Posts tagged #faith

questions

i don't have many words today. yesterday was one of the hardest days i've experienced in quite awhile. and as i was drifting off into sleep, i realized much of what used to bring me hope now just leaves me skeptical. i posted the question on twitter: how do i fix this? how do i allow myself to hope & dream & believe when it seems every time i do my heart ends up in the corner, hiding?

the response surprised me.

i thought i was alone. turns out there's many of you struggling with the whats and hows.

i'm processing through some thoughts, and i'll be writing about them. but this video, sent to me by a friend, spoke to my anxious heart. hope it brings a little peace to your morning.

http://vimeo.com/5378334

what are some of your questions?

play in the pain

The other day, a student who graduated last year stopped by to see me. From the moment he entered the room, I knew something was different. His eyes darted around & he had difficulty standing [or sitting] still. "Hey. I just wanted to come say hi because I haven't seen you in forever."

It was good to see him. Although I never had him in class, he frequented my room in the mornings. Our conversations spanned a whole plethora of topics - college, life, religion, teaching, television, music, work, AP classes....I knew from other teachers he was a smart kid - sharp and witty.  Chatting with him as I prepared for each day I saw this first hand.

The other day was different. Although our conversation started off at surface level - I found out he decided to go to Baylor for college - he quickly jumped head first into deep waters.

The whole time he was in my room, he fought back tears - his chin quivering right before he swallowed his emotions and proceeded with his story. He jumped around a lot - unable to focus on one topic. The pain in his eyes though was evident.

Long story short: I wanted to turn away.

I wanted to hold up my hand, get him to stop talking, and push him out the door.

It hurt too much - listening to how his life spiraled out of control. I didn't want to know his family isn't talking to him anymore. I didn't want to know he turned away from the church because of judgment. I didn't want to know he turned towards the only community he knew.

I definitely didn't want to know how he thought his life meaningless and because of this, attempted to end it three times in the last few weeks.

But I did know. And something held me there - perhaps shock? Probably the Spirit. And as I stuck my finger in his face with tears in my eyes and choking out the words,  "don't you dare commit suicide. Don't you dare...."

He smiled at me and said, "Mrs. Ramirez. Don't cry. You'll make me feel bad. You should probably start singing 'You are my Sunshine' - that always makes me smile."

My heart broke.

I watched him leave after that - promising to check up on him via facebook and threatening him again with my watery eyes and shaky smile. "Your life isn't meaningless to me - remember this. And please, be careful. These people you're hanging with? They don't play."

He held up his hand, his lip curled up in a half-hearted attempt to grin. "Oh I know, Mrs. Ramirez. Trust me."

I turned around, shutting the door behind me and facing the students who are in my classroom now. I glanced around - realizing the similarity between them and the one who just left. Twelve months ago, you would have seen no difference. Now? You hear scathing remarks coming from the peanut gallery as he shares his nightmare.

I'm still reeling today. And I think, for the first time, I'm beginning to truly understand what Andrew Klavan meant when he said, "sometimes we just have to play in the pain."

Life is messy. People make mistakes.

But without the grittiness of the Cross, there would be no hope.

Without pain, there could be no redemption.

And if I believe there is hope for this student - which I do - then I have to take a moment and dwell in his pain.

This is the beauty of our faith. We all have stories - some more painful than others. If we aren't sharing this pain - if we aren't dwelling in the pain with others - than we aren't fully accepting the gospel. We aren't believing the power of the Cross.

Because [listen closely] - anyone can experience redemption. Anyone - despite the pain, despite the confusion -  can experience hope.

I'm holding on to this truth for my student - and for now, I'm holding on to his pain - hopefully one day, his story of redemption will be complete.

Posted on October 14, 2010 and filed under story.

complete.

5:15 came early this morning. I did my daily routines: brushing, yawning, coughing, sneezing, changing, yawning, drinking, reading, writing...

I missed something, though.

Unable to place my finger on it, I wrote longer than normal in my prayer journal - begging God for guidance and wisdom. Just move in me - through me - I wrote. Finally, realizing my words came incredibly short to what I felt - I gathered my things, kissed Russ goodbye, and walked out the door.

And then it hit me: I felt lonely.

Which seems a bit selfish. I prayed this morning for God to move - and He has. This past month I've witnessed incredible reminders of His mercy and goodness and grace. He's reminded me consistently of His provision.

But I wanted more.

Some of my favorite verses in the Bible speak of God's thunder. Whenever I read these verses my heart takes notice. Something inside me retreats and bows in submission. Yes. This. I want His thunder. It's almost a craving, a need to fill an ache. And if I'm not careful, I'll take this craving and put it on others.

So this morning when the feeling of loneliness crept up and grabbed me by the throat, I literally stopped and closed my eyes. Please God - please. Show me. Breathe through me. MOVE through me. I didn't want this - I didn't want the feelings of inadequacy paralyzing me - that's a dangerous game I don't like to play. I waited until the feeling subsided and then continued walking to my car.

And then the wind starting blowing. I could hear it coming before I felt it. The whoosh of leaves rustling against the power of this invisible force. When it hit me - my whole body shook. And then, just as soon as the internal quake began it stopped and an incredible peace washed over me. It took everything to not fall to my knees right there in the middle of the parking lot. The wind was powerful, yes. But its power isn't what was bringing me to tears - it was His voice.

Do you see? He said. The wind, like Me, is invisible. But it envelops you. Shakes you. Moves you.You can never deny its existence - or its worth. Listen. My song plays through the percussion of the trees and the howl of the wind.

I'm with you.

I'M with you.

I'm WITH you.

I'm with YOU.

I smiled. I asked God to move - and He did. I asked God to breathe through me - and He did. I asked God to help me battle loneliness - and He did.

He did all these things - and not because I asked. He did them because He loves me. Through His love, I am made complete.

No one has ever seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us - perfect love! 1 John 1:12

Posted on May 7, 2010 .

prone to wander

when i was younger, my family had a pool. it wasn't fancy - one of those above ground barely over four feet deep kinda pools. but some of my sweetest memories of my father are in that pool. every weekend we spent swimming together as a family - my mom perched on a float, her legs dangling over the edge of the pool, her middle swollen with child and her arms blocking the sun from her face. my sister and i swimming laps and racing and jumping and splashing - sometimes we felt more comfortable under water than above.

but my favorite thing - the thing that would make my heart jump and squeal - would be standing on the edge of the fuzzy deck, waiting for my dad to give me the signal. i'd close my eyes, count to ten, and ignoring the rush of butterflies let loose in my stomach, i'd jump.

i'd jump because i know he was there.

but wait. there's something important here. let me see if i can paint this picture accurately for you because i don't want you to miss it. there's me - on the deck - knees knocking together with excitement and quiet giggles escaping my mouth. there's my father - hands stretched out towards me - beckoning me to trust and take the leap. he never once told me he'd catch me, and most times i'd end up touching the bottom of the pool before resurfacing - but i always ended up in his arms. he always reached down and grabbed me from the water, lifting me above his head and pulling me close to his chest. always.

and this was my favorite part.

is it any wonder i have a hard time taking leaps of faith now? is it any wonder, in my own limits of who God is and what he can do through me, i cling to safety and protection and comfort?

i remember the thrill of the leap. i remember the rush of crashing into the water only to have my daddy rescue me - pulling me to safety in his arms. i remember laughing while sputtering and clearing the hair from my eyes, begging for him to do it again. i would anxiously await my turn for another chance to jump in feet first.

i don't know if i can say that about me now. i know i too often look the other way. i know too often i find the stairs and walk in the water that way - slowly, gingerly, preparing my body for the cold in a way that breeds comfort.  sometimes  i just stick my feet in, barely getting them wet, and then move on my way - too distracted and busy to really get deep.

i think He's calling. i can hear Him in the distance - crying out for me to trust Him - reminding me He is always there. even if i don't have floaties to keep my head above water, He will always pull me to safety.

The safety of His arms.

__________________________________

Are you needing to jump in deep with me? May we never be too comfortable to jump to our Father's arms.

Posted on April 12, 2010 .

thin places: red dirt faith

her elbows merging with my own on her way down, the rocks digging into my skin when we hit the ground, the look on her sister's face when she realized she was having another seizure - i remember it all. i was 17, fresh out of high school, and in the jungles of Haiti.

i fell with my friend as gracefully as i could and placed my hand underneath her head. her sister ran up the hill towards the camp. we were about half a mile away.

it was going to be awhile.

i close my eyes and say a prayer. two white girls, one seizing, in the middle of the road in the Haitian jungle...i needed some God-magic. i heard footsteps and glanced up to see a man placing his machete on the ground. i tried not to look at the blade inches from my own skin as he knelt down to look at me.

...what happens after that is where it gets blurry. i remember giving him instructions (in English). i remember him understanding me. i remember the team coming down the hill in a van and me telling the doctor what happened. i remember trying to find the man but failing - him completely disappearing in a village of about 100 people.

what i believe: God offered protection that day in the form of an angel. in a moment where my friend and i were in danger, Christ showed his power by crashing through language barriers and societal norms.

my faith is still tinged with the red dirt of Haiti.

Posted on February 10, 2010 .