Tonight I did something uncharacteristic. I watched the news. I really detest watching the news because it breaks my heart. As I was sitting, nursing my cold and feeling cold and hot at the same time, I watched my heart melt and break at the same time.
Tonight’s feature story was about a yet-unnamed kid who attended Deptford High School (merely a few miles from my house) who led police on a high speed chase, stopped on the Walt Whitman Bridge and jumped. I read a blog written by a girl that I know who sounds so sad, so desparate, so dejected that I began to cry. This is a talented girl. What attracted me to her the first time that we met is that she seemed so sure of her quirky, out of the box self. She was full of life, happy and bringing all kinds of people to the clubhouse for youth. Now she lives in a world where she is continually told what she is not, what she cannot do and she cannot see the forest for the trees. Then I saw a story about a group in Alexandria, VA who are helping disadvantaged kids by teaching them how to build boats and in the process, they are paying the kids, helping them to get their GED’s and helping them to get their carpenter licenses. They are giving them fish AND teaching them to fish.
This leads to an ongoing frustration that I have. There is a generation of kids who are falling through the cracks, walking through the cracks, being pushed through the cracks. These kids have mentors–parents, coaches, teachers, pastors, family, friends who are watching them walk away from so many things and not saying a word. Or, worse off, they have a group of mentors who are pushing them into lives that are not their God-given lives to live. I admit, that I have a bit of survivor’s guilt in this situation. I was in a situation where I could have stayed. If God had not pushed me out, I would have stayed forever. I could have stayed and helped to walk people through this. I could have stayed and remained silent, trying so hard to be something that I am not. I could have stayed and spoken up for those in the church who do not have voices. But I made the choice to walk. Walking was the best thing that I have done in my life thus far. Walking away led me to a wonderful place that I would not trade for all of the tea in China. I would have given my right arm to be here five years ago. But…it was not time. Now that I am here, I have a place to invite the hurting people in my life. There is a place in which I actually trust the hearts of my friend and family.
I know that it seems that I am continually walking around the same issue. I fear that I will continue to walk around this issue as long as I live. It’s not something that I ever want to be too far removed from. I always want to remember from where I’ve come. I’m glad that I’ve not been healed without scars, because I always want to know that at one time I hurt, and that there are people hurting all over the world.
Here is my frustration. I am not going to list problems. I will list the solutions as well. The church, specifically in America, needs to rise up and be what God has created it to be. God has created the church to be a place where healing occurs; where dreams are conceived and birthed; where people enter one way and exit another way; where people are encouraged to be who God has created them to be; where people can discover the love the Jesus has for them. Church is not about numbers. Church is about people. Church is about ushering people into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ the Messiah. Why then is the church so busy building carbon copies of itself? I love my pastor to death, but I don’t want to be him. I don’t want his life. His life is the life that God has designed for him, not for me. He and his wife love each other very much; they have three amazing kids. But…I don’t want that life. I want the life that God designed for me…the one He speaks of in Jeremiah 29:11. The awesome thing about my pastor is that he doesn’t want me to have his life. He wants me to live out my life the way that God has designed it to be. I know that I’ve said this before, and you’ll hear me say it again and again. The Sanctuary is the way that I always thought church could be but never knew it would be. I have a pastor who has a pastor’s heart. Shocking, I know. But he really just wants all of us to grow so that we can all do this thing called life together. I don’t have to fit in a mould. I don’t know if a mould exists.
So, what am I doing to be a part of the solution of the crisis that is the church in America? For starters, Wednesday I’m participating in a Halloween parade to help a friend launch her salon. On Saturday, I’m packing a bunch of cookies into bags. On Sunday, I’m giving cookies to a bunch of people who want for nothing but need Something, Someone desparately. I’m going to go to seminary to align my opinions with the Word of God. I’m going to surround myself with people, via my church, sermons, teaching tapes who have big ideas, who are chasing lions and not hiding from them, so that I can become the mighty woman of God that I have been called to be. And most of all, I’m going to love people, even those who persecute me, especially those who persecute me.
Anyone care to join in the fight?