Posts Tagged 'healing'

God doesn’t promise us a Rose Garden (but flowers will bloom through the cracks)


Being woke is exhausting.

As a feminist, labour rights activist, and sexual assault survivor, who also suffers from chronic insomnia, this past week felt particularly depleting.

It’s exhausting to endure misogyny, sexism, and disrespect on a daily basis. It’s exhausting to take on the emotional labour of educating those in power about their privilege.

It’s exhausting to be re-traumatized every time you find out that another seemingly woke person you looked up to is really just another man who does not respect women or understand consent.

It’s exhausting to have to explain to people who just don’t get it, why them defending this man hurts you.

It’s exhausting to know and love so many marginalized people who are struggling, or who have died. Or been deported. Or completed suicide.

For those of us with layers power and privilege, it’s exhausting to realize how complicit we are IN ALL THE SYSTEMS.

But my experience, as a white cis woman with loads of layers of privilege, is nothing compared to what many of you in this room, have experienced.

I can only imagine that it would be exhausting to feel marginalized and impoverished on the land that your ancestors have taken care of for thousands of years.

I can only imagine that it would be exhausting to experience explicit racism in a community that is supposed to stand for truth and justice in the name of Jesus, and then be silenced for it.

I can only imagine it would be exhausting to speak truth to power, and then be told to be quiet because that particular powerful person donates to your organization or funds your job.

I can only imagine that it would be exhausting to be excluded from your community and branded a heretic because you have decided to be brave and come out as your truest, most beautiful self.

I can only imagine that it would be exhausting to be sick all the time, or struggle with mental health issues. Every single day.

I can only imagine that it would be exhausting to have to fight for places and spaces to be accessible to those with different levels of abilities.

Being woke is exhausting.

And you know what else is? Getting your heart broken. It is deeply painful and disorienting. It feels like a death.

But isn’t it just the same thing? Whether you fall in love with a person and a dream of a future together, or fall in love with a group of people, and the dream of the coming Reign of God, together– and things don’t turn out the way you had hoped, it is life-draining. And you just want to be un-woke, and un-heartbroken, and crawl into bed, and go on a permanent nap binge.

I have serious bear-envy this time of year.

The words of Shad, the Canadian rapper, ring true in this instance:

Sometimes I just wanna play some shows, make some dough
Take it home, lay in my bed, and stay in my safety zone
But Cee-Lo said it best
I know too much and I owe too much to let it rest
Heard a voice say hey
You never question when you get the blessings
So don’t get vexed when your life is stressed
And I promised I’ll be with you no matter what the issue
But there will be some issues to address
Listen to the lady in the dress

 [Deb sings the hook:]

I didn’t promise you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine
There’s gonna be some rain sometimes


Indeed, there’s gonna be rain sometimes. And when it rains, it so often pours, doesn’t it?

The good news is, friends, that we are not mere utopia-chasers, we are disciples of Jesus Christ. And as we follow him on the road towards Jerusalem, as we read about in the passage this morning (Mark 10:32-52), towards the center of power that is going to condemn him – and us, mock him – -and us, spit upon him – and us, flog him –and us, and kill him – and us –Jesus is walking ahead of us, the disciples who are amazed, and afraid. Jesus is walking ahead of us.

Jesus is walking ahead of us. We are not alone in this. You are not alone in this.

To those of us who resist this- and are saying “really? Is our fate really the same as Jesus fate? Can’t we just be loved and respected and admired for using our gifts, and have great responsibilities and power to affect the future of the church- and the future of the world?”

You might recognize yourself- as I do- in the question of James and John. “Can we sit next to you in your glory?” They were basically asking if they could be his closest advisors in his new regime that they expected to come soon, after he overthrew the Romans.

Talk about not listening! Jesus *literally* JUST said that he was going to suffer and die.

In response to James and John, Jesus asks them if they can drink the cup he is to drink and be baptized in the water he is baptized in – he is asking if they will be willing to suffer as Jesus soon would.

They answered, still not really getting it, that of course they would be able to. And Jesus confirms that indeed they will suffer like he will, and they will. As will we all if we are truly following Jesus’ alternative way of being in the world.

He sums this way up when he says:

Mark 10: 42“You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

This is an invitation to imagine a new style of leadership “from the bottom up”.

Ched Myers says that, “Jesus role reversal between the “great” one and the “slave” is a direct attack on the status hierarchy of the ancient world. This completes Jesus’ challenge to conventional understandings of power: personal, social, economic, and now political. The alternative Way is embodied in the Human One, who proposes to overturn the debt system once and for all by giving his life: a servant who will “buy back” the lives of all who are truly enslaved.”

“The fact that the male followers of Jesus are clueless here makes it all the more significant that Mark begins and ends his story with WOMEN who demonstrate the quality of servanthood Jesus is advocating for. Perhaps Mark is implying that in a patriarchal system only women are fit to exercise leadership??’

Things that make you go hmmmm…

Now, this doesn’t mean that women should REMAIN lowly servants of the rich and powerful men, and it is important to distinguish that the kind of servanthood Jesus is advocating for is not being a lifeless doormat – but that we ALL ARE CALLED to an equalizing, generous, pouring out of oneself, in love and compassion for the flourishing of all around us – especially those who are most marginalized– it is this posture that is the most fully human.

But if you are already doing this, and denying yourself and following Jesus and pouring yourself out for others – and this has depleted you, you might resonate more with Bartameous, the blind beggar who cries out to Jesus for healing and indeed receives it.

To those who have lost their way, who cannot see, who are sick, or weak, or broken, exhausted, drained, wounded, or burned out,

Jesus says to you, “Come to me, all you who are weary with heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

Follow me, and your faith will heal you.

Whether that is incremental renewal, or rest, or whether you will be healed on the day of your death and resurrection, healing and renewal is in your future. It is in mine.

Betrayal and mockery and being spat upon and death was not the end of Jesus story.

And it is not the end of ours.

We sit in the tension between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Between oppression and freedom, between suffering and healing, between exhaustion and renewal. We live in Holy Saturday. And every good and just and beautiful action is a foretaste and foreshadow of the coming Reign of God – resurrection –  that is in all our futures.

As Anne Lamott says in her book Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair, “we are not served by getting away from the grubbiness of suffering.” She continues,  “we have to stand in the middle of the horror, at the foot of the cross [like Mary], and wait out another’s suffering where that person can see us….To be honest, that sucks. It’s the worst, even if you are the mother of God.”

But then what? Lamott continues:

“Most of us have figured out that we have to do what’s in front of us and keep doing it. We clean up beaches after oil spills. We rebuild towns after hurricanes and tornados. We return calls and library books. We get people water. Some of us even pray. Every time we choose the good action or response, the decent, the valuable, it builds, incrementally, to renewal, resurrection, the place of newness, freedom, justice. The equation is: life, death, resurrection, hope. The horror is real, and so you make casseroles for your neighbour, organize an overseas clothing drive, and do your laundry…we live stitch by stitch, when we’re lucky.”

As exhausting as my week was, it ended on Saturday – the Holiest of Saturdays – with me at the Toronto Women’s March. I was dancing in the sunlight with girlfriends and 4000 magnificent women and allies. It felt very much like a rebirth, like practicing Resurrection.

I slept like a baby that night.

May God give us all rest, renewal, and resurrection hope.



10 things to do after getting fired from your Intentional Christian Community house

1. Sob real ugly. Once you climb up the stairs after your mediated house meeting with your pastor, and are in your room, shut the door, crouch low to the floor, and let it all go. Sob those gaspy, choke-y type sobs, with your head in your hands, the way you do when you get dumped or someone on LOST finds redemption. Blame yourself, tell yourself you are the worst person in the whole world and nobody will ever love you or want to live with you ever again, especially because, in addition to this mess, you are underemployed, currently homeless and gasp still unmarried at 34 when your brother just had his 8th child. But be quiet about it –cry into your scarf, dammit– so they don’t gather further evidence of your over-emotiveness to purge you even quicker from their midst.

2. Allow your self to feel really bad, for like, 15 minutes. Mourn, grieve, lament– choose any spiritually sorrowful word that fits. Go outside, smoke a cigarette, and ponder the meaning of the beautiful, mocking sunset.

3. Pull yourself together. Suck it up and start packing. This is a good thing. This will be better for you. You had grown so much in the last year and a half and this atmosphere was weighing you DOWN. It kept reminding you of your old, cranky, ego-driven 32-year old self who you SO no longer are (well… you’re on your way).

4. Remember that blog you read like 2 weeks ago called “I AM A F***ING UNICORN: 10 things to do when you get fired for the first time” — and look into the mirror and tell yourself, “I AM A F***ING UNICORN. I am a beautiful, mystical creature. I have lots and lots of good things to offer this world, and for too long I have been forcing myself to act like a horse. And every time I did, my golden horn was losing it’s magical powers. No more, baby. I’m free!! I’m free to prancerize my way back to being my happy, generous, fun-loving, creative self!” After you get dropped off at your friends’ place where you are crashing for a few days, pop open a bottle of – juice, that’s all she has – and allow yourself to feel happy and relieved that the worst is finally over.

5. As the high starts to wear off, after like 10 minutes, get into your jammies and binge-watch The Mindy Project to avoid dealing with it.

6. Wake up the next morning and feel home-sick for your old room in your old house with your old housemates. (What, you thought this was a progressively happier list?) Allow yourself to feel sad again. Cry when you receive texts from your ex-housemates that are also feeling horrible about this mess, but secretly feel relieved that they are not celebrating your absence with champagne and circus clowns.

7. Open up your journal and turn the sermon notes you made during the retreat 3 weeks ago, when that wise, female pastor/scholar who has endured so much was speaking about suffering. Remember her talking about all the faithful in Hebrews 11. Some lived great lives of faith, and were victorious and blessed. And “some were sawn asunder.” Some people lived great lives of faith and goodness, but they were met with lives of chaos, torture, and huge amounts of suffering. Living well, and being faithful, does not guarantee a life protected from pain. And enduring a painful past does not guarantee a painless present or future. But always, the God whose name is “I Shall Be There” will be present. You are never alone. And remember that the great cloud of witnesses, all the saints of the past are cheering you on, even now: “Courage!”

8. Breathe. Get out your handmade Anglican prayer beads, and pray the prayer of Saint Francis. Spend 20 minutes in centering silence. Let go. Let go. Let go. Bless the one with whom you are angry, and pray for peace, healing, and reconciliation.

9. Prescribe yourself some art and nature therapy. Go on a bike ride to the art supply store, take detours down the streets with the most red and yellow leaved trees. See that God has created the world beautiful for you, and nature is still majestically following ordered rhythms. Your pain is not all there is. Help your friend with the decorations for her mountaineering-themed wedding this weekend. Draw, and plan for some linocut prints and cards for the All-Handmade Sale coming up. Memorize a huge chunk of Ephesians for a dramatized scripture presentation at church on Sunday. Plan for it to be complete with masked djembe-players and a soul-less-turned-soulful mob, and dancing to a new rhythm after letting go of the old. Write this blog post, and laugh at yourself.

10. Be grateful. For your dear friend’s wedding. For seeing old friends. For laughter. For Over the Rhine. For upcoming, meaningful work. For lentil barely stew on a rainy day. And for new, affordable housing, with a lovely, generous woman, that seemed to drop out of the sky.

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