Friday, April 29, 2016

You only see what I want you to see

You see this:
A perfect sunset, next to this classic landmark, with my best friend.
The root of all evil is pride. Man's heart desires nothing short of the inexhaustible pleasure of himself and to give all glory to himself. Selfishly robbing himself of the inexhaustible richness of Gods grace by holding tightly to himself like a child holds on to a candy bar in a store. He couldn't possibly see that the sweet he is holding on to is keeping him from the grand dessert his mother has planned for the family to enjoy together. He can only see the candy bar and it's waste less vain attempt at lasting satisfaction. "If I could only get it" he says, "then I would be the happiest person in the world." And so fear of not being happy draws him to the prideful thought that he must have that candy bar, because he "deserves it" after all.

So, behind that celebrity walking down that red carpet with that perfect dress on, is a celebrity afraid of what is to come ready to overdose on drugs once again.

Behind that man in the business suit walking down Wall Street, is a man filled with the fear that is family might not have enough stuff, and the willingness to lie cheat and steal to get more.

And behind that college graduate who looks to be having the time of her life traveling the world, is a young woman fearful people my see her broken heart, so she makes her life look splendid on Facebook.

And behind the shadow filled walls of my heart, there is a fear, a fear that no matter how good I may look, no matter how good I may act, no matter how exhaustingly I fear God, I may be found guilty of pride. The pride of my life is the root of my sin, if my pride is not found in the grace and goodness of God. 

It is a tiresome practice to maintain the image of prideful perfection, it wears the soul down until all that's left is a scarred bitter face, overcome by selfishness and self-pity. Perfectionism ceases to end when we continue to portray only the most beautiful, perfect moments of our lives on social media. We are so fearful of man, and so unafraid of our God, and it drives us to do things we never would imagine doing with our lives. 

With that being said, an open confession:
My life is not perfect.
I wake up with crazy hair.
I wear mismatched outfits.
I forget to shave my legs.
I love photography, but am constantly frustrated about wanting to find the 'perfect' angle.
I don't post the twenty other pictures I took until I got the one "good enough" to post.
I have seen a lot of the world, but traveling is not my god and it is not worth being a god
I fail to love God well every day of my life.
I put myself before others often.

The pictures don't tell the story of 6 sick students asking you a million questions in a day, expecting you to feed them often. The pictures don't show you how impatient I am, how I get easily frustrated with having the same question asked of me 5 times in 5 minutes, how I don't love my students well, how I want to quit, and how tired I am all the time here. And the pictures don't show you the brokenness I feel when I see people in this country without Jesus.

What you don't see is this:
The 1000's of other people trying to fight their way to the front to take a good photo, pushing people over the edge just to get the perfect angle (okay not really-but that's what it felt like).
You only see a part of me. My life is imperfect. I fail often. I do what I don't want to do, and I don't do what I wish I did. I long for those who meet me to know I fall short of the glory of God every day, and that by my weaknesses God shows His strength.

So incredibly thankful for the grace of God,

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The most romantic compliment I have ever been given.

About seven months ago a friend and I were talking at a wedding. I was telling him of a recent medical discovery some doctors had found out about me. The discovery was scary, unknown, and real. It could be many things the Doctors told me, but most things it could be were life-altering.

2 and a half years ago I was sitting on my bed after having been rejected and denied by the human I loved most in this world. My brother sat across from me and said, “why you Lauren? Why do these bad things keep happening to you?”

4 years ago I was sitting on a bed holding a precious 16 and a half month old baby girl who had just entered into eternity. I walked outside the hospital, fell down on the hottest pavement I have ever touched, looked up to the bright Haitian sky and said, “why her God? Why would this happen to her, and why would you want me to feel this?”

5 years ago I was sitting on a beach at 5:30 am watching the sun rise over the ocean. I realized I had never experienced suffering. I had never hurt in a way that death would feel like freedom. I wasn’t a masochist, but I knew there was something about Christ I had not known. I had not known him in his suffering. 

“Lord would you let me know you in your suffering, let me become like you in your suffering? Could you let me experience suffering so I could know the depth, and the richness of your grace through suffering?”

“Would you lay down your life for me Lauren? Would you become a coheir with Christ in his suffering? Do you truly know what you are asking for?”

5 years later my brother and friend with fear in his eyes at the news I had just told him about the recent medical discovery, looks at me and says, 

“You know what Lauren, I have never met somebody who suffers as well as you do.”

For the past 7 months I have processed and talked and processed and talked this over with the Lord. There were moments in my suffering I have yelled at the Lord. There were moments in my suffering I have toyed with the idea of walking away. There were moments in my suffering that “if I had known where I might find him, I would go even to his seat. I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know what he would answer me, and understand what he would say to me” (Job 23). There were moments in my suffering friends have walked away from me, not known what to do with me. There were moments in my suffering I questioned the goodness of God. There were moments in my suffering I asked the question, “why has thou forsaken me?” There were moments in my suffering I thought, “so this is what He is really like.” There were moments in my suffering when walking off the edge seemed easier than facing the darkness surrounding me.

Suffering well, right?

But suffering is an action, a verb, a noun, an idea, and a feeling. It is a circumstantial awareness of pain, but it is a spiritual and mental awareness of the root of our joy. I could not know what my joy was tied to until the truth I held on to was tested by a matter of life and death. I had to see God was worth my life while I couldn’t hold on to my life, or anyone in my life. I had to learn to trust him with everything my hands couldn’t hold. I had to lose what I could not keep to gain what I can not lose (Jim Elliot).

At every calamity, every moment of pain and suffering, unimaginable, I have asked myself “is this the moment I could say, enough is enough and be done with God? I can’t possibly make it through anymore.” And at every calamity, my song has ever been, and will ever be, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, blessed be the Name of the Lord.” This is the romantic realization of the deep-seated joy of knowing God, suffering well. He says, "your mine," and I say, "I am yours, take everything else away, all I want is you."

So if I suffer well (as I pray I do), I suffer knowing the True root of my joy is tied to the contentment of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, the power of his resurrection, sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:10-11). I suffer knowing, we will be coheirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him (Romans 8).

Learning daily,