Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"There's a Monkey In My Coffee Cup!"

Today, I stumbled on this picture on the right. I thought it was really cute - the things people can do with that stuff! But, I thought it rightly portrayed a certain problem that I've encountered during this hard period of my life. When people attempt to offer empathy, offer that "cup of coffee" for consolation, I've often times been shocked to find a monkey inside. No! I am not calling anyone a primate. I'm talking about attitude. Instead of being serious, sometimes people feel as though they need to joke around
in order to make the person feel better. Make light of life, trying desperately to steer things away from the more serious matters that they might be facing.

When you're hurting, and you're down - talking about the weather, or your latest shopping trip really isn't going to cheer you up. It's monkey talk. It's tip-toeing around issues so that people don't have to really deal with your problems. It's a way for the other person to stay safe, by hiding behind frivolous conversation so they don't have to get their hands dirty. Even when meant kindly, pretending is the worst way to come alongside of a hurting person.

Lately I've been reading an amazing book. It's written by an inspiring and godly couple - "Captivating", by John and Stasi Eldridge. In this one particular chapter, John writes:

"Stasi and I had gathered with the men and women in our ministry who do the mens and womens retreats. The mens team wanted to offer our counsel and support and prayer to the womens team for their upcoming event. It was a chance for the women - and each of them are really, really amazing women, to just sort of open their hearts to us and process how things were going.
Our gathering moved rather quickly from the external kinds of issues - how long the sessions should be and logistical stuff like that - to the the internal world of the women's team themselves.
As we began to talk more intimately, something started coming over me. Just a sense, an inexplicable but strong impression:
back off.
That's what I felt. No one said it, nothing they were doing implied it, it wasn't a voice in my head. Just a very strong impression. I wasn't sure where it was coming from, but this strong reluctance, this sense of maybe we shouldn't press further into this, this feeling of just "back off" was growing in me, or over me, every moment that we moved more deeply into their lives.
With every step we took toward their hearts, I felt a stronger impression
to end the conversation, withdraw, bail out.

. . . Back off. "leave her alone" or "you don't really want to go there, she'll be too much for you" is something Satan has set against every woman from the day of her birth. It's the emotional and spiritual equivalent of leaving a little girl by the side of the road to die."

Isn't this powerful? And isn't it true? As selfish human beings, when we are confronted with another person's problem, we automatically default to the mindset of "it's not my deal! If I get too deep into this, it's going to be too much for me . . . "

Back off. Leave her alone. You don't really want to go there, she'll be too much for you.

Our minds are tricky. We don't think we're being selfish. Sometimes our reasoning is, "if we just make light conversation, it will make this person feel better. It will relieve them from their hurt" When in reality, this is just an excuse that we use to draw ourselves away from any transmittable pain.

The point of this post, is to encourage you. When you see a hurting person, instead of bounding up to them with a huge smile and funny stories to tell, take the time to humbly ask, "how are you doing?" Don't be afraid to go there. Don't be afraid to listen and respond to their hurt.

I myself have been greatly blessed by those I have invested time in. Those I have gone to in all seriousness, to help them out of their funk. I have truly seen God work during those times when the silliness is gone, and sincerity takes its place. Of course there is a time for fun and laughter . . . But the fun and laughter should never be a shield that we hold up, resulting from our "back off" mindsets. It's easy to ignore problems, and run the other way. But sometimes, it's more appropriate to offer coffee - without the monkey.

~Lauren Lee

Way too much coffee. But if it weren't for the coffee, I'd have no identifiable personality whatsoever. ~David Letterman

Be a coffee-drinking individual - espresso yourself! ~Author Unknown

I never drink coffee at lunch. I find it keeps me awake for the afternoon. ~Ronald Reagan

Monday, April 19, 2010

Jesus, Please Tie My Shoes!

"No Larwin!" He pulled the shoes out of my hand. "I can do it by mysewf."
Anthony, a little boy I babysit, was determined to tie his shoestrings all by himself. He would have none of my help.
"Are you sure, Anthony?"
"Yes, Larwin . . ."

I decided to let him try. Before long, the laces were tangled together, and his shoes were on backwards. He walked around like a clown, fell down, got back up, and fell down again. I giggled at him quietly, and before long, he waddled over and let me help him do it properly.

It has been a while since I've posted, mostly because of travel plans and whatnot :) But today, I really felt the need to give a message that's been dying to come out for the past several weeks. I've struggled with it, I've been hurt by it, and finally, I have come to terms with it.

In the past several years, our church has had a difficult time with compassion. Unlike most churches, they are very closed-fisted, and the leadership seems to stand far off from the rest of the body. The result is a hurt congregation, and lost souls. Instead of coming to a place of love, bruised and battered Christians find themselves in a judgmental atmosphere that deepens the pain they are already enduring. In our situation, the church was quick to judge my Mother. "Divorce is never allowed" seemed to engulf my sister, mom, and I, during a time when we needed support and love. Because they didn't know the entirety of the situation, they looked at us and gossiped. They looked at us without the empathy of Christ. And their coldness has permanently wounded me. However, when families in the church stood up to them, questioning some of their actions, "where in the bible is this or that?" The leadership responded . . . "It's not. This is just the way we do things."

Today I was reading the Gospel of Mark . . . Chapter 7. I read this:

“Now when the Pharisees gathered to him from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his diciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. For the Pharisees and all the jews do not eat unless they wash their hands, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash....) And the pharisees and scribes asked him, why do your disciples not walk according to the traditions of the elders, but eat with defiled hands? And he said to them, “well did the prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.

You leave the commandment of God, and hold to the tradition of men.”

This really struck me, and I wanted to share it with you. When a church admits, “well this is just the way we do things. It isn’t in the Bible, no . . .” But they stick to it anyway and force it upon the Body, they are teaching it as doctrine (vs. 7).

Instead of acting in humility, by admitting that yes, they are just human, and their "policies" may not always be aligned with the Bible, they teach it alongside of scripture as infallible.

They try to tie their own shoelaces. Set their own standards. Create their own rules.
Unfortunately, the reality is . . .
They can't, yet. And they will never be able to, apart from God's word.

Instead of letting someone else do it for them (in this case, God) . . . They're trying to figure it out themselves. And so far, they've only tied themselves up in knots. God has clearly commanded:

"Mourn with those who mourn, weep with those who weep." ~Romans 12:15

"Live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble." ~1 Peter 3:8

"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." ~Galatians 6:2

"So that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." ~1 Corinthians 12:25-26

"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? ~John 3:17

When the church ignores these commands to LOVE because of their rules and regulations, they are following the traditions of men over the commands of God.

It's time for the church to ask Jesus to tie their shoes.

After all, our "faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." (1 Cor. 2:5)

~Lauren Lee

Friday, April 2, 2010

It's Only Friday

Roughly 2,000 years ago, at around 3:00 P.M., the most magnificent event in history took place. Our Lord, savior, father . . . Died for us.

This video was played at church, I thought it was very powerful. Yes, the suffering HE endured for us was unbelievable, torturous, painful, miserable, undeserved, heartbreaking, agonizing . . . But,

It's Only Friday . . . Sunday's Coming.

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