Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dear Christmas Warriors - A Christmas Letter

Dear Christmas Warriors, 

You know who you are. You're the ones on social media making sure everybody knows that it's not just a season or just any set of holidays it's Christmas with a capital CHRIST.
Can we chat for a minute?

                                             FYI: I kind of picture you like this

First, stop posting Facebook statuses claiming that Facebook is demanding that images of the Nativity be taken down. This is a rumour that started in 2012 and has no basis in any kind of reality. When I see posts like this ....

I always check with (a website devoted to debunking urban legends and internet rumours) to be sure that what I'm seeing is truth or random wackiness. Fortunately, this status is not true and unfortunately falls into the random wackiness category. Here's a quote in case you don't believe me 

"Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities requires users to agree they "will not post content that: is hate speech, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence." Ordinary religious images do not meet any of these criteria and thus are perfectly acceptable for posting on Facebook. "

Don't perpetrate random wackiness on Facebook, use your noggin' before posting stuff like this. It makes you look dumb. Besides, Facebook is too busy taking down images of breastfeeding moms to take down your nativity pictures.

Now, I'm about to preach a bit, so you should probably strap yourself in.
I see a lot of this at Christmas time

And this 

This kind of stuff, especially, if you're a Christian isn't really cool and I'll tell you why.

We no longer live in a homogeneous country run by Protestant Englishmen or Catholic Frenchmen. We are a diverse nation, with many different people groups several of which share holiday space during the month of December. It's ok for our government to recognize that other people groups/religions or celebrate alongside Christians this month. It doesn't water down the message of Christmas or crush the freedom of faith that Christians have in Canada. What it does is show that our nation is kind, that we care about many, not just some and that together, unlike in other parts of the world where one religious group crushes the others, we can all enjoy our holidays.

Also, Christmas isn't going anywhere. Stop acting like it's about to be stomped out. Christmas has become a cultural as well as a religious observance. Tons of people who have never heard the message of Jesus, still put up a tree and pass out gifts. The thing is now, instead of it being government mandated that everyone know, understand and accept the Christian Christmas, it's up to the individual Christian to demonstrate why accepting the Christ of Christmas is a great thing to do.
These Facebook posts are a terrible way of letting people know you celebrate the Christ of Christmas. They're aggressive, kind of smarmy and sometimes make Christians look like paranoid wackos.

So maybe, ask someone what they're doing for their "holidays"  and tell them what you're doing for Christmas. And maybe when they mention that they're not doing anything invite them to a Christmas Eve service or your Christmas dinner (I find promising them cake is a great tool to get them in the door). Or maybe remember that the Jehovah's Witness/Muslim/Atheist/Jew/undecided person in the cubicle next to you doesn't celebrate Christmas, but they're getting time off work, so they are in fact getting holidays, so, wish them Happy Holidays. It doesn't make Christmas less, it makes kindness more! Which is really what Christmas is all about, right? Right!

1 Peter 2:1 So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You’ve had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God. 

**Sorry about the formatting. First time using the Blogger app.**

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

It's Good Friday, so I'm taking the opportunity that a day off and sleeping in gives to contemplate the biblical account of Christ's crucifixion.

The crucifixion was of course horrible and gut wrenching and, thanks to Mel Gibson and the Passion of the Christ, as well as countless years in church, I have a fairly vivid understanding of Christ's suffering.


 Although, the suffering of Christ is important for both our redemption and the fulfillment of prophecy, the part of the Good Friday story that has always got me excited, my brain and my heart, is the tearing of the veil in the temple.

37 Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and dismissed his spirit.
38 And the curtain in the Temple was split apart from top to bottom.
Mark 15:37-38

Depending on which scholarly type person you ask, the veil of the temple had different dimensions. According to one "expert" it was 15 feet wide by 15 feet long with a linen veil in the time of Moses to 20 feet wide by 60 feet long and 4 inches thick in the Temple of Jesus’ day. I don't know and honestly I don't care. What I do care about is the spiritual significance and symbolism.

The veil was a barrier between common folk and what was referred to as The Holy of Holies. In Moses time, it was where the Ark of the Covenant (Remember Indian Jones?), essentially the fancy box that housed God's Spirit, was housed. 

Later, after the Ark was no longer in the possession of the Israelites, the Holy of Holies was considered to be the place where God was. The priests of the Jewish temple only went in there once a year and only after a whole bunch of cleansing rituals on what was called the Day of Atonement . Sometimes they weren't "clean" enough, their sins hadn't been atoned or paid for through cleansing and sacrifice and as a result they would die, fall down dead in the presence of God. 

So the veil, kept everyone from God. Without atonement the Holy of Holies was a place of death and judgement. As mentioned in the reference above, when Jesus finally breathed his last  the veil was torn. Jesus' death was the atonement, the payment, the redeeming factor that tore the veil. His suffering and death, his sacrifice was what made it possible for the common people, you and me to interact with God. 

This is when I get a bit misty. The torn veil means that I don't have to be under judgement, that I don't have to strive and scrub myself clean and go through ritual to come to God. That through the sacrifice of Jesus, I can come to God just as I am all full of mistakes, banged up and dirty. That I can have mercy from my poor decisions, bad choices and ultimately death, grace (favour with God), hope for a fulfilling and blessed life now and an eternal life after death and that I can have a one on one relationship with the God that created the universe.  

And that is what makes Good Friday good for me.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Why I Sometimes Don’t Take My Meds

I’m pretty open about the fact that I have an hormonal imbalance that, without medication, turns me into a depressed rage beast.  I’m open with this information mostly because I think it’s super important to talk about stuff like this. Do you know what grows in the dark? Bad things like mold, fungus and angler-fish *shudders*. 

I will never swim in the ocean again. Thanks, Finding Nemo!

With depression, mental illness and other topics that have been delegated as not fit for discussion, in the darkness grows stigma, stereotypes and shame – all bad things. I think it’s time we stop shaming people for a chemical flaw as if it’s a character flaw and bring these topics into the light and see if we can’t breed some understanding and support.

However, as much as I like to be open I can’t say I’m completely without shame when it comes to my potential for depressed rage-beastedness. My secret, the thing I don’t discuss very often is that sometimes I don’t take my pills.

I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I think that if you asked anyone who relies on pharmaceuticals to maintain their emotions, behaviours and mental acuity you would find that many of us are resentful and ashamed that we have to take medication daily just to be normal. For me, especially I think because I am a Christian, I'm ashamed that I need medication to keep from flying off the handle at my young son, or to have the energy and focus to complete the tasks of daily life or to balance me out enough that I don't think friends and family would be better off without me. If I have the Spirit of God inside me, why can't I conquer all this? On the other hand, I am sometimes resentful of the fact that my emotions sometimes feel anesthetized, that if I display a deep emotion my husband wonders if I've taken my medication for the day or that I can’t just be normal.

I can tell you, that beyond a shadow of a doubt, getting my medication was a divine intervention in my life, a healing, just not in the way I usually think of healing, nobody smashed me in the head with the palm of their hand or doused me in holy water. However, I still struggle with taking my medication and I think that for me it boils down to comparison and incorrect thinking.

I saw on Pinterest once a sign that said, “Comparison is the thief of joy” and it, comparison, certainly steals my joy. When I compare myself to the other women, other mothers or the so called “normal people” I am full of self-doubt, resentment, jealousy and even anger, but I'm looking at people that simply aren't me. I will never be a shy, demure, Suzy-homemaker, nor will I be a virtuoso musician, an Olympic swimmer or someone with brown eyes. That's not me. It's not the person God had in mind, with a destiny and plan before the creation of the universe. He wants me, even me with a hormonal imbalance

. As for incorrect thinking, I've always been a bit of a know-it-all and I think sometimes I assume my plan  must be God's plan because (obviously) my plan is brilliant. It couldn't possibly be that God might be able to use me just as I am. Of course, when things then don't go my way I fall into resentment and comparison, stop taking my medications and then start the cycle all over again. I need to fix the tape in my head so that it plays God's truths and not the ones I've made up for myself. So that it reminds me of God's goodness and promises. 

Any way, I've been mulling these thoughts over for the last month or so, just thought I'd share them.

Hope they encourage you to stop comparing yourself to others and to love yourself enough to take full advantage of the resources available to you. God has a fantastic plan for you and it's no surprise to him that you have anxiety, depression, mental illness or whatever. He loves you so much.