Dancing In The Fire

I love the idea of easing into my day-I’d wake up naturally from the sound of gentle rain tapping on a slightly opened window. I’d slip on a silky robe, walk downstairs and pour a cup of fresh coffee. I’d walk outside to sit on the front porch, not worried about the way I look… there’s no such thing as bedhead, caked makeup, or bad breath. I’d take a sip, look over to the actual person of Jesus sitting next to me, and say “Good morning! What’s on the agenda for today Lord?” and he’d say, “Oh, Ro, I love the way you look first thing in the morning. You are so refreshing. How about we just sit here together for a while?”

And then we’d sit. Noting the hints of flavor swirling around in our magical coffee and we’d plan our day together. We’d feed the homeless with someone else’s food, save 3 people, and heal a leper. Nothing would look inconvenient or interrupted. We’d come home to a medium-rare steak and a glass of merlot.

Beautiful. I could imagine that forever.

Instead, my morning hair looks like Chewbacca’s and my days usually start similar to that of a juggler. A struggling juggler, in fact. One of his balls is coffee, which is nice.

I’m not sure why, but us Christians tend to think that life should look easy. I’m included in this, and so when suffering shows up to knock on my door, I’m totally caught off guard.

I think it’s time I allow a theology for suffering. I’d also like to learn how to dance in its’ fire.

God has called us to live in peace (1 Cor 7:15), but he has also called us to suffer (1 Peter 5:10).

Following God led Jesus to one of the most painful deaths in human history, and he is the source and perfecter of our faith. The Jewish people and fellow believers have experienced scourging, stoning, being sawed in half, and lit on fire. (Heb 11 &12 )

No matter what Christian denomination we are, no one is promised a free pass.

So what do we do when suffering comes our way? We grieve. We experience human emotion. We hope for a better tomorrow and we pray.

We also learn to dance, because we are promised joy (Rom 15:13)

How though? How do we learn to dance?

I think it’s important to know that mourning and joy can be weaved together, and we often enter God’s throne room with both. There are times I have marched in crying and demanding answers, only to come out singing, comforted by his presence. I have found the joy he promises by allowing myself to drink in the Holy Spirit- especially in times of trouble.

Blog articles are supposed to be short and so sadly, I’m ending here. But I encourage you to ask the Lord himself as if he were right next to you, “what does it look like to dance in the fire?” And remember what he whispers in your ear.

His truth trumps any word I could ever write.

Love Always,

Rosie.

What I Would Have Told Myself After The HeartBreak.

Halfway through my shower, I gave up. I sat naked on the tile floor and stared blankly as water berated down my back. I tilted my head back, closed my eyes, and allowed myself to imagine that the pressure of the water was a hug I so desperately needed. As I began to let go and cry, my tears turned into sobs. I was sad, and I couldn’t pull myself out-I couldn’t hide away from the overwhelming feeling of loneliness, and there would be no reprieve to my grief.

My chest tightened and my head pounded, and I wondered if I was experiencing a heart attack. No one could help me if I was, because I was alone at home in the 2nd-floor bathroom. It didn’t matter, anyways.

What was so wrong at a young age of 19? When life is just starting and possibilities are endless?

My boyfriend just broke up with me.

Nearly 15 years later, I still remember what it feels like to lose your first love. I had dated the guy through high school and was convinced he’d be my future husband. Silly now, I know. But it wasn’t then.

Sometimes, I imagine my present self walking into her bathroom, opening up the shower door, and sitting with her to offer comfort, wisdom, and hope.

What would I say to her if I had the chance? Would I tell her that her ex-boyfriend is so not worth the pain-so not worth the mental energy she’ll spend the next few years, trying to figure out what went wrong? Would I downplay her grief and tell her she’ll be happily married to another man who loves every inch of her, and makes her coffee every morning? Would I tell her about how she’d have 4 kids and a life so full, she’d quickly be embarrassed of her tears?

No.

I’d skip out on any fortune-telling and as much as I’d want to, I wouldn’t promise a happy ending. Jesus rarely does that, not even for Job. Instead, I’d sit with her and cry with her and hold her until she fell asleep- I’d tell her that her heartbreak feels like her whole word-and that’s okay.

I’d hope she wouldn’t escape through alcohol, experiences, or a rebound boyfriend. I’d hope she’d run away from allowing bitterness or un-forgiveness to infiltrate the pureness of her heart.

I’d want her to experience the full scope of her emptiness, so that it would lead her to the savior-one who could slowly fill the void and become first place.

I’d want her to reach out to her community in vulnerability- I’d ask her not to hide in shame or depression.

And finally, I’d tell her about Jesus and his redemptive nature.

I’d ask her to wrestle with God in her questions and stay still to hear his answers- and even more so, be okay with his answers.

I’d want her to soak in his comfort and unconditional acceptance.

I’d want her to know that nothing about her is reject-able. Jesus is wild and relentless in his pursuit of her, and knows all about unrequited love.

I’d tell her how he came for the broken-hearted to bind up wounds, and cast out fear. I’d tell her of his shepherding nature and the joy of his presence. I’d tell her that finding herself in him is where she’ll feel most full.

“There are many sorts of broken hearts, and Christ is good at healing them all.” —Charles Spurgeon

Those are the things I tell myself now when heartbreak comes my way, and I hope I continue to speak with gentle navigation to my tribe in theirs.

An Open Letter To My Old Fellowship About This Blog.

I have wanted to write an open letter to the people in my old fellowship- the ones I consider my family and heritage. The love I still have for each of you is so big that when I think of you all and how much I miss being with you, my heart feels like it might explode in a mixture of both passion and grief.

I am specifically referring to those I grew up with who live in Columbus, my long time friends in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, and to the people who took me under their wing during college in Jersey. I am also referring to the believers who live in my town. I love you.

I am aware that my audience is both wide and diverse, and because of that… I ask for grace. For those of you who have no idea who I am and are only interested in other posts I write, that’s okay. You can totally skip out on this letter 🙂 To my current friends, you can skip out too, I won’t hold it against you 🙂

But to the rest of you who (might) read this, you have known me since childhood- we grew up together. We shared crappy bunk beds and fought evil bats at teen camp. We took walks around the lake discussing teachings, played cards during study breaks, cried and committed our lives to God together over the phone and during Friday night fellowships.

We shared similar beliefs for so long and it tied us so close together, that most people don’t understand what kind of friendship we held. I am not sure if I will ever be able to attain that type of community again- and there is something to be said for that.

I’m the girl in the middle with the white sweater, and I remember when this picture was taken. I thought I was famous!

I left our community almost 4 years ago. In those 4 years, I have changed and discovered so much about the world, about mainstream Christianity, and about Jesus, that if we were hanging out over coffee today, you might not recognize me as the same person. I still have that same goofy personality, but I am different. Ben is different, and we are raising our kids different.

Which means, we disagree on a few things.

I wanted to inform you that a lot of what I write about in this blog (and will continue to write about) might include those differences. I hold my own opinions, perceptions, and beliefs about the way we grew up, and you might entirely disagree with me. Some posts might sound like a jab at beliefs you hold, but I am not jabbing at you. I would never, in a million years, want to slander you in any way.

I love your passion for truth to be upheld. I fully trust in your integrity and honest character. I don’t doubt your love or your intentions. If I were to cut you open and examine your heart- I’d find pure gold….one that would stand through fire. I believe that when we get up to the Bema, you will be holding up the line-Jesus will have so many amazing things to say about you to the Father, that it might prove embarrassing for the rest of us.

So when I write things like- “I used to believe” or “I previously behaved this way”, I in no way am trying to undermine you , or any of our old community.

I am not perfect, my memories are not perfect, my personal storyteller is different than yours and therefore my perception and opinions aren’t perfect either. I want to stay in humility and am always under trusted leadership that help point me back to the right path when I am in error.

I just wanted to inform you in love , and give you the space to disagree with me-even publicly. That doesn’t mean I’ll agree, but I’ll respect what you have to say and stand up for your right to hold your beliefs. And know that if you ever need anything, I’m only a phone call away.

I love you,

Rosie.

If The Singing Stops

Every Sunday morning for over 25 years, I’d open up a hymn book and sing.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art-all the classics. I sang these songs so much, I could probably chant em backwards, and often revert to them when rocking a sick baby to sleep or humming mindlessly through the dishes.

Back then, I rarely got emotional- it was just duty.

I was introduced to contemporary worship when I ‘snuck’ into a church setting outside of the one I grew up in. I was uncomfortable, but something about worship was so….powerful. Emotions would rise up in me and without wanting to, I’d cry. I’d feel closer to God in those moments, as if he were right in front of me, looking bigger than ever before. The world got smaller and his presence so big, I’d wonder that if I extended my hand, I could actually touch him.

Worship was one of the first steps that led me to meeting Jesus, and is often the first thing I suggest to someone who feels stuck in a religious cycle.

Worship was what carried me through 10 months of a financially dry season-when at times I’d wonder if my family would end up homeless.

Have you ever seen a large choir perform in a mega church? I love to gaze at each face-everyone sings with a smile with their hands extended and heads all lifted. But I imagine at times there has to be at least one who doesn’t feel like being there- they’d rather take off the mask, hang their head down low, step off stage, and give up. Wouldn’t that be a sight to see?

There are times I don’t feel like singing either, and so I don’t.

Jesus deserves every bit of praise we could ever give-but he also knew singing was for our benefit. According to this article, ( https://takelessons.com/live/singing/health-benefits-of-singing )

singing strengthens your immune system, lowers your stress levels, and is a natural anti-depressant.

I could give you all the facts as to why singing is one of the most important things you could ever do, but really I think at times, it just sucks. In our moments of grief and disappointment, we sing with raw and doubting faith.

King David knew those moments all to well-

Psalm 13:1-3a, 5-6

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

How long will I store up anxious concerns within me, agony in my mind every day?

Consider me and answer, Lord my God. Restore brightness to my eyes: otherwise, I will sleep in death.

But I have trusted in your faithful love; my heart will rejoice in your deliverance.

I will sing to the Lord, because he has treated me generously.

We at times, can feel abandoned by God.

Do you have a mustard seed of faith to lift up your praise towards him when family troubles or depression knocks on your door? I usually hide away in those moments, apart from my loved ones-and lift a tiny song.

Jesus sees you, right where you are, and will take you into his presence regardless of how you feel. That’s grace.

Love Always,

Rosie