Imagine that you have fallen into deep waters, but it’s your first time to swim. Fighting just to get a breath in; & then someone hands you a screaming child, a stack of paperwork, a bunch of trainings & appointment reminders. Then imagine being expected to complete it all while keeping yourself & that terrified child above water. Oh, & you can’t get the paperwork wet because, of course, it has to be legible when you turn it in.Continue reading You Don’t Have To Be A Foster Parent To Change A Foster Kid’s Life
No matter your story, no matter the type of abuse or level of abuse you might have endured, all sin wounds. And simply because all sin wounds, there is grief in the world.
Here it is: the truth about pain: it must be grieved before it can be gone.
Brokenness doesn’t go away. It must be forced to leave. If you let it, pain it will turn your heart to ugly stone. It will rot your soul until all that comes out of you is the stink of hurt.
Hurting people, hurt people.
If YOU are hurting people. And if you find that you cannot apologize or open your heart or show true emotion. If conflict follows you and relationships fall into the crevices of pride…if you lie a lot…then you have pain in your life you haven’t grieved and it’s eating you whole. It’s eating you a hole.
Maybe your grief isn’t that complicated. Maybe it’s impossible. Maybe you can’t even say what happened to you. Or maybe you’ve let fear own you.
It doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter even one second out of eternity.
Because Jesus already paid it all, didn’t he? And when he died the blood he spilled reached all the way back to the first light of the first start beam, and all the way ahead to the final light when the last beams fade.
God isn’t in time. He’s over time. So when God bled he covered all time.
It’s been a few days since the school shooting in Florida. The images are heart-wrenching. And honestly, I’ve barely followed the story. But I can feel the heaviness in the air and the weight of all the choices made that day and how they still linger.
A lot of people have a lot of opinions about young shooters (and just mass shootings in general)…and they should. People should think about the world and process the state of the broken and hurting in the country. Moments like this force us to ponder…
Here are my thoughts on the school shooting, but also just on young shooters specifically.
1. Hurting People Hurt People. No matter what, behind every abuser or killer there is a mountain of hurt and pain. When all that goes unseen, when entire generations overlook the broken, when ADULTS overlook the YOUNG…there is no where else for teens to turn but to hate. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. Remember? We learned this once, didn’t we?
Here is my question to you….how are YOU loving young people and teens and the broken and the overlooked? When is the last time you stooped to enter someone else’s world?
If your answer is never or rarely can I say with all the love in me that you are part of the problem.
2. Policies and Laws have never been all that great at keeping abusers from harming others; people are changed when other people invest in them. Believe me when I say, that I have seen firsthand how “effective” laws are at keeping victims safe. Believe me when I say that ADULTS really don’t want to hear about abuse…not really…because then you’d have to do something about it. You’d have to face it.
Here is my question to you…do you even SPEAK to young people at all? Do you invest in the lives of the young? Do you offer financial assistance to programs and churches and missionaries who are in the thick and in the mud and in the unbelievable darkness of the lives of teens?
You can walk into just about any youth group in America and there will be stories of rape, of physical abuse, of depression, of teen suicide, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, and self-harm. It’s not new or shocking. You’ve just never looked.
3. Depression and stress are absolutely RAMPANT amongst teens. After five years of walking alongside youth in our community, and several years of Young Adult Ministry, and nearly eight years of consistent involvement in our church…I can tell you with confidence that depression is an enormous burden that many, many carry. If we struggle as adults and moms and spouses…how much more so must teens struggle?
No one can or should do life alone. Including you. Including them.
4. The church is on the front lines. If you’ve never been involved in church, this will seem odd to you. But the church has been, and is still, on the front lines of the battle for our teens.
In our small community alone, there are thousands of Christians who support, volunteer, and encourage youth. We still need more. We still need YOU!
Churches often have the gift of accomplishing much with little. Help a church in your community accomplish MORE!
But also know that the most impactful relationships are the ones forged in the day to day, over lunch, and alongside the ups and downs of life.
5. When you minister to broken hearts, your heart WILL be broken. My husband and I have cried for the youth in our church so many times. Our hearts hurt and ache when we see a student give up and start believing the lies that are literally dumped on them by our culture. When you love someone, you offer your whole heart to them. You cheer them on. You cry with them. Be that for someone.
6. This is absolutely a parenting issue. And love starts at home. Healthy homes do not produce hate and violence. And there might be very differing levels of parental responsibility case by case. But there is always an element of parental influence.
You don’t have to be a pastor to make a world of difference. Just step outside your comfort zone and love on a kid with all your heart. And you will see the world change.
Sexual brokenness is everywhere.
It lingers in the darkness of every city and town, it rages through our homes and our schools and our churches. It reaches to grab hold of the youngest and most innocent, leaving a trail of slaves writhing in the deceit of all the promises and all the false allure.
People say that sex is fun. Yep. It is.
People say that sex should be exciting. That it should be whatever is best for you.
And that is where Jesus stands bold in the gap of “expression” with his arms stretched out, bleeding. Where we are uncertain and curious and fallen he is steadfast.
People say that Christians don’t even know. That we have a limited and old-fashioned and hypocritical view of sex. After all, the scandals…you know? Those priests and pastors with dark secrets and layers of sin even God himself cannot look past? Plus..we miss out on so. much. fun.
Didn’t God even just say, be fruitful and multiply?
Didn’t God even create this world for men and women. Is he, after all, so surprised by our longings? Sexuality was not an accidental byproduct of creation. God is intentional, and only ever so.
Lean in. And listen close…God does not create sexual brokenness: we invite it when we discard God.
If I. If You. If We…only listened to the One who is Eternal there would be no brokenness in this place. The arena of sexual brokenness would be nonexistent.
There would be no rape. Abortion would all but disappear. There would be no sexually transmitted diseases. No AIDS. No incest. Fatherless and Motherless and Children would nearly disappear from the planet. There would be no pornography. No abuse within an industry labeled as “Adult Entertainment”. No cheating or affairs. Less divorce. Better marriages. Stronger families.
But all of this doesn’t really matter, does it? Because we kind of want those things, don’t we?
We lament the existence of child pornography but we secretly long for the touch of a strangers hands on our skin. We cry out against brothels but we consume image after image of harmless fun even after story after story is told of abuse and coercion and exploitation.
And we run to express ourselves and cover our skin with inked images of seductive women.
Really…we want most but not necessarily all of the darkness of sexual brokenness.
And everywhere men are taken in by the allurement of it all and leave behind a hurricane of disaster in pursuit of their own fulfillment.
And then we grieve the loss of innocence.
And then we grieve the shame inflicted upon us by unwanted actions.
Sexual brokenness is darkest this day of all others. But all days sexual brokenness is everywhere.
This day of sport and hard work and dedication and gatherings of friends and food and hilarious commercials, its all so marred by the behind-the-scenes. But it doesn’t have to be.
You want to change the world? Change yourself.
You want to change the statistics? Change what you absorb.
The only person you control is yourself. And if you can’t, you are part of the problem. If I can’t, I’m part of the problem too.
We cannot simultaneously grieve the existence of darkness while secretly beckoning it near. Because the dark will ALWAYS win if Christians do not stand against it.
We led the fight to legally end slavery. We cross oceans to further The Gospel. We have spoken the truth against all odds and stood in the gap of culture for centuries. Across time, and from the beginning, God has repeatedly intervened and brought about justice for the least. And we are commanded to do the same.
I know that feeling of belittling. I know that feeling of shame and fear so tangible your eyes lose focus and your breath cannot escape from your lungs. I know the feeling of sexual abuse.
And today, when so many others are feeling the same, when men and women choose to exploit and engage without question in acts behind closed doors…the depth of sexual brokenness reaches far beyond four walls and a bed.
Men and Women of God may we not stand silently by. May WE act with honor and boldness and on behalf of those who are used. May we love those who are labeled. May we turn our eyes in disgust at the subjection of human bodies.
Search your own heart before you point that finger. Lift up the face of a stranger and show her the face of Jesus. Freely offer worth to the broken in all the humility of the heavens.
Jesus stretched out his arms for you. And your worth is great. And Jesus also stretched out his arms for them…and their worth is great.
Now go and act like it.