Friday, March 3, 2017

Lent

The Lenten season is kind of a new thing for me. It’s funny for me to type that because I grew up in a Christian home and we always focused on the true meaning of Easter. But when I think of Lent during my childhood, I think of the Catholic religion. Only Catholics got ashes on their heads on Ash Wednesday and gave something up for 40 days. My Catholic family couldn’t eat meat on Fridays. Good Friday came and led to Resurrection Sunday and then we celebrated. 

Unfortunately, I wasn’t too affected by the Lenten season. 


It was only when I came to Truett and started exploring my faith a lot more that I really came to value and appreciate the Lenten season for what it is. I’ve spent time in prayer and reflection to figure out what I need to remove from my life or add to it in order to become more like Christ.  By observing the Lenten season for what it is, it makes the Gospel more meaningful to me. It’s a time of reflection and spiritual formation that draws me closer to Christ. It’s a holy and sacred time.


 In my last post, I talked about sacredness. It seems like this theme just isn’t going away anytime soon! All week, so many conversations have ended up talking about the sacredness of life. The Lord has also been making it really evident to me that this is something I need to be focusing on.


In multiple classes of mine, we started talking about the separation that we place between sacred moments and secular moments. 
*side note* I love when the same conversations happen in different classes with different professors and different students. It’s a nice reminder that the Lord is in control of everything, including conversations.
 Anyway, we, as Christians, are called to bridge the gap between secular and sacred moments. There shouldn't be a distinction. Every moment, interaction, and encounter that we have can be a sacred moment if we choose to recognize it. This is difficult for me in a number of ways but I also have gotten really bad at not living in the moment. My days, weeks, and months are SO planned out. I'm constantly looking at the next assignment, the next meeting, the next social event. I'm constantly looking ahead and end up missing the right now.

During this Lenten season (and even after), I’m trying my best to be intentional about recognizing these moments. Instead of just thinking of it as giving a client a ride somewhere, I can think of it as a holy moment to pour into that client and let them know they are loved. Instead of just having to do homework for class, I can think of it as an opportunity to learn more about the Lord and learn how to be a better minister. When we try to find the sacredness in every moment, it completely changes our mindset and how we view the world as a whole. This concept is so exciting to me. Every moment is sacred if we choose to find the sacred in the moment. I’m excited to see how the Lord will stretch me and help me grow in Him.


I’m interested to know how you’re observing the Lenten season. Everyone approaches this season differently and I genuinely want to hear about the work that the Lord is doing within you during this season and beyond.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sacred Time

My kids at work get very overwhelmed and overstimulated very easily. When this happens, we help them do different things that we call "grounding exercises." These exercise utilize their senses and help remind their brain that they are in the present time and that they are safe. We get them to see things around them, take deep breaths, talk about what they smell, and just make them feel safe and secure. 


I spent the weekend in Rockport and it was a bit of a grounding exercise for me.

The past 3 months have been challenging, to say the least. If you know me well, you know that I hate dealing with emotions. For me, it's easier to push the emotions aside in order to continue on with life. But you can only do that for so long. 

At the end of December and into January, I experienced betrayal and shock like I never had before. That ended up leading to anger and resentment like I had never experienced and didn't want to experience. This experience also include deep sadness like I had only experienced once in my life before. 

I've also been deeply struggling with the Church and Christianity as a whole. Let me be clear, I'm not struggling with my faith and my relationship with Jesus Christ. I honestly don't know if my relationship with the Lord has ever been stronger than it currently is. I see things that a lot of Christians are doing and there are things that I think the Church is severely failing on. I'm trying my hardest to not be overly political because that is not my point. But I see a lot of Christians saying and doing things that go against the scripture and it's deeply disheartening for me. The past few months, I've felt rejected because of my political and spiritual beliefs and that has been hard for me to handle.

One of my biggest personality flaws is emotional cutoff. I am 100% invested in people and will fight with them and for them with everything I have. However, if someone does something that hurts me, I am 100% out very quickly and very permanently. I will still be nice and considerate, but I emotionally shutoff and end the relationship. Right now, it is a daily struggle for me to not do that with the Church. I'm angry with the Church and I'm having to work that out. 

I also just ended a relationship that I had been in for four months. There are no hard feelings towards him by any means and the relationship as a whole was great. While he was great and I have a lot of respect for him, the feelings just weren't there so I ended it.  Regardless of how things end, ending a relationship is a stressful and emotional ordeal. It's definitely not fun.

Then mix all of that with working and taking 12 hours in grad school. The past 3 months have been highly emotional, exhausting, overwhelming, restless, and disheartening. So I decided I needed a reset. My soul longed to be around my people and the water. I'm 24 years old and I desperately needed a hug from my mom and dad. 

This weekend in Rockport was a grounding exercise for me. When I think about the last 2 days, the word that comes to mind is "sacred." I was able to spend time with my family on both sides, old friends, get rest, and also get some homework done all while never feeling rushed or busy. 
One of my best friends from high school just happened to be in town this weekend. One cousin from Nashville and one from Austin just happened to be in town, as well. It was definitely God-ordained!

I needed this weekend to remind me of who I am, where I came from, and where I am headed. I drive around and see the water and it calms my spirit and my soul. I spend time with my friends and family and get reminded that people believe in me and how fortunate I am to have the family that I do. I walk into church and am reminded that I have people fighting for me and praying for me. I drive through old Rockport and see my great grandparent's house and am reminded of the family that has set the foundation for my life. Don't get me wrong, I have a very close group of people in Waco that I think of as family. But going home is different. 

It's sacred. 

This morning, I was doing some homework while sitting by the water at the beach. The nice thing about seminary is that some of the homework is reading scripture. One of my favorite things about seminary is seeing my personal walk with the Lord line up with my classwork. I had to read the book of Ecclesiastes for one of my classes and one passage resonate with me quite deeply. The beginning of chapter 3 states: 

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 
 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up; 
 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 
 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 
 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away; 
 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 
 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.


Life has seasons. Some seasons are fun while others are challenging and testing. I am currently in a season full of struggles and challenges. But that also means that I'm in a season of being refined and molded. For that, I choose to be grateful. 

This weekend has been sacred. I stand by the water, drive around town, laugh with my family and friends, and I am reminded that
 I am safe.
 I am cared for. 
I am loved. 
I am supported. 
I am His. 

Escaping life for just a weekend has the power to ground me in a way that I can't explain. 

A sacred grounding. 




Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Hardest Commandment

This is the manuscript that I used for my sermon at Truett. There is a video, but since I can't even psych myself up enough to watch it, I definitely don't think I can share it!

On October 2, 2006 Charles Roberts IV arrived at the Amish one-room school house in West Nickel Mines School in Pennsylvania. He had been to this community multiple times delivering milk to the families. However, this time, he had a very different agenda in mind. At 10:30 am, he entered the school house and took 10 girls, ages 6 to 13, hostage. Within 20 minutes of holding them against their will, he had shot 8 out of the 10 of them. Five of the girls ended up dying shortly after Charles Roberts took his own life. Wouldn’t you agree that Charles Roberts IV is the definition of an enemy to this small Amish community? As Christians, how are we to respond to a situation like this? I know that my natural instinct is not what scripture tells us to do. Let’s look at Matthew 5, verses 43 through 48. Before we turn there, let me give you a warning. What The Lord commands us to do with our enemies is most likely not what we want to do; especially when the enemies are pretty intense like the one in this story.
Key text: 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Background to text: Before looking at what this text is telling us, it’s important to look at what is happening in the bigger picture. If we didn’t look at the context of the passage, it would be like watching just the 4th quarter of a football game. That would be no fun, right? For all you Baylor fans out there, imagine if you had only watched the 4th quarter of the Cotton Bowl in 2013. You would not have gotten the whole picture and you would think Baylor football was the worst. Which, ya know, right now might be true. But in 2013 it wasn’t. This passage on loving your enemies comes at the very end of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus has gathered his disciples on a mountainside in Galilee. He talks about issues like divorce, adultery, oaths, and retaliation. With every topic, He takes something that society is telling His disciples and turns it on its head. There’s a pattern of “it is said...but…” throughout this chapter. At the beginning of this passage, he says, “It is said, love your neighbor and hate your enemy” and then tells his disciples the opposite. This specific passage is drawn from Leviticus 19:18 which states basically the same thing. It says, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” So even though society is telling the disciples one thing, The Lord is telling them to do otherwise. One scholar even argues that in this context, neighbor means a fellow Jew and an enemy would be a Gentile. This makes sense because those two people groups typically were not the best of friends. So what are we supposed to do with this? Who is our enemy? And why does Jesus insist that we love them? Wouldn’t it be easier to just ignore them and move on with life?
Point 1: What do yall think of when someone says enemy? I like to think that I’m a pretty easy going and likeable person but I can still think of a few enemies. However, I think of enemies on different levels. We’ve all been stuck behind the person in the express line at HEB that actually has about 30 items. Is that my enemy? Or the friend that said horrible things about me in high school. Are they my enemy? What about the men that flew the planes into the towers on September 11th. They’re my enemy, right? One scholar breaks down the word “enemy” and says that there are two kinds. The first is “echthros” and this is a personal enemy; someone that has wronged you and hurt you as an individual. For instance, one of my good friends has a boss that is not very nice to her. She belittles my friend every chance she gets and just is not very kind to her. Technically, she would also be my enemy because no one messes with my friends! My friend’s boss would be an example of echthros; a personal enemy. Then, there is Polemios which is an enemy of the state but one that still affects you personally. ISIS would be the perfect example for this type of enemy. ISIS is an enemy to Americans and the group is my enemy even though they have never done anything to personal harm me. So we all have enemies whether they are echthros or polemios. Yall can think of some, right? I know I can. Now what are we supposed to do with this? Now that we’ve all identified those people, what are we supposed to do with them? Wouldn’t it be great to just recognize our enemies and that was all? It would be easier for sure.
Friends, I’m gonna be really honest with you for a second and you can’t hold it against me. I did not want to preach this sermon. When I decided to preach on this passage, I was okay with it. I welcomed it, even! I like to think that I’m a pretty loving person so I can speak on loving other people, right? But then life happened. I work with abuse victims and we’ve had really awful cases lately. I hear stories about my clients being severely abused by men that honestly, I have no respect for. And this passage is telling me to love and pray for those that abused my clients? As Americans, we experienced the most tense and aggravating election season. I’m supposed to love and pray for politicians that I don’t respect? I’m supposed to love those that said awful things to me because we have different beliefs. Or! People are supposed to love me after I said things that I shouldn’t have? I felt like a toddler stomping my feet and bawling up my fists while screaming “I DON’T WANNA!!!” It’s a heck of a lot easier to just erase that person from my life or make an ugly face whenever I think about them. What this passage is telling us to do isn’t easy, isn’t fun, and isn’t natural.  But that’s exactly why it’s necessary. It’s necessary because we don’t want to do it and without Christ living within us, we simply won’t do it. See, the thing is, we don’t love and pray for these enemies because we want them to change their behavior towards us. I think when people hear “love your enemies” it’s because they expect the enemy’s actions to change. But that’s not the case. We love them and pray for them because we are the ones that need to change. We need Christ to soften our hearts towards the ones that have wronged us. Remember my friend’s boss that I said was always rude to her? My friend called me on Thanksgiving Day and we were talking about how things were going. She said that her boss had had hand surgery and had no family nearby so my friend was going to take a plate of food to her so she could still enjoy Thanksgiving. This woman, who is hateful to my friend all the time, was getting food delivered to her from my friend, who is the recipient of hateful words and actions. Apparently my friend is a better person than I am because I was floored. I asked her, “she has never been nice to you. Literally ever. Why are you so nice to her?” Yall, I was so impressed with her response. She said, “Erin, what good is it if I’m mean to her? What will that accomplish? At least if I’m nice to her, then maybe she’ll get a glimpse of Christ. If not, then oh well.” She’s living out exactly what this scripture is telling us to do.
Point 2: This passage is also not just an individual calling, but a communal one. All believers are part of the Kingdom of God. We are walking representations of Christ at all times. And lets be real, we usually fall way short. What are we saying if we treat our enemies horribly mean? We have to love our enemies in order to overcome the evil in the world. Imagine what the world would be like if every single Christ follower followed these verses.  Myself included, obviously. It would change the world! We cannot let the evilness of the world overcome us. Maybe I’m just dramatic, but I feel like that is so easy to do in today’s world. The world gives you more than enough reasons to be overwhelmed. This past weekend, I was reading an article about Fidel Castro dying and pubic figure’s responses to his death. Most people, like politicians Donald Trump and Marco Rubio, rejoiced at his death. There was only one person that I could find that had a compassionate response to his death and do you know who it was? Pope Francis! Pope Francis tweeted (because the Pope is super cool and tweets) and said that he was praying for Fidel Castro and his family. He was doing word for word what this scripture is telling us. He was praying for them when no one wanted to pray for them. We all know that Castro wasn’t the best person by any means and could very easily be described as an enemy. Yet we are called to pray anyways. Jesus is telling us that we need to love our enemy so that evil, which is everywhere around us, doesn’t overcome us. More than that, He is telling us that we have to overcome that evil by doing good to our enemies. This “love” that He is telling his disciples about doesn’t just mean praying for his enemies; it means loving in a concrete way. Turn to Romans 12:20 with me real quick. It states, “Instead, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” This is loving them in a concrete way that overcomes the evilness.
I was reading a story about John and Deborah Upton who were missionaries to Taiwan. After completing their language training, they settled in the small city of Taitung to establish a congregation there.
Predictably, their intention to begin a church in the city threatened the local Buddhist priest who resolved to drive them away. Every morning promptly at seven o'clock the priest stationed himself at the front gate of the Upton's house where—for ten hours a day, seven days a week—he shouted curses and incantations against the house itself; he set off strings of firecrackers; he warned the neighbors not to show kindness toward the Uptons lest they anger the gods and bring tragedy to their own homes.
The noise was unnerving; the paper residue from the firecrackers grew so deep that John had to shovel it aside before he could move his car out of the driveway. The possibility of growing a church in such soil seemed bleak.
What were the missionaries to do in the face of such a threat? John and Deborah felt that they had to respond in some way, and this is what they did: Every morning before the priest arrived, they took a stool and a table out to the gate. On the table they placed a pot of tea and a bowl of rice; they set up an umbrella to shade the priest from the sun. They continued this routine for almost four months, until one day the priest did not show up. From that day on, never again were they harassed, and their home became a gathering place for the community.
The Uptons later learned that their neighbors had finally intervened on their behalf, telling the priest, "Here you are cursing their home and the foreigners are giving you something to eat. That's embarrassing. Go away and leave them alone." They loved their enemy in a very concrete way. He was a threat to their livelihood every single day yet they loved him in a very concrete way.
Point 3: Let’s look at the end of the passage now. Verse 48 states “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect.” Yall, the first time I read this, I mentally checked out. I thought “how the heck am I supposed to be perfect like God? It’s God!! I don’t think I can do that. Maybe I’ll just leave on that last verse.” However, in this case, perfection simply means “resemblance to God.” “To have all parts, to have reached full maturity or the desired end.” This last verse isn’t telling us to be sinless like God is sinless. It’s telling us to have the same character that He has. We are to emulate Him. Especially when interacting with other people like our enemies. God was telling this to the disciples so they had something to strive for, not necessarily something that will ever fully achieve in life. I worked at a tennis camp for a few summers. When I was working with the kids, I would tell them that they should try and copy Roger Federer. Did I honestly think that a bunch of 6 year old kids would hit like Roger Federer? Of course not! But it gave them something to picture in their head. They could picture his strides and serve while they played in order for them to hit just like that. In the same way, Jesus was telling his disciples to think of God and try and emulate him. When they were interacting with people in the various towns, they should remember how God loves his people and cares for them. Then they should copy that. The word “perfect” was only used one other time in Matthew and that was when Jesus tells the man to sell everything he has, be perfect, and to follow Christ. I think the fact that this verse is at the end of the book is worth noting. It serves as a challenge. A challenge to love as God loves. A love where partiality does not exist. A love that doesn’t depend on skin color, doesn’t depend on gender, doesn’t depend on poverty level, doesn’t depend on religion. A love that doesn’t depend on someone’s actions towards us. A love that simple exists because God calls us to love his people like he loves his people. Friends, that isn’t easy by any means. We’re humans. We want to cast someone aside when they wrong us. But when we stop loving our enemies, we forget that they are humans just like we are.
Conclusion: I know yall are just waiting on pins and needles to learn how the Amish community responded to the gunman killing five of their children. I know if that had been me, there would have been a lot of anger, bitterness, and hatred within my heart and it would’ve taken a very long time to move past that. The Amish community had the exact opposite reaction. On the same day of the shooting, a member of the community said, “I don't think there's anybody here that wants to do anything but forgive and not only reach out to those who have suffered a loss in that way but to reach out to the family of the man who committed these acts.” Yall, that was on the SAME day as the shooting. Only a few hours after the shooting, the Amish community visited the gunman’s family and grieved with them. One man even held the gunman’s father for an hour while he sobbed. They also set up a charitable fund for the family of the shooter. They attended his funeral. Does this just blow your mind like it does mine?! They are giving us the perfect example of what this passage I telling us. They are praying for their enemy. An enemy that most would say is unforgiveable. They are loving in a very concrete way and they are doing it as a community. Surrounding the shooters family with love and support. And most importantly, they are emulating Jesus in their words, actions, and thoughts. It is said “to return evil for good is devilish; to return good for good is human; to return good for evil is divine.” As we leave here today, I want to challenge you. Each and every one of us has an enemy. Whether it’s a large scale enemy or a personal enemy, it is still a person associated with bitterness and anger in your heart. Pray for them. And pray for your own heart. That Christ would soften your heart towards them while also drawing their heart towards Him.  Who is it that you can pray start praying for today? And what is a tangible way that you can show Christ’s love to them? Let us pray.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for this time together this morning. I think you for the people in this room and everything that they have added to my life. Lord, I pray that you would soften my heart towards those that I declare as my enemies. I pray that you would put people in my path to remind me that above all else, I am to represent you in my thoughts, actions, and words. I pray that you give me ways to love these people just like you love all of your children. Amen.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Weariness


There are some days where this world and the people in it make me sad. It seems like lately, those days are closer together and a lot more frequent. 

Before I continue, let me say that with this post, I want you to hear my heart. I want you to try and read my words and know where I'm coming from. I am not wanting to debate. I am not wanting to argue. I am simply writing so you know my heart and you understand its current brokenness. 

I am sad because people are afraid. I have children in my office legitimately afraid that they won't see family members again due to the current President-elect. I have friends who are social workers and teachers that have told me stories about multiple children, usually under the age of 10, that are scared because they know they are different. They are living in fear and that makes me sad. 

I am sad because the country gave the message that sexual assault is not something to fight against. Trump's words are not just words. He has actions to back up those words. Even if he didn't, his words are supporting a culture where women are not safe nor valued. And the general public (including 80% of "evangelical Christians") actively said that that issue wasn't worth fight for. To victims of abuse, it told them that their hurt and pain were not to be taken seriously. This makes me sad because every single day I see women who have experienced that abuse. They have been abused in ways I can't imagine and it breaks my heart that the people of America did not stand up for them. 

I am sad because I am seeing ugliness in people on both sides. I see hateful words come out of people that I know are not hateful people. I see relationships being ruined and feelings being hurt because we are not listening to each other. We are not grieving with each other. We are not coming along side one another. We are trying to knock each other down. 

I am sad because I see a lot of Christ-followers not stepping up. I am not going to say that Christians aren't stepping up because I know that a lot of Christians are. But I also see a lot of Christians gloating in the fact that others are mourning and grieving. I see Christians not taking care of other people. I see Christians belittling other people simply because they have different views, backgrounds, etc. That is not what Christ calls us to. 

I am sad because there are populations of people that now feel like nobody is on their side. Today, my own denomination that I know and love voted against church autonomy in order to ostracize the LGBT denomination. I want that community to know that the church can be a safe place for them. They have people on their side. Don't give up on the church or on Christ due to the actions of some. 

I am sad because it seems like love is losing. It seems like hate is beating love and that makes my soul weary. And I don't see it getting better any time soon. 

Friends, I am not writing to convince you of my political beliefs. I am writing because if you're reading this, I assume you care about me. And right now, I am having to really fight to not let my heart become hardened towards certain groups of people. It's so easy for me to become angry and bitter but I am fighting with everything I have to not let hate win my heart. 

I am sad. 
I am weary. 
I am tired. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Bad Advice

Don't worry yall, this is not going to be another blog post about how it's okay to be single. I cannot tell you enough how tired of reading those I am. *aka please stop sending me articles about being single.* This might sound a little rambly so stick with me.


When I was a young teenager, I had someone within the church tell me and a few other girls my age that it was totally okay to be single. Nothing wrong with that, right? Then they said that when we were right with God and our relationship with God was solid, then would He send us a spouse. 

Sheesh. 

If you work with teenage girls, or really any humans at all, PLEASE don't ever tell them that when they do a certain something, God will then do something in return. We don't control God. That's not how it works. We don't know what He's planning for our lives. It's just bad theology and can be very damaging. 

It took me until I was about a sophomore in college to know that that advice was a load of poop. I spent about 6 years feeling insecure in my relationship with Christ. I had thoughts running through my head like "Why haven't I met someone yet? Something with my relationship with Christ must be wrong." or "I need to pay more attention to my faith or else I'll never get married."

Yall, both of these are so ridiculous. As I type them out, it seems so silly and embarrassing that I was having those thoughts. However, that's what I had been told and it stuck with me. Even do this day, my brain will think those thoughts and I have to catch myself. Now, these ladies meant well. They had no idea that this would be the implication of their words. And they taught me multiple other things that have greatly influenced my faith in a positive way. But that one piece of advice messed with me for 6 whole years. 

My relationship status has absolutely nothing to do with my relationship with Christ. I am complete because I am complete in Christ. I love Jesus and I love Him not expecting anything to return.

I don't really know the point of this blog. Maybe it's to remind you if you are single, that God has not forgotten about you. Maybe it's to remind you that are you loved and wanted. Maybe it's to remind you that as a single person, you have a very unique ministry opportunity that you may not have forever. Take advantage of it! And when people that truly do care about you send you articles on being single and continually ask if you're married yet, try telling them everything God is doing in your life. Give them examples of how God is using you. Believe it or not, you don't have to be married to start serving Christ ;)

Take heart, friends. You are loved, cherished, and not alone.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Reconciliation

In Genesis 32 and 33, we see Jacob reconciling with Esau. As most of you know, Jacob had tricked his father and stole Esau's birthright. After not speaking for 14 years, Jacob was trying to reconcile with his twin brother. Esau and his 400 men could have easily killed Jacob for what he had done to him. Instead, Esau forgave him, they reconciled, and everything in the past was forgotten. A familiar story to most, right? However, there's one thing in this story that I think we tend to skip over. Before the reconciliation happens, Jacob wrestled with God. They wrestled all night long before Jacob was changed. 

Right now, it feels like I'm "wrestling with God." And friends, it isn't fun. 

Reconciliation isn't easy. It isn't our human nature to reconcile with those that have wronged us. There's a good chance that if I were Esau, it would've taken a lot longer than 14 years for me to forgive my brother when he stole all of my inheritance from me. Isn't it a wonderful thing that God still loves us even when we're brats?

I don't know if yall know this, but I'm very stubborn. Very very stubborn. I'm also a pro at what my pastor in Rockport would call "emotional cutoff." The combination of the two makes it very hard for me forgive those that wrong me. The majority of the time, it's easier for me to just remove myself from the situation/relationship than work through things. Especially if I tried to work through things and it just got worse. 

Jesus does not call us to this. He calls us to work things out. And in my head, I know this. I know that we are to forgive as He forgave us. I know that even if someone wrongs us a million times, we are to still forgive them (Luke 17:3-4). I know that it can damage relationships long term if we do not forgive one another. In my mind, I know all of this. But that doesn't mean that my heart wants to forgive. The past 2 years, I've been able to just be cutoff from a certain relationship and it's been pretty easy. I was deeply hurt and continually shut down so I threw in the towel. But all of the sudden, I am being reminded that bitterness and resentment are not healthy. This is why I say I'm wrestling with God. It sure as heck isn't going to be me that decides to change my own heart towards this person. Cause if it were up to me, I wouldn't.  He's changing my heart. We're wrestling. But we're not quite done yet and I'm not sure we will be anytime soon.

The whole point of this blog is to encourage those of you that are also in this season of life cause I know I'm not the only one feeling this way. Know that you aren't alone and know that it isn't easy. But I can also say that the Lord is faithful. I know this because He has put people in my life that have reminded me that reconciliation is the only option.  People that speak truth into me when I don't want to hear it. 

As my dear friend told me, "Make it right. Be bold, but not stubborn. Be bold for God.  Don't let anyone shut you down.  Don't stop loving."  

Or as another one told me, "Get it together and stop being so dang stubborn." 
 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Disconnecting

I recently made the decision to deactivate my Facebook for a little bit. Sadly enough, this wasn't an easy decision. I like to know what's going on with people. I enjoy seeing pictures, reading articles, and keeping up with my friends and family around the world. But sometimes, social media can be VERY overwhelming. I deactivated my account for 3 reasons. 

1. Things were getting ugly. 

This political season seems to be bringing out the absolute worst in everyone. Everyday, I would get on Facebook and see comments from people I know and love that were incredibly hateful and mean. Let me be clear, people can have differing opinions. And contrary to what I'm seeing on Facebook, you can debate these opinions without being hateful to people. It was getting hard for me to reconcile the fact I know some of the people have a relationship with Jesus Christ yet they were acting so hateful and downright mean. Then I started getting angry. I was angry that people were being so mean and I started to look at those people differently. Instead of seeing their profile picture and being reminded of how awesome they were, I was looking at their profile picture and remembering what awful thing they said on someone's post. I felt my heart becoming hardened towards certain people and that was not okay with me. I caught myself being more argumentative towards certain people and that was not okay with me either. 

So now I'm just completely avoiding it all together. Is this the most healthy response? Probably not. But it's what I need to do in order for me to salvage relationships and stay sane (and kind) for the time being. 

2. Privacy

I'm not talking about being scared that someone will read my post and come and murder me. Although, that would be no bueno. When I say privacy, I mean the intimate details of my life. The older I get, the less and less I want every single person on my Facebook to know exactly what's happening in my life. Not every single person has earned the right to know every detail of my life. *I also totally see the irony in me saying this on my blog where I do share the happenings of my life.* It's not that I'm hiding anything in my life. But if someone truly cared what was happening with me, they would ask. It just seems that on Facebook recently, people are asking the wrong questions. Instead of asking why I've become so "liberal" or if I've "found the one yet" (the answer is still no, thank you very much) why not ask me how my job at the shelter is going? Or what I'm learning in classes? Or what God is specifically doing in my life right at this moment. I would LOVE to tell you about any of those things because those things are worth talking about. God has actually done some really cool things in my life lately and I would love to share them. Let be real, we all love the cat videos and fun pictures, but are they really that important? What happened to taking the time to intentionally ask someone how their life is going? Friends, if you truly care about someone, ask them how their life is going! Don't just scroll past their status and pictures. Take the time to call/text/email them and see how things are going. 

3. Time

Don't worry, I'm not going to be one of those people that humbly (but not really humbly at all), says "Oh my gosh, I just wish I had the extra time to waste on Facebook!" The only reason people say that is to make other people feel bad. When I use time as a reason to deactivate my account, I mean the time I was wasting. I would sit there for 30 minutes sometimes and scroll endlessly through posts. That's just silly! I'm not saying that I was going to go do something amazing during that time. But I could be reading a book, interacting with other people, or just doing literally anything productive. 


At the end of the day, I want to keep my mind fresh, my heart kind, gentle, and focused on Christ, and my actions and words reflecting my belief in Him. By staying on Facebook, I'm not sure that would've happened, unfortunately. For some reason, people think that Facebook is the only form of communication and if I leave Facebook, they'll never hear from me again. Not the case. If you have my phone number, feel free to text or call me. If not, my email is erin.albin1@gmail.com and I would love to talk about my life, your life, and just about anything else!