Confession: I struggle with an addiction to judgment.
On the giving end, I am plagued by opinions about e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. While Southern manners and a fear of conflict keep roughly 98% of those opinions unspoken, they constantly light up my brain like a superhighway. Much of that mental activity is spent declaring myself either guilty or innocent. (You can guess how that goes in the mind of a perfectionist—the ‘Never Enough’ song from The Greatest Showman sums it up nicely.)
On the receiving end, my heart is marked by a desperation to see approval reflected in the faces around me. Have I impressed you? Disappointed you? At any given moment, am I smart/good/involved/________ enough? How worthwhile do you think I am? Due to the fear of actually finding out, I don’t ask; I assume the worst, turning every bystander into a frowning inspector.
“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.”
One of the odd quirks about my personality is the cognitive distortion of all-or-nothing thinking. Because I thrive in a predictable environment, it tends to show up in special splendor when my routine gets knocked out of whack. “What? The power’s out? Looks like I’ll be spending some quality time on the couch with Pinterest.” “Uh-oh. A home project has taken over space in my brain. Cleaning the house at all will have to wait until the whole thing is finished.”
The little one struggled to form the name of his diagnosis. He watched his mama say them one more time, those two immensely difficult words for a four-year-old mouth to wrap itself around: cystic fibrosis. Suddenly, his eyes lit up with dawning recognition. “Oh! Sixty-five roses!” As pride swelled in his tiny chest for conquering yet another obstacle in his daily adventure, he couldn’t have known he’d just coined a phrase.
Half a century later, you can still find #65roses accompanying posts about this life-altering disease.
(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on February 7, 2020. You can find it here.)
God, You’re so good.
God, You’re so good.
God, You’re so good,
You’re so good to me.
I choked the simple chorus out on Sunday morning despite a lump rising in my throat. Weeks of waiting for the results of a major medical test numbed my ability to belt out the lyrics with the same gusto as those around me. Instead, a pitiful, broken string of truth fell quietly from my mouth, each word a salty tear.
With glasses raised and confetti scattered about like snow, we bid farewell to another year. As a fresh decade opens in the annals of history, let’s apply the good news of Christ to the last 365 days to gain some gospel perspective. The more we can commemorate God’s past faithfulness, the more we can anticipate His future work, so really dig in here. (This will be interactive, so feel free to grab a journal to record your thoughts.)
(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on October 16, 2019. You can find it here.)
Women have longed for romance since the beginning of time. (Small wonder: the first words spoken to us from human lips were lyrics of a love song.) Something deep in us thrills at the chase, whether it’s being pursued or being the pursuer.
(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on September 28, 2019. You can find it here.)
Has God ever ambushed you?
I recently attended a conference session about the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). The speaker did a wonderful job of applying this timeless story by discussing the rocks we all carry around in our pockets, just waiting for the opportune time to lob them at “that one person.” And we each knew who “that one person” was for us.
(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on August 21, 2019. You can find it here.)
Martin Luther was a 16th century German cowboy with a one-trick pony called “Gospel.” Utterly obsessed with the subject, this firebrand monk once wrote that “the truth of the gospel is the principal article of all Christian doctrine . . . Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” If you went to dinner with this guy, you could depend on coming away with a greater sense of why Jesus matters.
These days, all it takes to make my internal temperature rise is spending about five minutes on Twitter. (That’s the closest I get to news.)
Good grief, people. We need Jesus.
Drifting into the riptide of anxiety is easy when my eyes are fixed on this world—its chaos, its concerns, its leaders, its followers, its system. What’s that old saying? If you can’t beat them, join them. I can get sucked so quickly into joining in on the finger-pointing, problem-solving, emotional intoxication of it all. Allowing the culture’s fear (which is frankly inevitable apart from a fleshed-out friendship with God) to determine my attitudes and actions is as natural as submitting to the ocean’s undertow. And quite as deadly.
Imagine a lioness convinced she’s a worm. Then imagine a lioness convinced she’s a king. One a spineless slave, the other a self-appointed tyrant. Which mindset could do her family more harm? Which is a greater assault on the created order of things?
The enemy has pulled quite a number on women. “Hush, you silly chits,” he whispers with shame lacing his words so that they land like daggers. “You don’t actually matter. Everyone knows you’re just pretending to be worthwhile. They can all see right through your pathetic attempts to do anything really meaningful. Pipe down before you reveal how ridiculous you truly are.”