Monday, March 21, 2016

To Those Who Have an Opinion II

To Those Who Have an Opinion...
      and Want to Share it Well,
(I'm preaching to myself today, friends--)

Dear Outspoken Friends Who Talk a Lot,

Thank you for keeping me honest. Thank you, to those with whom I disagree about a lot of things, for reminding me that we can dialogue well and truly agree to disagree. That is real friendship, not just echoing each other mindlessly and "liking" each other's posts vindictively. With some of you, we agree on most things, but not all. That is so important to me, to be reminded that no one--least of all me!--is perfect.

Dear Gracious Friends Who Listen Well,

Thank you for keeping me honest. Thank you, to those with whom I disagree about a lot of things, for reminding me, with reflective listening and quiet, concise statements, that I don't have all the answers, nor even most of them. That is real friendship, not just letting me rant and rave without stepping in to give me helpful pushback. With some of you, we agree on most things, but not all. That is so important to me, to be reminded that being passionate about something doesn't always necessitate being loud (all the time).

Dear Acquaintances Who Think Very Differently Than I Do,

Thank you for keeping me honest. Thank you for letting me into your lives, even just a little, whether digitally or otherwise. Please keep speaking up and speaking out about what matters to you. I want to know. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I long to see your voices valued, your humanity affirmed, your viewpoints clarified. It is so important for me to be reminded that there is a big world out there, that all people bear the beautiful image of God--even the hateful ones!--and that I have much to learn from others.

Dear Silent Friends Who Watch and Listen,

At first I was angry that so few of you were engaging on social media. Then some of you reminded me, gently, that perhaps social media isn't the best place to engage in these discussions (debates). And many of you, while silent in my social media feeds, are very vocal in personal relationships in your support of the "other," and insistence of respect for all people. So I apologize for judging you, and thank you for your willingness to challenge me. And I do encourage you to find where you can continue to speak truth, even if it is (most likely wisely) not on social media. We need your voices, friends. We need your viewpoints. We need to hear from everyone who has a voice, for in the exchange of ideas is a voice given to those who are without.

Dear Acquaintances Who Wonder Why No One Listens, Except Your Closest Friends,

Thank you for reminding me recently that there really are two types of you, those who are malicious and those who are just clueless. To the malicious ones, I am so done with you. I have tried, in good faith, to engage you and hear your viewpoints fairly. I have tried, in good conscience, to share my own viewpoints--to be vulnerable--and I (naively) assumed I would be treated with due respect. I have learned my lesson. No more will I entertain your hateful comments as legitimate discourse. No longer will I open myself up to attack. I will do my best, clinging to the strength of Christ, to remember that you do bear the imago dei, even when you deny that in others (including myself). To the clueless ones, I will try to continue to engage with you, but I will probably have to withdraw at times. Trying to communicate with people who do not want to hear other's ideas is exhausting. Trying to engage with people when their words are hateful, but they claim not to be trolls, is frustrating. And trying to listen to people who never stop to listen in return is often fruitless.

Dear Me,

So we fall into many categories. Lord have mercy on our soul. (And why are we speaking in the plural about ourselves?) We need to listen better. We need to have more grace for people. We also need to not take the trolls' words to heart. We do bear the image of God, despite what some might say. We do belong where the Lord has called us, despite attacks that leave us feeling helpless and alone. We are valuable, loved, and deserving of respect and kindness that we should show to others. That's pretty clear in the Gospel.

Maybe the reason I'm using plural language is because it's not just me. It's every woman who's been berated for seeking an education. It's every person of color whose culture has been dismissed and denigrated. It's every "other" that sticks out and is chastised for the audacity to not fall into line with comfortable societal norms. Maybe the reason I'm using plural language is because all of us--even the trolls--need to be reminded that we're all humans, and all in this together.

One Who Has an Opinion, and Then Some

Friday, March 18, 2016

Free Shipping Fridays: Trump and Tiny Cooking

Dear Readers,

Look in the sky! What's that? It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...

A drone! Dropping two packages neatly on your doormat, whirring away before you can blink an eye or have time to fetch the shotgun. In the first (slightly banged-up, oversized) package, an eye-opening and humbling look at Trump supporters and a reminder to me (I need this reminder, YET AGAIN) that people are complicated, nuanced, and need/deserve much understanding and grace:
H/T Charlie Clauss

In the second package (tiny, tied neatly with pinterest-worthy homemade twine) is a YouTube series of Tiny Cooking videos. As in doll-house sized, edible food made before your very eyes, with doll-house utensils, and with doll-house appliances. It's mesmerizing, adorable, and ridiculous fun:

Monday, March 14, 2016

To Those Who Are Studying

“Even though we speak in this way, beloved,
in you we feel sure of better things that belong to salvation.

For God is not unjust to forget your work and the love
that you have exhibited for his name, serving,
and continuing to serve, his holy people.”

Hebrews 6:9-10

Dear Law Students,

Our family was having dinner the other night with an MC|Law/CLS alum, and when I asked him what word he thought I should bring to you today, his answer was clear: encouragement.

Encouragement in two seemingly contradictory truths:

There’s more to life than this

but also, What you are doing here matters.

In the passage above, the writer of Hebrews was wrapping up a section of warning them about getting distracted and ignoring the powerful truths of the gospel of Christ Jesus.

After rather harsh words in the earlier part of Hebrews 6, the writer went on to speak encouragement.

Encouragement that those beloved brothers and sisters were stronger than temptations and distractions.

If we are in Christ, then we, too, are stronger than temptations and distractions.

The writer had confidence that those believers knew about the “better things of salvation.”
Confidence that they would remember that there was more to life than what they could see swirling around them.

It’s easy to get distracted here in law school.
Grades, papers, rankings, activities.
Legal Writing, App Ad, Moot Court, Law Review, the Bar exam.

It’s easy to forget that this will “only” last for three years.
It’s easy to become myopic, not seeing much of anything outside these walls. Not seeing much of anyone outside these walls.

So here is an encouraging reminder:
There’s more to life than this.

You will graduate, someday, even if it feels like it will never come.

You have friends, family, and a community out there who care about you.
And it is your care for them—and for those within these walls—that “exhibits your care for the Lord.”

It is your ability to let them care for you—to be part of a community—that shows the evidence of your salvation.

When we trust God’s truths, when we remember to stop sometimes, look up, and see the world around us, when we trust God to care for us, we show that we know the “better things that belong to salvation.”

It is only in that freedom, then, in understanding that God loves us, not because of what we do, but because of what he has done, that we can truly understand the flip side of the coin.

Then can we understand that second truth, and find life and flourishing in this encouragement: What you are doing here matters.

It matters that you are using the brain that God gave you to learn about the law. It matters that you are studying, perhaps harder than you’ve ever studied before.

It matters that you go to organizational meetings, study groups, professors’ office hours.
It matters that you are striving to get a really good externship, and that you are striving to do really good work there.

It matters that you are making friends, leading organizations, sharing meals and life together.

“God is not unjust. He won’t forget the good work” you’re doing. How could he, when he planned those works for you from before there was time?

How could God forget your time in law school when he is the one who has brought you here, brought you this far?

How could he forget the way that you are loving and learning about people, and loving and learning about the law, when this is the work to which he’s called you?

Your perseverance, your patience, your faith in God to carry you through, these all showcase--not really even our hard work, but God's work in us.

Believers see, and are also encouraged. Non-believers see, and are curious. And God sees, and he is pleased with the work he is doing. 

So be encouraged, “beloved.”
If we have faith in Jesus, we have salvation.
If we have faith in Jesus, he will see us through all of life—even through law school.

It may not look like what you had hoped. You may have to let go of some things.
But no matter your ranking, your grades, your successes or failures, be encouraged.
We and all “his holy people” are the “beloved of God,” and that makes all the difference.

Be encouraged,
A fellow worker, student, and servant.

Note: I "cheated" on this post. It wasn't new material; it was a devotional talk I wrote for the Mississippi College School of Law's Christian Legal Society meeting. Also, if you'd like to read it in a broader graduate school context than Law school, visit The Well

Friday, March 11, 2016

Free Shipping Fridays: Weeping, Seminary, and Complementarianism

Dear Readers,

What I have for you today does not fit neatly in a box. Because I do not fit neatly in a box.

So no clever metaphors today, friends.

A friend sent me this article, and I suddenly found myself weeping. Because the author gets it; the author gets me. I do have much support and encouragement from family, friends, church members, students/faculty, etc. as I try to navigate being this... rebellious "soft" complementarian--who is doing campus ministry, trying to faithfully co-parent two little girls, and is pursuing a Master of Divinity in seminary. That support system gets me through the tough days. Those folks' opinions are what I truly value and listen to.

But to have a blogger the caliber of Tim Challies recommend this article--
which was written by a board member of Training Leaders International...
an organization in partnership with decidedly complementarian Bethlehem Baptist Church...

... it means a lot. Like maybe-soon-I'll-stop-scowling-at-the-Piper-books-shoved-to-the-back-of-the-shelf-since-The-Debacle a lot. Like fresh healing kind of a lot.

This will probably piss off hard-core complementarians and Those Guys I go to seminary with. Meh.
This may grieve egalitarians and most of the people I work with. That does make me sad.

But I've started to realize that I might as well speak up, because my very existence is bound to piss off and grieve those folks. So I might as well try to enter into conversation about it, and hopefully find some common ground.

Thank you to Darren Carlson for writing it. Thank you to Tim Challies for recommending it. Thank you to dear friend Anna Eubanks for sending me the link.

And thank you to everyone who reads it, and maybe understands me just a little better.