Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Too much of our speech about God is pressed down by the response of the present world, the pain which does surround us, and which apparently dominates, which lacks a terminus, and which seems to have no half-life, but instead increases, perpetuates itself.
To avoid such despondency, theologians (professionals and pew-people) have adopted a theology that simply shouts "One glad morning when this life is over I'll fly away" over the discordant notes in "even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of Death." It misses the present, skips over the historical, and forgets about the Incarnation.
Two meanings can be ascribed to "end:" that which refers to the finality, or to the teleology, the purpose, the fulfillment of the Architect's design (archegon kai teleitein, Author and Completer/Perfector/Finisher, as in Heb 12). Christian theology must keep both in mind, for both are right loci of our speech about God, about the final word.
We must know what it means to live in the flesh in this world, even and especially when life gets hard, but also what it means to walk in another world, in another time, under another King.
Christianity pronounces a theology of the last word because this present world, these "light, fleeting circumstances, are as nothing compared with the eternal weight of glory that is being wrought in us."
Christianity is the theology of the last word because the single most powerful, most spiteful, most hope-sapping thing this world can scream at us in its desperation is "DEATH!," but our reply, spoken with humility and triumph, is simply "Really? Because I know the One who got up."
Friday, October 28, 2011
Many of you know that last year I ran a half-marathon to help bring awareness to the cause of adoption around the world. I never thought I would try something like that again... I was wrong! The original recipient was unable to accept the gift of over $700 raised last year by your support alone, but what an amazing gift it was to tell them how many people wished to support them and how much they were able to put together!
As the registration time for this year's race came closer, many of us felt the impact of more financial difficulties than we did at the same time last year. There's a story in the Bible of a widow that gives a small amount of money, her last bit, while many wealthy people give great sums. Jesus notes that many gave out of abundance, but she gave out of her poverty, and this gift would be greatly honored by the One who sees what we do in private. I decided to go farther and harder.
This year, I have committed to running the full marathon - 26.2 miles complete with inclines, declines, and a bunch of people in better shape than I am trampling over me. My training has been full of learning, exhaustion, injuries, and carbohydrates. I love the idea of running an endurance race in connection with adoption: neither is easy, neither will be over quickly, neither is cheap, but both have correspondingly great rewards!
I would like to put out the same invitation to you that I put out last year, with one addition. Last years invitation was to sponsor an adoption per mile as you saw fit: a set amount, or $1, $5, or $10 / mile that I run. That means that any time I have to quit and walk, you are relieved of your obligation. A warning, though: I do not plan on giving up. One guy even gave whatever he made playing poker that night to the cause! The addition this year: PRAYER! I've never run this far in my life, and the weather is unpredictable, and the hills are not. Your prayer and support, combined with a generic version of Gatorade will go so much further than you can know.
***Too often I speak in generalities and concepts, and people have to remind me to "put some flesh on it." This year I want to put a FACE with idea (or in this case, several faces), so within the next few days I will be attaching something to this document: a letter from the family you are supporting so you can know a little bit about who they are, and why this whole thing matters to them. This is actually my favorite part of this letter.***
The season surrounding Christmas is a time for giving, and with good reason. It's also a time of thanks and extravagance, and sometimes even having a little extra. Rather than trying to crunch your budget and the time frame, I wanted everyone to have time to prayerfully and thoughtfully determine what they wanted to give, and to have time to get it together. This year the donations will be presented in early December, so anything you would like to contribute would arrive by December 1st if at all possible. Respond via email here or through a Facebook message and I'll give you more details!
With gratitude and joy,
"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." - James 1:27
"He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love steadfast mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God?" - Micah 6:8
"Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation." - Psalm 68:5
Thursday, October 20, 2011
I think I had a community in Belton that really loved me, and I learned over a long, arduous process to admit how much I needed them. Really the depression when I got back from Iraq was a great impetus. I shared with them how much and how exactly I was hurting. They did not know in the least how to respond, but they listened, and they loved me, and they never thought any less of me. We were a community that was truly ill-equipped to deal with the woes of one another, but that wasn't what mattered at the time: they just loved me.
I think I liked the me that came back from Iraq better than the version that left for Iraq, and I fear the me of today more closely approximates the latter than the former. The individual that returned left his weapons and his armor in another life. He was vulnerable, less afraid to let people get close, less sharp with his tongue. And why wouldn't he be? He was out of options. He'd walked away, walked seemingly alone, and had realized that the gift that God had given him, the people in his life, had been taken for granted for so long.
I tried to find that again here, and thought I was really making headway at one point, and then a friend and I dated and broke up. When we came back from semester, I was really struggling with depression, and it seemed like everyone I had learned to count on had bailed, and later some even admitted that they had. (I say "seemed," because the situation was of course never as dire as it appeared in my head. With depression, it never is.) But even the appearance such things from friends was enough, and I grabbed a Kevlar vest and put it right back on. I simply did not want anyone to have that kind of power again any time soon.
I have since realized the sheer stupidity of that statement. I was hurting, so instead of letting people help me heal that hurt, I just decided to hurt privately, where at least I had the delusion of control. I've got a post on community coming up soon, but that will have to wait.
So why does that affect thoughts on a romantic relationship? Because I think I have the potential to know someone and be known, and to love them well and be loved by them. There's a lot of risk in a romantic relationship, but there is also a more narrow focus, where you serve and share with one person more than any other. I'm learning to risk with people in general again, but that doesn't mean I don't still want to know someone at their worst and demonstrate love for them in the midst of it, and for the same to be done for me.
Love is really only meaningful in the context of "knowing." Let me put that another way: the degree to which you know someone determines the degree to which your love for them matters. If I can say that I love someone that I barely know, it means little. They are probably still putting on a facade, a guise, or keeping me at a distance with the best foot still forward. But if I know the junk on the inside, the really beautiful -and- the really ugly stuff, and can still say with conviction that I love them, then my love actually matters. (Side note: What if there were some entity that could know every tiny part of us, and still love us with reckless abandon?) I legitimately want to know someone like that, and love them like that, and I think it's because that's how my Creator imprinted His image upon my heart.*
That's the best reason I've got, and honestly I don't see a problem with it.
*I was so tempted at that point to ruin this post with the zenith of Moulin Rouge:
"The greatest thing you'll ever learn
is just to love and be loved in return."
I think Jesus would have "liked" this quote if it was in the Apostle John's profile (which it is, only the website isn't Facebook, it's 1st John).
Sunday, August 28, 2011
So a new friend asked why I don't write anymore. I explained that I'd offended someone with my last post, and that had kind of scared me off of posting anything. She encouraged me and began convince me that my voice is something that needs to be heard, so I decided to write again. When I sat down with my journal the next day, I noticed the date, realizing that I hadn't written much at all in the last few months. Offending someone via the Interwebs wouldn't affect my personal scribblings, would it? Why did my dear, dear Diary miss out on all the fun?
Putting that aside, I began to write about where I'd been over the previous few months. Then I stopped. I had to... because I couldn't see. As I had begun to write, I had also begun to lose the figure-4 variation choke hold I had on my emotions.
Introspection was hard, painful, and unexpectedly undesirable (#1). That's the first part of a single truth.
In photography, opening the shutter lets light in, inevitably causing its contact with the film (or something like that). The letting in of light is called "exposure." So I'm trying this whole thing again: I'm letting light in, and I'm looking at what I can see.
Stark naked, armor and pretentious garments trailing somewhere in the dust, limping and running and falling and failing and getting up again - I'm letting the light in. I'm exposing myself. Enjoy the pun before you go on.
It has been a little rough lately.... Okay, a lot rough. But it's also been meaningful, and it has borne much fruit. Recently I had to make a remarkably difficult decision, and I simply lacked the discernment to know the way that I should go. It took someone who has the spiritual gift that Paul called "seeing through the bullshit" (I think it's in Second Romans) to point me in the right direction. She saw weaknesses and wounds and salves for those wounds and workouts for those weaknesses that I would already have been aware of if I had been letting light in so God could illuminate the parts of my soul I was hiding - even hiding from myself.
Not looking isn't going to stop me from hurting (as least, not for long). It's just going to leave me ill-prepared for the mornings when I wake up and everything is so dark I don't want to put me feet on the floor, or for the days that seem so bright until I learn something that knocks me right back off of those feet. So I'm looking, and I'm learning. And I'm seeing those flaws and failures and other words that allow for alliteration. And with help I'm also seeing victories, and progress, and that my heart seeks to know fully and love passionately both God and people.
The second half of that truth from earlier: Introspection is good, and meaningful, and spiritual, and necessary, and sometimes... sometimes it is sweet. Sometimes it serves those around me in ways I could never have planned or predicted because those ways are beyond my ways.
That makes it worth it to let the light in, the light that hurts and burns, but that cleans and shows shadows for what they are and let's me see the face of the One who was with me in the dark the entire time.
Monday, April 11, 2011
There comes a time in every moderately competent writer's life when he or she must address certain topics. If you want to score in this game, you've got to hit all the wickets. If you don't understand cricket terms, don't worry about it. No one does. It's the greatest practical joke the British ever pulled (except maybe the "noble motives" of the East India Trading Company, which you should know is not a fictional construct for the Pirates of the Caribbean's fall from grace).
So today's wicket:
THINGS MEN WISH WOMEN KNEW
This was inspired by several conversations of late, and is therefore a contextually appropriate an far-from-exhaustive list. I've chose not to write anything from The Enemy's perspective, as there are several female authors on the Internets who are more familiar with their battle strategy, and who are also much funnier (here's looking at you Christy L. and Chris G.)
So here goes:
1) Getting blown off is MUCH worse than getting rejected. Many of you have said you don't want to be a jerk/be rude/make him feel bad about himself/make it awkward. That's bull___ (professors might read this) and we all know it. You just don't want to have to be uncomfortable for the few seconds it takes to say no. You'd probably just rather avoid looking him in the face while he gets rejected in absentia. Save everyone the time, emotional anguish, and text message balance and just say "Sorry, but I kind of hate you." We will seriously appreciate it more than you know. And so will you. Because we'll tell our friends "Yeah, she turned me down, but she was totally upfront and honest about it." And then "Brett," who is smarter, more attractive, more successful, and doesn't have 2.5 degrees in a field he will never be able to market will say, "Cool. Can I ask her out?" "Sure! Have at it man - she's great." We're more likely to ask out straight-forward women who we can trust. And at your wedding that we have to spend 73% of the cost of owning a tux to rent one you'll say "I love you too, Brett" and we'll all go "So grood!" Except maybe one guy, who'll say "That's whack." But it'll totally just be the regular type.
2) We don't care about your cat... at all. Seriously. We have neither positive nor negative feelings towards your furry little feline friend. It's a cat. It might be adorable or have personality or do that cute thing you keep telling us it always does but just won't do right now. But we just don't care. And it's not that we're concerned you might become a crazy cat lady. It's that there's no utility in a cat. They can't bear loads, clean up scraps, alert us of impending burglary, maul a stranger, scare the neighbor kid who keeps throwing things over the fence, or bring us barrels full of much needed whiskey when we're "lost" (which we never are) in a frozen tundra. Puppies, other than corgis, can serve a purpose. If Timmy (Nation) falls down a well, what the heck is your cat going to do? Barking brings help. Rubbing up against the sheriff's leg just gives him allergies.
3) Knowing about football and/or guns is hot. Bernice may have told you that it emasculates us if you know more than we do, or you're tougher than we are. It doesn't, and there are plenty of other reasons not to take advice from your single friend Bernice (like the beaver growth hormone doping charges of which she was acquitted). Every woman should have a picture of herself at the shooting range or in a field with either a rifle or a handgun. Plus you have the added benefit of never having to say what we can discern from your Facebook: "If you ever hurt my sister or I, 'I know where you live and I've seen where you sleep, and I swear by all that is good and holy your mother will cry when she sees what I've done to you.'" We can figure out motive and opportunity for ourselves - you're just clarifying that you have the means as well. http://on.fb.me/dZrsyU
4) Quote Dumb and Dumber as often as you can. This is my generation's Caddyshack, and it will go a long way with us. Additionally it inspires future comments like "Killer heels, babe!" (We also appreciate when you know and reference Braveheart as well, but we don't want to talk about the socio-political implications of violence on interpersonal relationships and geo-political restoration in historical rivalries and such understandings affect the way we understand how to serve you in a relationship and apologize without feeling weak. We just want to watch the damn movie, and cry with impunity.
[This ends part 1. I've decided to take this a little at a time for two reasons: I want men to chime in with new, exciting topics; and I want women to respond, perhaps here, on the original website, or on your own Xangas (yup - I'm bringing that back with Homestar)/ Livejournals/ snarky text messages.]
UPDATE: first full response, other than K in the comments section was http://www.facebook.com/notes/elizabeth-hammonds/men-the-rules-of-engagement/10150567657960385?notif_t=like
Friday, April 8, 2011
Okay, well actually it's an entire power bundle like Superman's strength, flight, heat vision, far-sight and X-Ray powers. (I don't understand why he became a reporter and not an optometrist.) And when these powers activate, I become DEPRESSED DUSTIN!!!
Can you see it?! Me on a hill or building, fists on my hips, cape waving in the wind, a giant DD on my chest, and occasionally my fist moves to wipe a tear from my face.
You got the chills too, right?
So I started the journey, as every hero does, to discover the limits and specific nature of my powers. Here's what I've got so far:
- Super Neediness - I begin to text, Facebook, email, and shout from my front porch. I become very "within reach" and it begins to resemble something kind of sad, especially with how attached to my phone I become - very helpful for the needy crime-fighter on the go, though
- Uncontrollable Sobbing - Assessment pending.... I haven't found a crime-fighting application for this yet.
- Super Snark - as evidenced by my statuses and post earlier this week, I suddenly acquire the ability to be pretty sarcastic, make biting remarks about social constructs, etc. Very hard on criminals in fraternities and hipsters.
- Negativism, or Frustrated Deconstruction of Other People's Happiness/Theology - I can suddenly see clearly the negative side of things (everything, in fact) and critique logical arguments with biting precision
- Cursing with Impunity - I suddenly overcome years of cultural conditioning to pretend that none of us think or say the things we all think and say, and I honestly express exactly what I think
- Emotional Vulnerability - people can see through my sarcasm (commonly known as an "emotional force field")
- Aversion to Alcohol - I wont drink it when I'm even slightly down, but I'll long for the glorious bubbles of a good IPA once more
- Sharing - this concerns my allies the most, since apparently I'm starting to share more and more when things suck
- Overwhelming Gratitude - I cannot help but express my gratitude to those who have called, text messaged, walked, talked, prayed, and played with me through weeks like this one. I compulsively love the people who provided a living room, an encouraging word, and cookies... (oh heavens the cookies)!
So this rarely comes out of my mouth/keyboard: I really hope I didn't offend anyone with this. Seriously.
But if you can't laugh at your own psychological and emotional shenanigry, whose can you laugh at? I mean... what can you laugh at?