Monday, January 30, 2012

Splinters

My hubby and I were working on refinishing an old dresser this weekend. As I was sliding the newly painted and distressed drawers back into their places, it happened. I got a splinter! At that moment, I became consumed with this tiny sliver of wood wedged into the tip of my ring finger. At that moment, I felt nothing else, just pain. I showed Andrew my affliction (he was soooo sympathetic). After a search, I couldn't find a pair of tweezers, so reluctantly I went back to working and just tried to ignore it. It mostly worked, but every now and then I would pick up something or move something and it would hit that finger and the pain came back.

Hurt is like a splinter. Whether someone lied to you, or misused you, or whatever it is, the hurt can pierce you like a splinter. You can ignore it for so long, but if you do not actually dig it out and deal with, it will continue to hurt you. Maybe not constantly, but a time will come when something comes up and brings the pain flooding back. If left too long, a splinter can become infected and cause all sorts of health problems. The same is true for hurt. If you allow it stay in your life, it can consume and overtake you.

To get rid of a splinter, you have to take some tweezers and dig it out. The process sometimes takes awhile to get it all out and sometimes it is very painful. So is dealing with our hurts. Sometimes it takes talking to the person that hurt you, sometimes it takes seeing a counselor, whatever it is, we each have our own way to get through hurt.

While I never know when I may get a splinter, it would be ridiculous for me to take my bare hands and rub them over that old dresser. I would be smart to use gloves to handle the dresser, to prepare myself and protect myself. Likewise there are some situations we can not get out of, like maybe a family situation. While you may not be able to completely remove yourself from the situation, you can prepare and protect yourself. Whether it is limiting visits, standing up for yourself, or spending time in prayer before a visit. But there are some situations that are so hurtful or abusive that the best thing to do is to remove yourself entirely. Yet sometimes even after doing so, there is still hurt, while not new, it continues to linger.

The thing we must remember though, to get through the hurt, we must get all of the splinter out. Unforgiveness is like that little fragment of a splinter that is wedged down deep. It's the part that becomes infected when not removed. Forgiveness is not saying that what happened was okay. It's not about allowing the person to hurt you again. It's really not about the other person at all. It is deciding not to hold that hurt you've experienced against that person any longer. And it is not letting the hurt have any hold over you any longer. This is the step we most often forget, yet we truly can not heal until we forgive.

What splinters do you need to deal with?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Back to School

"Back to school. Back to school, to prove to Dad that I'm not a fool. I got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight, I hope I don't get in a fight. Ohhhh, back to school. Back to school. Back to school. Well, here goes nothing. ~Billy Madison"

It has been almost 10 years since I graduated from college and at this moment I find myself mentally preparing to return to school and begin work on my masters. Mostly I'm excited, but there is a little apprehension simply because it has been so long since I have listened to a lecture, written a paper, or highlighted the heck out of a book. I also wasn't the best student ever, taking short cuts or doing what was just necessary to get the grade I was after. Nevertheless, I value my bachelors. I was 3/4 of the way done with a degree in Psychology/Sociology when I realized I wanted to go into Children's Ministry, so instead of starting all the way over, I finished up in Sociology. It felt like it was more of my ticket to be done with school and get married to my high school sweetie, but all of the counseling classes and studies in how people interact and systems work has been more helpful to me than I would have imagined.

But there is something pushing me now. Maybe I'm (a little) older, wiser, more mature... But I think having a goal and a vision is my driving force. It's been 7 or 8 months since I first had the vision of helping start a church or being a part of church that breaks down barriers. Since that time I've had conversations with people from all over, almost entirely started by the other person (sometimes not even directed at me). I've heard story after story of how the church has let them down. How we've missed the mark. I've also heard stories of how we've gotten it right. It has all stirred this passion inside of me. This desire to help create a place where ANYone can come and be loved on, regardless of skin color, income level, background, denomination, lifestyle, appearance, etc. They can all come and learn and grow at their own pace and experience God's love and saving grace. I want it to be a fellowship of believers. I want us to love on our community, not just a couple of times a year because it gives us a warm fuzzy feeling, but because we've been called to love our neighbor as ourselves. I want it to be a safe place where people can share their struggles, their problems without being judged, but so they can find hope and healing. It won't be totally pretty or perfect, because when you get down in the dirt, you get dirty. I know in my mind it is very idealistic of what this church will look like, but that is how it should look in the day dreaming phase, shouldn't it? :-)

But this vision, this passion, drives me. I believe this degree in Evangelism and Church Planting will give me some of the background I so desperately need. Basically it's the next step on this path to seeing my vision carried out.

So here's to 2012! As it brings lots of new challenges, new journeys, and new opportunities, to carry out and see passions and visions come to fruition, may we press forward and stay faithful. May we not become content in the same old thing, but find joy and peace in living out loud! May we look back on December 31 and see awesome things that God has done for us and through us! May this be the year to see change! Amen.