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My, how things have changed!

The last time I wrote a post I was happily pastoring the Blue Ocean Faith community that I had founded in 2015.

It’s been an interesting several years. In 2017 my 34 year long marriage ended. It had been in trouble for a very long time. It was a relief. I took back my original name, moved back to Clintonville, and started afresh.

In 2018 the bookstore where I had been the assistant manger closed and I found myself among the ranks of the unemployed. After searching for work and realizing that age discrimination is very real I decided to pursue a life long dream and got my real estate license. I was still the pastor of Blue Ocean Faith Columbus and was dealing with aging parents, both mine and my ex’s mom (it’s a long story). It became clear that I could not do everything, so I resigned as pastor of BOFC at the end of the year.

In February of 2019 while setting up for an open house I slipped in some slushy ice. I went on to complete the open house, but by the end of the day I couldn’t put weight on my left leg. There was no break according to the ER, so I was sent to physical therapy. Big mistake. I found out about 18 months later that my hip had, in fact been broken and the PT had displaced the fracture creating a chronic hip injury. That summer I joined my good friend’s real estate team and took on administrative duties for the team. A relief as the injury was impacting my ability to work.

My life took on a rhythm of work and art. I started taking classes at the Columbus Art Center. I was happy, but pretty much alone most of the time. I had started to check out dating apps and had quickly realized that I never wanted to date a man again. And then, the pandemic hit.

While Real Estate was considered an “essential business” and we continued to operate much the same as always (with pandemic protections in place), dating was not and “essential business”. So I remained in the closet. Fast forward to 2021 and the Covid vaccines. Finally we were able to see people socially on a somewhat limited basis and it was time to come out of the closet.

So, Hello, my name is Sue and I’m a lesbian.

Using Y(our) Prophetic Voices

I recently had the honor of hosting a number of  Mama Bears, women who are fiercely protective of and advocating for their LGBTQ kids, at one of our Blue Ocean Faith Columbus church services.  I spoke about the need to use our voices to speak into the culture, to be the voice that speaks truth in the midst of a dark and difficult time. At their request, I’m posting my sermon here:

A few days ago J* had posted an article on her Facebook page by Caitlin J. Stout. It was a good article.  It struck some deep chords with me. It was about being in a abusive relationship…with the church.  And it had a take away that inspired what I have to say tonight.  Because I think all of us, not just the Mama Bears here, have been abused by the church in some way shape or form.  I don’t know everyone’s story, but to me, it felt important to express and discuss the idea I’m going to put forth.  So this is the part of the article that got me on this track:

The thing is, Queer folks are not dating the Church, we are the Church. And I’m beginning to realize that as soon as I start talking about the Body of Christ as an entity separate from myself, I am doing what non-affirming Christians have been trying to do to me for years. Spiritual abuse makes you see yourself as an issue up for debate. It distorts the beauty of the sacraments and turns them into these badges of belonging that you have to fight and work and bleed for. But the reality is that God has already given you a seat at the table. Jesus has already invited you to take and eat. The Body of Christ is already Queer.

This is not to minimize the very real abuse that does happens within the Body. This is not to say that anyone needs to stay in a congregation where they are not celebrated as equals. This is a reminder that “Child of God” is a title that cannot be revoked, and when we internalize that title, we are liberated. We can no longer settle for being tolerated, nor can we ignore the ways in which we have been hurtful to others. After all, the Body of Christ is also Black. The Body of Christ uses a wheelchair. The Body of Christ is undocumented. The Body of Christ is hungry and homeless.

We’ve been looking at the book of Ephesians for a few weeks, and the passage we read tonight sprang to mind when I read this part of Caitlin’s article.  Because we are the body of Christ, even when we’ve been rejected by another part of the body of Christ. (Who by the way, when they have rejected us for any reason, are in violation of 1 Corinthians 12: 15-27. This is the passage where Paul, again speaking about gifts and the body of Christ, explicitly states that no part of the body can say to another part of the body, “I don’t need you.”)

We are all part of the body of Christ.  Nothing can take that from us.  There may be people who claim to speak for Christ, who would imply that they can reject us from the body.  But, THEY DO NOT HAVE THAT AUTHORITY.

Let’s look at that passage again – with my thoughts on why I wanted to talk about this tonight.  I’m hoping this will be an encouragement to all of us.

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.  (Ephesians 4: 11-16 NIV)

The point of having people who act as apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors and teachers is to help us grow up into Christ.  Not to be Christ, not to interpret what “God hates,” not to impose things that aren’t actually in the bible on us,  but  to point us in the right direction.  To reflect who Christ is.  To SPEAK TRUTH IN LOVE.  Yes, that phrase gets abused A LOT.  “I’m just speaking the truth in love, while I say hateful things to you, while I reject you, while I revile you and your child”.  That is not speaking the truth in love.

The message of Jesus, the message we are to be growing into, the message that is hard to hear, because it seems too good to be true, is that each and every one of us is deeply and thoroughly loved by God.  That we are loved.  That he loves us.  That we are worthy of being loved.  That there is nothing we can do, nor is there anything that someone else can do that can separate us from the love of God.

And the body is supposed to be growing up into that knowledge of loving and being loved.

And yet…  it isn’t.  Sometimes it seem to be growing in hate and divisiveness.

Which is why we need prophets.  The prophet is the one who tells the truth, when the truth is uncomfortable, like Nathan confronting David about Bathsheba.  (2 Samuel 12)

The prophet is the one who calls the government to account, when it has strayed from the truth (a huge chunk of the Old Testament.)

Being a prophet is an uncomfortable role.  Prophets often aren’t well received.

Being a prophet is hard.

And yet, that is the role that many of us have been called to.

Perhaps you’ve been called to be a prophetic voice to the church because your child came out.  You didn’t choose that role.  It was thrust upon you.

You’d rather not have that role, you were probably taught that you should be quiet in the church.  But you had kids, and you became a Mama Bear.  It didn’t start when your child came out.  You were already a Mama Bear.  Because Mama Bears become Mama Bears the day their first child is born.  You just didn’t know how hard it was going to be.

You thought the church would have your back.  And then it didn’t, and it hurt.  It hurt like hell.

But the prophet is not born easily, and this pain is part of the process.  The body of Christ needs its prophets to speak the truth – that ALL are loved.  ALL are included.  That no human can decide if someone is or is not a part of the body of Christ.

I want to encourage all of us to use our prophetic voice to tell the truth in love.  That God loves us – all of us.

This doesn’t mean you have to stay in a church that abuses you.  No.  You need to take care of you and those you love.  But I do want to encourage you to continue to speak out, to be that prophetic voice.  Knowing that you’ll be rejected sometimes.  But also knowing that your voice might be the voice that makes a difference in a family’s life, in a child’s life, in a church’s life.

 *  *  *

We finished the evening by praying for the Mama Bears individually.  Praying for courage and healing and perseverance.   I’m looking forward to hearing more from these courageous women!

*One of the Mama Bears.  Since not all Mama Bears have publicly identified themselves, I respect their privacy by not using any of their names.

Reflecting on the Election

It looks like Alec Baldwin has a secure gig on SNL for the next 4 years…

In all seriousness though, I am deeply disappointed with the results of this election. Not just that Donald Trump was elected, but with us as a nation. I am disappointed that the white majority has forgotten that their families, too, once were immigrants. I am disappointed that the white majority is so quickly supplementing the already dismissive #alllivesmatter with #notallwhitepeople. Racism is alive and well in the USA. I am disappointed that misogyny and rape culture have been brushed aside as locker room talk. I am disappointed and fearful for for the rights of my LGBTQ friends and family. I am disappointed that we have not come further. But I am not surprised. This has all always been there. It has just been better hidden in recent years. This campaign has stripped off the facade of a “kinder, gentler America” and revealed the truth of what is in our hearts.

I say white majority, but the reality is that the white majority will soon cease to be. We will be majority minority by about the middle of the next century. For those whose majority is being eclipsed, fear has won the day; fear of change: fear of loss of perceived power, fear of loss of cultural dominance, fear of “the other”. Failure to see this, to acknowledge and address these fears has been a failure of the power elite for a long time.  I think that Hillary’s failure to recognize these fears, to instead characterize those who were responding to Trump’s message as “deplorables” was wrong headed and wrong hearted.

Eight years ago we elected Barack Obama, who ran a campaign based on CHANGE. His eight years have been full of change. Positive change for the marginalized, for the LGBTQ community, for non-whites, for women and to some extent, for immigrants. This election has been a backlash by those who have perceived these changes as a threat to their way of life. I live outside of a large metro area in an area made up of farms, farms and more farms. It has been clear to me that Trump’s message of “Make America Great (White/Male) Again” was resonating in my little corner of Ohio. I don’t think that the majority of the people in my little part of the world are evil. I think they are scared and scared people do scary things.

I am heartbroken by the results of this election. But I am also convicted that my voice needs to be louder than it has been for those who are being negatively impacted by this election. I cannot pick and choose when to speak up for the marginalized. Silence and complacency are not options.

The Jesus I know and love will not allow me to sit idly by in silence. My compassion must encompass all: not just those who today have had their fears reignited by the election of Mr Trump, but also those whose fear has elected him. God’s love is extended to all. There is no room for hate among his true followers.

Loving your enemy, blessing those who persecute you, has never been easy. But we must. We must all grieve first. But there is a time for all things. First we grieve. We don’t try to rush others through the process of grieving. Then we get up and get back to work: Loving the unloved and unlovable. Binding the wounds of the broken and hurting.  Protecting the weak.  Speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves.

The sermon about the Orlando Shootings I didn’t get to preach

pray for orlandoAs I scroll through the news feeds, the twitter feeds, and Facebook, I’m overwhelmed by the support I see from some, the silence from others and the anti-gay rhetoric from still others. My heart breaks for my LGBTQ family. Family, because we are all created in the image of God, who loves us as s/he created us.

We hold our services on Saturday evening, so I wasn’t able to address this during our service this past weekend; it hadn’t happened yet.  So let me say something here and now.

I am grieved on so many levels by this atrocity, this tragedy. I am grieved that so many people have died and been wounded. I grieve for the families of those killed. I grieve for those family members who had rejected their LGBTQ child, only to wake up on Sunday and realize they had lost him/her/them, without ever being able to say “I love you” again. In this, I pray that this might be a wake-up call to parents everywhere who have rejected a child for whatever reason, but especially to those who have rejected their child because his/her/their sexuality doesn’t line up with the parents’ religious beliefs. I pray that over the next weeks and months, there will be many families reconciled, relationships restored, partners accepted, because this has been a call for them to re-examine their decisions, their words, their beliefs.  That this will be a call to return to loving and accepting their child as they did on the day that child was born, already gay, or lesbian, or trans, or other, just not knowing it yet.

I grieve for us as a country. A country that was founded on the belief that all are created equal and deserving of inalienable rights, has become a country even more divided than when it was founded. The founders of this country tried, within the context of their understanding, to create something new and hopeful, where all could be equal. (Yes, I know, unless you were a woman, a slave, or from an indigenous people group ). For all the years since, there has been slow progress to make this a reality; a slow recognition of who that “all” encompasses. I am grieved that at this point in time, rather than seeing further progress, we see fear, violence, bigotry, hatred, and exclusion as the beliefs held and practiced by so many in our nation.

I grieve for my LGBTQ friends and family, who have been and continue to be the targets of hatred, misunderstanding, homophobia, transphobia, and rejection, just because they were born with a different sexual orientation. I run out of words to say when I think of all the pain and fear that this has caused and will continue to cause for the LGBTQ community, not just in Orlando, but everywhere. I offer myself as an ally, as someone who loves you, who wants you to know that you are loved by your creator. Who made you fearfully and wonderfully and who rejoices over you with singing. I stand with you and mourn with you. I will have your back.

As a faith community, as a church, we need to do more that speak. We need to act. To be a safe place for all to come, to find refuge, safety, and acceptance. I think we’ve made a good start. Let’s not lose faith and energy in this time of sorrow and need. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be exploring some ideas for practical ways that we as a faith community can help. If you have ideas, please let me know.  See you all at Pride!

Regaining my Freedom to Think

Good storytelling requires something called “willing suspension of disbelief”. When it works, we are transported to places that are impossible.  Yet somehow we believe, if only for the time we are reading or watching the story.  We see ourselves on a broomstick throwing the Quaffle or chasing the Snitch.  We sit in the wagon watching the endless prairie roll under our wheels with Jack the bulldog trotting in the shadow beneath us.  We hear the call, “The beacons are lit, Gondor calls for our aide” and we ride with Rohan to the great battle outside the walls of the White City. We are taken outside of ourselves for a time.  We escape reality for someplace else.

Yet there are times when we participate in a willing suspension of disbelief in ways that aren’t so innocent. There are places and times when we suspend belief in order to fit in, so as to remain within the boundaries of our tribe.  I’ve been recovering from just such a suspension of disbelief for some time now.

As a young Christian, I was caught up into a conservative evangelical Jesus movement church that viewed the bible as the center of faith. Everything we needed was found in the bible.  Anything that didn’t line up with the bible, as the leaders of my group understood it, was wrong.  More and more of my freedom to think for myself was curtailed as I became a dedicated follower.  We were given lists of acceptable books that had been vetted by the leaders of the church.  Conservatives were good, Liberals were bad. The bible was to be defended at all costs; when JEDP theory[1] was mentioned in a college English class on the Bible, we were equipped to defend Moses as the only author of the Pentateuch, and anyone saying otherwise was a heretic.  Slowly, bits and pieces of myself got locked away in order to fit in with those around me.[2]

As the child of a physics professor and a biology major, I had been raised on evolution, astronomy, archaeology, geology, dinosaurs, anthropology, and the discoveries of ancient humans by the Leakeys in the Olduvai gorge in Tanzania.  To fit in with my new found faith, I had to engage in willing suspension of disbelief as I was taught that God created the earth in a literal six days, that the bible was dictated by God and perfect in every way.  To question its accuracy in these matters was to risk my soul.

As I had children, I became a homeschooler.  Homeschooling at that time was one of the bastions of extreme conservative literalistic thinking, especially in regard to the sciences. Most curricula taught six day creation, some adhered to a young earth theory.  As pieces of my mind were being locked up, my soul was being eaten away, although I didn’t realize it.

Ironically, it was being involved with homeschooling, and witnessing the outworking of these extremely rigid beliefs that was instrumental in beginning to free me from this suspension of disbelief. I think it began with my one and only home school convention, where I actually had to see and experience some of the most extreme examples of things like the full quiver movement[3] that started to wake me up.  Freedom started to arrive with the discovery of  a home school curriculum that didn’t deny the demonstrable ancient age of the earth or try to reconcile dinosaurs and humans.  It was controversial in my cultural microcosm, but phew, a small piece of my mind back.

The next big break was some years later on the first day of VLI[4].  Two points were made that day that changed my way of understanding the bible.  The first was the idea that “All meaning is context dependent”.  Also phrased as “the bible can only mean what it ever meant” or it can’t mean something now that it didn’t mean to its original intended audience.   So, when looking at passages about women, slaves, or homosexuals, we need to understand what was intended by the original author, what that culture believed and how they behaved, how they would have understood what the author was saying and why.  We need to ask does it even apply today? How is our culture different? Do we know something today that wasn’t known then (because SCIENCE!) ?

The second point was in demonstration of the first. The professor described the first chapters of Genesis, where we see the six day creation story, as a polemic against the creation stories of the cultures around Israel rather than a historical record of creation. He then went on and enumerated a number of bible stories that have parallels in other cultures. I knew about this, I had taken a course on this in college, but had suspended belief in what I was being taught.  Life changing freedom granted.  I no longer had to hang my brain up at the door when entering church. (It made for some interesting conversations when people would invite me to visit the Creation Museum in Cincinnati!)

It is a continuing journey.  One that has accelerated over the last several years. It’s not always easy.  Not having all the answers can feel unsettling at times.  That’s where my relationship with Jesus comes in.  Since I have a real relationship with a real, communicating, loving person, I’m not going it alone. I no longer have to suspend belief in the hard sciences, sociology, psychology or philosophy. I don’t have to try to figure out the right answer from a book that, frankly, doesn’t address every single issue or question in life.  The best part? When I read the bible, I find so much life and wisdom there, without having to treat it like it’s going to contain all the answers. It equips me to think more deeply about my questions, it challenges the way I see and understand things. But it isn’t a rule book by which I must live my life.  I feel like I’ve regained my integrity as a person, which enables me to live out of who I am, not who someone else tells me I should be. By being able to see the bible for what it is: a collection of writings, written by many different people, telling the story of God in the ways that they experienced him, in all its inspired messy glory, I can embrace belief in both the bible and science. I no longer have to suspend belief in either direction.




[1] A theory that attributed the authorship of the first 5 books of the bible to multiple authors, signified by the different letters used, rather than Moses; also known as Wellhausen Hypothesis or Documentary Hypothesis.

[2] I should note that no one forced this on me. I was, however, very much a people pleaser, desperate to be accepted by the crowd around me.  Keeping controversial thoughts to myself and ultimately suppressing them was a means of self preservation in a group to which I very much wanted to belong.

[3] This movement teaches that women’s purpose is to keep the home and have children, that they are under the authority of their father until married, then under the authority of their husband; think Duggar family.

[4] Vineyard Leadership Institute, a 2 year ministry training program for the Vineyard movement.  Since renamed Vineyard Institute. I am grateful for the training I received there, even though I am no longer affiliated with the Vineyard movement.

Painting with my father

Dad and I in his studio. One of my paintings is visible on the table.

Dad and I in his studio. One of my paintings is visible on the table.

I recently had the opportunity to visit my dad in Vermont. He’s 82. He has been painting all of my life. I grew up with the smell of linseed oil and turpentine. He wasn’t the only artist I knew. I had two aunts who also painted. When I was little, I thought that being an artist was a real job you could have, even though my dad’s “real job” was as a physics professor. Sadly, when I announced that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up, I was told it wasn’t practical.  Considering that all the artists I knew grew up during the depression, I’m not at all surprised at this response.

During this visit, my dad told me that he still has my very first painting, framed. I think it was called “kitty cats” and was a masterpiece in watercolors: several very washy lines on the back of a piece of some business paper. But then, I was probably 3 years old at the time. What I hadn’t realized until recently was that he has always secretly been very proud of my drawing and painting and art.

Place an oldest perfectionist child with an oldest perfectionist parent and there are some challenges with understanding. I know now that when my dad looked at my paintings as a teen and gave advice, he wasn’t criticizing. He was trying to help. But I couldn’t hear it that way. I stopped painting before I hit college, too afraid to make mistakes. It has been a slow journey back.

When I was in my early 20’s I lived with several art students. I didn’t dare show them my work, because I knew it was inferior to anything they could do. That is until the day a roommate saw a sketch I had done of another roommate’s dog. Her comment, “That’s a great start,” was revealing. In my mind, the sketch was finished, not very good. Her comment gave me permission to keep working on it. So I did. I worked on it until I was satisfied that it really did look like Teddy, under-bite and all.

Over the years I would dabble in various art forms with my kids, but I never did “serious painting” in oils or acrylics. There are lots of practical excuses for that.  The reality is that I was afraid.  A couple of years ago, my dad started encouraging me to start painting again. I hemmed and hawed. Eventually, with the encouragement of another art school grad, I tried a landscape. I worked on it for several sessions. I was happy with what I was able to do. But that was it.  For some reason, I didn’t do another. I was still afraid of imperfection.

So what changed? It’s taken a long time, but I’m beginning to be able to live with imperfection.  So when I had the opportunity to paint with my dad, how could I pass it up?  It’s only taken us forty years to get to this place.

I can’t post this without bragging a bit about my dad.  He spend his career in the academic world.  As such, he was told that his art was a distraction.  So he has painted under his Nom d’Artiste, Mutin for as long as I can remember. Finally at 82 he has his own studio and has been showing his art publicly for the first time. You can see his work here:


A Sabbatical Year

writs jack

the contraption I had to wear for 6+ weeks to stabilize my wrist

This has been an interesting year; in some ways an answered prayer. I haven’t worked at a regular job since last December.  I’ve had a sabbatical year: a much needed rest, a time for reflection and redirection. However, it wasn’t planned that way.

I took a couple of months off in January and February to rest and recover from the last few years, which have been challenging. When I did start to look for work, the interviews just weren’t forthcoming. As with many who are job hunting or changing fields, I put out dozens of resumes. Nothing. Finally in July, a good opportunity. I had a great initial interview and was scheduled for the second with the company owner three days later. The day before the interview, I shattered my wrist in a bicycle accident. I mean shattered: 22 pieces where there should have been two bones. The technical description was an “Open, comminuted fracture of the distal radius and ulna” The doctor’s slightly more practical description: like taking a hammer to an eggshell. No second interview for me, in fact, no possibility of working for months.

I was finally to the point of being able to return to job hunting in October. Again, I had a great possibility lined up. First interview, excellent, a second in the works. And then, send you through the roof pain shooting through my arm at random times, with the slightest movement. The pins that had been holding the bones together while they healed had shifted and one of them was grazing a nerve. Another surgery, another few weeks of not being able to work and another lost job opportunity.

It seemed like I was being told: NOT YET.

So, here’s the interesting thing: I wasn’t really excited about either of these jobs. They were just going to be jobs. What I wanted to be doing and what I have been doing, is working on a church plant*. The accident this summer slowed this process down, too. I’m not sorry about that. Church plants take time and energy. I’ve been given a year to just BE; a year to rest and relax and rebuild. (And yes, play endless, mindless games on the iPad…)

I am excited to be in the process of planting. I’m excited to see what God is doing with the group of people that has gathered to begin this journey with me. I’m grateful for the time that has been given to me before we launch our plant.  I still need to find a job and work at least part-time.  Not just to earn money, but because I want to be out and about and meeting people.  But I’m so grateful for my sabbatical year.  I needed it more than I knew.

*We are planting a church affiliated with  I can be reached on Facebook and Twitter if you would like to know more!

Hello, I’m Sue and I’m a recovering Evangelical

T and P on trail

I was never a very good Evangelical.  I wasn’t good at the evangelism part of it.  As a shy introvert, evangelism terrified me.  I was raised as the RESPONSIBLE CHILD.  As the oldest child, if somebody (usually my little brothers) did something wrong or didn’t do something they should have, it was MY RESPONSIBILITY.  Sometimes I didn’t even have to be present for it to be my fault.

Plant this RESPONSIBLE CHILD into the Jesus movement days. Everyone knew that “Jesus was coming back any day now and we must save as many people as we can!”  It felt like any conversation that didn’t include the gospel was deemed a failure.  So many methods emphasized the one call close:  meet someone, give them the gospel, get them to “pray the prayer”.  I had a hard enough time opening conversations with strangers as it was, let alone with this kind of agenda and responsibility.

I grew up, I learned how to talk to strangers, and I stopped fearing that each new person I met was supposed to be an evangelism project. If Jesus came up in the conversation fine, we would talk about Him.  But always in the back of my mind, there was that niggling thought, that somehow, it’s MY RESPONSIBILITY.

A few days ago I was reading the calling of the disciples, the “Come follow me and you shall be fishers of people”passage and all that angst from my evangelical past reared its uncomfortable head.  I was taken aback.  I hadn’t felt this for many years.  I’ve learned to pay attention to these reactions and spent some time sitting with it. Do I still fear that somehow, it is UP TO ME to bring people into the kingdom? That it is still MY RESPONSIBILITY?  In the midst of it, Jesus reminded me of John 12:32 “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”(NIV)

All I have to do is lift up Jesus, to point to him. He does all the drawing.  I can do that.  I can point to Jesus. And I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE for the way anyone responds to Jesus.  He is.

What’s new with Sue?

“The difference between bounded-set spiritual growth and centered-set spiritual growth is that the first requires constant new information to keep us (marginally) interested and the other requires all the promise and insecurity of a living relationship that’s on the move and might take us to surprising places. ” Dave Schmeltzer

As I was reading through the latest thought piece from Blue Ocean faith on Childlike Faith, I was struck by the quote above.  You see, for many years I’ve been in the camp that equated greater knowledge with greater maturity.   Yet as I thought about it, I realized that all the learning and theology never brought me to any greater degree of maturity, either personal or spiritual, unless there was an experiential, life engaging aspect to the learning.   

I’ve been in a process of moving away from bounded set thinking for a number of years.  The less bounded set I have become in my own thinking, the harder it has been to live and work within a bounded set context.  Ultimately, that led to my leaving a job I loved (for the most part) in order to pursue Jesus, without knowing at all where that might take me.  I’m beginning to have an idea of the next steps.  

In a couple of weeks I will be attending the final cohort meeting of my training in spiritual direction.  It has been a wild two years.  Where I thought I was going when I began and the direction I am pursuing now could not be more divergent.  I started down this road to learn more about spiritual formation (the “new information”) and to learn how to be a spiritual director.  What I found instead was the “promise and insecurity” of a far deeper relationship with Jesus.  (I am frequently reminded of the cry of the children in C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle: “Higher up and further in”).  Yes, I’m learning to be a spiritual director, the learning of which is a life long process.   But so much more has happened.  

I’ll be letting you know more of where Jesus is leading me soon!! 

I’m numb, and yet…

I’m numb.  Another shooting.  Another young white male with a gun. Immediately everyone wants to co-opt it for their particular pet cause: gun control, the broken mental health system (this with no indication AT ALL that mental illness is part of this particular incident), you name it, it is being said somewhere. Fingers pointing every which way.

Yes.  This is about race and racism.  Yes, this is about white male privilege.   Yes, this is about guns.  Yes, this is about a broken fallen world.    Yes, this is about many things.  But please, above all, this is about people:  People whose lives were cut short by another person.  All of them image bearers of the Living God.  Yes, even the shooter is an image bearer.  A broken, fallen, damaged and seemingly very corrupted image bearer, but still made in the image of God.

It breaks my heart when we, as image bearers of the Living God, hurt other image bearers.  To devastating effect: 9 lives ended because, ultimately, the shooter didn’t see them as fellow image bearers. Perhaps he didn’t see himself as an image bearer, let alone anyone else.  I don’t think this will even be a question that is asked.  But I’m asking it: Do we see those around us, those we love, but more so, those we dislike, those we fear, those we disdain, as image bearers of the Living God?

I can’t prevent the next shooting.  But I can be aware that each and every human being I encounter, no matter what their character, what choices they have made in life, what their beliefs, bears the image of the Living God.  And with this in mind, I can treat them with respect and dignity, because I too, bear God’s image.


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