Just Make the Salsa: Living without Fear

A response to a Blackhawk’s Sermon.  A part of my Be Real Series.

April, 2007Do one thing every day that scares you!  — Eleanor Roosevelt

f.e.a.r.

The strangest things scare me. I was not afraid to become a mother. But almost every day I am afraid of being a mother who messes up her kids beyond repair.  I am not afraid of travelling the world and yet I am afraid to talk to my Indian neighbor and invite her for tea.  I am afraid to learn Russian or to play the piano again, but I do not fear writing this blog (mostly).  I know that I take beautiful unique photographs, but I am afraid of people paying me for my images.  Every shoot I do, I wrestle with the little demon on my shoulder that says that I should turn them down.  I have allowed my fear to make me stop taking pictures.

I allow my fear keep me from lovin’ on other people, many times, because I need others’ validation to tell me I’m okay. Oh how I hate it!  That is why it hit me so profoundly recently that I was squandering my skills as a photographer mainly because I was afraid. My struggle with low self-esteem and too easily needing the word of validation from others keeps me from living my life.  What is this about?

This is about not getting my identity from Christ.

So for me a sermon on the idol of image — this was profound.  I want other people to validate me and not just that, but the people who I decide are important.

When you continuously seek this validation from others you can never stop.  It is never enough.  I believe that was one of the things my father was plagued by and perhaps what fueled his anger — the constant need to do more because he wasn’t good enough. Thankfully the “do more” piece has been worked out of my life through my depression experience when I quit work to be at-home, but the “I’m Not Okay” hole is huge and intense.  And kind of embarrassing to admit.

Of all the crazy, mixed up ideas!  If I actually found my full identity in Jesus there would be nothing to prove!

That would be a life without f.e.a.r.

I have a friend that makes amazing salsa with fresh ingredients chopped just right, in a way that people love.  And they buy jars and jars of her salsa.  So she keeps making it.  I don’t think she would say she’s an entrepreneur.  She’s a very humble person.  She just saw an opportunity in front of her and went for it.  She didn’t have fear holding her back.  I would have had a thousand “what ifs” keeping me from doing it.  I know, because I’ve had a similar idea to sell Mel’s Soups and Pies out of my home kitchen, but I am too afraid of failing.

Just Make the Salsa!

I want to be willing to just “make the salsa!”  Life doesn’t have to be a place where we fear failure all the time, where we worry about what others will think of our actions, where we are constantly protecting the “image” of what others perceive of us.

This fractured, broken life is not the way that God intended it be.  If I can learn to be a reflection of Jesus in my life, then I can lose my f.e.a.r.

Oh God, please help me to receive my validation from you.  Help me to know that your approval is all I really need.  I am your child.  I am loved dearly — beloved.  The rest of it, success or affirmation of others, acclamation is just extra. Help me to rest in you, the source of everything I am, or ever will be.

9 t Do not lie to one another, seeing that u you have put off vthe old self 4 with its practices 10 and w have put on x the new self, y which is being renewed in knowledge z after the image of a its creator. 11 b Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, 5 free; but Christ is c all, and in all.

12 d Put on then, as f compassionate hearts, g kindness, h humility, meekness, and patience, 13 h bearing with one another and, i if one has a complaint against another, g forgiving each other; g as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on j love, which k binds everything together in l perfect harmony. 15 And let m the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called n in one body. And o be thankful. 16 Let p the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, q singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, r with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And s whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, t giving thanks to God the Father through him. —  Colossians 3:9-14

Imagine living without f.e.a.r.


“Litany of Humility” or “from My Desires & My Fears, Jesus Help Me!”

This blew me away when I read it, aloud.  You should try it.

Litany of Humility

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase & I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen
& I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised
& I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

(I will admit that I had to look up calumniated which is to “charge falsely or with malicious intent; attack the good name and reputation of someone.”)

Whew, that is incredible to read and let it sink into your heart, mind and soul. This prayer is counter cultural.   A couple of those made my pulse race as I faced my fear in a physical way.

  • Desiring to be consulted has been a lifelong struggle for me.
  • Wanting to increase in the opinion of the world.
  • That others may be praised & I unnoticed is only something I can hope for, pray for.

I do believe repetition and practice in prayer is effective and powerful.  I am going to pray this every day in Lent.

Will you join me?

MHH

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Read the Lenten Series:

1)  What is Lent Anyway, Besides Strange?


This prayer was composed by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930), Cardinal Secretary of State of the Holy See under Pope Saint Pius X.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I Looked Up and The Sky Was Blue: What I Want vs. What I Need

I looked up and the sky was blue.

I don’t know why that is so important, except that it is — blue — today.  And I would have missed it, if I hadn’t looked up.

There are so many days when I don’t. Because it usually looks like this.

How often do we miss out on the amazing beauty in our life because we just don’t look up?

“What if we believed in the deep places, the darkest recesses, that God always provides — and not barely, but abundantly?   Wouldn’t we always be at peace — no matter what?  What if thanks in all things actually could be easy — because we believe that God always gives us the thing we exactly need? What if gratitude was as natural as breathing, because we knew in our bones that the air we breathe is grace? (… A Holy Experience)”


We are having an ongoing discussion in our house about “Needs vs. Wants.”

Do we need cable?  Do I need books of my own or will the library suffice?  Does my daughter need rain boots or want them? Why won’t snow boots work in the rain? Do we need Ezekiel 4:9 Organic Sprouted Whole Grain bread or just want it?  Are we desperate for fizzy water (what we call mineral water in our house) or can we live without?  Does the cat need a new collar when her old one works perfectly well?  My daughter is concerned that she (the cat) got her feelings hurt because she received the dead cat’s collar.  Hm … Does Tom need seven or eight guitars, even if they are a knock off brands from China?  But you see what I mean?  And that’s just scratching the surface.

“Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8).

“My God shall supply all your needs, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19).

Things.  Needs.  Wants.  It’s hard.  It’s complicated!!!

I think we have many different motivations for making change in our lives.  It is smart or prudent or loving or generous or “the adult” thing to do.  I’m thinking of money and resources now, all the stuff of life.  To begin to make those choices because it is all God’s anyway, well, that’s a whole other league of maturity.  Dang, why is it so hard?

What I’m talking about here is complicated.

Our motivations.  Why do we think we need all this stuff?  Cable.  Books.  Rain boots.  Gourmet food.   Stuff for the animals.  More than one of anything? Yes, I have money on the brain.

But it is more than that.  It’s about being discontent on a deep, cellular level.  My pastor called it a cancer and I think it really is.

If you have spent time overseas or simply in a different less abundant and materialistic culture you likely were  floored by how great that was. For me, a summer pared down to a forty pound backpack was still more than my Russian students had.  I seriously never wanted to come back to America.  I felt for the first time an incredible freedom from caring about the things that are so important in America.

I believe.  I believe that God will care for me all my life.

Not that good things will always happen to me or that bad things won’t. Rather that in the midst of life and its icky messes God is here and he loves me.  I’ve never had the courage to read the book of Job all the way through because I’ve always thought that if I read it God will think I’m ready to live it.

I have never felt persecuted.  Even in the midst of my father’s illness and mother’s illness going on at the same time.  Even with major depression not receding no matter how much effort and work I spent on it.  Even needing medication and finding out I was pregnant.  And then losing the baby.  Losing my father.  Helping my mother get into recovery.  Already struggling with my own addictions.  Even in the midst of all that — which I found myself recounting to a friend the other day — I believed. Deep down I believed God would care for me.

I’m reading, slowly as it applies, The Women’s Bible Commentary. (see desc. below)  As I was reading about the Psalms I read this:

“Those who speak with complete candor in the presence of God, those who articulate their doubts and their pain as well as their trust in God are all included among the faithful in the Psalms.  Women who have been taught  (like children) to be “seen and not heard” in relation to faith and religion should notice that the very act of putting anger, impatience, and frustration into words often enables the speakers in the Psalms to come to a renewed sense of assurance in God’s continuing care. The confessional stance of the Psalmists (their willingness to articulate feelings of anger and pain as well as joy in the presence of God, their refusal to submit passively to oppressive circumstances, and their confidence in God’s concern for their needs) has had and continues to have a significant influence in shaping the theology, the piety and the lives of many women.”

This has been my experience.  I think this is why during all of that which I listed above the one thing I was able to do was cry out to God.  Many times by writing but also with friends, and in prayer or through reading Bible, especially the Psalms.  My bitterness toward my parents manifested in depression, low self-esteem, alcoholism …  My poetry is so real because it came from that core.

When I first wrote it was God cleansing and healing me.  A secondary result has been how my words have helped others — perhaps jog a mind or heart to circumstances  between themselves and God.  That was an unexpected delight.

Do you believe God will care for you, abundantly?

If you aren’t sure cry out to him.  He listens.  He is good and he is our Shepherd. (John 10)   This section of scripture describes the most incredibly loving relationship between Jesus and people.  He calls his sheep by name.  The sheep know his voice.  Jesus is the gate for the sheep.  Whoever enters by Jesus will be saved and will come in and go out and will find pasture.  The thief comes to steal kill and destroy.  “But I came that they may have life and have it abundantly!”

Write thy blessed name, o Lord, upon my heart, there to remain so indelibly engraved, that no prosperity, no adversity shall ever move me from thy love.  Be thou to me a strong tower of defense, a comforter in tribulation, a deliverer in distress, a very present help and a guide to heaven through the many temptations and dangers of this life.

— Thomas a Kempis

I want to be content.  I want it to be true of me.  All I need is my pasture.  And the Good Shepherd calling me by name.

Be well, Melody

I highly recommend The Women’s Bible Commentary if you preach or teach, especially if you’re male.  It will give you a perspective that you cannot possibly have since you are not a woman.

From the back of The Women’s Bible Commentary — an outstanding groups of women scholars introduced and summarized each book of the Bible and commented on those sections of each book that have particular relevance to women, focusing on female characters, symbols, life situations such as marriage and family, the legal status of women, and religious principles that affect relationships between women and men.  (It also has a huge bibliography!)

My Gospel

c. 1632
Image via Wikipedia

Certain

that I don’t deserve this gift that you gave me.
Though I haven’t e a r n e d  a n y t h i n g.

Knowing

that I am broken.  This heart inside of me is corrupt.

Aware

that my flesh is stronger than my will.

Flawed

I live with a certainty that I will choose the things that dishonor you.

You came to die.
You came to love.

You alone are God.  And I am your beloved child.

Of course

it is no longer about me.  I must ask

How can I die?
Who must I love?

January 17, 2011


“The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.” — Tim Keller, The Reason For God

A Ten and a One

[draft work in progress]

A Ten and a One

It was eleven dollars.  Two lives

Sentenced

To end over a ten and a one.

Two lives.  Life sentences

For their misdemeanor crime.

Do we believe that this has nothing to do with the color of their skin? 

Now, color them

White.  And the story would have been much different.  Pay up

The fine and do your time

In a county jail, perhaps a year,

If you’re White.

But it was

Two Black girls in Mississippi.

And they were poor, but perhaps that doesn’t need to be said.

They were.

Two lives.  Life sentences

For their misdemeanor crime.

Do we believe that this has nothing to do with the color of their skin?

They are freed

From those life sentences.  Yet, the sisters,

Gladys and Jamie

Scott did their time.  Sixteen years

In prison for petty theft.

Since 1994.  Two lifetimes.

Lost.

Over.

Eleven dollars.  The price of a movie

But Justice Was Served!

Or was it?

Charges were suspended, yes they’re free.  Hold on,

There’s one little condition.  Never matter

She was already going to save her sister’s life.

Dignity, they have to take that away too. 

Generosity, stolen

by the glaring limelight of the time.

“I was going to give it to her anyway (even) if I had to give it to her in prison. Didn’t nobody

had to release me, because if they would have let me give it to her when her kidney first failed,

I would have gave it to her without a shadow of a doubt. I love my sister.”

Where is their justice? 

Two lives.  Life sentences

For their misdemeanor crime.

Do we believe that this has nothing to do with the color of their skin?

Good people what was their crime? 

To be poor and black in Mississippi

and steal

A ten and a One?

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Life in Prison: No one, offenders included, expects prison to be a pleasant place. But there is a considerable incongruity between the physical or mental maturity of young prisoners and the kind of experiences and people prison forces them to confront.

The vast majority of youth serving life without parole have had violent experiences in prison. Many child offenders get into fights with other inmates in order to defend themselves from physical violence, including rape.

Human Rights Watch received more than 300 letters from child offenders currently serving life without parole sentences, here are five examples.