It’s Gonna Be OK

Ever have those days when you just want to sock yourself in the face?

You’ve tried so hard to do the right thing, to be that person you want yourself to be, but in the end you crashed miserably and burned a whole pile of people in the process. All the time and effort you’ve put into building trust… into maintaining a safe relationship… is a cloud of ash.

Gone.

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Forever gone, in just one moment of failure.

Or, is it?

It may feel that way, but is it really gone?

The other week, I confessed to my sister how, when we were little, I was the one who stirred her goldfish up in it’s little goldfish bowl with a plastic spoon until it had a heart attack, and floated. I just wanted to see how fast it could swim. I didn’t try to make it die. But it did.

She, kind-hearted lamb, suddenly remembered dozens of offenses she had committed to me.

Thing is, I didn’t remember a single one of them. All I remember about our childhood was a fun, spry little playmate who came up with many schemes, was always up for a bike ride or fishing trip, and always left surprises on my pillow on the holidays.

Our interaction got me thinking.

Could it be that trust isn’t about the visible, but the foundation?That the unseen foundation…. the entire picture all put together…. is more relevant than the tiny puzzle piece of what’s said and done in a moment of conflict?

I had a boss once, who everyone was afraid of. He brought the house down when he was upset. Seriously. Not the roof, thank goodness,  but pots, pans and anything else in his wake.

Thing is, everyone who spent long enough around him soon considered him one of their best friends. No matter how much he ranted and swore, he was, at the foundation, a friend worth having. At the foundation, he truly cared about his staff, and protected them at all costs.

Six years later, I hardly remember the rants. I just remember a safe environment, and being empowered every day. I’m not saying he never hurt me, I’m just saying I don’t remember it.

Mistakes happen to everyone.

Don’t fall into the condemnation trap. Stop looking behind you.

I know you’re quick to ask for forgiveness when you mess up, but I’m guessing the biggest question is…. can you forgive yourself?

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Just ask! Accept. It’s already been done, by the only One who can be fully perfect on this earth.

Just ACCEPT His forgiveness! It’s for real, I promise.

No looking back now! You are gonna be just fine, and so are they.

Jesus was homeless, too.

I don’t live in the city anymore, but when I did, I never once gave money to sign-holders. I’ve never dropped even so much as a quarter in a Salvation Army bucket. That’s a shame.

No, it’s more than that. It’s a complete disgrace.

I met a homeless man named Richard LeMieux last week, and if I would have judged him by his looks and name alone, I would have laughed and said, “It’s all a game. People with high-class, French-sounding names aren’t homeless. Look at him! He has a dog! Homeless people don’t have dogs. And he has a van. What a lazy bum.”

But then I saw the dejection in his eyes, and the humiliation, and the hopelessness. I knew, even before I had heard five minutes of his story.

This man really is homeless. But that’s not the reason for the pain in his eyes. His heart is shattered because he is alone, scorned and rejected. 

Richard LeMieux was depressed.

Depression is a taskmaster who steers the wheels of many, many….. FAR too many lives. No one sees these lives, because they are too ugly—too unpredictable to look at. Yet denying their existence does not cause them or their problems to disappear, and so they exist, and careen farther and farther into the ever more arid desert of un-lovedness. Richard is one, and it didn’t happen by choice. He didn’t start out homeless.

It wasn’t the choice of the 30 men and woman eating ham around me at the Catholic nunnary, the people who had nowhere to go on Christmas morning.

It wasn’t their choice that EVERY single one of their friends disowned them.

It wasn’t their choice that their business went bankrupt and the bank took all they owned.

It wasn’t their choice to be a victim of abuse, and to live life on the move from city to city, hiding for their life.

And the ugliest part of their reality is that almost nobody takes the time to understand them–and that fact alone is the most undeniable proof that they are unwanted and unloved.

Richard and his friend C–two real people with beating hearts just like yours and mine–sat down together one day, having just seen their homeless friend Adrian being dragged behind a car in retaliation for a drug deal gone bad. This is what they said.


 

“You know who the most famous homeless man in history was, don’t you Richard?”

“No.”

“Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head, Jesus said.”

“I should have known that.”

“You, Richard, are in good company.”

“People were afraid of Jesus.”

“Yes, and people are afraid of the homeless today. And they are disgusted when they see a person digging through a garbage can or a dumpster. They’re frightened when someone unclean talks to them—afraid they might ask for money, afraid they will steal their car or rob their house or stab them.

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But it isn’t the homeless they should fear.

It’s the people who have jobs and money—like that truck painter, Gary Ridgeway, aka the Green River Killer. Did you know he admitted to killing forty-eight women in Washington State? He’s the deadliest killer in the United States to date.”

“Yes, I did read that.”

“Can you imagine that one Christmas Eve, Ridgeway got off work early, cashed his Christmas bonus check, went to the mall, bought some presents on his MasterCard, had dinner at home with the wife, and then went out and killed a young woman and dumped her body along the road?

She was one of those disgusting, homeless prostitutes people fear.

H—, maybe the %$@# did her a favor! She would probably have had to sell her body over and over again for ten, maybe fifteen years just to pay for a three-hundred-dollar-a-month apartment, electric and water, and a run-down car!

People should REALLY be afraid of guys like the Tacoma police chief who shot his wife to death in the parking lot at the mall. Or the son of the director of the Department of Corrections for Washington state who raped a two-year-old. He pleaded guilty and got a whole six months! If a homeless guy had done that, he’d get life in prison!

You know, the big thing that sets the homeless apart is that they usually only commit crimes out of desperation. Those with homes and jobs commit crimes out of boredom or hatred or greed.

‘You are not needed anywhere, not wanted anywhere. Nobody cares what you do.’ And you know, unless people have been there—lost, alone, rejected, feeling worthless and unwanted— they just can’t know the numb feeling that drags you down. All the dreams are gone, gone forever. You’re just hoping for some force to end the nightmare peacefully.

Whatever happened to Emma Lazarus’s sonnet on the Statue of Liberty? ‘Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’

Homelessness in this great country of the United States is an abomination!

But the great masses—who are only one paycheck or one stroke of luck better off themselves— even THEY repeat the same great lies about the homeless: ‘They are lazy. They don’t want to work. They are drunks, bums, drug-using, worthless scum.’

If you tell the same lie over and over again about the homeless, eventually it becomes the truth. You tell your wife the lie, then you tell your children the lie. Rush Limbaugh and Mike Savage then broadcast the lie, and politicians who want your vote politicize the lie. The lie just grows and grows.

The homeless are human beings. Okay, so they are people with problems—some greater than others. But there is no problem that can’t be overcome with love, patience and kindness. Given help and a sense of direction, most will help themselves and even help others.”

-Dialoge between C and Richard, Breakfast at Sally’s by Richard LeMieux


Homelessness in America is an abomination! But even worse? My response.

So, what am I going to do about it?

 Love. Not fear.

 

 

 

 

Who are you AFTER?

She plugged her ears most of the time.

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She had a definite scowl on her turned-down face, and the bent of her shoulders screamed defiance.

She was the camper who did not like the teacher’s modesty discussion one bit. I was the camp counselor, and as I watched the body language of my other campers sitting knock-kneed on the picnic bench, I could tell that they felt the same way.

I felt sorry for my campers, because I knew their backgrounds, and the concepts they were hearing were totally blowing their minds. I also felt sorry for the teacher, who was putting her all into the lesson, & was being booed by part of the crowd while the other part was soaking up every word with hunger shining from their eyes. It was a hard mixture of people to speak to.

Later that night, as I sat cross-legged in a green camp chair, the mouths of 8 young girls around me exploded. “That was crazy!! I was so mad! Why in the world would it be sinful to wear bright colors, headbands, and shirts with pockets? How could a God of love hate me for a detail that small?”

Forreal, where is the fine line between young girls cheerfully following their parent’s standards without guilt, and when is it the right time to rise above them (or, in some sad cases, fearlessly defy them) to new heights of conviction? That wasn’t the biggest question that was gnawing at the girls’ hearts, though, and after all of the emotion was released, we finally got to it. “What things will keep us out of heaven?”

I once heard a very wise man say….. umm….. something very wise…. and this was it: “Don’t ask, “What’s wrong with that?”, because by asking what is wrong, you are implying that something is right. Instead, ask, “What does God say about this?”

So, what does God say about modesty? What does He say about bright colors, headbands, and shirts with pockets? I’ll let you do that research for yourself. But I do know what the very first commandment to God’s children is. It is this: LOVE the Lord your God with ALL your heart, ALL your mind and ALL your soul.

There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION to them who follow Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but AFTER the Spirit. Romans 8:1

My version? “Now, there will be no condemnation [no charge of evil] brought against those who serve Jesus, IF they follow [relentlessly CHASE] after the ways of His Spirit instead of chasing after the earthly desires of the flesh.”

No charge of evil, that’s what Jesus promised to those who actively chase after Him.

Who are you after?

What if heaven says you are PERFECT?

I once heard that when you comb your hair/put on makeup/etc. in front of a mirror, your hands are trying to conform your appearance into a ideal picture of yourself—–the Who-I-Know-I-Can-Be-With-Enough-Effort—– that you have inside your brain.

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I do that in so many other ways.

The other week while I was at work sweeping cobwebs and feeling like I was doing absolutely nothing of Kingdom value, I prayed, “God, show me how to meet the needs here as You would. What is my purpose here? I am doing nothing. Teach me how to love like you love.”

Quick as a whistle, He responded.

With just three words.

“You are perfect.”

I stopped what I was doing. It was that clear.

PERFECT?? Umm… what??

Still His words swirled undeniably around me. “You are perfect.”

What a preposterous response! Here I was, beating myself up about my selfishness…. all of the opportunities I’d missed…. my complete lack of energy….. On and on and on the list went.

I was fully expecting God to answer my heartfelt question by asking me to do some hard thing, or to accelerate my efforts, or to add an extra hour of prayer to my schedule. I was not expecting to be asked to believe the words, “You are perfect.”

How could the Father have such an unrealistic picture of me?

What could these words mean? Did they mean that it was time for me to toss my mental mascara and flat iron out the window? Did they mean that the Father desired me to lay down the idealized visions of who I KNOW one day I can be in favor of cherishing the who I am NOW?

Did it mean that the Father’s truest expression of perfection is a spirit that is completely broken and desperately willing to accept any direction that He offers?

What do you have to lay down in order to accept the Heaven-stamped fact that YOU ARE PERFECT?

Do you ever pick your nose?

This is my style in real life.

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Sometimes the hippy-redneck-clown crossbreed just gotta come out.

Sometimes I don’t give a rip what my hair looks like and just wear a hat all day.

Sometimes I roll down hills instead of walking down them, just for the pure fun of it.

Sometimes I say preposterous things with the solitary purpose of getting people to wake up. Sometimes I yell (and believe it or not, I can yell pretty LOUD) out the window to the dog at unrighteous hours of the day. Sometimes I rock out to the radio and accidentally blow the horn at hapless UPS drivers. Sometimes I don’t vacuum my carpet for weeks. Sometimes people ask me which revolves: the earth, or the sun, and I say the sun and believe it with all my heart.

Sometimes I dress innocent cats up in lame outfits just so I can laugh at them.

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Sometimes I snort at inappropriate times. Sometimes I meet someone who does these things too and isn’t afraid to admit it.

That’s refreshing.

Like, SUPER-awesomely-I-want-to-hang-out-with-people-like-you refreshing.

Seriously, though, don’t you know what I mean? It’s so utterly TIRING to live in a world where everyone works so hard to portray themselves as perfect. Photoshopped advertisements, models who exercise 8 hours a day and eat only protein smoothies and lettuce, and the “If you only do THIS, you’ll be successful” motto our country swears by. It’s like running on a hamster wheel.

I love when I ask someone how they are doing, and they respond honestly. It’s refreshing. It gives me the freedom to do the same.

I love when I ask someone how their day went, and they tell me all about their awesome promotion, or a funny story of how they totally messed up their entire project, and are equally relaxed and ok with either. It’s inspiring. It shows me that someone can laugh at themselves, and still appreciate their own value. 

So, come on, admit it. Did you pick your nose this week?