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Never Dead Enough

This is an essay I wrote for SheLoves Magazine a few years ago. I’m re-posting it because I needed to read it again. It was officially written for Good Friday and Easter. But we can have cold, dead hearts all year long. We need life and resurrection every day. So here it is again.

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Never Dead Enough

In her Pulitzer Prize winning book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard describes a desert plant, Ibervillea sonorae. This member of the gourd family looks like dead wood, with no roots and no stems, like a lump of coal. Lifeless, beauty-less, connected to nothing, producing nothing. “If the rain arrives, it grows flowers and fruits; these soon whither away, and it reverts to a state as quiet as driftwood.” Hoping for rain. Waiting for water. Once, in the New York Botanical Gardens, the Ibervillea sonorae waited seven years, patient and still, alive but with no water. In the eighth dry year, the plant died.

How dead does something have to appear before it is dead? How dry and lifeless and alone and fruitless does something have to be before it is actually, and finally, beyond hope? Stories of desperation, need, hopelessness, and destructive sin are all over the word of God.

Caught between Pharaoh’s furious army and the raging Red Sea. The only son of a couple who battled infertility into their old age lies cold and still. A king mired in lust and murder. A widowed foreigner and her childless mother-in-law, gathering life from discarded grain. A man being slowly digested by the stomach juices of a giant fish. Four hundred years of God’s silence.

A virgin, pregnant out of wed-lock, and could face charges of adultery and the punishment of stoning. Five thousand hungry men, plus women and children, and nothing to feed them. A man dead and buried in a tomb for four days. People plagued by leprosy and shunned by the entire community. A man blind from birth. A woman isolated, drawing water from the well alone. A crown of thorns, a bloodied back, nail-pierced flesh, and a sword in the side. Three days in a tomb.

But these things aren’t the end of the story.

How dead does something have to be for God to give up on it? All around looks like Friday. Ibervillea sonorae in the desert. Children, lifeless and unmoving. Sin and danger. Accusations. Need and disease. The Word made flesh, emptied of breath.

But Jesus says, “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living for to him, all are alive.” And Jesus says, “Come to me.” And God says, “Where, O death is your sting?”

Come to the God of the living. Come. Bring your dead and dying things. Bring them here, where there is no more sting.

Bring your losses and discouragements. Bring your betrayals and failures, your consistent sins. The gossip and the greed and the laziness and the pride. Bring the loneliness and barrenness. The bed with one side cold and unwrinkled. The no-longer-needed elementary school backpack. The wedding ring thrown into the corner of the underwear drawer. The chemotherapy. The what-ifs and the if-onlys. The disappointment and rejection and regret. The addiction and affliction. The cheating and the cheated and the cheater. Bring the emptiness and the need and the longing. Bring it and lay it down and wait and see.

Nothing is dead enough.

Today might feel like Friday, but Sunday’s coming.

Nothing is ever dead enough. Are you ready for a resurrection?

What is your Ibervillea sonorae that needs to be revived? What are the dead and dying things in your life that God wants to resurrect?

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By |December 5th, 2016|Categories: Faith|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Closing the Confidence Gap

This essay was originally published at She Loves in 2014.

Closing the Confidence Gap

In June The Atlantic published an articled called The Confidence Gap, which cited evidence that women are less self-assured than men. They found that confidence affected success just as much as competence and that women, in general, suffer an acute lack of confidence compared with men.

Even female leaders, women at the top of their careers—investment bankers, pioneering engineers, WNBA stars—revealed that they are plagued by self-doubt, that they feel they came across their success by luck rather than skill, that they feel like imposters or frauds, undeserving. Women don’t consider themselves as worthy as men for promotions, predict they will do worse on tests, underestimate their abilities, are less likely to ask for raises and if they do ask, they ask for less. Unless they feel 100 percent confident, or borderline perfect, a woman is less likely to take a risk or initiate something new.

“Having talent isn’t merely about being competent; confidence is a part of that talent. You have to have it to excel.”

Women are more likely than men to blame themselves. In a tough course at school, men will say, “That was a hard class.” Women will say, “I wasn’t smart enough.” Women fixate on performance and are more likely to strive for perfectionism which, ironically, keeps them from getting anything done.

This little post cannot do the article justice and I encourage you to go read it, take the confidence test at the end, and then work toward change. I took the test and, to no one’s surprise, ended up with lower than average confidence.

My husband read the bios of writers at a site I write for and he commented that almost all the women included sentences like, “trying and failing to …” or “blundering through …” or “a life filled with mistakes …” while few of the men’s bios included these kinds of caveats and disclaimers.

Knock it off!

Seriously. Knock it off. (Me, too.)

I didn’t write for my school paper in high school or college. I wanted to, but I was afraid. I didn’t study creative writing. I wanted to but I was afraid (instead I studied an equally useless-when-it-comes-to-getting-a-job-degree). Afraid of what? That I wasn’t good enough. That putting my desire out so clearly to the world and then failing at it would be worse than not going for it at all. That is the confidence gap, it is timidity and cowardice and I have spent the past few years trying to wrench myself out of that gap.

How about you?

Can you look at the work you do and say, “I am good at that?”

Look at your painting, your pottery, the sermon you wrote, your diaper-changing, the meal you created last night. Look at your essay and your photography and the blanket you knit and the math class you taught. Look at the surgery you performed and the bill you got passed through congress and the hairstyle you designed. Look at the financial portfolio you managed and the house you sold and the client you represented and the blog post you wrote and the baby you nursed at three in the morning. Look at the committee you chaired and the 5k you ran and the leadership you provided.

Look at the labor of your hands, your mind, your voice, your imagination.

Look at the work you do and say, “I am good at that.” Look at the work you dream of doing and say, “I would be good at that.” And then do it.

“The natural result of low confidence is inaction. When women hesitate because we aren’t sure, we hold ourselves back.”

Don’t hesitate. Act. Risk. Initiate. Lead.

Let’s close the confidence gap.

Fear, Muslims, and Franklin Graham

Quick link: Afraid of Muslims?

Today I am back at SheLoves Magazine to join them in an important conversation, a response to Franklin Graham’s recent inflammatory words about Muslims and immigration. Others have already written beautifully on this, most notably Marilyn Gardner, this piece simply aims at starting a conversation.

Did you know that an American in America is more likely to be killed by their refrigerator than by a Muslim terrorist? Are you afraid of your fridge?

Fear, Muslims, and Franklin Graham

Are you afraid of your toddler? Are you afraid of your dog?

Are you afraid of Muslims? I say “Muslims” instead of “terrorists” because, as media outlets and Franklin Graham apparently want us to believe, the two words are synonymous.

Franklin Graham seems to believe we should be afraid of Muslims and that we are at war with Muslims both in the US and abroad. A few weeks ago he said immigration needs to be closed to Muslims, that we are under attack. He isn’t alone in this kind of ignorant fear-mongering. Over 160,000 people liked his Facebook post.

In the United States in 2013, three people were killed by terrorists (who were Muslim), all three at the Boston Marathon. That same year, five people were shot by gun-wielding toddlers, and about 34 died of dog bites.

Why didn’t Graham insist we prohibit toddlers inside our borders? Why hasn’t he called for a moratorium on dog ownership?…

To read more and to join the conversation, click here: Afraid of Muslims?

*”Ground Zero Mosque Supporters 4” by David Shankbone from USA – Ground Zero Mosque Protesters.

 

Closing the Confidence Gap, SheLoves

Quick link: Closing the Confidence Gap

Today I’m writing at SheLoves about leadership, confidence, girls…

closing the confidence gap

In June The Atlantic published an articled called The Confidence Gap, which cited evidence that women are less self-assured than men. They found that confidence affected success just as much as competence and that women, in general, suffer an acute lack of confidence compared with men.

Even female leaders, women at the top of their careers – investment bankers, pioneering engineers, WNBA stars – revealed that they are plagued by self-doubt, that they feel they came across their success by luck rather than skill, that they feel like imposters or frauds, undeserving. Women don’t consider themselves as worthy as men for promotions, predict they will do worse on tests, underestimate their abilities, are less likely to ask for raises and if they do ask, they ask for less. Unless they feel 100% confident, or borderline perfect, a woman is less likely to take a risk or initiate something new.

Included in the online article was a link to a test that would reveal your level of confidence. I took the test and, well, either you know me well or you’ll have to read the SheLoves piece to learn what my results were.

Click here to read the rest of Closing the Confidence Gap

*image via Flickr

By |September 19th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , |2 Comments

SheLoves: An Allegory

Quick link: An Allegory of Faithfulness

Today I’m writing at SheLoves about a precious and obscure allegory from the Old Testament book of Ezekiel. This story was impressed upon me about fifteen years ago during a struggle I had with accepting God’s love. I had somehow concluded that he loved men more than women. Through prayer, a vision of a woman wearing all white, and a powerful encounter with truth in his word, my heart started to thaw and my eyes started to open and I was able to glimpse and grasp a mere infinitesimal aspect of the profound love God has for me, as he created me.

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It is a tale of grief and restoration, tragedy and redemption. And it is a tale of warning. It is a precious passage of scripture tucked away between woe and condemnation and despair and graphic imagery of donkeys’ sexual organs and sacrificing children. When was the last time you lingered over Ezekiel 16?

It is an allegory of God’s unwavering faithfulness to unfaithful Jerusalem whose people prostituted themselves to false gods. It is also a tale of beauty hidden and revealed, beauty esteemed and abused.

Click here to read more of An Allegory of Faithfulness

*image via Flickr

By |August 15th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |0 Comments
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