On my new tattoos

Over the weekend I got my second and third tattoos. It was important to me that I got them together.

cross tattooThe first is a cross because I will always need a reminder of God’s love for me, of His ultimate sacrifice. As His word says, “…God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.” Nothing better has happened in human history.

We hear so often that the world was created and the world broke, shattered by the depths of our imperfections, but we don’t hear often enough of how the world was saved. We don’t question enough why the worst thing that could happen to a person happened to the perfect person. To not do so is selfish, it’s us thinking only of ourselves. We become our own idols and we can’t live that way. It’s impossible to breathe if you refuse to let the oxygen into your lungs. It’s impossible to stand while refusing to let your legs hold you up.

We were created with galaxies roaring inside of us, with stars so bright we could see all the way up to the heavens above. And when those stars burned out we died, buried by our sin, and He took His cross and used it to give them light again.

The cross is a symbol of how He saved us all. He’s not my savior because He died. He’s not my savior because He rose again. He’s my savior because He’s taking me with Him. The cross is for me, so that I may have a ladder that leads directly to Him.

Fish tattoo

The second is what’s known as a “Jesus Fish” and is often seen as a cliche in the world of tattoos. And maybe it is, but what it represents is anything but. The idea behind it is not used nearly enough.

Historically, it was a symbol used to mark a safe place for Christians in severe danger. Today it’s more simply used to label a disciple. I don’t think it should end there though. It’s not enough to call myself a follower of Christ if I don’t live it out. I can’t keep all of the air for myself.

When He rose He told us to go and make disciples of all nations. Who am I to not listen? TO not do so is to be the child who breaks their toys so that no one else may play with them. It doesn’t make sense. It is the greatest blessing to get to be a part of God’s redemption plan.

I don’t believe He would reignite our stars if He didn’t want them to shine. He’s not my savior because He died. He’s not my savior because He rose again. He’s my savior because He’s taking me with Him. And He can take you, too, if you wish. The fish is for you, so that you may know you are safe to ask me where my ladder can be found.

Advertisements

Why I’m Scared, but more importantly, Why I’m Not Scared

Do you ever have those moments when you’re with the Lord and you know, without a doubt, that He is there and He starts teaching you some things about yourself that scare you just a little bit? And you’re like “God, you crazy.” That has been my life lately but I’m more afraid to share with the world exactly what it is that’s been scaring me, but I know I need to so here goes:

I’m bisexual. That’s not what scares me though.

What scares me is the number of friends I know I’ll lose, even though that makes me question if they are even friends worth keeping.

What scares me are the people who don’t understand the difference between “I’m attracted to more than one gender” and “I’m attracted to you” and the people who will constantly tell me to “just pick one” because of that. Don’t you think I would if I could? This would all be so much easier. I can’t do that though and that’s something I’ve accepted. These people have no place to not do the same.

What scares me is how often I have heard that people who aren’t straight are all destined for Hell with no chance for redemption, no matter how untrue that is. It’s so easy to misinterpret passages and I believe that’s what a lot of people have done.

I shouldn’t have to be afraid though. I’m not the one with a problem here, not really anyway. I feel sorry for those people; I can’t imagine how terrifying the world must be, living in it with such a closed mind. I don’t believe that this should separate me from the church in any way. The church that believes it should is not the church my Savior describes and it’s not the church I want to be a part of.

I know they need to be shown a love that understands us both and that brings us to why I’m not scared:

I know that God created me and He is not surprised by this any more than He is surprised by the way birds soar and flowers grow. I know that if I’m wrong about anything that comes with this realization, He will love me unconditionally. I know, without a doubt, that when my time comes He will be there to welcome me with open arms.

Ignorance is a result of the fall and there is no such thing as a God who hates.

If you take only one thing away from this, I pray with all my heart it’s that: There is no such thing as a God who hates.

Whisper

When I think about the world being spoken into existence, I can’t imagine God was very loud or very quick with it. Seven days has a completely different meaning to us. He had to have taken His time, put thought into every little detail.

That’s why, as we approach fall, the trees won’t change and lose their leaves in unison.

It’s why I’m cared for differently than you are.

I don’t believe God is the focal point of all equality. He is fair and He is just. Everybody gets what they need.

We all need love, we have that in common, but we need it in different ways. I need to spend time with you. I need to hear it over and over or else I’ll forget that the idea even exists. Others need touch, to physically feel it.

And that’s the beauty of love.

We all need it and we can all have it, but His love is personalized.

It isn’t forced and it isn’t harsh.

It is offered and it is gentle.

It’s whispered so I know the love I’m offered is for me.

And it’s the greatest whisper there ever was.

 

 

This is Five Minute Friday. Join the party: http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/

Change

I don’t think there’s any way I could ever understand what change really is, there’s no way any of us ever could really explain it. We don’t know and we might not ever and sometimes it feels wrong, but it’s happening anyway. But sometimes there are changes that feel so good, the ones that make my soul dance around and around. The way He never changes but is always changing me – changing me into someone more like Him – that’s what life is all about. It’s the way I stumble about when I try to walk on my own and the way He teaches me how to get through it all. But it’s also the way I can sometimes be too stubborn to actually let Him. I want my independence and nothing more. I want to spend my time understanding the present without things constantly moving. But change happens in my life regularly whether I’m ready for it or not. It pushes me forward, moves me back, and hugs me so I know I’m in the right place all at the same time. He uses it to teach me love, to teach me strength, perseverance. And I always and ready for it and I’m always not. And that is just nonsense. But everything that doesn’t make sense one day will and that is how I remember that change – the change that is meant to be – is so so good.

This is Five Minute Friday. Join the party: http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/

On How I Imagine Water

I don’t know why but I always imagined the ocean to be smooth. I always pictured the shore consistently being washed by the tide and then drying as it left. There were waves in my image, yes, but they were calm, peaceful. Long before I even imagined any of it, water has been a symbol of hope, of love, of cleanliness, the washing away of all that stains our broken hearts.

 

But it isn’t always smooth. It isn’t always consistent and it isn’t always calm. And it terrifies me to no end. I always loved water, the kind in pools and lakes, rivers and raindrops, filling my cup, but I hate the ocean. It’s rough and unpredictable and exciting and I hate it. I want peace that doesn’t come with so many waves. I want to imagine that I don’t need that much water.

 

My life flipped upside down a few months ago. I felt as though all of that water was being poured over me all at once. I can be reminded over and over that it was for my own good, and it was. I can feel joy and happiness about what it brought me. But I refuse to be happy about the way it was poured. I go back to that day in my head all the time and I remind myself that the one dunking me in the water did it with good intentions and I like to think that her words didn’t hurt, but they did. And I’m done lying to myself about that.

 

But still, the water washed over my mind and it was thick, like paint, leaving markings of hope and love. It’s like instead of taking things away like I always imagine water to do, it’s putting more on me. It’s better but if I’m being honest, I hardly notice it. It’s made me admit a lot about myself to myself, things I always knew but imagined I could keep hidden. I never expected the water to wash all of that to shore.

 

Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be. Maybe that is peace or the start of it anyway. It’s not the taking away of the old and unwanted, but bringing in the new and needed. I don’t know, but I do know that it is good. It is everything I imagined it to be and everything I didn’t. It is both calm and rough, both consistent and unpredictable. Water drowns us, but it also quenches thirst.

 

And as much as I hate to admit it, it is good.

Happily Ever After

The Old Testament ends with a promise, one that I needed so deeply to hear today, in a passage in Malachi that feeds my soul like no other.

“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

This promise is foretold. That’s the thing about promises – we desire them before we even know of them, like the small who doesn’t know he wants ice cream until he hears Do Your Ears Hang Low? playing in the distance. This is the promise that created us.

But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.

This promise is truth. We all want to say we’d be that person, the one who would be able to stand. I believe we also want to admit that we wouldn’t be able to, because who stands when the earth is trembling under their feet, but we would be lying if we said that sin didn’t run deep through our veins.

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.

This promise is ours. It defines every strand of our very souls. This is His gift to us, not only to give us treasures, but to make us into one. And so He came down to us, not only to live at our level, but to push us up to His.

Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.”

This promise is our offering, our ultimate sacrifice. It is the sacrifice He poured out for us, so we wouldn’t have to. It is Him giving us an offering that will never fail. It is Him turning us toward Him and teaching us how to run.

So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.

This promise is courage. it is the way we are able to stand when we have the weight of a thousand stones sitting on our shoulders. It is the way He makes our eyes sparkle, like newlyweds sharing their first kiss. It is the way we dance when standing still would be so much easier. This promise is a story given to us by the Writer of the Story of all stories. And as happily ever after has followed me throughout playgrounds and freeways, throughout crowded trampolines and lonely beds, I have learned that all the best stories end with a beginning. This story ends with life abundant; it ends with a love like no other. This promise is our happily ever after: Amen.

 

The Beginning

I don’t know what it is about starting that makes me freeze, but the beginning of something is always the hardest for me. I do know, however, what I want to get out of this.

I want growth. I want to experience something new. I want to change, to become more like Him, the writer of all beginnings.

I want peace. I want to be comforted on this journey. I want to see His control in all things.

I want community. I want to see active joy in the lives of others. I want to love like He loves.

I want to see. I want to look into the world and find my Savior. I want this month to be my Esther, to reflect the gifts of my Savior, as He says “When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

I want this to be a leap of faith. I want to take chances. I want to trust Him completely.

This is my prayer for the month. I’m starting simple, because I really don’t know how to start. But I’m trusting Him to use this month to His advantage. I’m trusting Him to help me grow in a way that is encouraging to others, in a way that points others to Him because if I’m being honest, I need that, and if I’m also being a bit blunt, so do you.

So here’s to reflection. Here’s to vulnerability. Here’s to nerves and getting them out of the way. I don’t exactly know what this journey will entail, but I hope you’ll join me on it anyway. Maybe we’ll learn something together.

Here’s to Blogging Every Day in April.