Tag Archives: Struggle

I Basically threw up on the page here…

 

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My mom told me she misses my writing.

Sometimes I wonder if she is the only one reading. You know how it is when you create something? A poem, a blog post, a song, a photograph…whatever it is, you can keep it to yourself or you can put it “out there”. But once you let it go, once you invite people in, everything changes.  Because as human beings, we like to be liked.  We enjoy admiration.  Some of us, like me, put a lot of stock in what people think.  Mostly I like to not upset anyone. My love language is Words of Affirmation.

But here’s the catch. If you are creating, speaking, writing, sharing, and everyone loves you that seems kind of boring right? And if art doesn’t compel us to think or dream or imagine or discuss or change or grow, then what do we need it for? Beauty… yes, I get that… but even beauty is subjective.

More than anything right now in my life I feel I feel compelled to speak and write and pray about and wrestle with the questions.  I used to be afraid of the questions because they meant I didn’t know. And early on I made knowledge an idol.  But now I know I don’t know. You guys, we don’t know. None of us know. So to pretend we do is silly and all of us pretending has led us to this place. Two sides, both digging their heels in, declaring themselves the smarter, better, more righteous side. Pick any topic and that’s where we are…divided.

Yet, I stand in the middle. Literally. I’m such a contradiction. But aren’t we all really? We are not the caricatures portrayed on the evening news.  I feel so frustrated being defined by other people. I will say who I am, what I think, what I believe but you don’t have that right. Stop making assumptions. You think you know everything about me because I love Jesus? Please. And because I’m a woman? Heck, I know lots of women and none of us agree on everything.  Because I’m a wife, a mother, a yogi? Because I’m white? Because I went to college?  Yes, all of these things are factors in my experience but you guys…honestly, we have to stop pigeonholing people.

Listening is key here. I hope on the podcasts to bring stories to you from people who are willing to be vulnerable and wrestle with the questions too. Sometimes our “YES!” is a surrender. Which is weird, right?  We think of our “YES!” being active and goal oriented and sometimes it is but before we can write the book, start the ministry, open the business, begin the non-profit…we must do the hard work.  We are invited to the still small voice…the tender whisper in the dead of night. The biggest “YES!” is often humble and quiet and not what you want at the time. It’s the “YES!” that begins the transformation. The willingness to open your heart and mind to something new.  You becoming the YOU that you are meant to be.

I have so many things I wrestle with…I’m going to start with the toughest one for me right now.  When I say tough, I mean shedding tears tough.  Because I’m wired this way, when I am struggling with something, I read and listen and dig in like it’s my job.  I’m prepared to say this one is the one that has never gone away for me. It feels like my life’s work. Internally and maybe externally too. It feels like the thing I need to write about and talk about and struggle with because it matters. It’s never resolved and never will be resolved and that’s where my angst lies. I don’t even know how to word it. It’s going to be messy. Here goes…I love Jesus but I don’t like religion. I have been frustrated and disappointed and angry and disgusted by church. I see hypocrisy and it makes my stomach churn. I have decided I can say, “I’m a Jesus follower and not a religious person” and I’ve felt good about that in some ways but not completely satisfied. Because I have a heart for church.  I love community. I love people. Following Jesus isn’t something we should do alone. We are not wired that way. We all want and need a place to belong.

My favorite stories in the Bible are when Jesus acts the opposite of what the religious leaders think and expect. He’s constantly telling them they are way off.  I love Him so much. He showed us the way to love the outcast. But with religion oftentimes we only allow the people in who look and act and think like us. Forgive us Lord.

I love the quote that says that church is, “A hospital for the sick, not a museum for saints”. And when I say the sick, check yourself…I mean you. And me. Not just the other guy.  We are all sick and in need of a Savior. Yet, sometimes people don’t feel welcome in church so they sit it out and we all miss out on knowing them and growing from their presence.  What does community look like for Jesus follower?

A pastor at our church told us that helping the refugee (called the foreigner in the Scriptures) is not “a Liberal agenda item”…it’s the Gospel.  He said that right in the middle of the election season. At that moment, I was pretty excited about church. (It ebbs and flows) Because I felt conviction in my heart. I felt like God was looking into my heart and saying…”Hey you…this matters…listen up!” The truth is I’m scared of refugees and I’m afraid of the unknown. I like rules and order and predictable outcomes. But Jesus asks me to be open to the messy and unpredictable because that’s where the growth and beauty and truth can be found. He keeps asking me if I’m willing to let my world be rocked and my thinking be challenged and my boundaries to expand.  Am I ready and willing to be uncomfortable?

Following Jesus is uncomfortable.  It’s not all cute quotes on Instagram (although I love those!) and pretty outfits and beautiful music on Sundays. When someone calls me religious, I cringe. Even the word, “Christian” drudges up some baggage that I’m not willing to claim.

I claim Jesus. I follow Him. And I’m asking Him…what would you have me say to the refugee? How do I love the LGBTQ friend? How am I called to minister to the poor? How can I participate in healing this broken world? How does being a Jesus follower play out in the political arena? What does love look like in 2017? Can I forgive churches for not being what we want and need them to be? Can God reconcile all my contradictions? Do they need to be reconciled? How can we be the church?

So I guess I’m asking…will you be messy with me?  Can we talk about the tough stuff?

My pastor said the other day, “The answer to racism is the Gospel”. And I agree.  Because the Gospel brings transformation of heart and mind.  When we know Jesus, we see the world and people through the lens of sameness. I mean that in the best way. The Namaste way. The light in me sees the light in you. No masks, no fear, no difference.  Our insides recognizing each other…the recognition of God within us.

I’m excited about these conversations.  I hope you are too. “Do not be afraid”, I hear Him saying. We can handle this. And it’s time.

©2017 Sue Bidstrup, All Rights Reserved, Great Big YES™

A Mother’s Prayer

 

She woke up today with a heavy heart.

Anxiety pierced her chest.

Slushing through the breakfast routine she wondered why.

Fell asleep reading a book about minors being stolen and trafficked.

Could wreak havoc on even the most hopeful mind.

Studying, learning, praying, demanding some sort of safe haven for these sweet souls bought and sold. Bought and sold. Mercy Lord. Your daughters and sons. Like property.

Her stomach hurts and she considers going back to bed. 

Nagging uncomfortable feeling persists and she remembers more.

Good people she knows looking for son. He’s lost. Find him Lord.

Other mothers that are dear mourn their lost children.

Friends struggle through teaching right and wrong. Boundaries. You are worthy. You are loved.

This too shall pass.

It will be better in the morning.

Except when it’s not.

I was told motherhood is the great equalizer and that is true. You pray for me I’ll pray for you.

It’s all we can do really.

Money, connections, family, friends, education, they don’t guarantee anything.

It’s a rocky road we travel. It’s an unsteady balance beam and we can’t strut here.

We walk tentatively. We focus our gaze.On you Lord.

Light.

Like Peter we lose focus, we look away. We fall. This reminds us to look at you again. We regain balance.

Only you know Lord. And you love us. You love our kids more than we do. Although I can’t imagine.

We read books and we share what we know and we love and we hold and we pray.

We tuck in and we snuggle and we laugh and we do homework and make sandwiches and drive and text and call and do laundry.

We cheer from the stands and we cry in cars alone. We buy things and fix things and anxiously await results.

We teach and we hug and we provide and we pray some more.

Lord, protect my baby.

Stay right there beside him even when he’s six feet tall.

Don’t ever leave her.

Remind him who he is when he forgets.

Love her when I’m not there Lord.

Have his back.

Guard her heart.

I’m sorry for complaining when I was tired or angry or hungry or lonely.

Lord, this gift. This gift.

Thank you. 

 

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©2015 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™, All Rights Reserved

What’s the point?

I wonder, is there a time in everyone’s life when the surface stuff seems really pointless?  I mean, does everyone get to the point where they say, “There has to be more to life”?

I feel that so keenly at this point in my life.  Maybe it’s because I have kids.  Maybe it’s because I’ve lost people I love, maybe because I’ve seen destruction and sadness and disease and addiction and divorce and death.  I’ve seen healthy young fathers die suddenly and tragically, I’ve known children diagnosed with cancer or brain tumors, I’ve known kids who suffer with epilepsy and I’ve seen their parents struggle to find answers, I’ve seen families torn apart, I’ve witnessed lying and cheating and stealing.  I’ve been part of relationships that are in need of healing and reconciliation.  I’ve sinned.  I’ve fallen short.

I’ve known the people with the perfect house, perfect cars, perfect clothes, perfect kids, and I’ve heard from them about the unrest in their hearts.  I know there is no such thing as perfect yet I’ve spent time striving.  I’ve strived and I’ve achieved and even after I’ve gotten  what I wanted, what I’ve worked for, what I thought I needed, I’ve realized it’s not enough.   I’ve seen the lies that undermine us.  I’ve heard the secrets behind closed doors.  I’ve watched things fall apart.  I’ve been scared.  I’ve asked the question, “What if all this is all there is?” and that thought has left me hopeless.  This can’t be it I think…no way…it’s so empty.

I seek for meaning.

I seek because I know I don’t have all the answers and some days I don’t feel like I have any answers.  Some days I’m mean and cranky and bone tired.  Some days I gossip and lash out.  Some days I refuse to forgive.  Some days the question, “What’s for dinner?” sends me into an angry tailspin…”no one “gets” me…I’m not a cook…should I go back to work?…why are there empty water bottles in the yard?…why are there food crumbs all over the couch?…Why does it cost $75.00 to fill up my gas tank?…How did I gain 5 pounds since YESTERDAY!…what’s the point of all this?”

What is the point?

This is the question that leads people to seek for something spiritual to hang on to.  I believe we all get to this question.  To me, this is the most exciting question of all questions!

I wrote a blog post about my friend (“Mountain Climbing”) and he commented on it.  I’m worried no one will see the comment since it was a couple posts ago so I’m copying it and printing it here.  It’s really good and really honest and I didn’t want you to miss it.  These are his words:

Allow me explain my point of view on climbing, life and religion. I’m an atheist. But I do believe in spirituality. To me, spirituality has nothing to do with religion or God. My definition of spirituality is the thing that makes you feel whole. The thing that makes you warm inside. The thing makes you feel like you are part of a bigger thing or purpose. The thing that makes you feel like everything is going to be ok. The thing that makes you feel insignificant yet huge at the same time. For a lot of people, this thing is religion. Religion makes them feel whole.

For me, it’s nature. Being on a mountain and looking down, sticking my head in an ice cold raging stream, laying on a giant rock that’s warm from the sun, wrapping my arms around a 100 year old tree, seeing bazillions of stars at night, looking out over an ocean or an endless prairie and hearing the sound of silence. All these things make me feel whole. They make me warm inside.

Spirituality is something that everybody needs in their life. Life sucks without it. I don’t believe in God, but if someone chooses God because it gives them spirituality, then I respect that. Some people spend their whole life searching for the one thing that makes them feel good and never find it. You’ve found yours in religion. I’ve found mine on a mountain.  They are similar yet so different. 

We are all seekers.  We are all looking for something that will make us “feel like everything is going to be ok”.

Where are you seeking?

I heard Diane Sawyer talking about a father who asks his kids every night, “What good questions did you ask in school today?”  Isn’t that great?  I want to encourage my kids to ask good questions.  Heck, I want to ask good questions.

Some “religious” people shy away from asking questions, some are afraid.   Some “religious” people think it’s wrong to doubt or to wonder or to seek.  I don’t.  But then again, I don’t call myself a “religious” person.  I have to correct my friend in that one part of his comment.  I have not found my spirituality in religion.  I have found my hope in Jesus Christ.  This is different.  It’s a critical distinction for me.

Religion in the dictionary means:  a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

I am a member of a church and I think community is a very important part of living life as a Christian.  However, Religion can be messy and political and flawed and cumbersome and hypocritical and boring – not always but sometimes. I even believe there are times when “religion” can actually get in the way of a personal relationship with Christ.  I keep it simple.  I seek Jesus.  Jesus is love.

I’m getting to know Jesus better and His Father God and the beautiful gift of the Holy Spirit.  The more I learn the more excited I become to find out what’s next for me and for the world.  But in order to get to what’s next, I must seek and ask and follow where I feel I’m being led even when I don’t have the answers.  It seems the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.

I do know my God is big enough and strong enough and real enough to walk with me wherever I go.  He’s not going to leave me because I question.

In fact, I picture Him asking me at the end of each day, “What good questions did you ask today?”

What about you?  How would you answer?

©2012 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved