Fire in Our Bones

fire

Christianity Today

“I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”

Jeremiah 20:9

There is fire within all of us. It can refine, and it can consume until nothing is left. The fire can warm us, and it can burn us.

Fire escapes containment. It spreads, and it tends to do on the outside what it is doing on the inside. If it is refining us, it can refine others. If it is consuming us, it can completely consume others. If it is warming us, it can warm the minds, bodies, and souls of others. If it is burning us, it can hurt others.

I struggle to keep my own flames in check. My passion can burn bright and warm people into action. It can also reach points which harm myself and those closest to me.

This is why prayer, rest, community, reading, and laughter are crucial. These practices keep the flames burning while preventing them from destroying me, which in turn can prevent me from burning friends, family, and allies in harmful ways.

In my very limited time of political involvement, I’ve realized the importance of maintaining these flames. I try to keep the fire at refining levels when I talk to my representative and senators. I let the fire burn with power at marches and meetings without allowing it to burn me to a crisp.

But the fire of passion threatens to turn into destructive hate when I hear naysayers and snowflake-accusers tell us as a movement to “get over ourselves,” “accept results,” and “just wait and see how things happen.”

Don’t they understand?

We have waited. Things are happening, and we oppose them. Things are happening that affect not only my family, but other American families. Things are happening which threaten our humanity, because they threaten the humanity of many. My liberation is bound up in the liberation of those on the margins. As long as they continue to be threatened, I continue to be threatened.

When I hear these attacks, I feel the passionate, beautiful fire in me change into hateful, destructive embers. I begin to feel the flames consuming my soul.

The best I can do to control this dangerous fire is to remind myself over and over that this is not all about me. Yes, I march, call, and write because the holy fire in me compels me to, and it’s part of what makes me a child of God. But I also do this work because of the Divine Image in every person I do and don’t encounter.

I do this work for the Divine Image in my cousin’s little girl Rylan, who celebrates her first birthday today; for the Divine Image of my sisters and brother, that they may live in a world which regards them with love, not suspicion; and for the Divine Image in the refugee detained at the airport, who only wants to begin life anew after witnessing so much destruction.

I do this work because of the Divine Image present in every single human being affected by fear-based policies, for the Black Lives Matter activists who demand just treatment of their divinely made bodies, and for the parents fearful of losing healthcare coverage because their Divine child has certain disabilities. I do this work, as hard as it can be, for the Divine Image present in those who enact these policies and in those who approve them, because they need to see the Divine Image in those affected by the laws they sign.

I do this work to remind my fellow citizens, as well as candidates, delegates, mayors, representatives, senators, cabinet members, and the President to see their own Divine Image, even when it’s disfigured beyond recognition. I want to call that Image out of them so they may see it, because maybe the act of seeing the Divine in themselves will cause them to notice, honor, and endorse the Image in everyone else, especially those they want to keep out.

I worry if we forget Whose we are and why we’re here, we’ll lose our souls. We’ll lose what makes us human, the love, compassion, and mercy God gives each of us, which is more than enough for everyone. I cry out to prevent us putting up walls, promoting fear and hatred, and singling people out as scapegoats, because these actions further damage our humanity.

I worry the act of forgetting our Image will cause us to lose our God-gifted love, compassion, and mercy, and I worry what such a loss will do to my actual Muslim brother, sisters, and parents, my black and brown brothers and sisters, my LGBTQ family, and this human race.

So my challenge to those who believe walls and vetting will save us is this:

Take the fire within you which ignites fear and hatred, and allow it to burn with love and hope. Let it kill the parts which hang on to misguided ideas of “other” and let it push you into life with those you once feared.

My challenge to those resisting and calling out the powers that is this:

Let the fire burn in you. Don’t let it be dimmed by onslaughts of negativity. Let the fire keep you going, and let it warm those who are hurting.

And to those already dealing with the negative repercussions of these policies and all of the ones which came before, I say this to you:

I see your Divine Image. I hear your Divine Cries. Let your fire live and burn bright. We are in this together.

For the sake of our humanity, for the sake of the precious Image of God in us, let the fire burn.

 

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Sorry I’m Late: Showing Up for Justice after Ignoring the Invitations

rsvp

Broomwithaview.com

I read recently how protesting and resisting systemic evil in Trump’s America is like finally showing up to a party after numerous invitations and delays.

Organizations like Black Lives Matter, the ACLU, the International Rescue Committee, and other activist groups have known of this corruption for a much longer time than most of us privileged people. Some were born into this system and have been pushing back from an early age. Others “got woke” and caught the memo as early as they could and jumped right into action.

I, on the other hand, showed up to this “party” beyond fashionably late.

I made plenty of excuses in the process, too.

I didn’t know if anyone I knew would be there. I didn’t know what to say when I showed up, because I didn’t know if I would understand what everyone was saying and didn’t want to make any more social faux pas than I already do.

I also didn’t know what to bring. Should I keep it cheap and bring a bag of chips or actually go through the effort of preparing a tasty entree? Should I buy a little gift on the way or make something crafty and impressive so everyone there would know my presence was legitimate?

I didn’t know how to deal with my own power and privilege in these contexts, either. I didn’t know if I could voice my insights or if I should let everyone else do the talking. Would I be too “white,” too “hetero,” or too privileged to even have a reason to be there? Would people think I was there to fulfill my Messiah-complex? Would I know if that was my reason?

More than being uncomfortable with messing up, though, I didn’t want to arrive needing to learn anything. I wanted to arrive fully prepared and ready to do everything just right, as if I were the host and the leader, not the one invited to be led.

So instead of being with and learning from those who are most oppressed, I read articles and posted tweets. I wrote about social justice from my perspective, and while I mentioned the marginalized, I didn’t learn too much about their own perspectives. When I did read their words, I let my own guilt and shame push me away from their pain instead of deeper into it.

Finally, after the election, I began to realize I no longer cared (as much) if I said or did the wrong things as long as I said and did something. I began to honestly acknowledge my role, not to lead and take over, but to follow and learn from those affected most by these evils.

I finally showed up to the party, and I felt a little awkward.

I arrived with my bag of chips in hand and a sheepish grin on my face, all apologetic for my tardiness, and tried to figure out how to take part in the festivities.

I know I don’t get the head seat, which as a natural leader bothers me. I don’t get to call all the shots, which as an outspoken person discomforts me. I have to listen and learn more than I interject and teach, and my desire to control and be “right” are going to make this so difficult and so necessary.

I am so terribly late, and it will take me a while to feel comfortable with the crowd. It’s going to take some time for me to stop berating myself for showing up as late as I did, and to own my lateness without letting it own me.

In that time, though, I will listen to, learn from, and live with those on the front lines as a no-longer absent ally.

So to those with whom I am marching, protesting, and resisting, who have been doing this work a lot longer than I: Thank you for the invitation and for still opening the door and welcoming me in when you had every right to tell me to hit the road. Thank you for giving me the grace to learn and be here with you.

I’m sorry ahead of time for the things I will say that will show how much learning about I still have to do. I’m sorry for the times I will unintentionally step on your toes and try to be the leader when I am called to be the follower. I can only hope you will forgive me and extend grace my way, even when I don’t deserve it, in your own way and time.

Above all, know I am here with you because you are made in the sacred image of God, and I want to honor the divinity within you as well as I can.

Thank you for letting me join with you as an ally.

To those in my shoes, all tied up in power and privilege, wanting to be part of this but unsure exactly how, get involved anyway you can. March, protest, talk to your representatives.

Most of all, talk with and be among those whom these policies most affect, because they will be the ones to lead these movements and make change happen, because their lives and livelihoods are on the line.

Listen to and learn from them. Don’t try to lead. Instead, follow. Let them be the leaders of their own movements. Be allies instead of saviors.

You’re going to make mistakes. Of course you are. We all do. Be quick to apologize, quick to learn, and quick to move forward.

May God be with us, and may we be with each other, in the victories and pitfalls.

*****

To learn more about being involved in social change as a privileged person, check out Christena Cleveland’s upcoming series, How to be last:  A practical theology for privileged people.

Where Do We Go From Here? Further Reflections on the Women’s March and How to Stay Involved

women

ABC News

It’s a question we’ve asked since the election and, for the more “woke” among us, even longer.

We’ve been asking since we started to wake up to what’s really going on around us, when we realized racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and ignorance are real, alive, and well.

Before, during, and after the march, we asked the question in solidarity with our sisters and allies.

It’s a question I hope we continue to ask ourselves every single day.

And it’s a question with many answers.

For some, the answer will be to keep marching, to keep calling, writing, and emailing representatives and the President himself.

For others, it will be to work on the ground and keep encouraging and empowering the marginalized.

For the creatives, it can be to keep creating art which sustains and challenges the mind and soul.

For everyone, it can be learning, reading, and listening to people, especially people of color and with different abilities, lest we make our activism purely for people exactly like us. It can be to keep taking care of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs so we can continue to race instead of collapsing after a short sprint, and to keep on honoring the One who made us all in the Divine image.

And it should definitely be a call to keep on playing, laughing, crying, screaming, cooking, teaching, writing, drawing, painting, filming, parenting, preaching, gardening, homemaking, and doing what makes us feel most alive and connected to the world around us.

But above all, the answer and challenge to us all is to keep on loving.

Keep on showing love in ways which are true to you, your passions, your personality, and your beliefs.

Keep on showing love not by being passive and bullied, but by being kind even when it isn’t nice.

Keep on loving the sacredness in humanity. Keep straining your eyes to see it when it’s barely discernible, and when the spark seems all but invisible, begin calling  it out of them.

We can keep this up, friends. We can do this work together. We must do it together.

Let’s keep running the race. Let’s keep supporting each other.

Let Love make us great.

*****

To participate in the 10 Actions/100 Days campaign, please visit the Women’s March website.

To keep your feminism intersectional (inclusive of as many voices as possible and inseparable from topics and issues of race, class, ability, gender identity, sexuality, etc.), check out this reading list from bustle.com.

Also download the Countable app to make contacting your local representatives and keeping up to date with legal news easier!

As of today, there are now FIVE prospective marches on Washington on the horizon: the Trump Taxes March on April 15, the Peoples’ Climate March on April 29, the Immigrants’ March on May 6, the National Pride March on June 11, and the Scientists’ March on Washington TBD. Follow the links for more information!

Watering the Way

Psalm 126

6    Those who sowed with tears
will reap with songs of joy.

7    Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed,
will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.

tears

DevianArt

When you mourn from lack of love and justice, let the tears flow.

When you cry out to God at your lowest and most abandoned, let the tears flow.

And when your grief and pain are beyond expression, let the groanings of the Spirit weep for you.

When you’re frustrated because people cannot understand why “All Lives Matter” isn’t enough, let the tears flow.

When you don’t know how to explain oppression to oppressors when they refuse to acknowledge its existence, let the tears flow.

When you sit at another family gathering where someone you love and admire demonizes a people group, let the tears flow.

When you march for the lives and voices of women, black and brown brothers and sisters, our LGBTQ+ family, refugees, Muslims, and all the company of the oppressed who are also the company of God, let the tears flow.

When you walk the path of justice, mercy, and humility, let the tears flow.

Because there might only be mustard seeds on that path, but they will grow into mighty, intrusive bushes which house the previously unwelcome, and they will be watered by our nourishing tears.

When we allow ourselves to open up to the plight of those the world deems “less than,” when we allow ourselves to hear the pain of their stories, when we allow our hearts to be broken by the injustices they have faced, when we move out of the way and let them share their stories of trials and trepidation to those that would silence them, then all of our tears will be ripe with the nourishment it takes to get those seeds out of the fertile, expectant ground.

The seeds are sowed, the harvest will plentiful when it comes, so let the tears fall and do their work.

A Place at the Table

A throwback to encourage y’all to be who you are and find tables that welcome you AND those no one else wants. It’s hard work, but it’s blessed work.

*****

I’ve been thinking a lot about life lately, specifically my place in it.

I’ve been to church on-and-off throughout my life, and I’ve been drawn back to it so many times that I don’t just work with one; I’m now planning to pursue a seminary degree so I can one day lead one.

It’s exciting. And nerve-wracking. And I honestly don’t know if I’ll get the money to do it.

But the thing I’m most worried about is…where is my place?

Where is my place in the Church? And in this crazy journey called life?

Where is the place for the girl who:

Watches The Simpsons and Family Guy over Veggie Tails and CTN?

Swears, thinks, worries, doubt, and talks a little too much?

Fawned over Lion King and Peter Ban instead of Belle and Cinderella?

Obsessively read Harry Potter when told it was bad?

Gets excited over the Banned Books list?

Comes from a very non-traditional family?

Pursued a degree in Philosophy and Religion over…anything practical?

Struggled with God, mercy, justice, love, equality throughout the years of being surrounded by those who seemed so certain?

Played in the marching band instead of sports?

Wants to lead boldly instead of submit quietly?

I’ve made my places at tables before. At church the spots seemed readily available, even in leadership. In band, I made my place by performing better (or worse) than others in my section.

But when it comes to Church, to ministry, to making my place in this world and giving life back after being given so much, there seems to simultaneously be too much space available and not enough.

I have so many dreams and ideas but am not sure which ones to pursue. I have so many fears and insecurities that I feel limited. I feel pressure from myself and “society” to make a decision now, and my feet are frozen in doubt.

I know a bit of what my place is not. I know I cannot work in an office, or simply be a scholar, or only be deemed worthy as someone’s wife and mother.

I also know the craziness and chaos of life in ministry. I worry that the constant pouring into others will drain me to unforgivable exhaustion, and I fear the harsh words from those who question whether or not I’m fit for my vocation, for every reason from my sex to my story.

But if I say with so many others that Jesus makes room for everyone at His Table, and if everyone truly means everyone, from the sinners and saints, the rich and poor, the gay and straight, the USA and the world, Christians and Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists and Jews, I’ve got to accept that I’m part of that glorious Everyone, too.

But where will I sit at such an elaborate table?

Guiding Stars

star

Blogspot

My 2017 started with preaching! I delivered this sermon on 1/1/17 to the Shenandoah United Methodist Charge (Fields UMC and Christ UMC) at the 9:30 AM and 11 AM services respectively, where I also serve as secretary.

*****

Epiphanies are manifestations, striking appearances which appear to us quietly or crash into us in the midst of ordinary life. They are minor and necessary disturbances.

That’s why today is known as “Epiphany Sunday,” because we remember the striking appearance of the star which led the wise men to Jesus. This is the day we remember how the foreigners, not the Jews of Jesus’ time, discovered the epiphany of the word of God made flesh.

Today is also the first day of this new year, 2017. The last year has been, for many, tumultuous and exhausting, filled with loss and pain. This day, we hope to begin a new year with clean slates and hearts full of hope. No matter what the previous year was like, we hope each new year will be better than the last.

So on the same day, we celebrate both the joy of a group of outsiders finding Jesus and the beginning of a new year after one of much division and fear. We are both celebrating and searching for Epiphany.

This is very much like my own faith journey. I have encountered beautiful manifestations of Christ and sought his presence simultaneously.

I grew up in a Pentecostal church and had the love and support of my small group, youth pastor, and best friend. Together, they helped me find God in ways I didn’t expect. In many ways, they were the stars that guided me at this point in my faith journey. One of the ways they significantly directed me was in my decision to attend an event called Winterfest when I was 15.

Winterfest was the ultimate Pentecostal revival and unofficial initiation for the high school members of my youth group. I remember seeing videos from the previous Winterfests, showcasing fun days spent at Pigeon Forge adventure park and passionate nights being “slain in the Spirit.” Despite my initial discomfort with such public displays of spiritual affection, my curiosity got the better of me, and I signed up my freshman year.

The weekend culminated in an intense sermon given by a fiery pastor, his powerful message amplified by four JumboTron screens. I knew the man had set the stage for a true Pentecostal conversion and felt the passionate emotions rising within me. 

But the Pentecostal switch didn’t flip in me. Despite the passion and conviction I felt, the “real” experience wasn’t happening. I was on the outside looking in at this ecstatic group as the Spirit rained down on them, thinking God had abandoned me.

I was lonely in this crowded arena, so I sulked away to an emptier part of the stadium and made my own solo efforts of prayer, petition, and grumbling to God. I begged for the love and presence of God that supposedly never failed, left, or gave up on me.

Eventually I did find myself on my knees and crying, but instead of tears of spiritual ecstasy, mine were tears of abandonment and loneliness.

In my desperation, my high school small group gathered around me. I felt their hands upon me, heard their whispered prayers of encouragement and love, just as I had during our weekly meetings. I found myself surrounded by the ones who knew my own insecurities and crushing anxieties. When I opened my eyes and saw them around me, I heard the words that began to heal my wounds: You are not alone. I am here. I will always be here.

These were the words of God, who I so desperately wanted to meet but feared. And he quietly met me where I was in my stadium section, surrounded by a group of people who loved me.

This experience of epiphany first brought me to God. This epiphany manifested in a quiet moment made so powerful by God’s love, and my small group friends helped make it happen.

I experienced another, but more drawn out and, on the surface, less joyful epiphany during my senior year at Bridgewater College.

I was taking a Senior Seminar class during Fall Semester, and our topic was Clashes of Culture. To me, it seemed as if this class was tailor made to rip the rug of my faith from under my feet, turning everything which I held dear as the bedrock of my life into out-dated rags fit for no one.

I had so many questions that I was afraid to ask, not because I thought they would be brushed aside, but because I feared cookie-cutter answers and Band-Aids over wounds that needed further medical treatment, maybe even some surgery. I feared asking questions because I feared being treated like a project, and I didn’t want people to pray that I would have more faith to overcome my doubt so I could conform once again to their proper mold.

The mold that had given me life and purpose left me feeling claustrophobic and fake. I knew if I stayed within this mold, if my questions remained in the dark of my fear and never saw the light of my confession, my faith would die.

Then I found a counselor at school named Randy. He wasn’t threatened by my questions, and he prayed with me at the end of each session. I remember talking to him about my doubts, and we started talking about Thomas, the disciple. I had always thought Thomas was a bad example for “good Christian people,” and I worried because I found myself relating a lot to him, but Randy challenged that notion. To Randy, Thomas didn’t doubt because he cared too little about Jesus and the Gospel; he doubted because he cared so much. He doubted because he took Jesus’ life, message, and death seriously, and if people were going around saying that Jesus was back, Thomas wanted to make sure Jesus’ message remained true and didn’t become another myth or tall tale. Thomas cared SO much, not so little, about the implications of Jesus’ return that he knew better than to take them lightly, and he expressed the importance of his faith in Jesus in doubting.

In acknowledging my doubts, I fond life. I refused to let my faith die. It became alive and less stagnant, a living, breathing organism instead of a frigid set of rules and beliefs.

So as I started wrestling with my questions, I realized I was finding God in service to others. I found God in the children who came to the mentoring program I coordinated, the ones deemed “at-risk,” who came from families where English wasn’t the first language or from single-parent or low income families. I met refugees and homeless people and shared stories with them. I went to seminary and befriended professors and students alike who had steadfast faith and still asked a lot of honest questions. I found out God loved all of these people, and God gave me a calling to be their pastor.

At Winterfest, God told me, “You are not alone. I am here. I will always be here.” During my crisis and the troubled times within it, God told me “They are not alone. I am with them. I will always be with them.”

Both of my Epiphany moments taught me about Emmanuel, God with us, and both have been significant to my faith journey. In one, God reminded me of God’s presence with and love for me, and in the other, God reminded me of God’s presence with and love for others, especially the ones I feared and disliked. In one, God began my salvation journey, and in another, God began calling me to ministry, both of which continue to unfold. The two are not exclusive. 

So as we begin a new year, and as we remember the Epiphany, of the wise men finally finding Jesus and giving him their gifts to commemorate his status as once and future king of Creation, how will we take on new chances to serve and worship God?

This year, let us ask ourselves, as we should each year: What gifts will I bring to God? How will I do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God each day? In what areas is God calling me to grow in awareness of God’s presence? How will I become more aware of epiphanies every day and keep my heart open to God’s daily revelations?\

As is the case with my story, all epiphanies are powerful, but not all of them are pleasant. They can be gentle, and they can be tough. They can lift us up, and they can humble us. They can comfort us, and they can challenge the things we hold most dear and certain.

But they are always there, and God is always revealing them to us. How will we become more aware of them this year, by God’s grace?

Salvation is…Here?

As we prepare to remember the birth of Jesus and the gift of salvation, I want to share this reflection I shared 4 years ago about “being saved.” Enjoy!

*****

I used to think I had salvation figured out.

I used to think it was as easy as saying a prayer, or as powerful as experiencing an altar call. I used to think it happened in a moment, and a big one at that. I used to think tears and singing and lifted hands and quitting major addictions were a necessity.

I used to think it was a once in a lifetime thing. Once it happened, you were good to go.

But I also used to think you had to work for it, that it could be lost when you slipped up, when you didn’t do everything right, or when you weren’t perfect. For a time I worried that no matter what I did, I had to be part of a “chosen elect” to be in the safe zone.

I used to think salvation was all about being safe from God. I used to think I had to say the prayers and do the things so that God would like me enough to let his bouncer St. John take down the velvet rope and let me into His club.

And to be entirely honest, a part of me still believes all of this. In the perfection, in the glamour, in the earth-shattering, charismatic revival and even the elitist version of salvation.

But now, it’s becoming something different. It’s becoming something more than this.

Maybe it’s because after having so many “big” experiences, I still felt trapped by so much. Anxiety. Insecurity. Self-doubt. Fear of abandonment. And if I was to believe that salvation was a one-time thing, I was led to wonder if I had ever truly experienced it in the first place.

To me, salvation was being immediately transformed by God so I could be close with Him. In my youth, salvation was simply an affirming feeling, a warm, fuzzy, God-loves-me-all-the-time feeling. But it wasn’t immediate. And I didn’t always feel so close to God. And I was left fearing that I was still so very distant from the God I wanted to love me for who I was.

These questions always lay at the back of my mind, but it wasn’t until my senior year of college that I actually started to sit with them.

Suddenly, salvation wasn’t as cut-and-dry as I’d always imagined it to be. Suddenly, salvation became bigger and more beautiful than I could have imagined. And suddenly, it wasn’t as easy or simple as I’d hoped it would be.

Suddenly, salvation wasn’t something that just happened, suddenly or not. Instead, I began to see it as a process.

A process of being set free from all the things I allow to hold me back from becoming who I’m meant to be.

A process learning, day by day, that fear, death, pain and hate do not have the last word in this world.

A  process of living into the truth that God loves me, that I am a gift, because I am me.

A process of learning to accept myself for who I am, with all my strengths, weaknesses, and quirks, and to fully embrace myself so I can fully give of myself.

I remember when a little book called Love Wins came out a few years ago. I remember it generated a lot of controversy because it dealt with heaven, hell, and salvation. I remember people accusing Rob Bell of being a heretic, a universalist, a “lukewarm” and “lying” Christian who was leading others astray with his words.

And then I read the book after a long season of doubts and questions (which still continues on and off to this day), and I was surprised to find that I identified with the words of this “heretic.” And I don’t believe I enjoyed his words because they made the Gospel look “easy” or “not important.”

In fact, his ideas made the Gospel bigger and all the more challenging to me. And that was because in his book, he dared to ask this big, controversial, and all-together beautiful question:

What if heaven isn’t just a place we try to get to when we die? What if it is here, on earth, in the ever day lives we live?

I can understand why this question alone is controversial. We like to keep things that are “sacred” away from things that are “secular,” or “profane,” or “worldly.”

And I get that. I understand that whenever I hear of murders, sex trafficking, senseless violence, disasters, and other tragedies, it’s hard to imagine heaven in some other dimension, let alone here on earth. I understand that when I look at the way people treat others and how they interact in relationships. it’s hard to imagine God creating us to be “good” and a lot easier to see humanity as “deprived” and evil. More often than not, it’s a lot easier to see Hell on earth than it is to see any glimpse of heaven in it.

But I see so many little glimpses of heaven on earth, of salvation being and happening among us, that I cannot help but believe that heaven is more than a distant kingdom. I see these glimpses when I play Wii baseball with my Little Sister, in the girls I mentor, in the Farmer’s Market vendors who give their extra produce to local pantries, in the arms of those who love me, who tell me that I am perfect as I am and listen to my stories.

And tonight, I saw a heaven shining brightly when two cars stopped in the middle of Route 11 to make sure a mama duck and her babies made it across the road safely.

Seriously. I almost cried when I saw this.

Because now, this is salvation. This is heaven on earth. This is God restoring His Creation, making it new day by day, setting us free from all that prevents us from loving God, ourselves, and others. This is God saving me from myself, saving you from yourself.

Because when one of us hurts, many of us hurt.

And when one of us is healed, many of us are healed.

We are all connected, and we are all bound to and weighed down by so much. All of us need set free, from our own fears, our own pressures, our own anxieties, our own addictions, and our own pasts.

So this salvation has turned out to be a lot more difficult than saying a prayer once in your life. This salvation involves a lot of grace, a lot of dedication, and a lot of work. It involves owning our pains and struggles, owning our faults and sins, and knowing that we are so deeply loved regardless. And it involves hearing the pains, struggles, faults, and sins of others, and telling them that just as we are loved and matter, so do they love and matter.

Because if the Truth shall set us free, and the most beautiful Truth of all is Love, then Love shall set us all free in the end.

In the end, Love is Salvation. And while it’s not always easy, it’s always worth it.