I Asked God for Help {Part Two}

477900781_e07c8a69cc_oI asked God to help.

That is the key, assent;
Letting down.

Holding out and open, my hands. Release.

When everything hurts, when chaos has taken over and I cannot even imagine

That is the key

Letting down, holding out.

When fear of outcomes prevails
I asked God for help,

I ask.
Ask again,

God help us, all.

The answer is in the act of asking.

Parents want, even expect beauty and joy.  As time goes on life becomes
And you face over and over your lack.
Life is sacred, all of it.
The beauty and pain.
The bitter and sweet.
I envy those who don’t seem to suffer, who don’t know this sorrow and sting.

Then, I am drawn in

To Jesus
Who came for

Life is hard.
Life is holy.

I ask God to help.

He is the answer.

Here I am, tethered to soil and grief.
Longing for the eternal, knowing
Holy living isn’t the absence of pain.
It is acknowledging
The pain

With eyes for the kingdom of God.

I asked God for help

For joy.

Here and now

Amongst the living.

This offering up of myself,
This trusting with the hearts and minds and souls of my children,
This becoming someone Good.
This is the answer.

This dark, cold time of year makes me angry.  I have the hardest time believing
In spring.  New life,
Bulbs and buds

The Coming

The forward thrust, this is a Holy Hope.

I asked God for help

And he reminded me

Spring always comes.

I asked God for help

And he promised me this Ache
Doesn’t equal doubt;

Wrestling with him in the darkness of depression
Doesn’t equal sin.

Problems don’t equate punishment.

I asked God for help.
I kept asking.
I shouted, I screamed.
I heralded God with curses,
With my pain and he held me.

WINGS, did you know he has enormous feathered wings and they surrounded me,
As they enfold
They are mighty and comforting.

I asked God for help.

What Does the Word “Evangelical” Mean to You?

Wondering what the word “evangelical” means to you? Not completely sure, but I am thinking of quitting — being an evangelical, that is.

Yes, my church is evangelical but that’s neither here nor there to me. I am not my church nor do I agree with every single thing they teach (that would be weird) and I’m not sure I am one any more — an evangelical.

No drama, totally longing for civility here, just wanting your thoughtful response to what “evangelical” means to you, in 21st century America, i.e. today — not originally.  Or perhaps there is an original meaning that is important and was lost.

I think “evangelical” has become both a “dirty word” for non-believers, yes regular non-church going people. And a misunderstood and misused word.

It feels soiled.

Either way, I think it isn’t what I am any more.  Though I am not sure yet what I am.

In this really thoughtful article, My Journey Toward the “New Evangelicalism” By , I found a little of my own heart’s cry:

“… a larger truth is at stake. Will we use the Gospel for political purposes, or make it hostage to any political person or cause? Some sixty times in the New Testament the death and resurrection of Christ are described as liberating, and the Christian life as one of freedom. The apostle Paul declared, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).

“A demand for political conformity is a form of legalism that must not characterize the body of Christ. Neither should any judgmental or unloving attitudes over differences of opinion. Disagreements, moreover, should not be regarded as off limits but as legitimate and even healthy. They offer the opportunity to discuss conflicting ideas with a spirit of prayer, openness to the Holy Spirit, and unconditional submission to God’s Word. In this way the church is a community that transcends, while never denying, its internal differences. Here is victory over the last great temptation (as the book of Revelation intimates): that of making politics more than itself.”

This is a Story that is only beginning for me.

{faith is waiting, leaning in. a lump in the throat}

It is the prolific writer and theologian, Frederick Buechner, who said:

“Faith is different from theology because theology is reasoned, systematic, and orderly, whereas faith is disorderly, intermittent, and full of surprises…. Faith is homesickness. Faith is a lump in the throat. Faith is less a position on than a movement toward, less a sure thing than a hunch. Faith is waiting.”

A poem that came to me this morning.


a mother wakes in the darkness.

shivers, the room is cold. there is a sacrifice,  rising

before them all.  it is also her survival.

the sky inky blue black, she stumbles down the stairs.

these moment, early

are thick

with her worries, cloying.  she sits

physically surrendering to the Holy One’s presence.

Let me be your life.  

Let me fill the crevices of your heart where you still fret and worry.  Trust in me and surrender your doubts about ephemeral things like destiny, talents and purpose.

Your fears about the children, and their walk in faith.

Your anxious heart can be full today if you open your sweaty grasping hands.

Surrender Child. Trust me.

Why is it so daily, this laying down of self?  Letting go of control?  This giving in, this


again, today.


“That we may come to be one spirit with God and be found under grace, may God help us all! Amen.” — Meister Eckhart, a modern translation.

{When Did you First Believe that God is Male?} #mutuality2012

Where do we form our ideas about God?  And more importantly when?  How young does it begin to register in your head and heart, your idea of God as a masculine figure and that your daddy is also male? How did they become so mixed together, mingled and intertwined?

And I asked myself today.  How do you pull them apart, which you must for a variety of reasons but most of all because you don’t know how to pray to that God. You don’t know that God.

What if you grew up feeling that you will never measure up, never have a day in your small, inconsequential life of being good enough, no matter what you do.  What if you grew up believing that your life, whatever you become, whatever you might

Hope for, dream or wish, whatever you might be today isn’t enough? 

What if you have believed since you were a very young girl, that all your striving will make Daddy love you more and yet it doesn’t work? Did not work.  What then?

What if you learned that God isn’t male What if God isn’t just a daddy or a father but a mother, a healer, even a lover?  God is something beyond our comprehension, wild and incredible, beyond imagination.

How are we to pull those ideas apart, with their

Deep Roots that have grown up all over us, entangled

with one another, clinching our chest tighter year after year – strangling,


killing you.

I know that I cannot separate these things.  In my human effort it’s impossible to make my shouting, critical, mean-spirited, controlling, effortlessly (it seemed) horrible and cruel daddy to stop.

I have to throw that idea away.  I have to toss that idea of human daddy being God or or God being like my daddy, toss it far into the ocean with all the other idols I have collected in my life.  I’ve got a few, but this one is a huge Monster of an idol and in my power I cannot even lift it, to toss it away into the vast murky universal ocean.

I cannot.

So I sit here, on the beach.  My feet sandy, my toes getting wet just a little, I pick up a pebble and fling it as far as I can.  I do not see how far flies, but I know that it is gone.

My hand is empty.

I imagine that I hear it fall, then swirl down into the waves, the tide pulling it out, further and further away

from me.

That’s how far I toss the idol of my human daddy being my God.

Out of my mind.

out of my heart,

out of my life,

daddy’s gone.  Human-daddy-formed-god, to be replaced with …

Something New, that I do not know yet.

“God is not limited by gender because God is Spirit.” – Mimi Haddad

I want to know that God.

So I am going to stay here on the beach a little while longer waiting, hoping, dreaming, believing that this God, who I cannot even comprehend yet, wants to know me.


“The point of the incarnation was that Christ represents your flesh and mine. Perhaps for this reason, Christ’s self-appointed name was most frequently Son of Man (anthropos—humankind) not Son of Male (aner). Gendered deities were part of the Greek dualistic system, which Jesus, as your flesh and mine, stands against.”  – Mimi Haddad, CBE

When our Traditions and Tired Beliefs are Calcified into Orthodoxy (Brief Thoughts On Women)


Yesterday as I was sitting across from one of the people I respect most in the world when my life changed forever. 

You see I have had many long years of being in pain about being a woman in the church, though I am on a path of healing. Yes, this story does have a happy-ish ending.

Okay happy isn’t quite right but I feel hopeful in the knowledge that we have not seen the end of Our Story.

Being a woman in the evangelical Church can be painful.  Being a natural questioner is too.  

More than a decade ago, I began to question the roles of women in the evangelical church and this has brought me a lot of personal pain.  The process of learning what was True – scriptural, cultural, and relevant for us today, was slow and difficult because no one really wanted to talk to me about it or help all that much, as I questioned my pastor, and the elders, and pursued it with others.

Little did I know that in some cases it was because others didn’t really know what they thought.

This is a part of what makes this issue so slippery.  I pushed, sought clarification, and ask for perspectives and read a lot of books! The process of the last ten years has been uncomfortable, isolating and even at times agonizing.

I learned recently that I have even scored a “reputation.”

Not as I would hope of being a thinking, theological person – because I have asked the biblical basis for these things and sought truth. That I would take as a backhanded compliment.

And not as I might wish for being a questioner –because I do have many questions and never saw that as liability as a person of faith.

Rather, I have been called the f-word, yeah that f-word – Feminist. And even more malevolent, an “Angry Feminist.”

Actually, the angry part is true. Once I am able to step back from my defensive, hurt posture, I’ll confess that I have been angry.  I have carried around inside me, close to my heart, an oozing, pussy, and infected spiritual sore and this has been  very bad for my soul.  I even picked incessantly at it.  I have been wounded, offended, bitter and angry and worst of all to me is this.

I have felt unheard.

Sitting there across from my beautiful, big-hearted and loving, Bible cherishing, Jesus following, Holy Spirit filled, Bible Church attending friend, she uttered the most unbelievable words.  And she repeated them when I seemed to just look at her bug-eyed, in shock.

“You are not alone.  You are not the only one wondering what’s true,” she whispered to me.

She asked me this simple question:

 “What did Jesus say about women?”

Well, nothing that I am aware of and I will double-check because she asked. But I am not aware of anything prescriptive that Jesus said about women.

Jesus saw women,

Jesus spoke to women,

Jesus healed women,

Jesus taught women,

Jesus was financially supported by women,

Jesus loved women,

Jesus listened to women?

Jesus was persuaded to change his mind by a woman.

All in a culture and time when women were unseen and unheard, unworthy, unquestioningly invisible.

So I ask you friends.  What did Jesus say about women? And what parts of Scripture bring you hope as you consider the place of women in the church today?

I’ve had a healing of that sore that I allowed to fester for more than a decade.  That incredible story is here.

And I have a renewed challenge by my friend, someone who I never thought would ask about the injustices toward women in the Church.  Because of her, I now dream of somehow bringing a riptide of change into the middle of this vast ocean of tradition and tired beliefs which have been calcified into orthodoxy.

These days, most days, I feel hope about the place of women in the Church. Other days it feels foolish and the lack of certainty is soul crushing.

On the days that I maintain my weak hold on Jesus, I do believe change will come.  And hearing the questions coming from this dear friend meant everything.

I am resolved to begin again to study and write on this topic — I gave it up for a good long while.  The angry feminist in me has become resolved and certain of Jesus and his love for me and all women.  Something shifted in my mind and heart , in my soul as I sat listening to my friend.

I am not alone.  I am not the only one asking.  I am not the only woman looking for answers.  We will find the Truth together.  We have not seen the end of Our Story.


Other things I have written on these subjects.

I am human. Join me. (Thoughts on faith, confession and writing)

Part two of … this.  A response.

You know it’s funny.  Several people responded to what I wrote today with what I found to be a slightly odd, or at least a surprising response to me.  Okay, odd isn’t fair.  They expressed concern.   You need to know something. If I have gotten to the place of putting my thoughts down, I have lived it — bled it — known each word like a friend.  I am on the other side enjoying the lesson, learning and knowing I am beloved.  The things I write while true still, are not cloaked about me oppressively.  

You see, no matter how many times I have to learn it — like the Israelites who were incredibly short sighted, foolish and distrusting of God, over and over — I do know I am a beloved child.  I do. Don’t worry so about me.

I read an interview with Anne Lamott, a writer that I adore.  When asked about her writing about her faith (since she’s “pretty outspoken, eccentric artist—a quality we love and admire in her. How does she successfully reconcile the perhaps stereotypical connotations of ‘Christian’ in this polarized day and age—when Christian in the political sense often means an extreme conservative—with her clearly open-minded, open-hearted point of view and way of living.”)

Oh yeah, that.  I can relate.

She said:

“That’s a complicated question. A good question. You do the best you can. A certain percentage of self-identified Christians think I am doomed and just fucked beyond all imagining because I don’t believe the Bible is the literal word of God. I’m a progressive Christian. I’m more of a liberation theology person.

My religious life, my life as a recovering alcoholic, my life as a writer, and life as a public person are the center of my life along with Sam and Jackson [Sam’s son].   People are going to think what they think. It’s called “another thing I have no control over.”

And when asked about her writing process she confessed unabashedly, “Right now I have prepublication jitters, mental illness, and distraction.”

Here is what I think, we are all simply human.  And in writing about our “walk” with faith, some are more honest than others.  I try to be crystal clear, yes even hopelessly honest. That’s my style, my voice, my path.  Sure, I hope one day to write out of a place of certainty.  Just when I wish for that, then I know that I don’t really hope for that.

I carry the scars of my life, not proudly — as if — but I am not ashamed of them either. I am a child of a raging man, who was verbally abusive and controlling.  That makes me different than a lot of kids who grew up with unconditional love and certainty.  I am an alcoholic (in recovery.)  It is a part of my dna and I will write about it.  I’m a compulsive, addictive person — whether it be to Facebook, or Farmville, or television shows like Stargate, watching episode after episode for hours — and I will never have all the answers for why I am like that.  I will never know complete release from that this side of heaven.  That’s what I think.  That much is absolutely certain. But this won’t sink me, it will push me.  Humble me.  Help me to know how much I need God, and the community of believers. And what I must do is be a person that is committed to the spiritual disciplines of prayer and study, to the humble place of making callouses on my knees, and to surrendering myself to service of others.

Daily, hourly.  Sometimes moment by moment, this sweet surrender admission of my broken places.  That’s me.

Reading the incredible words today from Enuma Okoro who said in an essay on faith and the writing life, written to people who seek her wisdom, she said:

“Engaging in the craft of creative writing is where they feel most alive and the means by which they feel most passionate about witnessing to “the things about which [they] have been instructed” (Luke 1:4 NRSV).  … These men and women seek counsel on discerning how writing can be ministry and where they might turn for support and encouragement in understanding how faith and writing intersect…

and she said later:

“Take the leap of faith and trust in your gift to proclaim God’s word in new ways.” I hope I can grow into the sort of mentor who recognizes the writing gift and call in others and boldly and daringly says to them, “Write for the love and power of words. Write for the love of God.””

So, dear friends know this. When I write about the pain of being an artist in the church, or of being a feminist in an evangelical church or the f-word being a dirty word, or my struggles to totally surrender to God’s absolute love, I am simply telling you that I bleed.  I am human. Won’t you join me?

Do you ever wonder why we are here?

The Grim Reaper
Image by Helico via Flickr

So, Tom has been experiencing some strange pains in his neck and face — odd twitches and discomforts.  It has gone on  for a long enough period of time that he jokingly calls it his tumor.  But the truth is he is afraid.  We joke about it, then we get serious and a little scared, and then we forget it about it again for a while, until something in that same region hurts and then it starts all over again.  But the truth is …

… every person has to accept that one day they will die.

Even this week Tom was having little shooting pains on the “tumor” side of his face as he was preparing to leave for a trip.  Last night he said to me that we should “up his life insurance policy.”  WTF? I do not like when he talks like that.  But it shows the extent to which he is worried.  Me being me, I said:  “If the life insurance policy isn’t high enough then let’s get that fixed!”   I tend to kick into Problem Solver when the topic is too difficult.  Of course we’ve also had the “Call the doctor if you are so worried” conversation many times.  And he has an appointment for when he gets back.

Most people, including Tom and I, live like we have another fifty years at least.  It could be tomorrow that the grim reaper comes.  We don’t know.   And that got me thinking.

What do we hope people will remember about our life?  What legacy will you leave?

I just had an interesting conversation with a 22-year-old about identity, self-esteem, and  why we are here (on the planet.)  I mostly listened to the angst.  (Sometimes it is so nice to be 44. I would not go back to my twenties, no never.)

But it was hard to restrain myself from suggesting that the  hipster clothes, beauty or good looks, fitness, higher degrees, “significant” job and especially, the idealistic ideas debated with friends late at night over cigarettes and coffee — none of that matters ultimately if you hate yourself

And, even if you are able to find a look that’s “you” and get through college and get the coolest job of your dreams, even if you accomplish it all — you will still be — you.  You cannot imagine that when you’re young.  But it is so true.  All that stuff is empty unless you are grounded in something.

I think what matters is this:

Do we love?  Do we (actually and genuinely) care about others?  I believe it is how we treat people, no matter who it is, that is the final measure of a person.  By offering back to others the dignity of love and acceptance, well in my opinion that is a life well spent.  Bertrand Russel said “To a modern mind, it is difficult to feel enthusiastic about a virtuous life if nothing is going to be achieved by it.”  I understand thinking like that but I completely disagree.

It was Gandhi, the great activist and spiritual leader who said “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” This makes me so sad.

This is what keeps my young friend away from faith of any kind: Religion. Religious people. Christians.

And yet, the Jesus I know said you should love God with everything in your heart, soul and mind AND you should love others as yourself.

He said others will know we’re followers of Jesus by our love.

He said if you have an enemy you should do good for them or to them — expecting nothing in return.

Sadly, this is not what my young friend sees in the lives of what she calls “religious” people. I asked her rather to look at the life of Jesus himself, his teachings in the Bible and to decide for herself.

Be well friends.

religion scares me :: a reflection

The Faith, sculpted in stone from Badajoz in 1...
Image via Wikipedia


So quickly turning into actions. Deeds. Just notions. Before you know it you are doing religion. Lost is the element of the supernatural. The unknowable, powerful God.

A loosed grip on what I think I know is an opening for the Spirit. It is something I cannot control, something.Other.than.me.


With my notions. Deeds. So much acting like a believer. Our hearts are easily deceived. Something is missing there.  I am left with me, believing some days meanwhile disbelief is cloying at me around the edges of my mind.  Wanting proof I do not have. Yes, faith scares me and so I pray, out of my longing & need. I kneel. Partly knowing and equally hoping.beyond.hope.


Desire and awe hammering in my chest.  God of the universe. Far bigger than the galaxies.  Before time.  Outside of time. Why does my frail, faltering faith matter to you?

How.can.that.be? That you care about me? What about all that I misunderstand? Dogmas.Opinions.Deeds Actions. Words, the most hateful of all, words. Judgment. Just frenzy. Not peace beyond understanding. Fear not trust.  Is it belief or unbelief?


Adulterous. Pastors. Loving. Lesbians. Faithful. Wives. Controlling. Husbands. Generous. Partners. Fatherless. Children. Molesters.

“In the closet.”  Theologians. Out.  Writers. Wealthy. Community organizers. Greedy. Homeless. PhD. Arrogant. Janitors. Murderous.

Politicians. Drunks. Mothers. Indulgent. Parents. Spoiled. Children. Angry. Fathers. Cutters. Over eaters. Over drinkers. Liars. Sad.

Rebellious. Happy. Up. Musicians. Down. Mechanics. Lecherous. Students. Ignorant. Teachers. Store-clerks. Farmers. Academics.

Doctors. Drug Dealers. Nurses. Young. Old. Middle-aged. Scared. All.

Lost.Without.You.Who am I to choose what separates me.them.us from you?

I am equally confused & scared many days. Until I find that place of belief and then I settle down into my fear. My faith. I hear you saying:  settle down, little one. settle down.

Believe. Experience my Peace. Share my Love.  Hear me.

I do.

Hear you.

And today I believe.  Help me love.

I hope that I am not one of the Crazies.

the Stainned Gless of depicting the Holy Spirit.
Image via Wikipedia

I wake from a recurrent dream.  It unsettles me.  Always

in slumber I am Searching for meaning

to life.  For love,

taking on many forms.  Assurance

of the illusive, improbable God to talk. To me.  Give me some sign.

Speak my LORD, won’t you?  Prove [again] that you are real.

Shake the heavens —   Flood the earth– Heal the sick — Give sight to the blind, yes sight for me.  Today.

I feel ashamed of my doubts.  Fear

that religion is some celestial apothecary, erected by the weak in our need

to silence our spiritual afflictions.  A contrivance.

And yet that very Truth that I seek is a need — So exacting.

Out of my heart comes my deepest longing for God, meaning, Truth. How do I sometimes know

so clearly, so absolutely?  And other days I feel a universal, colossal Absence. And I am terrified

of the possibility — Are the heavens vacant?


of my heart, so quick to Doubt — Demand — Need.

So many crazies,  I do not want to be one of them. I want Knowledge.  I Seek Truth.

I Seek absolution and forgiveness.

I Need reassurance that our buildings, our rhetoric, our activities aren’t simply tokens

of our need.

Anne Rice rejects

the bricks and mortar of faith — Stepping

away from judgment and scorn to something else.

A Floridian pastor chatters hollowly about prayer for God’s will to burn a Holy Book, taking a civic stance

against America’s “enemies.” A lesbian cleric challenges us to love our enemies, meaning her.

I try to stay open, loving, faithful — and some challenge the very core of my faith.

Absolutes come with human judgment.  Scriptures wrongly translated

and easily misunderstood.  For thousands of years Men

have held their power over women, crushing spirits, and then questioning

our faith when we stand up against this treatment.

Why would a loving God not give me complete access and authority?

Why would a loving God not accept the prayers of gays and lesbians, dear faithful people

seeking Truth as much as me?  Why do Absolutes bring judgment and misunderstanding, when put in the hands of misguided men and women?

Thank you, but I’ll take my doubts and questions to scripture.  I’ll stumble my way through original meaning, cultural influences and climate.  I’ll implore the mystical and Holy Spirit of God.  [who on most days I know is active and real]

to teach me, a Woman, but also forgiven

sinner first before a sexual being.  Teach me, I am humanity

with desires and longings unfulfilled over a lifetime.  Teach me, I am humbled.

And I fall prostrate and hope that I am not one of the Crazies.

That God hears Me.

** I use the term “Crazy”  for the lunatic fringe.

Jesus is weeping.

I am dismayed — mortified — and full of questions this morning as I continue to read the news.   My human response is to consider the gun carrying, Quran burning, pastor Terry Jones, to be idiotic and stupid, the definition of ignorance.  Although my gut response isn’t helpful or kind (or very Godly) can I say I just don’t understand him — at — all! ? It seems to me to be  unfair that such a crazy man “represents” the same powerful, life-changing, transforming, beautiful faith that I have experienced with Jesus.  And because Terry Jones speaks so loudly (and is getting so much media coverage) I must say:  He does not speak for me.

I have to speak up and say:  This is not my faith.  This is not my Christianity.  Not my religion.  It is nothing like what I know to be true about Jesus and how Jesus would respond to the climate between people of various faiths in America today. I cannot conceive of the level of confusion and misguided thinking that would lead a follower of Christ to make these expressions of their (supposed) faith.

The freedom to express one’s self is a cherished liberty in America — I value the freedom I have to write my thoughts down here on this blog and express my beliefs and thoughts.  But burning a book (sacred or otherwise), a flag, a cross, a church, a temple — it is all so indulgent and wrong.

A post by Eugene Cho this morning helps to direct thoughtful people toward a peaceful response asking the sometimes silly question: WWJD.

What Jesus would do ?

“How do their/your/my (my addition in italics) actions and stories testify to God’s work and invitation of reconciliation and redemption?  As Christians, we can find harmony in the beauty of the Gospel:  “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” [John 3:16]  And because Christ has died for us, we can live for the work of reconciliation and redemption. I am not suggesting we be timid in our declaration of Christ as the way, the truth and the life.  But in doing so, we can also choose to lay down the sword and choose love and build peace.  We can choose to believe the truth of the Gospel: God not only died for us but dwelt amongst us. He walked among us. And he did the most amazing thing: Jesus ate with humanity.”

Jesus came to “restore, redeem and reconcile” us.  He wants to heal us of our depravity.  He died so that we could be changed people.  He brought the Peace of himself to our world — of confusion, hatred and ignorance.  This is the whole reason for what Jesus did – giving his life for our life.  By coming to earth and walking and eating with us, he showed us only love.  Love others as you love me, he said.

Cho says it well: “God wants eternal communion and friendship with us. He creates it, pursues it, and ultimately sends his Son to restore, redeem and reconcile that Relationship – as the perfect Sacrifice.  Truly amazing.”

How does Jesus respond to the state of faith in America.  I believe …  Jesus weeps for us.  And why do I share this today?  Because what God has done for me is to heal me, making my life about reconciliation not judgment.  And I do not want the reputation of Christ to be slaughtered by men like Terry Jones.  No, God does not need me to salvage his reputation, but still I feel compelled to speak for what I have experienced as a person of faith.

If you want to talk to me about this or anything else I have written, please give me a call.  Or email me at: melhhanson@yahoo.com.  Otherwise please feel free to leave a thought here.