how bizarro

maybe this could be a great title of a book…
mine
yours
ours.

ever think that you live in a bizarro world…
things are upside down and backwards
and jumbled?

I do.

let me put this out there…and please don’t judge me.
I
am
not
a
comic
book
fan…
and I probably couldn’t tell you
the difference between
DC and Marvel…
don’t be a hater.

but…
I do very much relate to a bizarro world

“The beautiful is always bizarre.”  – Charles Baudelaire

yesterday I participated in the culmination
of perhaps the most
upside down
jumbled
shaken up
bizarro
happenings of the past 5 years

or even of the past 25 years…

yesterday
a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling
was conferred upon me…

the girl who was not supposed to be walking
or taking care of herself

yesterday
I walked across the stage,
feeling like I was being funneled through a conveyor belt of graduates
I
walked
across
the
stage.

bizarro

yesterday
all of the reading
and the writing
and the researching
and the testing
and the memorizing
and the learning how to be a counselor
became official

bizarro

yesterday
all of the miles driven
over the past 3 1/2 years
all of the short nights
and long days
and lack of sleep
became worth it…

bizarro

yes, I actually finished in December
and was licensed in January…
but it finally all felt official
yesterday.

bizarro

yesterday
my family and friends helped me celebrate…
they have supported and encouraged me
and walked this journey with me
my tribe has been rooting for me this whole time…
and the bizarre thing about this?
my mom.

she died before I was even thinking about pursuing
my master’s degree
she didn’t know about…
the long days and short nights
the balancing of school and work…and squeaking in time to spend with people
the long drives
the reading and writing and memorizing and testing and learning
she didn’t know.

bizarro.

yesterday was bizarro.

how was I feeling yesterday?
I couldn’t answer that question when I was asked…I didn’t know

but today…
today I can look back on the bizarre yesterday and
say that I feel
free and hopeful.

even though I am 5 months past being done
am not currently counseling
have experienced rejection and disappointment
and am not sure what is next…

and I am confused about God’s timing
and even His purpose for me, sometimes…
and have questions with no answer…

I feel hopeful.

bizarro

jumbled
upside down
backwards…

and yet
freedom and hope

bizarro

you see…
who would have ever thought this would happen?
who imagined that the lifeless and broken
form that was hooked up to tubes and cords
to help keep her breathing and alive
would
ever
be
able
to
accomplish this?

bizarro

the beauty
and mystery
of God
that He steps into
our lives

the upside down-ness
the jumbled and broken
the backwards and skewed

and sees what we cannot see
and believes what we cannot even fathom

and makes it right.

bizarro grace.

(Inspired by commencement address at ATS by Rev. Efrem Smith)

making sense

I finished watching a
beautifully tragic series on Netflix…

13 Reasons Why

as a mental health professional
and one who is trained in suicide prevention
this hit particularly close to home

let’s remember that this is a fictional depiction
of Hannah Baker’s life…and ultimate death

there are things that the show gets “right”
from a mental health stance,
but there are also points where it misses the point
– at least from my perspective

truth is, this show is widely popular
and people are talking about it
so, let’s have free and open discussion about

starting and perpetuating rumors
slander
accusation
shaming
bullying
objectification
dehumanization
substance abuse
rejection
humiliation
revenge
vulnerability
rape
sexual assault
abandonment
loneliness
love
violence – both sexual and physical
blame
suicide

as an aside…look at Mark 7:20-23
listed are 13 things in our hearts that lead to corruption (dishonesty, unethical behavior, being amoral and unprincipled)

evil thoughts, immoral sex, theft, murder, adultery, greed (insatiable longing), wicked acts (evil or morally wrong), treachery (betrayal of trust; deceptive action), sensuality (pursuit of physical pleasure), jealousy (envy, being suspicious), slander (false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation), pride (deep pleasure derived from one’s own achievements), and foolishness (lack of good sense of judgement)

these eerily mirror the 13 reasons given in the series..

and let’s also have free and open discussion about

truth
hope
love
resilience
friendship
acceptance
respect
accountability
personal responsibility
depression
anxiety
substance abuse
availability of good mental health services
unbelief
having questions
strength
weakness
listening
empathy
support

and let’s be honest
even brutally honest
with ourselves

if we just sit back and talk about this story
and don’t offer hope
what good does it do?

according 2015 statistics
5491 people aged 15-24 die
by suicide every year
at a rate of 1 suicide every 2 hours – QPR Institute

one
suicide
every
2
hours

for every 1 of those documented deaths
there are 8 attempts
so…40,000 suicides
translates into 1,000,000 attempts annually – QPR Institute

so what can we do?
are we just helpless in this fight?

no.
we.are.not.

we offer hope

we see the obstacles and we look past them to possibility.

we get involved
we build relationships

we ask folks if they have ever thought
or are thinking
about killing themselves

we
ask
them.

we help them get help

we don’t take on this responsibility ourselves…
if we are not trained counselors, we don’t try to be

folks
want
to
be
heard

and so,

we listen…
without judgment
without an answer
without a response
we listen…
to understand.

we listen.

and we process our own
reactions
thoughts
perceptions
ideas
with a trained professional.

how do we make sense of it?
we don’t.
there is no sense to be made.

how do you make sense of
hopelessness
and loneliness
and despair?

you educate yourself
you get trained to
recognize warning signs and clues
you get involved
open dialogue
education

eyes
wide
open

personal responsibility
in how you treat your fellow human being
be careful how we respond to tragedy of any sort

personal disclaimer:  I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason.

that statement will not be popular with most folks…

“Sometimes bad things happen for no reason other than we are human beings having a human experience. Pain, heartache, grief, loss, disease and death are inevitable parts of the human experience.” – Christine Suhan

the human experience
did not originally include pain

our current human condition experiences
pain and suffering

let’s walk beside those who are suffering
let’s care about them
let’s be the hands and feet of Jesus…

“You matter to me.”

“I’m glad you’re in my world.” – Beyond the Reasons

“It has to get better.” – Clay Jensen, 13 Reasons Why

let’s be part of that revolution.
and let’s be honest about
the mystery of grace…it really doesn’t make sense

 

for more information: https://www.save.org/13-reasons-why/
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  1-800-237-8255
Crisis Text Line:  text HELP to 741741

 

 

the power of choice

choice

grace

faith

3 words
3 interpretations
3 perspectives
3 power dynamics…
right?

but what if…
what if they are so intertwined
that we confound
the influence they have on each other…
what if.

can we really say
or even begin to decipher
which came first…
choice, grace, faith

right…
at first glance,
I would say choice

in the garden
Adam
Eve
the slippery snake
choosing to become like a god…
choosing to disobey…
choice

but then…
I could say grace

in the garden
Adam
Eve
the slippery snake
and a way was already made
the cross was already the plan
grace

and then maybe…
I could say faith

in the garden
Adam
Eve
the slippery snake
the need for faith was birthed

so…
which holds more power
choice
grace
or faith?
do they have differing degrees of power
or maybe the intensities are different
and therefore the power seems different?

what has become so very tangible
and evident
and self-incriminating
is the power of choice

and what is so disappointing about that
is that
I
don’t
choose
well.

I don’t.

and then I regret the choice
and loathe myself for making the choice
and beat myself up for it
and even…and I even try to justify it.

and what is even more disappointing…
is that I make that same choice again and again.

can I get a ‘me too’?

I know the outcome
I remember the anguish
and yet…
the power of that choice
seems to take control…

but grace covers that…

yes.  that is absolutely correct.
grace – getting what I don’t deserve –
does win…always.
the power of grace is not weak

and what about faith…

do I lack faith when I
exercise the power of choice?
maybe…

can’t faith…the power of faith
propel me to choose a different way?

absolutely.

choice…grace…faith

an interwoven mystery
a cyclical pattern of influence
a mass of power

perhaps I over think things
perhaps these things aren’t even remotely related
perhaps it’s not at all about the words
or the meanings…

perhaps this
choice/grace/faith
cycle is what following Christ is all about

What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure. – Philippians 2:12-13 (MSG)

make better choices

Betsy, make better choices.
you know better – so do better.
selfishness doesn’t win

perhaps I give
choice the power and control…

understand the true meaning of grace

getting what you don’t deserve – yes
but what about living because of that
not so that grace can cover it?
Betsy, it already has.

believe that Jesus has your heart on His mind

when you can’t see the way
or feel His presence
or taste that He is indeed good
or catch a whiff of His spirit
or hear His voice…

rely on that belief, that faith
to guide your choice.

He said to me, “My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. My power is made perfect in weakness.”  I am at peace and even take pleasure in any weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and afflictions for the sake of the Anointed because when I am at my weakest, He makes me strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (the Voice)

forgive me.
help me.
love me.

“I want a lifetime of holy moments. Every day I want to be in dangerous proximity to Jesus. I long for a life that explodes with meaning and is filled with adventure, wonder, risk, and danger. I long for a faith that is gloriously treacherous. I want to be with Jesus, not knowing whether to cry or laugh.” – Mike Yaconelli

 

 

choosing grace…

earlier bits

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