HERspective Part 1 – What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Mary-Eve-Sr-Grace-Remington-OCSOThis picture is titled “Mary and Eve.” It’s a crayon and pencil drawing created by Sr. Grace Remington, OCSO, of the Cistercian Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey. I often see it shared around Christmas time. The image portrays Eve holding the fruit, the shame of her sin clearly seen on her face, while the serpent is wrapped around her ankle. Lifting up her head is Mary, carrying the Messiah inside her womb, while crushing the head of the serpent. This piece of art is stunning, and the message rings loud and clear.

However, every time I see it, I can’t help but notice that something very important is missing. Did you spot it as well?

 

Where is Adam?

 

One little line from Genesis 3:6 is often overlooked, but it is extremely important. 

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Did you catch that? The whole time the serpent was talking to Eve, Adam was present, and did nothing. Yet, the message that has often been proclaimed is that “this is all Eve’s fault.” One only has to look at a long history of Jewish and Christian interpretation to see this is the case. And of course, when Adam and Eve get busted, what is the first thing out of Adam’s mouth?

Genesis 3:12 – “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

So let me get this straight… The man stands passively aside and does nothing while the serpent speaks to Eve. He takes no ownership whatsoever, completely throws Eve under the bus, and then he lets her take the full blame for thousands of years?

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 Unfortunately, this way of acting (or better said, NOT acting) continued. I could point to many examples, but an obvious one would be the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8. In this story, the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law drag a woman out in front of Jesus and say “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t adultery take two people to commit? And if this woman was caught mid-act, wouldn’t the man have had to be present? Yet, only the woman gets dragged out. Only the woman is blamed. Sound familiar?

Now back to Eve. Nevermind that Paul, in Romans 5, places the sin completely on Adam, Eve still gets the reputation as the one who ruined it for all of us, even in the painting above. This view has drastically impacted the ways in which the Church, and men in general, view women. 

I love this painting. I think the message is life changing. I just wish it showed the whole picture. Maybe someone who is much better at drawing than I am can take a crack at it.

So why a series on women? When it comes to women in the Bible, I mostly see people do one of two things happen. Either they completely ignore the women in Scripture, or they make them the antagonist of every story. I think it’s time to reclaim the ways in which the Bible speaks to females. You might call it a “HERspective”.

 

Next week, we’ll talk about Drama and Trauma

 

HERspective Part 2 – The Drama and Trauma (Sarah)

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There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds” – Laurell K. Hamilton

(Sarai and Hagar – painted by Cody F. Miller)

Read Part 1 here

 

When I ask women their common struggles, one word seems to come up all the time: Drama. I’ve been told that it’s impossible to have a group of girlfriends without also having drama. Maybe that’s true, maybe it isn’t. 

There’s another word that also seems to come up all the time. Trauma. Whether it’s abuse, harassment, abandonment, neglect…trauma seems to be a shared experience among women as well.

The two clearly go together to some extent. How can trauma not impact relationships? But we often give the most attention to the drama, and little to no attention to the trauma. 

The story of Sarah and Hagar is one of some major drama between two women. This love triangle between Abraham and the two women could easily read as a reality tv script. But I’m less concerned with the drama, and more concerned with the trauma. How did they experience their world?

Let’s start with Sarah

The first time we meet Sarah (at this time called Sarai) we find out that she

“was unable to become pregnant and had no children” – Genesis 11:30

Maybe you know someone who has this same struggle. Maybe you’ve had this struggle in the past. Maybe you are going through this struggle right now. A woman unable to bear children in this time period would have been looked at as virtually worthless within the structure of Ancient Near Eastern society. Maybe you can relate to feelings of shame, hopelessness, or the feelings of worthlessness that I’ve heard many women communicate experiencing during fertility struggles. 

Immediately after we meet Sarai, her husband Abraham gets a call to uproot his entire family and go to the land God will show him. Sarai must leave everything and everyone she has known. But her husband was called by God! What else is she supposed to do?

If this isn’t enough to deal with, famine strikes and Abraham is forced to take his family to Egypt. What does he tell his wife?

Genesis 12: 11-12 – Abram said to his wife, Sarai, “Look, you are a very beautiful woman.12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife. Let’s kill him; then we can have her!’ 13 So please tell them you are my sister. Then they will spare my life and treat me well because of their interest in you.”

Wait! What?! Abraham is convinced that if they go to Egypt, the Egyptians will kill him and take his wife, so he comes up with this plan. Let’s just say you are my sister. They will still take you, but at least I’ll be ok! What choice does Sarai have in the matter? 

So that’s exactly what Abraham does. He tells the Egyptians that Sarai is his sister, and  Pharaoh gives Abraham a bunch of gifts in exchange for taking Sarai to his palace as a wife.

The story does not tell us how much time passes. How long did Sarai live with the Pharaoh? Was she forced to have sex with him? How terrifying must it have been to be handed over by your husband and forced to sleep with a stranger? How would it feel to know you were exchanged for some sheep, goats, cattle, and donkeys?

Eventually, Pharoah finds out what Abraham has done thanks to some plagues, and he sends Sarai and Abraham on their way. The next time we hear of Sarai again, she is completely devastated by not being able to have children. She makes a suggestion to her husband,

Genesis 16: 2 – “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.”

Sarai is hurting. Think of all she has been through. Think of the pain of her barrenness. Think of her husband who gave her away to another man to save his own skin. In her hopelessness, she tells her husband that he should sleep with someone else. Maybe that way he can have a child.

Men, here’s some advice. If you and your wife are struggling to have kids and she says “maybe you should just go be with someone else.” Don’t take her up on that offer! That would be a terrible move. Surely Abraham is smart enough to take this advice as well right?

Genesis 16:2 – “And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal.”

How must Sarai have felt when her husband agreed?

To make things worse, the woman her husband has sex with….gets pregnant. 

Fast forward. Sarai has now had her name changed to Sarah. God has promised her that she will conceive, but she is old, and it still hasn’t happened. Abraham decides to move again. When they arrive, what’s the first thing Abraham does?

Genesis 20: 2 – Abraham introduced his wife, Sarah, by saying, “She is my sister.” So King Abimelech of Gerar sent for Sarah and had her brought to him at his palace.

Are you kidding me?!!!

This time, God has apparently had enough too. He comes to the king in a dream and lets him in on what’s happening. The story makes sure to let us know the king did not sleep with Sarah yet. As if that is supposed to make it all better. How must Sarah have felt being handed over by her husband…again? Was she terrified sleeping in the palace that first night wondering how long it would last this time?

After this, a miracle happens. Sarah does give birth in her old age. It’s a son. She names him Isaac. He is her pride and joy. It lasts for all of one page…

God tests Abraham’s faith by telling him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. So Abraham says, ok. There’s much to be said about that, but this story is about Sarah.

The next day, we read that Abraham got up really early, took Isaac with him, and set out. Why did he wake up so early? The story doesn’t say, but I have a hunch. Who would probably still be sleeping? That’s right. Sarah. Nowhere in the story does Abraham tell her what he is going to do.

How did Sarah feel waking up and seeing her husband and son gone? Was she panicked? Was she completely unaware? How would she have responded if Abraham had told her? 

Most people know the rest of the story. Abraham takes Isaac to the place he is to be sacrificed and, at the last minute, God intervenes. Abraham does not sacrifice Isaac. But few people know the end of the story. After this incident, we read,

Genesis 22:19 – Then they (Abraham and Isaac) returned to the servants and traveled back to Beersheba, where Abraham continued to live.

There’s just one problem. Abraham doesn’t live in Beersheba. Abraham lives in Hebron. Why doesn’t Abraham go back home? Why does he decide to live in a completely different town? Is it possible he does not want to face his wife and tell her where he went? By my count, this is now the third time he has abandoned her. He gave her away to the Pharaoh. He gave her away to Abimelech. Now he just isn’t going to come home. How long does he decide to wait it out? Turn the page and…

Genesis 23:1-2 – Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old. 2 She died at Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her.

Abraham left her alone until she died. Abraham was not even there for her in the final days. He waits until she dies, and only then does he travel back to Hebron to “mourn” for her.

This is the story of Sarai/Sarah

She was forced to move around. She was abandoned by men in her life. She was treated as a possession. She was forced to have sex with strange men. Her husband took her son without telling her, and then left her alone. How must she have experienced her world? I imagine she experienced it in much the same way that many of my female friends, family members, and my adopted daughter have. 

I’ll be honest, I don’t know what to do with Sarah. I don’t know what to do for Sarah. I don’t know how to respond to her trauma. All I can do is sit with her story. Likewise, I don’t know what to do with and for the trauma so many of the women I care about have experienced. Sometimes all we can do is sit with their stories. 

 

A Spiritual Practice To Begin 2019

FACE

In the Spring of 2016, I went to visit what has now become one of my favorite places in the Houston area, The Villa de Matel. This is a convent on a large area of land downtown that specializes in spiritual retreat. My mind was feeling very cluttered and I needed some time for silence and reflection. I started off by meeting with the spiritual advisor, and she handed me several pieces of paper with some different exercises and practices that she thought may be helpful for me. As I walked around, I found a rocking chair on a balcony overlooking the prayer garden and sat down. I wasn’t really sure how to start. I had so many goals for what I wanted to get out of this experience. I picked up my stack of papers and selected one at random. It was an examen, called saving F.A.C.E. (Fears, Attachments, Control, Entitlement)

If you’re not familiar, examen is a very old Christian practice that comes from the Latin word meaning “review.” We get so caught up in the rush of life, that we forget to be present and to sense that God is present. This exercise is meant to review our day (or a recent time period) and notice the ways God was moving and speaking. We ask God to give us clarity, we begin to reflect on ourselves and our day, we see the thoughts and feelings that arise in us, we talk to God about those, and we end by looking toward the future.

This particular examen, saving FACE, is a challenging one. It forces us to recognize the areas in which we have been trying to save face. This phrase, saving face, refers to the strategies that we all employ as humans to avoid humiliation or embarrassment, to preserve our reputation at all costs. This is why the exercise is so hard. It forces us to confront the things we have been avoiding.

When it comes to saving FACE, most people fall into one of two traps. Either they deny that they have anything to confront, or they have already condemned themselves so much that they refuse to accept the love and grace Christ has for them.

Here’s how the exercise works:

First, find somewhere comfortable and distraction free. Relax. Slow down. Take deep breaths. Ask God to make his presence known around you. Feel this presence and just be.

Now, we examine ourselves

Fears: Ask God to show you what fears are dominant in your heart. Don’t stop at the surface level answer. Our truest fears are often hidden beneath. Once you are able to name the fear, take note of it.

Attachments: What have you been clinging to lately? You could be overly attached to a person, an idea, a result, or a behavior. Especially pay attention to emotional attachments. Once you’ve identified attachments, take note of them.

Control: In what areas are you trying too hard to have control? Are you trying to control people? Situations? Your future? It’s difficult for us to admit that we are controlling, so ask God for the courage to be honest. Once you identify spaces where you are seeking control, ask yourself why you feel the need for control in this area. Once you’ve recognized these, simply acknowledge them.

Entitlement: Where did you see entitlement recently? “I worked hard today, I deserve to…” “I’m an important person, I should not have to…” “Well, did you see what they did to me? I had the right to…” Where you find a false sense of entitlement, name it before God.

Trying to save FACE is exhausting. I know. I do it all the time. That’s why, ever since first learning this exercise, I go back to it regularly. Once you take the time to name your Fears, Attachments, Controls, and Entitlement, look toward the future. Here is a powerful question.

 

What would tomorrow look like if I didn’t allow these fears, attachments, need for control, and entitlements to rule me?

 

Then pray the sentence prayer that has been completely life changing for me…

 

“Lord, help me to live in the freedom of your mercy.”

 

We often get crushed by our tendencies to save FACE

Jesus says:

The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free.

and

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness.”

That Spring day, in 2016, I came to the Villa with so many goals of what I needed to accomplish. Those got ditched after this exercise. Instead, I spent the time walking around, practicing what it means to live in the freedom of mercy.

You may have a lot of goals for 2019. That’s great! I have some goals too. But the truth is, we can’t do anything to move forward, if we don’t acknowledge where we are currently at. We can’t set the right goals, if we don’t realize where we are trying to save FACE. Chances are, many of us made goals out of fear, attachment, control, and entitlement.

Although this exercise is hard, it has been completely transformational for me. My prayer is that it will be transforming for you as well, and that 2019 will be a year that you experience the freedom of Christ’s mercy.

The Worst Week That Turned Out To Be The Best Week

worst best week

There’s an indie, sci-fi film that I love called Ink. It’s extremely artistic and oozing with gospel themes. If you’re interested, you can watch it on amazon prime here  (WARNING: It does contain some 4 letter words, especially in the opening scene)

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The movie takes place within multiple timelines that are all working together to reunite a father with his daughter in order to save her life. The plan? Get the father knocked out of his routine and set a chain reaction of events that will hopefully lead to a reunification. The method used to begin this chain reaction? A car crash.

Saturday, April 28, 2018, started off like any other day. My wife and I, along with the baby, got in the car to run an errand. As I was getting ready to turn left, I’m not really sure what happened. Did I not see it? Did I not look? Was I too distracted looking at the GPS? Either way, I went, looked up, and saw another car coming right at me. It was too late for either of us to react.

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Fast forward to an emergency room. My wife is told that she has 3 breaks in her hand. The good news? The ER doctor says that they will be able to heal fine on their own, no surgery needed. What a relief right? Because ER doctors are NEVER wrong…

ER

Endless calls. Car insurance. Collision Center. Health Insurance. Orthopedic doctors.

Our stress level was at its max. My wife was in lots of pain. I was trying to figure out how to balance a full time job, take care of an injured spouse, keep up the house, and do all the things for our baby that were impossible for my wife to do one handed.

Diaper changes. Bath times. Getting dressed. Feedings. Picking up.

Wednesday, May 2, four days after the car accident, we sat in the office of an orthopedic doctor. She walked into the room after looking at Natalie’s x-rays and said “You need surgery. There are four bones that hold your hand together and you broke three of them.”

Anesthesia. Surgery. Plates. Screws. Physical therapy. Multiple months of recovery.

My wife sobbed.

The. Worst. Week. EVER!

surgery

Tuesday, March 28, 2017 started off like any other day, until there was a knock on our door. A shy 5-year-old girl walked into our home. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. Does any first time parent? Natalie and I had finished our Foster care certification earlier that month and our first placement had arrived. Everything changed.

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Laughter. Tears. Exhaustion. Frustration. SO MUCH JOY.

A few months later we received an email. Yes, I typed that correctly…AN EMAIL. A relative had been found, they were moving her to a different home. We knew this was the most likely outcome. We knew this was only supposed to be temporary. But it happened so much sooner than we were anticipating. And just like that, this sweet little girl we had fallen in love with, that made us first time parents, brought so much joy and laughter into our home, and changed our lives forever, was gone.

Quiet. Stillness. Down time. Empty.

We lost contact. We thought of her often. We missed her. We got another foster placement…a newborn!

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Things changed again, but we didn’t forget. A year passed. My wife wrote a letter to “little miss” on the 1 year anniversary. (We call her that on social media because we can’t post names or pictures of her face). You can read it here. We cried as she read it to me.

Then, exactly 1 month after the one year date…CAR CRASH!

Back to Wednesday, May 2, 2018. This the day Natalie finds out she needs surgery. The capper to the worst week ever.

The phone rings. As I answer, I’m told that they are looking for a new place for little miss and want to know if we can take her. I call Natalie…she sobbed. Seriously, this is a lot to take in for one day. We can’t say yes fast enough.

June 7, 2018 there was another knock on the door. The same girl walked in. Now almost 7, and much less shy this time around. Just like that we became a family of 4.

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Chaos. Exhaustion. Frustration. Constant running around. Making it up as we go. Lots of laughter. SO MUCH JOY.

Life feeling complete, even if it’s only temporary.

Who knows…maybe there are unseen forces at work, existing in multiple timelines, all working together to reunite a father and his daughter. Maybe a chain of events that are impossible for any one person to see had to be started to accomplish this end goal. Maybe the method chosen to start this chain of events was a car crash. Maybe I just desperately want my life to be an indie sci-fi film and it’s all random coincidence.

Either way, all I know is that the worst week turned out to be the

Best. Week. EVER!

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Foster Care: The Worst Responses We’ve Heard so Far

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Over the holiday season we had the opportunity to attend a Christmas party held by our fostering agency. We are blessed to do life with friends who are also part of foster care, but this was the first time we were surrounded solely by people who just get it. It was a breath of fresh air. On the drive home, we were commenting on how nice it was to go somewhere and not get all the weird, borderline offensive, responses.

Now, to be fair, we recognize that people have good intentions and sometimes just don’t know what to say and what not to say. We totally get that. We were in the same boat before we began the process as well. So to help out, we compiled a list of the worst questions and responses we’ve gotten so far in the foster care process.

1. Well do they pay for that?!

This question gets asked in response to all the typical expenses that come with kids: medical care, food, diapers, formula, school supplies, clothes, etc…And to be clear, yes, the state does pay for many of these things. This is yet another reason why finances are not an excuse to not do foster care. However, this question is mostly asked with a tone that communicates not only an expectation of compensation but also a refusal to foster unless the costs were covered. Last time I checked, kids cost money, families figure it out, and parents always think it’s worth it.

2. Are you going to have your own children?

There are two main things wrong with this question. First, they are our own children. We do not view them as some “other thing”. These kids are fully and 100% part of our family as long as we have them. Second, so many people we know struggle with infertility and/or have had miscarriages. We may too. We don’t know. These friends have tried everything to have kids of their own,are not able to, and are devastated by this. Considering that you may be talking to a person who has been through this, this is probably a question you should just erase from your vocabulary.

3. That takes a really special person/I could never do that.

We are not special. If anything, we are the exact opposite. We were 26 years old with exactly ZERO parenting experience when we began this process. If we can do it, so can you. If you have an extra bedroom in your house, you can do foster care. There is nothing “special” required. When you read scripture, God is actually quite fond of using seemingly unqualified people to expand the Kingdom.

4. I would just get too attached!

This response always bewilders us. Do we give off a cold-hearted vibe? It sounds like people are saying “I would just get too attached to the child, but you guys are rigid and distant enough to pull it off.” Guess what, we get attached to all the kids that come into our home too. When people say “I just don’t think I could handle them being taken away” we typically say “We don’t know that we can either, but we don’t have a choice.” Everyone who does foster care gets too attached, including us. We just don’t see that as a reason to not give a child in need a safe and loving place to stay.

5. I know someone who fostered, and they (insert horrific story here)

Imagine you or your wife were pregnant and someone came up to you and said “Oh, you’re having a baby. Well, I know someone who had a baby once, and that kid got older and was emotionally disturbed and they physically harmed the parents. I’m not trying to scare you, I just want you to know what you’re getting yourselves into.” No one would do that! But people have done this to us. Foster care can be scary enough, don’t be discouraging!

6. What’s their story?

Let’s be honest, what people really mean by this question is “give me the juicy gossip on what their parents did in order to have their child removed.” When phrased like that, maybe you can see why this is a pretty inappropriate question to ask. For privacy reasons, we are not really supposed to share the details of the child’s case with others. However, beyond that, we don’t want any of these kids to be defined by their past. If we have the opportunity to adopt any of the children we foster, we don’t want everyone to know the details about their background or to think negatively about their biological parents. Besides, that’s their story to tell how, when, and to whom they choose. Some aspects of their story may lend toward prayer. For example, a baby that is suffering really bad withdrawals or physical injuries that need to be healed. However, knowing all of the details of the situation is not necessary unless you are someone who is directly involved with the child’s case.

Now, if you are someone who has said or asked some of these, we are not trying to guilt you. You don’t need to come up to us and address it. It’s cool! We just wanted to help out as you encounter more people who foster. Also, we didn’t want this entire thing to be negative and, after reading this, you may be wondering how you COULD respond. Here are some things we love when people ask

  1. What made you decide to foster?
  2. What can we do to get involved with foster care?
  3. What needs can still be met?
  4. How can we pray for you?
  5. What is God teaching you in this process?
  6. Can we give you free babysitting so you can enjoy a date together? Wink_Emoji

As always, if you want to get involved with foster care in any way, come talk to us. We would love to point you in the right direction. We are always open and willing to answer questions, just think about how they might come off before you ask them.

Defending Millennials Against Christians

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It happened about a month ago. The article 7 Harsh Realities of Life Millennials Need to Understand was blasted all over my Facebook timeline. I wanted to say something right away, but a wise friend has taught me the “sit on it rule” when it comes to blogging. Well, I’ve sat on it, and now I’m posting it. I have grown increasingly frustrated with the millennial bashing trend, but this one took it to another level. What first baffled me is that so many people were quick to share an article that contains only one source and no author name. The article was shared by many websites, but it seems the original source is the Libertarian Republic. I could not find any information on this site besides what they offered in their about section. What really got me though, was how many Christians, many of whom are friends with me on Facebook, were sharing this article. They would post the link with a comment like “amen” or “so true”.  Here is a collage of just some of the posts I saw, with names and profile pictures blocked out

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I still don’t get why older Christians love to hate on millennials, but I really don’t get how a Christian could support the views presented in this article toward anyone. I can’t see how you could be a lover of Jesus and a lover of the Church and get behind these sentiments. Let me explain what I mean. I linked the article above, and I would encourage you to go to the source and read it, but I have pasted the entirety of the article in this post (emoji emphasis is mine). Each point of the article is italicized, and my response is below. Sources to show I’m not just making all of this up (something the article’s author apparently doesn’t know how to do) are linked in green.

  1. Your Feelings are Largely Irrelevant crying-face

“Seriously, nobody who has already graduated college cares about your feelings. That means that when you complain to your boss because your co-worker mis-gendered you, he’s probably not going to bend over backwards to bandage your wounds. Given feelings are entirely subjective in nature, it’s completely unreasonable to demand everyone tip-toe around you to prevent yours from being hurt. The reality is that people will offend you and hurt your feelings, and they won’t stop to mop up your tears because they shouldn’t have to. Learning to accept criticism, alternative viewpoints, and even outright insults will make you happier in the long run than routinely playing the victim card.”

 

Reponse: Let’s just think about this statement for a second. Your feelings are largely irrelevant. It seems the author points toward the workplace as a main example. Well, please tell that to the 1 in 3 women who have been sexually harassed at work. Please tell that to the 26% of African Americans and the 15% of Hispanics that say they experience racial discrimination in the workplace at least once in a 30 day period. Even beyond the workplace, this is such a cold-hearted response. Imagine your daughter coming home from school, crying as she told you the things the boys were saying they wanted to do to her, and telling her that her feelings are largely irrelevant. Imagine your son, completely defeated after being bullied mercilessly, and telling him that his feelings are largely irrelevant. Now, let’s talk about the Church, because all the Christians sharing this post seemed to be on board with this. Remember that time Jesus said, “come to me all who FEEL weary and burdened so I can tell you your feelings are largely irrelevant”? Remember that time we read that Jesus saw the crowds that FELT harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd, and he said their feelings were largely irrelevant? NO! Jesus said come to me so I can give you rest. Jesus had compassion on them. Could you imagine someone walking into the doors of the Church, sharing with a pastor or church member that they feel burned out in life because they are constantly criticized, offended, and insulted, and then receiving the response that their feelings are largely irrelevant? If this is the main way in which our world functions, millennials should not be told to get over it and get used to it. Millennials should be celebrated for trying to change it. The Church SHOULD be a place that bandages wounds. The Church SHOULD be a place that mops up tears. How could a Christian agree with, and share, this article?

  1. You Cannot be Whatever you Want to Be emoji766

This is a comforting lie parents have started telling their children to boost their morale in school. Unfortunately, millennials are now convinced it’s true, especially as society has now decided to push this narrative as well. The reality is if you’re 17 years old and still can’t figure out basic division, you’re not going to be a rocket scientist. If you’re overweight and unattractive, you’re not going to be the quarterback’s prom date. If you lack fine motor skills, you’re not going to be a heart surgeon. It’s okay to accept that you cannot be whatever you want to be. In fact, once you accept this, you’ll be able to focus on the things you can be — the things you really are talented at.

 

Response: Let’s just ignore how rude and shaming this point is, and look at that first line. This is a comforting lie parents have told their children. So if anything, it’s YOUR fault we are this way GenXers. Criticize yourself, not us. However, why is it bad for us to believe this? Look at all the inventions millennials have made because they believed this to be true. It’s why you have a Facebook to trash talk us on. Even more so, Scripture is full of stories where God uses people who were in no way qualified for the job to which He called them. Peter was an unlearned fisherman. He most likely could not do long division. Yet, he is one of the most influential people to ever exist in the Church. God can call anyone to anything He wants to, and He can give anyone the ability to do it. How could a Christian agree with, and share, this article?

  1. Gender Studies is a waste of money x1f393-png-pagespeed-ic-2uka3jhddg

You heard me. While some millennials taking useless degrees will claim they’re beneficial for teaching or research positions, the reality is that they just put themselves several thousands dollars in debt to learn how to be a professional victim. While you’re struggling to make ends meet after graduation because nobody who pays more than minimum wage is interested in your qualifications and you’re drowning in student loan debt, be sure to check out the next harsh reality before you start complaining.

 

Response: This point apparently has nothing to do with gender studies, but is more about millennials getting various degrees that the author views as pointless. Regardless, has this person done any research? The type of degree chosen has nothing to do with millennials graduating with tens of thousands of dollars of debt and no job. Research shows that institutions (which are not run by millennials by the way) are majorly failing us. Also, millennials face higher tuition and more competition in the workplace than ever before. In the previous generations, a high school degree was enough to help you get into the middle class. Now millennials need a college degree and 3-5 years experience to even enter the workplace. Do you see the dilemma here? Sorry, there’s my millennial whining again. But besides being uninformed, this comment goes even deeper. What this is really saying is, following your passions is a waste of time. Millennials want to make a difference. Therefore, we pursue degrees to go into fields that align with our passions and our desires to make an impact. That doesn’t always make sense to people. My degree is in youth ministry. I am still paying off student debt, and will continue to for awhile. I will never be wealthy by American standards. Many people look at that and call my degree a waste of time and money. Guess what. I didn’t get that degree to be well off financially. I got that degree to make an impact in the lives of people. Millennials don’t want to spend a huge chunk of their lives working in a cubicle or a factory doing something they hate so that they can spend a small portion of their lives living comfortably. Millennials want to spend the majority of their lives doing something of value. If my two options are doing something I’m passionate about that positively affects out world, or doing something I couldn’t care less about that puts me in less debt and makes me more comfortable, the choice is obvious. Also, have you read your Bible lately? Scripture tells one story after another of God calling people to things that don’t make sense and seem like a waste to others. God doesn’t judge things by the worldly standard, He judges things by the impact they make on the kingdom. How could a Christian agree with, and share, this article?

  1. If you live in America, You’re already in the 1% regional-indicator-symbol-letters-usbanknote-with-dollar-signstatue-of-liberty

That’s right. Even though you work at McDonald’s for minimum wage because you got a useless, outrageously expensive college degree, you’re still far better off than the vast majority of the planet. Don’t believe me? Fly to Uganda and check out the living conditions there. Fly to China, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Iran, Russia, and even European countries like Ukraine and Greece, and you’ll quickly discover just how well-off you really are. While it may be cool these days to dump on capitalism, it’s the only reason you aren’t already worse off.

Response: So many things going on in this point

  1. Duh! Millennials know this better than anyone. That is why we are one of the most charitable generations ever.
  2. Not that it’s a contest or anything, but I would bet that I actually have flown to more countries (not to vacation in their resorts, but to serve the poor and needy) than this author ever has. Likewise, many of the teenagers in my student ministry have been on more missions trip efforts than the majority of Christians who shared this article on Facebook. These types of experiences have led many of them to pursue degrees that others would say are a waste (see above point), or even take time off before going to college so they can serve the needy in other countries. My millennial sister is about to graduate and then is immediately going to work with children in Nicaragua. Now I’m getting back to point 3, but if that kind of stuff if a waste then I want to keep wasting my time and money.

Millennials know we are already in the 1%. That’s why we value social justice and making a difference all around the world. That’s a GOOD thing. What are YOU doing about it? How could a Christian agree with, and share, this article?

  1. You don’t have a right to it just because you Exist kingrzbzt

That includes healthcare, guaranteed income, and somewhere to live. Just because you’re here and breathing doesn’t mean society owes you anything. Like the billions of people who lived before you, working hard is a better guarantor of wealth and the ability to comfortably take care of yourself than begging society or the government to do it for you. Demanding healthcare be a right, for example, is equivalent to demanding government force the taxpayer to pay for it. While that may seem like a good idea in theory, it only leads to rationing of care when costs become unsustainable, which negatively impacts not just your health, but everyone else’s, too.

Response: Wait, what? So because I exist, I don’t deserve to have basic necessities of life like shelter, money to buy food, and healthcare? I don’t know how any person could agree with this, but especially the follower of Jesus. In Matthew 25, when Jesus says that whatever you did for the least of these you did for him, he talks about welcoming in the person who has no place to go, looking after the sick, and clothing the naked. The Bible constantly speaks of caring for the poor. I work for a Church that does exactly this. We have a ministry called Current Cupboard that gives groceries to those who cannot afford them. We have a homeless ministry that goes out and gives much needed items to those in need. We help people who are in financial need pay bills. My co-worker’s wife works for a clinic that gives medical care to those who don’t have insurance or are under-insured. They only ask people to pay what they can afford…even if it’s nothing. Guess what the clinic is called…CHRIST clinic, because this is the attitude of Christ. We do these things as a church because we believe that all people are created in the image of God and are valuable. Because they exist and are human, they DO deserve basic life needs. How could a Christian agree with, and share, this article?

  1. You DO have the Right to live as you please – But not to demand people accept it.zipper-mouth-face

If you want to cross-dress, smoke marijuana, drink lots of alcohol, have lots of sex, and, yes, even go to school for gender studies, then by all means, go for it. Government should not be allowed to legislate people’s behavior as long as it doesn’t infringe upon someone else’s rights, but that doesn’t mean society isn’t allowed to have an opinion. You don’t have the right to demand people keep their opinions about your lifestyle to themselves, especially if you’re open and public about it. I have as much of a right to comment on the way you live your life as you do to actually live it. Your feelings are not a protected right, but my speech is.

Response: Ok, this one is a bit sticky. I’m really just talking to the Christians here. First, this is not a millennial thing. This is a society thing. Do you have the right to an opinion? Yes. Has society as a whole (not just millennials) unfairly blurred the lines of freedom of speech and hatred/bigotry? Yes. However, does having the right to have an opinion also give you the right (as a Christian) to not treat certain people as human? No. Jesus spoke truth into the lives of sinners, but he also valued them as beloved creations of God. He looked at them, touched them, conversed with them, and went to their homes. These were all things that were radically off limits for a good Jewish man. I hear lots of Christians talk about the combo of truth and love but then only follow through on the truth part.What makes us think that, as followers of Jesus, we can call people terrible names, say hateful things, and deny people basic goods and services just because we disagree with a lifestyle? Most of our comments on the way people live their lives, that this author says we have a right to, are not said in a way meant to build one another up. Posts like this that get shared by Christians are exactly why the lines of freedom of speech and hatred/bigotry get so badly blurred. How could a Christian agree with, and share, this article?

  1. The only safe space in your home house-with-garden

No matter where you go in life, someone will be there to offend you. Maybe it’s a joke you overheard on vacation, a spat at the office, or a difference of opinion with someone in line at the grocery store. Inevitably, someone will offend you and your values. If you cannot handle that without losing control of your emotions and reverting back to your “safe space” away from the harmful words of others, then you’re best to just stay put at home. Remember, though: if people in the outside world scare you, people on the internet will downright terrify you. It’s probably best to just accept these harsh realities of life and go out into the world prepared to confront them wherever they may be waiting.

 

Response: Do you even know what a safe space is? I’m not just talking to the person who wrote this article, I’m talking to everyone who shared this as well. I’ll save you the google search. A Safe Space is a place where anyone can relax and be able to fully express, without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe on account of biological sex, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, cultural background, religious affiliation, age, or physical or mental ability.

I work at Current – A Christian Church. It’s an awesome place to work and one of the many reasons it’s so great is that they employ several millennials. Once a week, a group of us sit down in a creative team meeting to discuss all sorts of ideas from stage design to sermon content, to experiential elements. Before we start a brainstorming session we typically point our what we call “the umbrella of mercy”. What this means is that, while we brainstorm, we are in a judgment free zone. All ideas are welcome. Not all ideas will be used, but no one will be belittled for their opinion, no matter how outrageous it might be. This is a safe space. Our students meet once a week in small groups. We regularly communicate that, in small groups, everyone in the group can be real and open about what is going on in their lives and what they are struggling with. They know that if they do this, they will not be judged or ridiculed. This is a safe space. At Current, we regularly communicate, in as many ways as we can, that people of all genders, races, cultures, backgrounds, etc…are welcome. We tell them that Christ, and His Church, are ready to embrace them exactly where they are at and help them move forward. We work painstakingly to make sure that everyone who comes to Current feels welcomed and loved. Do you know why? Because the Church should be the safest safe space of all. To the world, your home is your only safe space, but for Christians, this should not be true. All people (not just millennials) spend their whole week being torn down. The Church should not be another environment where this takes place. If you are a Christian and you are not working to make the Church a safe space, you are missing out on what the Church could and should be. How could a Christian agree with, and share, this article?

So what do I hope to gain from this? To the older generation, remember how you felt when your parents’ generation constantly criticized you for everything? Stop doing it to us. Of course we are not perfect, but neither are you. Of course we don’t know everything, but neither do you. Of course we have things to learn from you, but you can also learn some things from us. We are not a lesser part of Christ’s Church. We bring value to it as well. The thing is, this article is absolutely right when it comes to what our world is like, but the Christian should not be content to let it stay that way. This is why I just can’t get over how many people who claim to be joined with Christ in the ministry of reconciliation could share and agree with the mindset presented in this article and many others like it. Millennials should be commended for trying to shape culture, not told to just get over it and accept it for what it is.

To prove I mean it when I say I don’t think I know everything, share your agreements or push backs below. I’d love to interact with and learn from you.

 

A Tale of Two Preachers

TTP

Once upon a time, there were two preachers. Each preacher had a church member, who was struggling with depression, come to them for counsel. [1] Preacher 1 told this person all the things that were wrong with being depressed. They told this person that one of the fruits of the spirit is joy and if they didn’t have joy then they must be doing something wrong. They told this person that they needed to repent of their sin of depression. They then gave them a long list of things to do to start not being depressed.

Preacher 2 told this person they were deeply loved. Preacher 2 spent time with this person helping them understand who they are in Jesus. This person was told all that Jesus has done and the life that he offers. Then preacher 2 prayed over this member.

Each preacher had a church member who was struggling with (insert any sin you would like here).

Preacher 1 read all the Bible verses to this person that said this act was a sin. He also made sure to read the ones that talk about the punishment of sin. He made sure this person knew that they needed to stop this sin less they face these punishments. Preacher 1 then gave this person a long list of things to do to stop this sin and start living the right way.

Preacher 2 told this person they were deeply loved. He spent time with this person helping them understand who they are in Jesus. This person was told all that Jesus has done and the life that he offers. He painted a picture for this person of what life looks like when we experience it the way it was meant to be. He retold this person’s story through the lens of Jesus. Then preacher 2 prayed over this person.

When preacher 1 preaches, he makes sure his sermons are about what things his church needs to STOP doing and what things they need to START doing. He often points out what will happen if they don’t stop and start doing those things. Oddly enough, preacher 1 has a small church of miserable, behaviorally modified members who don’t really understand who they are in Jesus.

When preacher 2 preaches, he preaches on who we are in Christ. He paints a beautiful picture of what the life he intended for us involves. He talks about what it could look like to bring heaven to earth. He preaches on the way that Jesus re-tells all of our stories. He realizes that what we do, flows out of who we are. Oddly enough, preacher 2 has a pretty large church that is healthy. None of the members are perfect, but they sure understand who they are in Jesus and that drastically impacts their behavior and the way they live. Oddly enough, preacher 2 doesn’t have to give long lists about what to do and what not to do. The people have begun to naturally do and not do those things because they now know who they are.

Preacher 1 often quotes John 1:14 to preacher 2. When he does, he really likes to emphasize the AND TRUTH part. Preacher 2 chuckles at the irony of his situation as he thinks about how most of the AND TRUTH from jesus was directed toward self righteous religious leaders. Preacher 1 also likes to bring up the story of the woman caught in adultery. When he does, he really like to emphasize the GO AND LEAVE YOUR LIFE OF SIN part.

At this point, preacher 2 would really like to give a list of things to start and stop doing to preacher 1, but he won’t. He recognizes that preacher 1 doesn’t fully realize who he is in Christ. Preacher 2 knows that if he did, he would realize that Jesus only says that to the woman after he says that he doesn’t condemn her. Oddly enough, the woman never repents, she never asks for forgiveness, she never even indicates a recognition that what she did was wrong or a desire to change. Jesus forgives her anyways. Without repentance. Preacher 1 cannot reconcile that. It’s why he has to emphazie the AND TRUTH part. If only he realized that the AND TRUTH part came after Jesus bathes this woman with an almost irresponsible amount of grace. It’s almost like Jesus knew that real changing power comes when you announce who people are, and you retell their story through the lens of Jesus. It’s almost like Jesus knew that this is what changes behavior, not sermons about behavior modification.

Good thing, this is just a “hypothetical story.”

[1] This is a hypothetical story. Depression is a serious medical issue and if this were a real story, unless preacher 1 and 2 have a master’s level or higher degree with the word counseling in it, they should refer.