Whether we deserved better or not. All we have is now. And all we can really hold onto is ourself. And we will be wherever we go. For better or worse.

I believe everything we encounter is working for our healing. It might not feel that way. We maybe want or expect a more sanitized healing experience. But the longer we go, the more it might take to get our attention also.

Yes, there were probably true times where we were victimized. But we can’t change anyone. They have to want to change. Even if we can force their actions, is that really ultimately satisfying if their hearts and minds are not for or with us?

How much more will you give them?

What do you really want? What life do you really want? And will you take a step right now in that direction?

Already Included #63 – What Is Love?

By: Sarah Nyhan

Do I love you? Is it really my place to tell you that I love you? Or would it be better if you told me that I loved you. In other words, only you can tell me if I love you?

That probably won’t hold a lot of water with many, but I think it holds enough. From experience, the people who told me they loved me have been the ones who hurt me the most.

So now I feel rather presumptuous saying “I love you” anymore. Most will probably say I’m reading too much into it. But now that I am learning what love really is, and maybe more what it isn’t, I don’t feel like  tossing that word around as flippantly as I used to – and I was reserved with it even before. But not reserved enough.

“Love”, as in “I love you”, is a verb. Actions. Not just a feeling inside you. I can have feelings of affection towards someone, but that doesn’t mean I love them. It took me a long time to learn that. To also learn that just because someone wanted me, that had very little correlation with whether they loved me. 

One time I was in a relationship with someone who speaks Spanish fluently. I remember asking the person how to say “I love you” in Spanish. They told me to say, “Te quiero”. Later on, much to my surprise, I found out that the literal translation of “te quiero” is “I want you”; whereas “te amo” literally means “I love you”.

In American English, “I want you” commonly has a different connotation compared to “I love you”. But I think most Americans probably mean “I want you” when they say “I love you”. And so now that phrase makes me feel uncomfortable since my thoughts on love have changed so much. When most people tell me they love me, now it feels like they are requesting something from me. I feel like their “I love you” is a gun holding me hostage a lot of the time. Like it’s a demand more than an assurance.

True love is a gift. A real gift. A free gift in all senses of the word. What do I give to others that is truly free of any expectations?

I heard someone say that you wouldn’t have to convince people to believe if they actually knew they were loved. I don’t think that is an intellectual knowing. I think there is a deeper, richer level of knowing that is beyond the reach of our intellect. Preverbal children know love on that level. It is very connected to feeling safe in another person’s heart. It’s where your mind isn’t confused. Where dissonance isn’t constantly following you around and popping out to steal every last moment you try so badly to enjoy.

Our only hope is God, of course. But not like before. Not working so hard to love. Not reading the Bible, or praying, or otherwise doing more.

No, I find the only way love organically flows out of me for and to others is when my heart has been refreshed by Spirit. And through others when it is genuine. 

I can’t give away what I don’t have. Speaks to a lot.

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Already Included #62 – Meaning

By: Sarah Nyhan

“Do not be dismayed.” Over and over in the Bible. Do not be dismayed.

One dictionary defines dismay as the loss of courage due to fear.

What are the stories that we tell ourselves? The more I think about it, we basically have a 100% chance of being wrong about how we see the future turning out. I guess 50% chance at the most. Maybe. But when I really flesh it all out, it is really ridiculous to think we understand anything that is going on. Much less think we are ever able to accurately depict the future. And that is what storytelling is: being a fortune-teller, a psychic. It’s crazy. Absolutely crazy.

Yet we live our lives in story. We build our identity within a story. A story that we’ve told ourselves. Or someone else’s story that we’ve adopted as our own. We build, or try to build little kingdoms on top of these stories, out of these stories, in these stories. We go to war and kill people for our stories.

It’s so crazy the more I think about it.

I am a product of two humans deciding to have intercourse one day. That involved a bunch of cells racing towards each other and at least two sticking together. Then those cells multiply and grow. Then somehow a soul or a spirit gets attached to all that?! Who can even really scientifically explain even what a soul or spirit is and where it comes from?

Nevertheless, then I’m born a helpless child who is at the mercy of so many other humans for a great majority of years. I’ve been told a lot of stories during that time. I’ve been pressured to pick a story and stick with it. Even for survival. And yet, I know nothing. I only know what I have been taught or experienced. And I haven’t had very much time to figure out what is true and false about all that. Speaking of time, it flies by. And I’m asked to make so many decisions without really knowing for myself what is best. I manage as well as I can within the stories I have, but for the most part it’s a falling forward.

And then people ask you what your plans are for the future. As if simply planning will ensure specific outcomes. 2020 was a slap in the face in that regard. 2020 was a slap in the face, a wake-up call, in the stories of most, I imagine. Like going to the ocean and seeing how small you are. How powerless in the face of… everything.

And yet we judge each other. We say, “I figured out a story that seems to be going better than yours.” For now. Until the cancer. Until the accident. Until the… etc. Etc. Etc.

I admit I initially get overwhelmed. About 20 million times a day. And then the absurdity of demanding control and certainty just knocks the rug out from under me. And I fall. I let go. There is nothing else left to do but enjoy the flight.

My word pictures lack the punch I feel and desire. But I try. Like in everything else. Imperfectly.

This is mystery.

Where am I? I am in You, Jesus. Not because I know how or why. But because You said so. And You know the real story. I’m just a kid. But I am Your kid. With all my stories; probably mostly incomplete or incorrect. And yet here I stand before another day. In the lens of Your economy (and what a terrible way to put that), things could go my way just as much as they could not go my way today. I will do my best to fumble through but really my only hope is You. Please help me see things as they really are. Please help me see through Your heart versus all my fears. Even the ones people shame me into not professing. You know, God. You know me. Better than I know myself. If You said that You work all things for good, please help me see that story. Please restore our hope. And joy. I believe You already are. I want to feel it. More and even more.

I only have this instant. The stories I tell myself about the future are just my imagination. They are not real.

Maybe the only thing I need to ask myself is, “Am I alone in all this? Do I really think my Creator spun me out into this world and abandoned me to myself and the mercy of others?” Too many things have happened during my time for me to be able to answer “no”. I hope the same for you.

If it isn’t the end yet then there is still more to the story. And I want to stick around to find out. To fully experience this crazy ride we call life. I believe we all are eternally safe in our Creator, our Abba’s heart. So I want everything there is for me to have here. So I practice choosing to let go of the stories I tell myself and the meaning I give anything. And in doing so I practice choosing not to be dismayed.

Everything could change in an instant. What if tomorrow holds that moment? What if even today?

What if I included Trinity and Their Love into all my equations? With God, anything and everything really is possible. I want to dream bigger.

 

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Already Included #61 – Plain as Day

By: Sarah Nyhan

I took a friend for a drive downtown a few days ago. It was nighttime but I knew where we were and where we were going. In contrast, my friend hadn’t been downtown in awhile. She was looking for a specific building and couldn’t find it.

After our excursion, I researched the building she was looking for. Turns out we had even been parked directly in front of it for several minutes as we waited for the traffic light to turn in our favor. During that time she had even commented on the business that was now located in the building she was looking for. But she didn’t recognize the building in the dark.

It felt like a good analogy for what I would have previously called evangelism. In that, we can lead someone right up to the truth, we can get truth right in their face, and they can have the best of intentions. But if they are in darkness, then they won’t be able to see what they think they are looking for.

See, my friend was looking for the building based on what it used to look like in the past versus what it actually looks like now. Just like how people seeking truth want to fit God back into the boxes they think religion limits Him to. Versus God as Trinity actually is even now.

My friend probably would have seen the building she was looking for if we had been driving during the day versus at night. In the same way, I am becoming more and more convinced that people will not see the truth about God and themselves unless Son/Light comes to clear out their darkness.

Maybe Jesus reaches out to them through our words, but I am less and less convinced that is the optimal method of revelation. I really don’t know anymore.

I’m frankly tired of being disappointed. Of sending out the invitations, setting the table, and wanting so badly to celebrate and then none of my loved ones showing up. None of my loved ones as excited. But Jesus told a parable saying the same thing. I’m not smart enough to know everything He meant then, but He reminds me now to leave the wheat and tares separation business to Him. To keep watering. To keep loving.

But not like before. Not with conversion in mind necessarily. He could use rocks and donkeys to speak; He doesn’t need me like that. The goal is less about conversion and more about healing.

Maybe that’s why He lets us wrestle with imperfect translations, denominations, and theology. Because this Jesus is personal. All about relationship. The one. You. Me. Each of us.

Versus any institution. I’m reminded that He rebuked Peter when Peter wanted to setup a structure and go to war in the physical.

This isn’t about winning. This is about healing. I can’t lead with my mind; Jesus beckons my heart. And my strength isn’t needed; this will only be done through Spirit.

Lord help us. Lord help me. My impatience. My disappointment. Even my bitterness. You always had us. We were always safe in Your love. We are kids who always need our Abba. I am Your child and I need You to be my Abba. Please help me see. Please help my unbelief. Thank You for helping me see. Thank You for helping me believe. I ask for You to restore our hope and joy. We want our loved ones to celebrate with us.

 

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Already Included #60 – Bad People

By Sarah Nyhan

Maybe it’s not right theology that changes people as much as right love. Maybe we make it too complicated. Maybe we overthink things. Maybe the reason Jesus lets us fumble around in our denominations is party because that isn’t the main point. That perfect knowledge is not an end unto itself. That perfect knowledge is maybe only really as useful if it contributes to more perfect love. And as such, maybe for the more intellectual among us, the undoing of “knowledge” would maybe be more helpful than gorging ourselves on even more information.

Am I too heavenly minded to be any earthly good?

There is an avoidance of vulnerability when I live in my mind. Safely tucked away in the sanitized security of control and certainty. Very much alone. Nobody measures up. Nobody challenges me. As I hold people hostage to my expectations.

And then something outside of yourself wrecks your little castle. It’s on fire. Maybe you lose everything. And you feel very ashamed. Now you need others. And where are they? You have run them all off.

But what about what they did to me? True. But maybe there is something between the do-all and the do-nothing? Maybe there is a middle ground. Maybe the only person I have control over is myself. Maybe good people, people that love us, fumble up and mess things up and hurt us sometimes.

Maybe we hurt people also. Maybe we mess up. Maybe most others don’t know what we’re going through. Maybe we can give them the same grace that we need. I’m not saying excuse actions. I’m talking about how all of us need healing.

I think when you have lived in a paradigm that dismissed you as a person and your feelings for so long then once you wake up everything is sensitive and everything hurts. It’s like the brightest light was turned on and pierced the deepest wounds in your mind and heart. Maybe even in your spirit. Like you lived your whole life in the sewers of the slums and then one day were taken to the richest King’s castle and you look at yourself and your life and suddenly all this filth and poverty you previously settled for just overwhelms you. You suddenly see all the scars, all the dirt. And now that you are able you just want to scrub and scrub until you are clean. You want to stay far away from all that previous pain.

And maybe that time is needed. To heal, to recover our strength, to clear and rebuild our minds.

But to what end? To then forever sit in judgement on all who are behind? I think I am learning that is not at all Jesus’ heart. I think He proved it as He associated with all the broken during His time on earth. Not to judge them. Not to push them away. Not to sanitize Himself from their mess. No. He was all about healing.

Maybe there will be an expansion of our hearts. Maybe that’s the only way out of this. To see ourselves altogether as one. Maybe your healing is also my healing. Maybe I am only as whole as your brokenness?

The phrase that keeps haunting me is “forgiveness leads to repentance”. Not the other way around.

Before I used to do things with an agenda. I called it love, but I don’t think it was true love. It may have been sometimes “nice” or “friendly” at the most. But love is a whole other ballgame. Love is not safe. Love is not sanitized. Love doesn’t have a formula. Love doesn’t work when we keep score.

But the good news is that love is bigger than our failures. And love is always available for us to choose. Love heals. Love restores. Love is an irresistible force. Love gets in even as they fight or rage against it.

I’m obviously not the expert here. But I know Who is. And Holy Spirit’s wrath for our total healing will never waver.

Maybe my hell is driving me towards my redemption. Maybe I’ve been fighting the very things that will be my salvation. And not only mine, but the salvation of all those that I have driven off along the way.

Lord help us, we need a Savior. Who came to earth as a baby. Not a soldier.

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