People of Faith, Come Out.

The question why? doesn’t even seem to cut it very much anymore in our world, does it? There is simply no logical answer for it during a week like we are experiencing now. There is evil in this world, so much hate, and in Orlando this weekend, those things combined in one person and compelled him to carry out a sinister act. A deadly one.

I’m horrified, as most everyone is and should be this week, as I think of the lives taken just a few nights ago while I was sleeping safe and sound in my bed. When I learned of it, my heart sank down into my stomach.

So here we are again, and forty-nine beautiful, holy, created-in-the-image-of-God lives, are just gone. More than that have suffered injuries. And even more than that have suffered emotional scars that could take a lifetime to heal.

As a person of faith, I pray for their families. I pray that some measure of comfort and peace will reach them. I also pray for the injured and the witnesses, that they would heal both physically and in time, emotionally.

I pray because I don’t think it’s a waste of time. Our prayers are what connect us to the source of all peace, the something-bigger-than-ourselves, the very love itself that keeps us woven together.

But as people of faith, I think there’s more we need to do right now. More than praying. More than even donating money or giving blood. Those things in themselves are good, and we should do them. But there’s more to be done.

Because a sanctuary was invaded this weekend. A sanctuary not unlike the one in Charleston that was invaded just a year ago. It might not be the place many of us initially think of when we hear the word sanctuary, but our LGBT brothers and sisters certainly understand it to be just that, as they were gathered in this place of joy together.

They were dancing and singing and laughing and being free together. Free from judgmental eyes and hateful comments. They were in a sanctuary, free from the fear of being treated as less-than.

And they should have been safe there. They should have been safe to be themselves and enjoy a night without worrying if they would ever get to enjoy another. They should be safe there. They should be safe anywhere.

But the fact is that they aren’t safe everywhere. In the freest country on earth, an LGBT person is never quite free from the worry that someone will treat them in a manner that is disrespectful or downright dangerous.

So, yes, I want to #PrayForOrlando together with other believers. I want Americans to band together and grieve this completely senseless loss of life that happened yet again on our soil.

But I also want us as people of faith to acknowledge that this was a crime that targeted our gay community specifically. And I want believers inside and outside of the Church to understand that if we don’t specifically acknowledge that, and we skip right past that fact and just start to clamor about political positions, we’ve done a great disservice to the LGBT community and we’ve actually added to their pain. 

To my LGBT loved ones, I want to say that I see you. I can’t imagine how scary this is for you, to wonder if this will happen closer to home next time, or if you or someone you know will be the next target. I understand that this is by far not the first time you have had to be fearful of someone using hate as an excuse to violate you. I am so sorry for that.

I am sorry for the way the Church on the whole has, at worst, treated you as less-than-human, or at best ignored you. I don’t want to do that. I know each one of us are made in the image of God and He loves us all completely and wholly without condition. Every single one of us. I don’t think you need me, some white, straight, middle-class elementary school teacher to validate you in that way. But maybe there are some of you who have just never been told that. So please hear it from me. You are made in God’s image, you are beautifully unique and special and nothing will ever change that. We are all worthy of love and dignity simply because of that. And anyone who treats you as if that’s not true is simply wrong. 

I am so sorry you have suffered at the hands of people who, supposedly in the name of God, have said you are not worthy of unconditional love and respect. And I’m especially sorry for any of the same people who have hurt you outright with words or deeds. Please hear this: That is not what God is about. Anyone who claims that hate can be justified by slapping the name of God on it simply does not understand the overall concept of God.

You are loved by God and by many, and nothing in the universe can ever change that. My heart breaks this week for your compounded grief, as people who are both dumbfounded by more loss of life, and as members of a community who have known far too much violence and hate in your quest for love and acceptance. 

rainbow hearts

I pray my words fall on the hearts of my LGBT friends gently. There is much more to say, but for now, I just want you to know you are loved and seen and heard. 

To my friends who claim the name of Christ: I see you too.

One important note: There are those who, supposedly in the name of God, have spent large amounts of energy trying to convince men and women in the gay community that they are unworthy of love, that they are despicable, or abhorrent. I am not addressing those folks here, because I don’t in any way think they are actual followers of Christ. Nothing even remotely similar to Him is in their speech or their actions, and I do not refer to them as Christians (meaning Christ-followers) because everything they do shows that they are the opposite. They are ideological extremists, exactly like the man who murdered dozens of people in Orlando this weekend.

I am speaking to my brothers and sisters in the faith who follow the person and example of Christ as imperfectly but faithfully as possible, who understand that every single person on the face of this planet was created by God in His image.

To you I want to say that this needs to be a major time of reflection for us. How have we, as individuals or as entire fellowships, participated in this violence? It’s true we’ve never pointed a gun at a homosexual person, but have we fired shots with our voices or our silence? The hurt is the same.

I know you and I truly believe that your heart hurts for this whole situation. I know so many of you are uncomfortable and sickened with the way that the Church has treated many groups, including our LGBT brothers and sisters.  I have spoken with you over coffee and during times of study and I know that some of you don’t understand why this debate is even still happening. You are tired of being lumped in with the “ignorant Christian bigots” because that is truly not what you are. I understand. May I urge you to speak your mind, and to be a bridge for the people you love at both ends of that spectrum? Voice your beliefs and your love and your questions. I predict you will be loved all the more for it.

And I know that there are some of you who love Jesus and truly believe that an LGBT person has personally chosen their lifestyle, and you have a hard time understanding how that fits with what you have been taught over many years. I have grace for you as well, and I understand that you are on a journey of learning and you truly want to be faithful in that quest. May I urge you to tend to this in your own personal prayer life and study of God’s word on these issues (yes, deep study–that means whatever it takes, all the way back to the original languages for every single word if you have to) and to truly develop your own understanding rather than simply accepting what has been repeated to us over and over.

And please, if you have big opinions about the LGBT community but find yourself realizing that you don’t actually spend time with anyone who is gay, let’s just start there. Because I promise you that when you love those who don’t necessarily share your same background or beliefs, you will look at everything in a new light. Because it won’t be about an “issue” or a “culture war.” It will be about you and the right-in-front-of-you folks whom you love. And that changes everything. It no longer allows us to throw around cheap cliches and Christian-y catchphrases, but it forces us to ask what those words might mean to our loved one. That is the journey we must take.

And at every point in that journey, please remember that at no time did Jesus ever hurt people (and especially not entire groups of people) with his words or by ignoring their plight entirely. He was moved, deep down in his gut, with compassion for the masses. He always treated every single person with the love and dignity they were worthy of simply because they were created by God.

He was always on the lookout for those who were hurting, who needed love, and who needed to be reminded of their worth. He gave us the very best example of what it looks like to love in words and deeds. So let’s make that example our focus, and all else secondary to that. Let’s be about the business of standing side-by-side with those who are hurting. Let’s be that Samaritan, who defied all commonly held cultural parameters and looked past it all, seeing nothing other than a fellow human being lying bruised and battered in a ditch and said How could anyone pass this person by without reaching out? And if we become battered and bruised at the same time, so be it.

So yes, more love and less hate. Nothing can undo the hateful actions that happened this weekend in Orlando. Nothing, ever. But we can continue to assault evil with love every time we pray, open our mouths to speak, or encounter another human being. Every single day.

Whatever our personal beliefs are at this moment, there is absolutely no debate to be had over whether or not the people in that nightclub were loved by God and worthy of dignity and respect as human beings. That’s not even a thing. Not even.

But let’s ask ourselves: Will we, as people of faith, mourn alongside anyone who mourns, even if we think them to be different than we are? Will we love God’s people more than our perceptions? Will we come out and speak, take a posture of wanting to learn, and say that maybe this is awkward, unsteady territory but we are willing to go there because we want to love extravagantly like Jesus did?

//

As I’ve written and rewritten this over the past few days, it has dawned on me painfully that I should have said these things long ago. I should’ve said essentially these same things also to my friends of color and of other faiths, who have frequently been targets of violence and hate and continue to be. Sometimes it just feels as if the hatred and violence is compounded all the more by the thousands of competing voices yelling in the aftermath. As if anyone needs another opinion. But I will use my words more often on behalf of peace and on behalf of those I love. -Krysten

Love: Join Together & Get Creative

I had the opportunity today to contribute to the #loveis series over on the Facebook page for Sweet to the Soul Ministries . So thankful to share alongside some lovely ladies who have taken time this month to consider what the scriptures say about this thing we call love. My focus was on Hebrews 10:24:

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…

The entire book of Hebrews has something to prove. The author was worried that his audience was waffling in their faith. He implored them not to go back to the old, comfortable way they’d always known, approaching God by routinely making sacrifices, checking off a spiritual box. He went to great lengths to show that Jesus is our high priest and no other sacrifice is needed.

God is really really smart, y’all.

He knew that even when we came to understand that Jesus is our center, it would only be a starting point. Our faith is a lifelong process of trusting and learning to love like Jesus did. He knew we would get discouraged easily. He knew we, too, would waffle back and forth in our faith at times.

He knew we would need some strategies for sticking with it, for moving forward in our faith when life got harsh. For when it seemed too difficult to center our lives around a Savior who was all about showing love in practical ways.

So what did God give us as an answer to these difficulties? Two things stick out to me from Hebrews 10:24:

First, He gave us other believers. The verse says: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Us. We. One another. The words used here don’t signify any of us being an island. We need each other to keep the momentum of love & faith going. We need to encourage each other to put God’s love into action.

The second thing God gave us is creative minds. Other translations of Hebrews 10:24 tell us to “think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works” and to “see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out”.

Oh, I love that. What a challenge! He wants to see just how out-of-the-box we can get in demonstrating love toward others.

So friends, let’s take on that challenge. Let’s just get all kinds of creative in how we show His love today. Forget about how we will be perceived because of it. And let’s not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by how difficult life may feel at the moment. God knew it would happen, and He’s given us one another to figure out how to creatively persevere in showing His love to all people.

I’d love to hear what you think about this. What comes to mind when you think about God asking us to be inventive and creative in love? Who is a person in your life who spurs you on toward love and good deeds? How do they do this? Tell me about all it! Your thoughts will spur even more of us on toward encouraging love and good deeds today.

the best kind of debt-free

Thinking in crisp, clear thought today about the center of my life, who used to be despised, rejected, misunderstood, hated, and ridiculed by me on a daily basis. Thinking of how he gave up everything for me. How he suffered for me. How he died in my place.

Who do I love that much? For whom would I voluntarily be disgraced, spit upon, beaten, despised, ridiculed, tortured, even killed? Anyone? I can think of a few people who I love enough to throw myself in front of a bus without a moment’s hesitation if I thought it would save their life. Just a few. But would I do that for someone who hated me? Would I do that for someone who said I was an imbecile? Would I do that for someone who had disgraced me and everything I stood for? Very doubtful.

But that’s what He did. He paid the debt and offered new life. For me and for all of us.

ALL of us.

“Praise the One who paid my debt, and raised this life up from the dead.”

deep and high and wide

Came across an old hymn today that I fell in love with. I was not raised in church, or anywhere near one for that matter. I am actually kind of thankful for that in some respect, because these songs of praise, many of which are hundreds of years old, are all new to me. I suspect that because they’re still new to me, I am able to see and hear and feel their meaning a bit more extravagantly than if they had been played in the background of my life all these years.

I’m going through a bit of a cloudy place right now. There’s been more confusion lately than clarity. More melancholy than joy. More loneliness than embrace. Much more grey than rainbow. But even in all this, even when I’ve been struggling to piece things together, I never forget how deep and high and wide God’s love is for me. Even when that understanding slips out of the spotlight and onto the sidelines, it’s still there. No matter how big and loud and obnoxious every pressing problem around me seems to get, there’s a little mustard-seed-sized place in me that whispers: it’s worth it. you’ll see on the other side of this soon enough, just wait. He won’t let you down.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus!
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me,
Is the current of Your love
Leading onward, leading homeward
To Your glorious rest above!

In Christ Alone

All day yesterday I was listening to the song In Christ Alone, which rocks me pretty much every time I hear it. I can hardly listen to the whole thing without joyful tears streaming down my face at some point. With every line of lyrics I seemed to have a reel of commentary playing through my mind in a sort of beautiful disbelief.

In Christ alone my hope is found, I don’t need anything else to hope in! Not my own abilities, not the promise of bigger or better anything…just Christ

He is my light, my strength, my song; When I do anything without him, it’s a failure. I stumble all over the place like I’m in the dark. Anything I do well comes from the strength he gives

this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,

firm through the fiercest drought and storm. There’s nothing I have been through where he has failed me. He’s brought me through some of the most stressful situations, and although I seem to flail all over the place when I’m faced with the littlest bump in the road, he never moves. He is never, ever shaken by my circumstances

What heights of love, what depths of peace,

when fears are stilled, when strivings cease! I have never felt so loved and so at peace, even when everything around me seems to be madness. Even when I am scared about my son’s future, or when I feel like I can’t do anything right, he gives me peace about it. I don’t have to fix everything or anything!

My Comforter, my All in All,

here in the love of Christ I stand. Even though I have many people in my life who love me and offer me encouragement through everything, he is ultimately the one who gives me everything. If I were to be without anyone else, he would be there with me
In Christ alone! who took on flesh

Fulness of God in helpless babe! God became one of us when he allowed his son to be limited in human form. It’s the mystery of Jesus being fully divine and fully human at the same time

This gift of love and righteousness

Scorned by the ones he came to save: I wonder how I would have responded to Jesus had I lived at the time he walked the earth. Would I have been one of those people who thought he was a heretic or a madman? Would I have spit on him, thrown things at him, joined in mocking him?

Till on that cross as Jesus died,

The wrath of God was satisfied – This is the place where God’s justice and mercy come together perfectly. His holiness required justice and His love required mercy. He was the only  one who could provide a solution to both parts of that puzzle

For every sin on Him was laid;

Here in the death of Christ I live. Everything I ever did, am doing, and will do that is an offense to God’s holiness has already been paid for because of what Jesus did for me. Because of Christ taking on my debt, I no longer owe anything. I can live

There in the ground His body lay

Light of the world by darkness slain:

Then bursting forth in glorious Day

Up from the grave he rose again! Some people say they believe that Jesus was God’s son and that he died on the cross, but not that he was resurrected. What good is it for God to have a son he sends to earth if he’s just like any of us? What good is any of this if the resurrection was not true? What good is someone claiming to be the messiah if they died like everyone else? That would just prove Jesus to be the liar that many believed him to be. But he did not stay dead…he was alive again and now he lives inside each of us who follow him

And as He stands in victory

Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me, Because of his resurrection, I no longer have to live as the same person I once was. The sins in my life no longer define me. I am a new creation. The old things have gone and the new things have come

For I am His and He is mine –

Bought with the precious blood of Christ. This one is maybe the hardest to believe. When I think about how God loves the world and all the people in it, it is easy to believe because I am speaking in general terms. But when I think of God trading his son’s life for mine so he could purchase me back from my slavery… to think that I was that important to him and he loved me that much…that’s so much harder for me to grasp. He loves ME that much. He loves YOU that much
No guilt in life, no fear in death,

This is the power of Christ in me;

From life’s first cry to final breath.

Jesus commands my destiny. I do not have to feel guilty or condemn myself any longer for the poor choices I have made. I give them to him and he creates something good and lovely from that mess I had made. He works it together for good. I do not have to fear death, no matter how or when it comes, because he is on the other side of it. He is what awaits me at the end of my life, so either way I win. He commands my time here on earth and the end of it.

No power of hell, no scheme of man,

Can ever pluck me from His hand;

Till He returns or calls me home,

Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand. There is no scheme or trick that anyone or anything can use against me to try to tell me that I do not belong to God. There is nothing in this world that will become more important to me, no matter how many people tell me that it is. Nothing I even do to mess up will keep me from the love of Christ. It is so wide and deep and high that I am covered no matter what. He holds tight to me even when I loosen my grip on him. He has lavished such a love upon me that I am called his daughter and that cannot be taken away, even by me.

Even when my focus gets blurry, I know where my hope is and always will be found.

 

Obedience: I’m in love, again.

I met a new friend today. His name is Danny. I’m in love.

It’s okay, you can tell my husband. I plan to.

It started when I saw him this afternoon, while I was out and about going several different places across the city in a [failed] attempt to buy some new clothes. Not because I’m running around threadbare or naked. Not even close. (You’re welcome.) I just like to buy a couple of new things each year when school starts. You know, new school clothes.

So in all my driving around I was downtown near the arena district when I spotted my new love. There he was, in the afternoon sun, wearing what appeared to be the same clothes he’d worn for days. His scraggly beard was fairly long. He was missing several teeth (which I could tell from quite far away) and he was at least 5 inches shorter than me.

PERFECT.

However, it was not exactly love at first sight. It was more like love at first nudge. I was in my car, coming up to a red light and in the middle lane. He was standing on the sidewalk to my right, slowly walking. His sign said “Homeless and very needy. Please help.” I watched him from the corner of my eye for just a couple of seconds. I could see the disappointment and a little speck of disdain on his face as every driver and passenger kept their eyes starkly facing forward as he walked by, refusing to acknowledge what they’d surely already seen.

A person. A man. A man in need of something. In need of something so badly that he resorted to begging anyone –everyone– to help.

That’s when I heard our love song. Cranking in my car at that exact moment was:

Your love, Your love/ the only thing that matters is/ Your love, Your love/it’s all I have to give

Your love/ is enough/ to light up the darkness/ It’s Your love, Your love/ All I ever needed is Your love

I knew then that I was his answer, at least for that day. God wanted to use me to deliver some love and maybe even provide him with the means to eat that day. So I started to reach for my purse, to get some money out. The light turned green. All the cars around me started to move and I needed to get over. No one was even thinking about acquiescing to my turn signal. I was starting to create a line of angry drivers who were behind me since I was inconveniencing them by making a last-minute decision to change lanes. It was annoying, I admit. So I hit the gas pedal and moved forward onto the freeway ramp I was right in line for. I had a moment, just a moment, where I thought well, it wasn’t meant to be since I wasn’t able to get to him quickly enough. I’ll pray for him. Then…

Why worry about someone’s soul but don’t bother to give them a basic need when you know you can?

FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD. (James Ch.2, the kinda-ghetto Krysten version)

I thought about all the other songs I’d listened to that day while I was out and about doing my thing. The lyrics shot through me light lightning bolts, one right after another.

I want more of you, God…

        I’ve found a love greater than life itself….

                     No place I’d rather be/ than here in Your love…

                                         Nothing can tear us from/ the grip of His mighty love…

                                                            He lavishes His love upon us/ He calls us now his sons and daughters…

                                                                        We’ve only glimpsed/ His vast affection/ heard whispers of/His heart and passion…

So I DID pray, but not for the man. I prayed that he would still be there so I could go do what I knew God was asking of me.  (So I guess I was praying for myself?) I got off at the next exit. I turned around. I got back on the freeway. I spotted my man and found a place to park. I walked toward him and was keenly aware of all the confused and frightened scares of the people in the cars when they realized I was talking right up to him.

I tapped him on the shoulder and told him how happy I was that he was still there. (again, was this for me?)

He smiled his toothless smile and hugged me.

I told him I saw him a little earlier but couldn’t get to him, but that I’d turned my car around and came back so I could come give him some money to help him through the day.(Why did I tell him that? What did I expect, a medal!?)

And you know what he said?

He said: “Well, you didn’t have to do that! All you had to do was love me!”

ALL YOU HAD TO DO WAS LOVE ME.

He told me his name was Danny. We talked for a while about how the weather was nice even though it was hot, and how his back hurt and how he just sleeps any place he can find, and how he knows the people who owned the building he was standing near but they don’t have anywhere for him to stay in there. He hugged me three times and introduced himself twice in the span of 5 minutes.  He’d been on the streets for 25 years. YEARS.

I told him I would look for him again, and I will. I told him I would be praying for him to stay safe and for his back to heal. And I will. He was so thankful to hear that, of all things.

The whole experience took less than 15 minutes, surely. But he will last forever whether I see him again or not. I’d been wondering lately if I’ve been obedient to God, I mean anytime recently. I’d seen such beautiful pictures painted in several lives around me, of just pure obedience and the lovely results that follow. I couldn’t remember the last time I was obedient to a nudge from the Spirit. I’d asked Him to bring something to mind so I could remember it, but  God was gracious enough to do me one better…. He gave me a new opportunity to be obedient to his voice. It’s almost romantic.

All I had to do was love him, he said.

Done.

Still Listening…

If you’ve never read The Color Purple by Alice Walker, please go get it ASAP. It’s one of those read-before-you-die kind of books. Here is an excerpt from the book… it’s a conversation about God between two women, Shug and Celie:

Listen, God love everything you love – and a mess of stuff you don’t.  But more than anything else, God love admiration.

 You saying God vain?  I ast.

Naw, she say.  Not vain, just wanting to share a good thing.  I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.

 What it do when it pissed off?  I ast.

Oh, it make something else.  People think pleasing God is all God care about.  But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.

 Yeah?  I say.

Yeah, she say.  It always making little surprises and springing them on us when us least expect.

You mean it want to be loved, just like the bible say.

 Yes, Celie, she say.  Everything want to be loved.  Us sing and dance, make faces and give flower bouquets trying to be loved.  You ever notice that trees do everything to git attention we do, except walk?

 Well, us talk and talk about God, but I’m still adrift.  Trying to chase that old white man out of my head.  I been so busy thinking bout him I never truly notice nothing God make.  Not a blade of corn (how it do that?) not the color purple (where it come from?).  Not the little wild flowers.  Nothing.

Now that my eyes opening, I feels like a fool.

This is one of my first memories of myself thinking about God. I mean really thinking about Him. I had to read this book for a class. I was only a teenager.  I wasn’t even close to being a believer of any flavor, let alone a born-again Christian. I just remember the moment I read this, then read it again, and then over and over, I realized for the first time that God might be something (or someone) I had never dreamed of before. He might be more than “White Jesus” (this is the name I unaffectionately use to refer to the fake presentation we see mostly in those awful paintings with a glowing fishbowl around the head of a stark-white, blue-eyed, cojone-less sort of saintly figure who doesn’t really possess any power other than to make others feel guilty for not being as saintly or as white. Capisce?)

I briefly allowed myself to wonder, could there be more to this God thing?

Right after that I probably went about my everyday business of partying or whatever mess I used to get into back in those days. I didn’t have some big, light-shining-down moment that changed me forever. My journey was and continues to be much, much more subtle, but I’m convinced that it started way back then. It started when I first thought of God as more than a “He” and more than a keeper of cosmic scorecards, of which mine was dramatically marked up with a lot of red X-es. I began to see the idea of what might just be God as more than just something you experience when or if you go to church.

I’ve always been a lover of nature…not one of those going camping every weekend types…but almost childlike in my love, awe, and appreciation for all things around me that happen and exist naturally; a buzzing honeybee, the foam created from the ocean kissing the sand, the delicate veins in a perfectly symmetrical maple leaf, and…clouds! Oh how I loved (and still love) looking at clouds! I just figured I was a person who enjoyed things like that, I never thought anything else about it. But over many years I have come to realize that these things…these moments when I notice the small things around me that have been created by God, I know they are the artwork of the One who loves me and wants to delight me with His creation.

Could it really be…God is mad about me, not mad at me? It almost seems scandalous. The Creator of all the universe, the One who breathed and spoke everything into existence, loves me and is trying to get my full attention on a daily basis?! It’s true, my friends…and it’s certainly not just true for me, but for every one of the 6+billion people on this planet, all created in His image.

“…God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” -Romans 5:8

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”                    -Romans 8:1

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 8:38-39

Like I said, I never had this big, monumental sign that God was real and He loved me. It happened in a thousand small moments that accumulated into me finally admitting that I couldn’t ignore the clues anymore…I couldn’t push away the fact that I was starting to see all the loosely bound connections firming up into definite pathways. I was no longer interested in chasing after all the various things I had been, none of which ever resulted in giving me peace. I came to a place where I was pretty sure I was ready to surrender myself to something that was way more vast, way more good than I’d ever dreamed. Then I heard this song by a band that called themselves a Christian rock band, which I’d never even heard of before. “Christian” music that I actually enjoy listening to? Whaaaaatttt??

I looked for you in
The fire and the wind
But you weren’t there as far as I could see

I thought I’d hear you shout
But then I figured it out
That all along you’re whispering to me

And I’m still listening…

That was me. I knew it was. I knew that while I had been busy looking for “it” all over the place, searching for some huge moment in my life that would define me and validate me and encourage me and strengthen me and show me what life was really about, all along I had missed the hints and whispers of what was right in front of me. I knew that this band, these singers who were followers of Jesus, were talking about looking for and finding God. I felt a little like Celie in The Color Purple.

“Now that my eyes opening, I feels like a fool.”

But that foolish feeling quickly turned into a peaceful rest that I’ve really known ever since. Not perfectly, not without wrinkles and tears in the pages of my life since it all began for me. But a peacefulness that keeps my eyes willingly wide-open to these things, so I can share them with others and point out the whispers that are around them so they don’t miss the good stuff that God is trying to catch their attention with. But just in case they do miss it, and in the not-totally-unlikely event that I also miss it, I take comfort in knowing that God (as Alice Walker so simply put it) will just make something else to catch our attention.