Rethinking Joy

A dark night of the soul is this, sans light bulb.

It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned my dark night of the soul. The news is, I’m still in it. And where I am is black. Pitch black. Moonless, starless, candle-less nothingness. I’ve never experienced a crisis of faith quite this deep, long or disconcerting. I’m not sure where the end of this thing is.

The other day, I asked myself what it would look like if I really loved myself. All of myself. The way God loves me. And in that moment, 90% of my theology fell apart. I realized that while I had experienced some of the best things in my church upbringing, I had also experienced some of the worst. There’s very little room for self-love or self-acceptance (let alone acceptance of others) in the doctrine of my denomination. I was always taught the JOY acronym: Jesus first, others second, yourself last. Except, like much of everything in evangelicalism, it’s arranged in a hierarchy. JOY is spelled vertically. Jesus is at the top, others are below that, and you are the bottom of the totem pole. It’s the trickle-down economics of love. You give most of your devotion to Jesus, then some to others, and hopefully have enough for yourself afterwards. Continue reading

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New Life

So…remember back in July when I said I felt like a dish rag? There was a particular reason for that.

This is the reason:

lucasOn February 6, I welcomed my second son into the world. With me going back to work in three weeks, life is about to get pretty crazy. But I’m very happy to have this new person in my arms; he has brought me so much joy. Finding time to write is going to be even more challenging, but don’t worry. I still plan to be here fighting the good fight!  🙂

The Problem with Spiritual “Authority”

Image found at favim.com. Artist unknown.

Trigger warning for victims of sexual assault and abuse.

The other day, I published a post on what spiritual authority really means and how the evangelical church has abused the term. It seems rather timely that, shortly afterward, a huge uproar would arise over Christianity Today‘s decision to publish the story of a youth minister who sexually exploited one of the girls in his youth group. Of course, the ex-youth pastor doesn’t call it statutory rape or exploitation; rather it was a “extra-marital relationship” where both had “fallen into sin.” Many Christian bloggers, myself included, are calling for the story to be taken down.

Thankfully, that former youth pastor is in prison and, hopefully, his victim is receiving help. But if you want to know why sexual abuse is so prevalent in the Church, or why things like rape and pedophilia can be labeled “consensual extra-marital affairs,” or why it’s so darn difficult for victims to come forward and receive justice, the misuse of “spiritual authority” is a big reason.

To illustrate, I’m going to tell you my own story. Continue reading

Entering into His Rest

For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to take the holy advice of my Christian friends and find rest in my Savior. It’s proven to be one of most disturbingly painful experiences of my life thus far.

A few months ago, I told the Lord that I wanted to draw closer to him. He said, “OK,” then proceeded to drag down all of my internal supports and kick me onto my face. All of my usual coping mechanisms for dealing with life’s hardships were suddenly rendered null and void. I became incapable of carrying the burdens that I normally carried. Now I struggle to pray for myself, let alone anyone else. The light of joy that had finally begun to blaze in my heart weeks before has flickered and grown dark. Most of the time when I’ve tried to explain to others what’s going on with me, they stare at me like I have three heads. The grief and humiliation has been almost beyond bearing.

If there’s a level of brokenness beyond this, I don’t want to know about it.

The few times that I have been able to pray, I have asked God to help me enter His rest. Up until recently, though, the help didn’t appear to be forthcoming. Finally, in frustration, I asked God, “Will I ever enter your rest?”

He answered, “I don’t know. Will you?” 

I…what?! Continue reading

To Conservative Parents of Daughters: Don’t Raise a Victim

Image found at weheartit.com

Trigger warning for victims of rape, sexual assault and spiritual abuse.

At the recommendation of several people, I’m currently reading the book Boundaries by Cloud, Henry and Townsend. It’s proving to be a real eye-opener for me. Not only am I unable to say “no” to the bad, I’m apparently unable to say “yes” to the good in my life as well. No wonder I’m so exhausted.

It’s not that I lack self-control. I’ve got that in spades. You won’t catch me chewing out clerks in the checkout line or flirting with hot guys at the bookstore. It’s just that I don’t know where my internal property lines are. I don’t know how to take proper ownership of my feelings, express my needs in healthy ways or let the right people in.

There’s a reason for this. Continue reading