Treasure-Hunter: Unapologetic Idealist

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I like layers. Layers fascinate me.

There’s the stuff on the surface. You know, the stuff most people see at first glance.

Then, there’s the stuff underneath—what happens when you run a cross-section at the lab. The stuff beyond. The 4D and the 5D beyond the 3D. (We often severely limit our perspective by assuming that there’s only one way of looking at things!)

We often underestimate our own glory (and as an extension of this, fail to see the glory in others). I couldn’t be that good, could I? Doubt. Doubt in our own worth. Our own meaning. Our own glory.

So, what did you hear growing up? What messages were you sent? I know of some girls who grew up hearing their fathers talk to them like they were street-walkers. I wonder what sort of standard that sets for how a woman allows herself to be treated? I know of men who were told that they were this or that because they showed an interest in music or art or dance. Lots of messages from people who, ideally, we’d like to trust.

Humans.

Humans who probably heard the same messages from those they trusted.

What kind of life are you living based on what you believe about yourself? The messages you internalized as true? Do you like what has grown from that? The fruit of your beliefs? Are they tasty, succulent fruits? Poisonous, rotten, maggoty nastiness?

Metanoia. Change the way you think. You don’t have to believe everything you hear. 

Especially if it’s killing you.

What if I told you that you are perfect? What if I told you that God does not make crap? What if I say that Heaven declared your worth by what it was willing to pay for you? Only the best, my friend; only the best! What if I told you that you are no longer subject to sin or sickness or disease or death? What if I told you that Jesus Christ included you in His death and resurrection? All that bad stuff isn’t you; you get all of who Jesus is! You are not an outsider; you are an insider! You are not rejected; you are accepted! (Refer to Isaiah 53 and all of Ephesians.)

What if I told you that you were included before you were even asked for a say in it? You were loved before you even had a choice in the matter, dear ones.

If you really, really want hell, you can go there . . . but God’s certainly not the one sending you.

Those gates in Revelation 21:25 stay open for a reason. 

PEACE!

The Joy Detective

 

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Conversing With the Almighty

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Oh, politics. LOL.

Having this weird conversation with God. It’s goes something like, “You should write something pro-life!” 

I sit. I pause. I stare at the can of worms.

I am then reminded that a can of worms may be extremely useful when one is up to fishing. I think about how many times Jesus talked about fishing. Hmm . . . He really did seem to like those fishing analogies when He walked the jolly earth.

So, I cave. “Okay, God. Ideas? I feel like a lot of stuff I read out there is a little overly cliché and somewhat judgmental. That annoys me. I don’t want to write that. I’d rather not be a dingbat.”

“What about this conversation?”

I don’t know what, exactly, is pro-life about this conversation.

“Hello! You’re breathing! You’re writing! You’re alive! It’s pro-life!”

I guess He’s looking at it from a bit of a different angle. That whole abortion topic still flits about my mind. “Are we going to write about that?”

I hear, “About what?”

“You know . . . the whole abortion thing. The one that offends everybody and people get all angry about.”

Laughter.

Kinda weird response. “Is there a reason why You are laughing?”

Mr. “Unusually-Happy” replies, “People don’t even think to do that here in Heaven. It’s just not a thing. There’s more than enough, and everyone knows that. Children are adored and taken care of. You don’t have this nonsense of parents abandoning each other. All eyes are fixed on the Bride and the Lamb.”

Hmmm . . . I can see that’s He’s on a completely different page with this.

He continues, “You know, all of this goes away when people genuinely fall in Love.”

Interesting comment.

“People think they know Love, but you don’t know Love and do what is done now. I don’t order the sacrifice of children in My Kingdom, and I certainly do not condone the raping and oppression of women. I do not condone abandonment and betrayal of faith. Such things do not exist here, for it is not in My Nature.”

Okay. “Why do people do that here?”

“Excellent question.”

“Are You going to answer it?”

“Are you going to answer it?”

“God. You sound like You’re two years old.”

“I was once!”

Oh, yeah. The whole Jesus-thing. Dang it.

“Who is this that darkens My counsel with words without knowledge?”

“You’re quoting Job 38 at me! Not cool!”

“You know you like it!”

God’s getting sassy with me. Playful, sweet sassy.

“You know you love Me!”

Yep. Kinda can’t help it at this point. The Creator of the Universe is so Freakin’ Adorable. How He pulls off Infinite Majesty and Perfect, Manifest Cuteness blows my mind. Yes, I just said God is Cute. Get over it.

And, for some reason, a Black-Eyed Peas song begins to play in my head. Apparently, the Almighty wants to get something started here. Will it involve running, running? And then more running? Why does God sound a bit like Will-I-Am? Oh, now . . . I get it! I AM!!! HAHAHA!!! Brilliant. Brilliant pun. “Did You put that idea in his head?”

I feel something like a smile. Something like sunshine.

Yep. You know. I dig me some Holy Trinity.

‘Til Next Time,

The Joy Detective

 

 

 

I Won’t Settle

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Listening to Lecrae’s “The Fever” this morning. Contemplating. Next, I switch it up to his “Round of Applause.” Looks like he did a collaboration with B. o. B. Now, that’s just jolly! I like listening to Lecrae on occasion because he has a habit of cutting through the noise when I just need to focus and get my head straight. He also inspires me to remember that when I write, I am to speak truth in love and not simply aim to people-please and echo everything else that’s out there. He’s got this one song called “Nuthin'” that gets me big time.

I’ve been exposed to a whole lot of trap rap this past year—which on the whole has been a bit . . . traumatizing. It’s stuff my co-workers grew up with, so I get it. But I also don’t. Most of them are women and if some dude came up and starting talking to them like that, I am genuinely concerned I would lose it on the guy. Never was a fan of hearing guys call women the crude names associated with female dogs and street-walkers.

Lecrae calls the crap out. Encourages rappers and hip-hop artists to go higher with their music—not to sell out and objectify women. Healing balm for my soul. Thank. You. Sir.

I’m walking through some forgiveness stuff right now. Got a long story with a whole lot of pain in it. Young men, old men. Belittling. Sexual harassment. Emotional and spiritual manipulation. The leer. Worship songs in which the Bride of Christ is expected to call herself a “whore” in the name of some twisted version of “humility.”

“You can’t.” “Too sensitive.” “Women pastors???” “You should be flattered; he only does that when he really likes a girl.” “Eve’s fault.” “I just can’t help myself!” “Women should not lead.” “It’s just the way the world works.” “She belongs in the kitchen. That’s how it’s supposed to be, right? Barefoot and pregnant . . .” “Submit.”

Now, try staring all that in the face and still believing that there is good left in men!

I can. I’ve seen it. The glimpses of good here and there have made a world of difference for me. It was my guy friends in college who first introduced me to biblical Christian feminism. Told me I was worth more than how I had been treated by guys in the church and society at large. Got down on their knees and repented for it. Encouraged me to go after my dreams. How they treated me even drove me to get out of a spiritually and emotionally abusive relationship!

They set the standard pretty high. When I’m tempted to settle or let things slide, those memories pop up. I remember that Jesus Christ was and is the O. W. A. (Original Women’s Advocate). I see what men could be if they remembered who they actually are—even when they appear too beaten down by those negative words and male stereotypes to even see the good in themselves.

I CAN’T SETTLE. I won’t settle.

Like ammo in my back pocket, I got testimonies.

“Boys will be boys.” LOL.

BS.

Here’s your mirror, bro. Take a long hard look at it. You see Jesus? Yeah, He’s supposed to be there. That’s your original blueprint. Believe it!

 

Til next time,

The Joy Detective

 

 

 

 

 

Risk: Exploring Light and Shadows

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Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of judgment. 

These have been a source of paralysis to many, afraid to live their lives.

Why?

It’s a question over the years I have been learning to apply a variety of these different fears, and believe me—I have no short supply of encounters with them!

I started to push back against fear after I was challenged in college with repeat encounters with God’s goodness. Why did I believe what I believed? Why did I have it as my normal? Could my normal be wrong? I had lived so much of my life under  . . . dread.

My instinct as a child was to run towards my Creator before religion taught me that He was scary and that I should be afraid of Him. I wanted to explore God in this place of innocence. It was the most natural thing. But then I started hearing stuff like “sin separates you from God” and “make sure you are right with God.” I thought the pastor of my childhood and other church-going adults were the God-experts, so I listened to them. I listened to them, and I became afraid. There was this consistent chipping away at my sense of security in my relationship with God. Was I ever doing enough? Was I ever believing enough? On top of that, I heard people talking about the rapture and end-times and judgment, and I became even more afraid.

Now, somehow deep inside, I knew that God was good. Walking out on God was never an option for me. I wanted to please Him. I wanted to obey. But that closeness, that safety, that trust . . . somewhere deep down inside–-it felt violated. I suppressed questions I had because I mistakenly equated asking questions with “doubting” and “unbelief.”

The trap that religious people often fall into is that of believing that by preaching fear and converting by fear, we are somehow serving God well. We way underestimate God’s goodness and live afraid that He’s more concerned about number-crunching. We make Him out to be so small and so dependent on us. But what kind of God are we leading people to?

Ever try to have an intimate moment with someone who you think could snap at any second based off of your performance and kill you? Or worse, throw you in a torture chamber? Ummm . . . hell, much? And yet, we are extolled in worship to have intimacy with such a being. No wonder it is so half-hearted at times! No small wonder we deal with hypocrisy! It is the equivalent of sending a woman back—time and time again—to an emotionally (and potentially physically) abusive husband and saying, “Go on, then! Make love!” Yeah . . . she’s really going to put her heart into that, isn’t she?

So, back to my encounters with God’s goodness in college. The Christianity that I thought I knew was completely turned on its head, and I have been exploring this topsy-turvy world ever since. Or rather . . . should I say I lived in a topsy-turvy world, and now it’s right-side up?

But who else know that paradigms are paradigms?

The God of my innocence—the playful Creator God—knocked to tell me that He isn’t what religion had made Him out to be. His very essence is relationship—Trinity. He is more about relationship than legalisms. He absolutely adores humanity! He is joyful and does happy-dances! He is not someone I have to be afraid of—at least not like I was taught! If I fear Him, it’s that His goodness might very well overwhelm me!

I have had  to toss out some of the paradigm that was handed down to me. I did keep some good core stuff. The basic Nicene Creed—awesome. No problem there. The living in fear of God’s wrath bit? I can’t with it anymore. Especially now that my paradigm says that God’s wrath is for me, not against me. Especially now that I see God’s anger directed at that which would destroy and molest me (a. k. a. sin and whatnot), not me. I am dearly loved.

Knowing that, I can risk. I can tell fear to get the hell out of my life. I can start challenging it every time it rears it’s ugly little head. I can stop giving a flip about whether or not I look like a trembling little idiot when I choose to share my heart and be vulnerable. I can process through rejection and judgment and realize that while people are fantastic, loveable little things—at the end I answer to Jesus. I am not bound to human opinion.

Besides, people often judge each other out of not knowing how loved they are . . .  so, it’s pretty much a write-off 🙂 We can forgive that silliness and have a good laugh at it later on. (“You thought I was a cantaloupe? No way, man! I love you; you’re hilarious!”)

There’s a lot you can be brave about when you know that you are loved.

Until next time,

The Joy Detective

Thank You!

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Alrighty.

I was feeling “should-on” recently. This is something I do not like very much. In the words of Dug from Disney’s Up: “I do not like the cone of shame.” I think I pull away from people who do this to me frequently enough, even if I think they are amazing.

I hated feeling “should-ed.” Apparently, if you “should” me, it tends to bring out my dark side. I maybe start to act like that crazy guy Andy Samberg plays who’s always throwing stuff on the ground . . . I think at some point, I go “screw that; I’m done.”

I love learning from other people. I love listening to the wisdom God has spoken into their lives. I know He has done likewise in my life. I know I have something to offer. The idea of ever being placed on a pedestal for that purpose sounds scary and unhealthy, and I don’t ever want that. The idea of nobody listening and acting as if I have nothing of value to say makes me feel just sad.

I like balance. Balance feels healthy.

Do you know what happens when you start to internalize the “should’s” and the shame? You start hiding. “Hey, Adam and Eve! You’re not good enough. You should eat this piece of fruit. You will go from sucking and being inadequate to being godlike and amazing. You’re welcome.”

Cue fig leaves.

“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?'” ~Isaiah 45:9, NLT

What funny beings are we that we are so affected by mere opinion—be it that of another human or even an angel! Why do we care so much?

I know why.

Day after day we are bombarded by messages of communicated worthlessness. Maybe we start believing those messages. We internalize them. So, we start to walk around like little affection and affirmation-starved puppies. So needy! We forget how rich we are. We forget the value imputed to us. We forget that we are children of the Most Amazing and Creative Being that ever there was—the Glorious Trinity! Not only are we loved, we are bombarded with love from a least three different angles. That’s only the beginning.

I absolutely love other puppies, but at the end of the day, I cannot have even the most adorable and fluffy defining me. They’re in the same boat I am in! There are some limitations there . . .

But, anyways . . . thank you!

Thank you to all the fluffy puppies out there in all their delightfully messy puppy-glory whose puppy-love simply doesn’t cut it. I wouldn’t have learned to ask for or even look for more if you hadn’t simply been you right where you are at. It wasn’t enough, but that’s okay! Puppies are meant to be played with and adored— not stuck with all that pressure that comes with a judge’s seat and gavel.

Also, thank you, satan, for being a ding-bat and showing me what God’s voice doesn’t sound like.

Thank you, Holy Spirit and Papa God and Jesus for this absolutely awesome learning adventure. I’m starting to get over the bs and am learning to receive love in its purest form.

Yay!

*Cue happy-dancing*

Raise the Bar

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I have come to the conclusion that there are certain things that I am okay with and certain things I will not allow to stand. That comes from me valuing myself and desiring the best quality life for me and the people around me. Out of this, I have come up with a list of declarations:

  1. I will believe in myself. If God thought I was a good idea, then I rest my case.
  2. I will not settle for mediocre relationships.
  3. I will believe in everyone’s inherent royalty.
  4. I am a no-fly zone for shame, manipulation, co-dependency and narcissism.
  5. I answer to God first and foremost. I love people; I treasure and honor people, but I answer to God.
  6. My voice matters—as does that of every human being. We are powerful!
  7. Faithfulness and loyalty are a must in romantic relationships. Put a ring on it, or take a hike!
  8. I will not abide the hatred of children.
  9. I will not abide predatory behavior.
  10. I am going to live an epic life and thank God for every second of it!

If this struck a chord with you, I would challenge you to make your own list of declarations. Be powerful. Use your voice. Believe in yourself!

What’s Your Story?

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The messages that we internalize as our reality have a profound effect on the way we live our lives. If you have a miserable narrative, you often experience a miserable life. If you have an epic, amazing narrative, you probably experience an epic, amazing life.

I am going to hit on some lies I believed growing up.

  1. Perfection is something you must strive for.
  2. Father God only loves me because Jesus bribed Him with His death.
  3. When guys lust after me or act inappropriately around me, it’s my fault.
  4. God doesn’t trust women; He won’t let them lead in church except with their husbands or as a children’s pastor.
  5. My sexuality is bad, and I would be better off without it.
  6. “Left Behind” portrays an accurate representation of what God is like and what our future looks like.
  7. If I don’t confess all my sins to God—even though I prayed “the prayer”—I will go to hell. #peformperformperform
  8. God only does miracles when you are doing stuff for Him, like mission trips.
  9. When you mess up, God is disappointed in you. #performperformperform
  10. I’m a sinner.

So, add all that up . . . and crap self-esteem. Very performance-based. Up and down. Up and down. A bit misogynistic. A bit doomsday. Umm . . . anxiety, much? Talk about running day and night on a hamster-wheel of religion. I was in a relationship with a divinity with multiple personalities and narcissistic tendencies. (Jesus loves me; Father hates me, but blood appeases Him?!? Also, it’s all about Him and serving Him and doing stuff and jumping through hoops for Him so I won’t be eternally tortured. That sounds like a nice, healthy foundation for a relationship!)

I was miserable, but I was told  this was it . . . so like it.

I knew I was created for love. I knew I was created for worship . . . but dang. Not like this.

Since then, I have learned some different messages. It makes for a better life story.

  1. God really thought I was a great idea and made me perfectly; I am freakin’ awesome!
  2. Women are amazing, display a beautiful part of the heart of God . . . and are born to co-lead!
  3. People acting dumb has do with whatever’s going on with them; they’re better than that anyways and just haven’t figured it out yet.
  4. Jesus and the Father have the same heart towards me. The Father was always 100% for me.
  5. God is not a narcissist; God is relationship.
  6. God is not a hierarchy; God is a Divine Love-Dance.
  7. Holy Spirit does fun stuff like miracles because Holy Spirit likes to and is really, really good.
  8. The theology of abandonment is a bunch of satanic b. s.
  9. I am fully included; the cross was basically a giant God-hug. He used our rejection of Him and turned it into a great display of His acceptance of us. He is in no way disappointed in me.
  10. I am a saint.

My life feels a whole lot better now. I like it a lot more. Guess it matters who you let narrate your story! Now, I have this whole wide world filled with goodness to explore. I have a Trinity I can’t but help fall head-over-heels in love with. I like being a woman. I’m not scared of hell. I like who God made me, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to judge other people—no matter what whack-a-doodle stunts they pull! I feel happy.

Love you! Hugs!

The Joy Detective