So, a continuation…

9 08 2008

So I was talking about Crossroads International last night, and it was an immense experience because of the new perspective from someone in a slum. We had to make stacks of 10 paper bags, and sell them to the shopkeepers, who were basically lord over the land kind of thing, and they may or may not accept them. So the money we had to make was like:

  • 100 for food
  • 130 for rent
  • 30 for sanitation (which was optional, but if you didn’t pay for it, and went behind the slums instead, you ran the risk of malaria and measles and other diseases, which 2 of my family did)
  • 500 for education (which, again, was not essential, but if you think about it, it really is. Without education, the cycle of poverty never breaks… and it’s such a tragedy)

They were 10 minute sessions, and if you couldn’t pay rent, you had to go and live under the bridge, which took more money to get out of, and was further away from the shops. After a while, an announcement was made that we could opt to sell one of the children to a sneaker factory and make 250 off of them, but we’d never see them again. It became a life and death situation for me, and at one point, I shouted, “WE ARE NOT SELLING ANYONE! JUST MAKE THE PAPER BAGS – WE’LL BE FINE! WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER AND WE’RE NOT SELLING ANYONE!” It got quite intense, and even though we couldn’t pay the rent for one of the sessions, we were able to keep everyone alive, and nobody was sold. The shopkeeper I had to deal with at one point found one bag unsatisfactory, and ripped that one up. He then threw the rest of the bags in my face, and the whole experience was heinous. But. We didn’t give any shady hugs or massages… and for that, I was thankful.

But what I got out of it was how when desperate, it’s so easy to compromise on morals and ethics and values, and just do what’s easy. I’m not judging that; it’s just that a group of highly educated adults made decisions they wouldn’t normally have made, merely to survive in a simulation. There were people who stole from one another to metaphorically put food on the table, and there were others who thought hugging for 50 was no big deal… it was heartbreaking when I had to think about a mother making that decision to sell a child so she could feed the other children… and a story was told of families that allow horrific things to be done to young children by tourists and the like and whilst crying in the next room as that thing was done to them, praying that the child would not remember those sinful, evil things being done… God, it was just so… horrible. On the one hand there was always the thought that I’d be able to leave the situation and get back into the comfort of my home, and be fed and provided-for, but on the other hand, there was the sheer desperation of not being able to feed my children, and all that that entails. It was a shocking, horrible experience, but so valuable.

And because of the decisions I had to make, and because of the choices that lie before each of us, tonight at Solid Rock, I gave the introductory talk on decisions and choices, and then we watched Shells, the 20th Nooma video. It asked some huge questions of me, and I thought hard about my answers. I love it when something asks difficult questions, which might not even have concrete answers. Although I’m one of those people who prefer steps and stages that are tangible and accessible, tough questions about faithand belief need to be asked, and we need to wrestle with them to really understand what our purpose is.

I think I’m learning that bit by bit. What my purpose is, and what I’m living for, those are questions I’m asking of myself day by day. Eventually I will have the same answer to the two questions, and eventually, they will be the ‘right’ answers, but for now, they’re honest answers, at least.

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Shells

6 07 2008

I was given the Nooma video called Shells this morning and I just finished watching it. There was a sense throughout lunch that I was meant to come home and watch this DVD on my own, and not another movie, even though I wanted to say yes to Hancock, or Kung Fu Panda.

That sense of something more just brought to mind why I was given the video. I have been unable to pick up the starfish for the shells in my fists. More, more, more, is the voice in my head that I have to do everything, whether it be on my own, or with people, or doing something that I am “meant to be doing,” because I… can. So often in the past three years I’ve felt so frustrated and upset over the lack of time I have… but the video made me realise that I don’t

have

to

do

it

all

and it’s killing my head right now because I don’t know how to distinguish between what’s necessary, and what comes under “the few things that God has put into” my life, from what I’ve put into my life, and what I’ve been stressing out over. But which are entirely of my own doing, my own action of saying yes when I could say no, or not being able to say no when I’ve already said yes too many times. The gesture of looking at the watch constantly, but in the greater context of picking his child up, was beautiful to me. Not because of the urge to keep track of the time, but because of why he was doing that.

I’m going to go off and think heavily about this. I think I need to.

 





My legs, my Aunties

2 07 2008

i have my Grandmother Manchester’s legs, and I have always disliked them for their size and unwieldy existence. Until I read Sex God by Rob Bell (this second time) and Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott. I highly recommend the two. Not at the same time though – they’re quite intense and powerful, and if you read them together no doubt your head will explode from the implications of their thoughts and writings.

If we’re not content with where we are, what we have, and who we are, we’ll never be comfortable with the creation – life – and we’ll never be comfortable with the Creator of it all. So I thank God for my legs, even if they aren’t as slim, or as tanned, or as lithe, as I’d have liked them to be. They serve me well.





Monday, Monday

7 04 2008

It really frustrates me that people will call on the phone, and then basically say that they’ll check what they’re asking about, and then call back. What I really want to know is this: why don’t they just check it before even calling? I know that it doesn’t take much time to get up, answer a call, and then sit down again, but it’s been like this all morning. And I’m tired, in more ways than seventeen.

But I was listening to a Mars Hill podcast this afternoon called ‘Boasting Will Abound’ (23/3/08) and what really hit me, and shook up my view of God was this:

“Resurrection is about history headed somewhere. Resurrection is about the grace of God being real and nobody is outside of it. Resurrection is also about hope… Resurection is the opposite of depair. Resurrection is the belief that no matter how dark it gets, no matter how long it’s been since you last saw the horizon… Resurrection is the belief that at some point, you will see land… all of creation will see land. Resurrection is the belief that God hasn’t given up on this world, despite all evidence to the contrary…”

The beauty of this is that it’s so often that I feel like I’m alone in this struggle, that I’m going to drown in it all, but I have forgotten that the grace of God will reach me no matter where I go, because as Charleszetta Waddles said, “God knows no distance.” It is also the way that God just surprises me all the time with newness, and beauty, and things become bearable again.

I just wish I heard back from them, that’s all.

But verse of the day is Psalm 139:9-10:

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.





an ocean flows from you

29 05 2007

how we act determines the kind of world we’re creating. when i read this line in rob bell’s ‘sex god’, i had a mindchange moment.

we’re going through this series in oasis about injustice in the world, and i thought about all of this, because we’re to ‘shine like stars’ in this world of darkness (another phrase that sticks in my head and churns everything up – the preconceptions, the ideas and the thoughts).

how do we shine in this world, being part of it, living out a kingdom life where God’s love is lived through our actions and words, and still be apart from the dirt and grime that’s here too? every day is a challenge to live in the footsteps of Jesus, and His example of how to live life is a radical one.

i read on a friend’s blog yesterday that he’s reading ‘the irresistible revolution’ by shane claiborne. we’re “ordinary radicals” because we’re part of this world as much as people who have no idea about and don’t want to know about this God so many people have put their faith in but simultaneously, we’re to be apart from it too, seeking revolution in this darkness, in this injustice. does that make sense? and the more we’re unloving, judgemental, critical and hypocritical, the further away and lost a world already lost gets.

it’s time to put down our picket fences, our walls, the “us-ness” we’ve become so comfortable with. it’s time to start truly loving and serving the people that God’s put around us. and when we start loving people like we’re loving God, the change to this world will be impossible to ignore, to disregard. life will be lived again, addictions broken, fear killed and hearts healed.

it’s time for revolution.





"this is about that"

12 05 2007

we’re in this time where who we “are” is defined by the degree to which our clothes are revealing, or the shape we are. at different times in history, it’s been defined by an assortment of things: the size of a woman’s behind, the way a person walks, the sound of their voice, the fragility of personality and so on, and for some, this is known as ‘sexiness’. and so, we have a generation of girls who take to heart the latter half of the well-known motto regarding having and flaunting, and show and show and show. and we have a generation of young men who swagger and strut and look at things that will rot in their heads to prove the media’s version of masculinity in themselves. we are told every time we switch on the television, log on to the internet, glance at a billboard, open a newspaper, that we will lead happy, fulfilled lives with every dream having become true if we buy this product, or dress in this way, or walk like this, or touch him/her like this.

and then i read on a blog this morning that godliness is what is truly sexy. it actually said, godliness = sexiness. i have to admit, i was a little taken aback. how can that be true, since our sexual identity isn’t something we talk about? or nurture. except for maybe a few select individuals. there are people we know who perhaps do not emanate physical attractiveness, but the god-attractiveness that’s in them draws us unconsciously near like the smell of fresh baked cookies draws young children. it’s something about them, which we can’t quite put our finger on, that is just so wonderful to look at, to experience, and we just want to be close to them.

i recently finished ‘sex god: exploring the endless connections between sexuality and spirituality’ by rob bell, the guy who wrote ‘velvet elvis‘ and it was very good. he is quite possibly the king of short sentences, but he packs a right hook into them and all eh. he wrote in the introduction, “you can’t talk about sexuality without talking about how we were made. and that will inevitably lead you to who made us. at some point you have to talk about God.” and yeah, it’s because all this talk about sex ultimately leads you right back to God.

maybe our perspectives would change when we realise that sexiness isn’t about how much skin we’re showing, but how much of God’s love we’re showing in our actions, lives and words.