Saturday, July 19, 2008

Posted by Erin Posted on 2:50 AM | 3 comments

Becoming Broken and Whole



It is the greatest paradox of life that in order to become whole, one must be completely broken.

I was going to wait until next month to write this entry. It is a reflection on the last year of my life. August 14th will be exactly a year that I have been searching for a job and filling my months with random short-term sources of income. Would I ever have imagined this year? Of course not. Would I ever have planned or hoped for twelve months of uncertainty. Heck no. Do I want this season to come to a close? You bet your britches. But still, I am so inexplicably thankful for these past months.

I have hurt like never before. I have felt forgotten and abandoned. I have wondered if walking with God is worth it. I have been angry with the Lord and been bold enough to let Him know it. I have screamed and cried and melted into a pile of emotional goo before the throne of my King. And in His goodness, He has let me punch the air. He has quietly sat as my dreams for a smooth transition from college to career shattered. He seemed to do nothing as the hopes I had for life after college were dashed against the rocks of reality. And I have learned that there is purpose in the silence of God.

Through most of this year, about 8 months, I have been reading a book by Larry Crabb called "Shattered Dreams". (Yes, it is ridiculous that it has taken me 8 months to read this 200 page book but I needed that much time to really digest it.) It has been a hard read, a slap in the face, but it has been so good. It is full of hard truth, the kind that we all need, usually when we least want it. I want to share some of my favorite quotes from the book.

(in regards to Jesus telling the disciples that we should be like children)-"He was recommending brokenness-something we live to avoid." (Ouch)

"We are not defined by the things we suffer."

(In heaven)"Pain will have no purpose so it will not be allowed. Our appetites will be straightened out. We will not desire the good above the best."

"Church is too often a place of pretense and therefore a place without hope. When brokenness is disdained, where the real story is never told, the power of God is not felt. Where brokenness is invited and received with grace, the gospel comes alive with hope."

"When the deepest desire we feel is for something other than God, a spirit of entitlement develops. We see ourselves as needing something we don't have, and we believe we should have. ...Prayer becomes demand when desire becomes our tyrant."

"Discovering our desire for God introduces us to a whole new world of hurt. When we realize how badly we want him, he seemingly disappears.But it's a hopeful hurt. It doesn't feel exactly good, but it does feel clean. Through our tears we can actually sing 'Great is Thy Faithfulness' and 'It is Well with My Soul'. We can even sing 'I Love You Lord' not without an ache in our hearts, but somehow through the ache."

"There are times in life when it would be easier to not believe in God at all than to believe in Him and wonder where He is."

(In regards to responding when life causes you to doubt...He offers 3 options, this being the best of the three) "Scream and holler until the terror of life so weighs you down that you discover solid ground beneath your feet. The solid ground is not doctrine. It is not merely truth to believe. It is not recommitment and trying harder to to believe and do right. It is Him. It is our awareness of a Christ whose passion to bless is so strong that His restraint becomes not a cause for complaint, but a sacred and appealing mystery."

"God's restraint has purpose. When He appears to be doing nothing, He is doing something we've not yet learned to value and therefore cannot see."

"I wish you brokenness because I wish you joy."

"In our day of feel-good Christianity, we have come up with a wrong view of our spiritual journey. We think of suffering as something abnormal, as evidence that we lack faith. We work so hard to escape suffering that we fail to realize what good things might be happening in us as we suffer. But that's wrong. That's more Buddhist than Christian."

"The problem is with our blessing-based, happiness-centered understanding of goodness. It is too small. And with our small idea of goodness, we dream small dreams , and small dreams lead to small prayers."

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God does what is best for us. He insists that even in our pain, he is doing us good. It is probably the hardest thing to believe. I believe God loves me. I believe He is a just God, He is wise and kind and creator. But to believe that He is doing what is best for me, when ever fiber of my soul shrinks from the aching of my dreams crumbling...that is nearly impossible. Except that it is in the shattering of our small dreams that our highest dream is stirred. Eventually that kicking and screaming and being angry with God subsides and what is left is a desire to walk with God, to know Him before anything else. The pain doesn't necessarily vanish and circumstances are not magically restored. But now, as I cry and as I ache, I have an incredible peace.

It is funny to me that a month into this season of job searching, I was freaking out. I was frantic about finding a job. Now, almost a year later, although I still want to find a job, I can rest. I do not worry about income. No freaking out. I still have a day here and there when I allow anxiety to creep in, but for the most part, I rest in knowing that my highest dream cannot shatter. I can know God intimately and one day I will see him face to face.

There is one last quote from a letter in the book. I want to end with this because I think this sums up the whole thing. This guy gets it:

""Faith, as I am growing to understand it more, is about looking beyond my circumstances to a person. To have faith in better circumstances, even in God creating better circumstances, is not true faith. I want to be the kind of man who can watch every dream go down in flames and still yearn to be intimately involved in kingdom living, intimately involved with my friend the King, and still be willing to take another risk just because it delights Him for me to do so. And my flesh shivers to think about it."

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Posted by Erin Posted on 1:27 PM | No comments

Becoming a Volunteer Coordinator


You may or may not know that I recently interviewed for a teaching position at an early education center. Well, today I received a letter in the mail informing me that, while they appreciate my interest in the position, they have decided to hire a different candidate...Rejection notices are so personal.

So, I will not be teaching and herding 10 toddlers around every day for the next year. I, still, don't know what I will be doing for the next year. I do, however, know what I will be doing for the next two months. And that is fabulous (not as fabulously comforting as knowing a year, but fabulous all the same).

What will I be doing? I'm so glad you asked.

Stephen Smith, my middle school pastor, the husband of Star, the frontman of the Smithband-which led worship at Breakaway, my guitar teacher, is now the worship pastor at HFBC. His assistant, Sarah, is leaving to do missions in Brazil. His new assistant, Dean-na, as the super-woman behind Breakaway, is arriving at the end of July. Between Sarah and Dean-na, there are about three weeks. Stephen asked me to fill in. Then, when I met with him to discuss that, he also asked me to be the volunteer coordinator for the hard hat crew as we move back into the newly remodeled worship center.

So, I am an assistant AND a volunteer coordinator, for a little while at least. It will be a busy couple of months, which,let's be honest, will be a nice change. Perhaps this will open other doors. Perhaps not. But the Lord is continuing to provide, not in the way I would choose it to be, but "In his heart a man makes his plans, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." I will strive to trust God for today, because today I have all I need. Tomorrow will worry about itself.

If you are a member of HFBC, I expect you to help with hard hat crew...but I know you were already planning on it.