Sunday, December 4, 2022

Reconciling being made in the image

 One of my favorite songs by the Rocket Summer, "Just A Moment Forget Who You Are" has a line in it where it says, "Because who you are is perfect. You were made in the image of greatness." In Bryce Avery's only slightly subtle way, he is referencing that we as humans are made in the image of God. And taking that we are made in the image of God, that we made to be something that is all good and true and loving, doesn't that mean that we should be good? 

Mr. Avery isn't the newest to comment on people being made of good. However, there seem to be a prevailing cultural idea that people are awful and bad. I think we have taken the idea of original sin and made it become that people are just these vile things that need to be killed in order for there to be good in the world. This doesn't seem right. 

I am wondering, how do we as a society reconcile being good inside with the idea of original sin. Because according to original sin we are prone to always choose the bad thing, but it can't be as black and white as that. If you take the garden of Eden scene where you have people choosing to do evil, to go against what was good for them, how does this make sense with us having good inside? Because to me we have to have good inside for this all to be worth it.

Science seems to be leaning towards people not having needs met which leads them to have behaviors that are non productive toward actually getting the need met but are correlated with not having that need met. So what do we do with this? Is it possible to have original sin make sense and also be good inside? 

I have been often told that a sign of growing is to see that two opposing truths can be possible at the same time. Where is that here? Is it possible to have the ability to choose to do bad things and also be good inside? I think so. But where does this leave God? What need was God not providing that led Adam and Eve to go and do something contrary to what was supposed to be all good and true? Or was it simply a curiosity killed the cat measure, and what does that mean anyway? I remember learning in the book, THE Neuroscience of You, that more curiosity can lead to more vulnerability and when taken to more extreme measures it can actually be detrimental. Is this coming into play here? Was their curiosity too much?

I really do struggle with the cultural idea that we are not worthy of God's love. This makes no sense to me because if he is a father in the way that a child should know a father, we are loved. He wouldn't be all loving if we weren't? Yes, he does let us go and figure it out on our own, sometimes terribly, but we are loved. If we aren't loved, I am not sure that's a God I want to do everything for in my life. 

But this doesn't mean that everything that I do is excusable in the sense that it doesn't matter if I go kill someone or degrade them with my words because no matter what I am loved. First, that person is also loved. And second, we want to be trying to display that love to others, in our imperfectness, we still can show that love. Shouting or murdering others isn't love. We all have dignity and that dignity is represented best when needs are met and people are treated well with love. And love isn't destroying the other person, its finding connection and bringing them closer to the source of love. We were made in the image of God. 

What does this do exactly for the doctrine of original sin, I am not entirely sure if I've figured out, but I know for me I need a God that loves me no matter what and loves who ever I am in conflict with no matter what, but that encourages us to find that dignity and beauty in everyone around us, and encourages us to apologize and make amends when we mess up to remember that dignity of self and other. A God that wants us to fight for the people really being stripped of this dignity and love. I will continue to try to do that, I was made in the image of greatness (and so were you) after all. 

Saturday, October 1, 2022

On the Fringe part 1

If you know me, you know I read a lot. I think I have so far read close to 120 books this year, and that doesn't often include all the picture books and curriculum books for my kids. In my reading, I have been trying to discern where I belong. I can't seem to leave Jesus. I hate where stagnant Christianity is at, but I cannot throw Jesus and God out the window. I know for some this is necessary, there has been too much hurt and trauma and the hierarchy is so slow to change that to hold on for something to change seems like a lost cause. Everything that I thought was good and true, I know now is compromised by money and power. And knowing that why should I stay with Jesus, and for me its because he's not even in the same realm. Instead he's down with the people who are just trying to make it through the day, the people being persecuted by the police, the people masking to fit in, the people that don't fit into the mass of people because they are LGBTQ+. He's with the people trying to decolonize and reclaim their dignity. He's with Lizzo and her amazing ability on the flute. He's even with the people that are trying to destroy all of those people, because he loves them even if they are so very wrong in their actions. Perhaps they just need to listen more and cling less to oppressive ideas, and just like the person that was waiting for Jesus to rescue them from the flood and they passed up all the people sent them, maybe just maybe these folks will eventually take Jesus up on his message. There is a bit of a prodigal son in all of us and also maybe they will be the workers that only work for the last bit of the day because it takes them so long to catch on, but Jesus still loves them. That I know. Because I once was that person. I used to think people needed to think like me to be good, they had to uphold my standards to be my friend or acceptable for my children. That someone that didn't go to church on Sunday was just lazy or a heathen. 

I had to stop trying to be so good. I needed to meet myself and other people where they are at, not where I think they should have been. I needed to grow in my understanding of salvation, and honestly I think there is universal salvation. Maybe this is presuming on God, but also, I am pretty sure God being truly good seeing the suffering of all the people that the comfortable have deemed bad and is just going to scoop them up in the end and say welcome home. I am not sure the rest of us will really understand heaven, but hopefully, God being good, he will say welcome to us too. 

I guess I wonder if I see myself as part of the suffering in society. I definitely have had trauma, but I know most days I am now safe and comfortable enough to explore these ideas of what is good and what is love and what is grace and what is mercy. 

Part 1

Monday, July 11, 2022


 I think for so long I thought that if I just did all the things right I would be good and be in the good graces of others, but now I am so full of grey areas that perhaps all I can do is know God is always here and that I need to care for humanity in a way that is real and not an idealization of what is thought to be, or only a perspective that is relevant for me or people who are more well off than me. I wish I had more words here, but what I can say is that I am learning and I will keep learning and continue to think and be compassionate in my life. I will try to be okay with being uncomfortable in not always agreeing with those around me. These are skills I need to learn and grow in and that's okay. 

Things I am learning that I want to do more for:

Actually helping people get affordable housing.

Help with the immigrants at the border more

Help improve air quality for others.

Help advocate for gun control methods, especially with background checks. 

Somehow remove big oil's hold on society so that we can actually have a planet for my children once grown.

Monday, May 23, 2022

The tree grows

Sometimes i get jealous of perfectly manicured lawns with weed protected flower beds and just the right sized bushes and trees. It seems like it would be nice to have it all under control. To know where this one bit is going and that nothing will surprise you or be a nuisance. Or even that things could be curated to be just the right manageable size. 

The thing is my yard is never like that. I often have an experiment growing one place, an  over run raspberry patch or strawberries popping up everywhere. Many times I have to cut out the trees that try to grow in the bushes and choke out the flowering shrub. Sometimes one tree overtakes another and we have to ax the more mangled one to minimize the chaos. And there are so many clovers and weedy things all around. But to me its beautiful if I let myself acknowledge it. Sure at time we have to take down something dying or pull out the never dying ivy. But there is beauty in it because it is alive. It is growing. 

I have been contemplating this all for what seems like a long while, at least since early pandemic stages. I found myself trying to keep a certain appearance of things, but more and more, I realize that its just a different yard. That sometimes, its simply a story book house, with possibilities instead of a perfectly manicured plot of land which is never going to be what is inside my head, so maybe its okay to have it not be outside as well. 

And so things grow in my yard. And they grow particularly well often. We have a lot of science experiments and perhaps also some volunteers planted by squirrels and the compost bin. But it is absolutely full of life. This is also true of inside my house. I know that some days, I would love a minimalist home with neat and tiny things, but with 7 people in a 1200sq ft house, mostly at home all day, this isn't going to be the case. We are going to be living, and living we should. 

So the life is there and the tree grows, the one outside and the one inside. And sometimes its scary in that growth, its unpredictable, and its full of unknowns. It still happens, at least if you let it. Sometimes the weeds pop up and sometimes the branches are lopsided. But it is growing!! And in growing, it isn't stagnant, its becoming who God is intending it to be, with some love and some maintenance and some science experiments, it can thrive and keep extending and strengthening those branches, unafraid to test the waters of something outside the box that one knows. 

I am glad the tree grows. I don't think God would want it any other way. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

It's not that I don't love you

 It's not that I don't love you, that I have to go away.

It's more that I do, because we didn't know how to play.

This game of changing roles, to be a supportive friend.

You couldn't be that for me, and I tried so hard to bend.

To be what you needed me to be, but that wasn't me at all.

Instead it often made me curl up into a ball.

I'm learning that I need to know I'm okay.

And that for now that means that I can't stay.

I think you did a lot for me and helped me to grow.

And hopefully you will someday be able to let go. 


After reading The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen, I am renewed in my understanding of who God is and who he is not. One large take away from Nouwen is how he says that God's only authority is his compassion. It's almost a double take. How does a God, the maker of the world only rule by compassion. Compassion is love and grace and mercy. And these are God in actuality. But what is compassion? 

Compassion isn't engagement enmeshment. A friend once told me that compassion can simply be putting a blanket on a drunk family member and then stepping over them. One can't force a person to see the beauty of good things, of God, of better relationship, of better coping mechanisms. 

Compassion is making sure you are fed so that you don't lash out at your children. It somehow is easier to hurt yourself to be holy than to help yourself or another so that you are actually closer to God. 

Compassion is also making sure you get what you need to be a whole person. That can be assurance, food, rest, a shower, all those things that we want for our children that we too need. 

I realize perhaps I need more compassion for myself in all this. I had to make hard decisions and walk away from some pretty tough things for me. I struggle often to know with myself that its okay to be okay. That its okay to be able to have time to rewire my brain to know that good can come of my decisions, not just ill judgment. To have compassion is to somehow really know that I am doing okay and be surrounded by people that can be that for me. 

I started and finished this many days apart, many of them searching for God in the cracks this Lent. I know he's there, I've felt him there, but somehow we are still learning how to really know him at least in this season of life where everything feels backwards. But I think there can be compassion in the growth too, there's got to be. I don't want to worship a God that wouldn't let me grow, so I'll choose to believe he wants me to.