What I’ve learned at your feet

As my beautiful family packs themselves into the car to drive the 20 min to our local AME (African Methodist Episcopal) church this morning…I’m taking a health day. I’m sipping coffee and snuggling the pups. There is plenty I could be reading, but for now,  I’m processing.

We are in a time of learning here at the Ebed House. We are doing deep soul work, life changing kind of learning. Some days I wake up and jump in with joy, while other days I find myself so affected by anxiety that I can’t leave the house or open my social media pages. We’ve been on a bit of a roller coaster the last few months. We are making purposeful choices about what we pull ourselves out of and where we will press in. We are saying hard things, we are listening to voices of color and we are holding on tight to see where it will take us. I feel like I have my eyes shut tight but I crack one just enough to peek from time to time. Honestly, I don’t know that I have ever heard my husband so passionate, so resolved, and so clear in what he believes and why. It’s all a bit soul shaking for me.

Awhile back I received a good word about making the choice to speak from our scars rather than from our wounds. This little bit of wisdom was life changing for me. It was freeing rather then silencing and gave me the permission to heal before I speak, before I write…before I teach. After five years of struggle,  I am forming scars.

Our country is broken. The events in Charlottesville speak to that. Over and over and over again, those who have been wronged cry out for justice and find themselves running headlong into systems that are weighted against bodies of color. This is not new. We have not turned a corner in the road and suddenly landed here, but somehow, among many white communities, these voices have been lulled, dismissed or lost over the years. This cannot continue. Those of us who see…must speak.

Here’s the thing I have been asking myself, ‘who’ is my audience? Where do I have a voice in my community?’ My clear and unflinching conclusion is this, the church. Wish, as I may, I can’t run from it, can’t pretend…can’t hope for another audience….for different ears. I was born to you…you are my past, my foundation…you have raised me up.

Church, your hands held me when I was young. There has never been a time when I haven’t known the inside of your walls…from velvet pews to multi-purpose spaces, from a re-purposed theater to a working funeral home. You taught me, you created programs to guide my youth, and platforms to speak from as I grew. When I had questions you helped me find answers. When I went to college, you were there…your elders shared their wisdom…your leaders introduced me to the wide world and taught me how to love those who didn’t know Jesus.

It was at your feet that I learned about repentance. You showed me how to be still in the Word, how to read and understand scripture while allowing it to convict my heart…It was in your fold that I learned about the great revivals that came when the church corporately repented and asked for the Holy Spirit to come. It was within your congregations that I learned repentance demands something of us…a physical change from one direction to another. It was you that taught me that when there is no recognition of a problem there can be no hope of reconciliation.

I am confused and heartbroken. When you preach that we must repent of our sins, and that the Bible is applicable for life today…Why are you surprised that I believe you? Why are you defensive when I point the light of the gospel into our shadows? Why are sins outside of the church put up as deflections to the issues of racism and prejudice within our own walls? Why do you buy into the idea that we must choose one issue over another when both demand our attention and action? Why do you write me off and others like me when our application is other then you expected? You have been our school, our teacher, and our leader. I cut my teeth on Evangelicalism and today I find it’s nourishment less then sustaining.

Do you see church, that it is your own teaching that has brought me to this place of utter undone-ness? Praise be to God! It may be easier to place me at the top of the pile labeled ‘discontent’. Please feel free….For what you see as my sin issue, I will choose to wear as a badge that spurs me and those willing to hear, onto repentance in the hopes of growth and reconciliation. I will continue to speak into our dark places and pray that the Lord will give us all ears to hear and strength to step forward. I love you church. You break my heart, and I love you still. You steal and rob, you pretend and deflect, you label and dismiss….and the list is endless….because we are all becoming….we are all working out this great faith. Dear God help us to see our faithlessness and bring us to repentance.
 

That humbling moment…

 

There was a moment this week…mid conversation…it was all I could do to hold back the quake. That deep knowing that something larger was at work. Once again, the hand of the Lord was moving. All the pain, all the hurt and brokenness…the parts were coming together again, and my vision, once blurred, has begun to focus. 

How many years have I walked this path marked out, having packed away hope and peace? Joy became a stranger. The questions ever present…Does he see? Does the Lord, my father have any idea? Why did he bring us to this place? For what purpose must I continue to die? Over and over and over….

And in a moment the curtain is pulled back a little farther and I can see his protection. I can begin to understand this depth of pain and the great hands that have held me…kept me back from what would destroy. In my humanity I desired good things that were not best…Sometimes the death of a thing is its best conclusion. I am realizing that hard place I was pushed up against was the Lord’s hand. He was always there. When will I learn? When will I allow his goodness towards me to go deep? When will I trust it and draw from it rather then run and question?

  

At the days end I can see the Lord’s grace in it all. With each bit of knowledge I understand myself and the journey a bit more and what is there to do but offer praise in the pain. I have written often of those ashy places and what a desert they seem to be. I’ve pondered many times on the life that can only come after death. When he chooses to grant clarity of vision it still stops me short. He has been here! He has walked beside…he has held the small light to the path infront of me and protected me from every side. This is a humbling realization and my gratitude can only be expressed in deepest praise. 

Today I can stand, something deep having shifted, only because of his grace towards me. Dear God how do I continue to walk faithfully in this space? How do I continue to choose to give from the broken places and allow them the freedom to teach, offer hope and bring healing? This is the journey of the Ebed House. Lord lead us in faithfulness. Teach us how to offer joy in the midst of deepest pain. Allow this space to be a refuge for a broken world and a hurting church.

Turning the Corner…Church, Some things I want you to know

 

Turning the corner…

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I’m happy. I’m hopeful. I’m reading. I’m thinking. I’m even, dare I say, dreaming. maybe the most painful of all…I’m remembering. Remembering who I am after years of forgetting. Remembering my first love, what I’m passionate about, and remembering who I was created to be….for what purpose.

For this truth teller and word lover I am hearing the whispers of hope and freedom again. You see, I need words. Oh how I love them. Words hard won…held back until they are right for the moment…Oh I need those secret whispers, they bring courage and the call to be true and honest. In the dark moments they let me know that I am not alone, and in the bright moments they give me expression and the opportunity to call others to join in.

So here it is, are you ready?

 

You, you are beautiful shy one. You have purpose and your vision brings joy! You bring my heart hope! Sisters, Jesus lovin’ ladies…young mamas and world worn grandmas,those with broken bodies and those that has never brought a child into this world…you! You have value and beauty to give. Dear God, when did we settle for silence? When did we stop birthing beauty and peace to one-another? When did we allow this world and it’s many external voices to define us?

Might I go on? I pray that I never stop!

You, lover of all living creatures! You, loud lady….the one with the contagious laughter…the movie screamer, coffee drinker and fine food eater. You, brokenhearted, lover of the unborn, caregiver to broken children and to all those with physical, emotional and mental illnesses, compassion giver for those not long for this world. You hold beauty in your hands and your touch brings life! Speak peace with freedom!

This is who we are dear church. Let us not forget…when we feast on the Word we have a great opportunity to share rest, and peace…to a world that is going hungry and doesn’t even know it. Our churches are filled with women gone silent…we’ve stopped speaking….stopped calling forth life….lost the art of a word well placed.

A life lived…

Back to that remembering…that returning to my first love…as the Spirit grows and I am reminded of grace it is my deep desire to share worth with those who overlap my life. A welcomed cup of coffee, a word of courage, a challenge to live out a conviction, a meal, peace…hope…

Take courage dear ones…speak!