Forgiven Much

Compassion is tricky for me.

For a lot of years, I’d shrug and flippantly remark that it was simply

“not my gift.”

But the truth is more complicated than that.

Jesus looked into a crowd and felt compassion (Matthew 9:36).

He saw.  He felt.

I like to try to wrangle compassion with my mind.

I like to rationalize, to extend grace to the innocents, to the ones who I feel deserve it.

She kneels at his feet, anointing them with her expensive perfume

And her tears.

She is not an innocent.

I hear myself in the disciples’ voices as they protest.

But Jesus, if you really knew…

He knows.

He sees her.  He feels with her.

And his words of life to her are words of challenge to his disciples.

Words of challenge to me.

She loves much because she has been forgiven much.

The truth is, I am not an innocent either.

I don’t deserve this lavish grace.

I too have been forgiven much.

Today, I am praying for compassion that can’t be wrangled with my mind.

For eyes to see.  For a heart to feel with.

For grace to love not just the innocents,

But the ones like me.

Guilty.  Undeserving.

And forgiven much.

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When Jesus Leaves

We are good at compartmentalizing.

Too good, I think.

In sociology, we call it code-switching.

We call it adaptive behavior.

In education, we call it learning hidden rules.

We call it another skill to be mastered.

And then we wonder why we feel so fractured, so disconnected, so unsure of ourselves.

In Luke 4 and 5, Jesus spends a day with Peter.

They start out in the synagogue.

This is where we expect to find Jesus, right?

At church.  On Sunday morning.

He’s allowed here.  Expected, even.

So far, so good.

And then Jesus leaves.

He walks right on out of the synagogue and right on into Peter’s house.

Later he shows up in Peter’s boat, his place of employment.

And not just sitting around blending in with the crowd, either.

He shows up doing Jesus-y things.

Healing.  Casting out demons.  Speaking truth powerfully.  Providing in crazy, over-the-top ways.

It’s quite a spectacle, really.

The truth is, I’m not a big fan of spectacles.

And yet,

There is something about this kind of integrity that feels so very, very right.

Integrity.

Being one.

Because, friends, the truth is we did not leave Jesus at church this morning (or twenty years ago, whatever the case may be).

When we left, Jesus left.

He walked right on into our homes.

He walked right on into our places of employment.

And, if we’ll give him the space, I believe, he’s ready to do all sorts of Jesus-y things.

Let’s not pretend like we left him at church this week.

Let’s not shush him, pleading with him to just blend in with the crowd.

This week, let’s do life with a little less compartmentalizing

And a little more integrity.

To the ones who feel invisible today

We are online in droves today.

Posting cute pictures of us with our dads.

Telling the world how wonderful our dads are.

Smiling dads.  Present dads.  Godly dads.

I am here.

I keep scrolling and I see you too.

Mostly silent today.

Feeling, perhaps, invisible.

To the ones grieving dads taken too soon and too violently,

I see you.

To the ones who enjoyed their dads for many years and yet miss them terribly today—one year, five years, twenty years later,

I see you.

To the ones putting on a brave face to celebrate with dads whose minds or bodies are being stolen by terrible diseases,

I see you.

To the ones estranged—the ones who cringe at the image of God as a father,

I see you.

To the little ones who ask, “Why don’t I have a daddy?” and the mamas who fumble for words,

I see you.

To the daddies with empty arms and aching hearts because their babies are in heaven.  Or in orphanages halfway around the world.  Or both,

I see you.

To the step dads and foster dads and granddads and uncles and friends who fill the shoes of daddy but feel a little like a fraud today,

I see you (and thank you).

To the ones who feel invisible today, the ones who remain silent,

You are not alone.  You matter.

You are seen.

You are loved.

Today.

Legacy

Three years ago, I said good-bye to my Pop Pop. Today, I watched my daughter receive awards for showing up, being helpful and achieving her goals. It makes me sad (again) that they never got to meet. It makes me grateful (again) for every single moment.  This is a tribute to my Pop Pop that I wrote last year:

In your room, there’s a dresser that my Pop Pop made once upon a time.  It was wooden, then painted white, then banged and bumped a lot.  Now it’s got a fresh coat of purple paint and it will soon be adorned with our beautiful hand-painted knobs.

I’m not even sure how I inherited it, but I love that this dresser, this thing that Pop Pop made with his own calloused hands, is here.  I love that you get to touch it every day.  I love that it is bumped and scratched and imperfect because so was he.  And so are we.

I remember the day that I told Pop Pop I was going to adopt.  I’m not sure what I expected, but what I got was a blessing (loud enough for everyone in Mimi’s Café to hear) and one year of persistent prayer for you—the great-granddaughter he would never meet.

I remember the day we said goodbye.  “I love you,” he said, “you take care of that great-granddaughter for me (your newborn cousin).  And yours will be here soon.”

Six weeks later, you were.

My Pop Pop didn’t leave a lot of stuff behind when he died.  He did leave a dresser.  And a lifetime full of lessons learned the hard way. These are the lessons I learned from my Pop Pop—the lessons I want to pass down to you, my daughter.  This is his legacy.

I hope you know hard work—rising before dawn, pushing your body and mind to the limit.

I hope you know perseverance—seeing a project through to the end, no matter how hard it turns out to be.

I hope you know ingenuity—figuring out a way to make things last a little longer than everyone else thinks they should.

I hope you know honesty—saying what you mean and meaning what you say.

I hope you know joyful abandon—playing ring-around-the-rosy in the front yard when you are much too old for such foolishness.

I hope you know independence—making your own choices and learning how to take responsibility for them.

I hope you know community—having a chat over ham and oysters and choosing to find common ground with different folks even if it takes a little time.

I hope you know grace—hearing the truth that you’re not perfect, but you are loved and accepted just the same.

I hope you know faith—choosing to pray and believe for something that you may never actually get to see.

And most of all, my beautiful girl, I hope you know Love— the Love my Pop Pop knew.

Love that is big enough to fill the empty spaces.

Love that is strong enough to cover the bumps and scratches and imperfections.

Love that, in the end, is the only thing that matters.

Always Enough

Do you ever get something lodged in your head, and it just won’t leave you alone?

I’ve been mulling over Psalm 37:25 for a few days.

A year ago, I would have dismissed this as the simple result of being forced to memorize lots of Bible verses as a kid (side note: make your kids memorize lots of Bible verses.  Seriously.  Even though I may have done it for the gold stars or the plastic trinkets or the adult approval, those are the verses that come back when I need them).

But since this is the year of embracing the anointing, I decided to dig a little deeper.

“I have been young, and now am old,

yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken

or their children begging bread.”

These are the words that won’t leave me alone, the words stuck deep in my consciousness for many years.  A reminder, surely, that as I seek to live faithfully, there will always be enough.  He will always be enough.

And then I read the next verse.

“They are ever giving liberally and lending,

and their children become a blessing.”

Not only are the righteous not begging, they are giving, sharing, living in the wide openness that is generosity.

It seems so counter-intuitive, I think.

Especially when my babies are involved, my instinct is to hoard.

Though few of us in America have honestly experienced “not enough,” they are the exception.

They have known not enough and as they gobble and cling, I find myself repeating two words.

Always enough.

Here, babies, there will always be enough.

He will always be enough.

Not because we hoard the manna.

It will be moldy tomorrow anyway.

But because we choose to give, to share, to live in the wide openness that is generosity.

And you, my loves, are becoming a blessing.

Today, to me.

Tomorrow, to the world.

But If Not

I’ve always been someone for whom absolutes come easily.

Good and bad.

Right and wrong.

So much so that growing up, my mom called my sister and I Grace and Truth.

I was always, undeniably truth.

As a child, I got irritated with people who gave God caveats.

You know, “If it’s Your will…”

I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t first figure out what God’s will was and then pray for it.

End of story.

Salvation.  Healing.  Deliverance.

In my childlike faith, I believed that these things would always be God’s will.

I didn’t understand why we needed to give him an escape route when we asked for them.

If there ever were three guys who understood absolutes, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did.

Serve or not serve.

Bow or not bow.

And with their very lives at stake, they spoke with conviction.

Our God is powerful enough to save us from the flames.

But if not…

We still will not bow.

As a grown up, I’m learning that life is messy.

I’m learning to make some space for grace in between my absolutes.

I’m learning that we don’t always get to know the end of the story, and that sometimes salvation and healing and deliverance look different than they did through my childhood eyes.

I’m learning that although God certainly doesn’t need our caveats,

Sometimes we do.

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that we don’t have all the answers.

Sometimes we need to trust our God’s heart even when we don’t see his hand.

Sometimes we need to choose to stand for truth (and grace) without knowing the end of the story.