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

 

 

 

 

 

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Who Do You Expect?

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So, I was talking with God about “The Challenge” and all the joy experiments that we’ll be running together on this blog, and I felt Him impress something quite strongly on my spirit: people need to know who they’ll be meeting.

It’s maybe a little easy for me to take for granted that everybody else on the worldwide web is on the same page as I am when it comes to the goodness and the nature of God because God’s goodness  and nature seems so obvious to me. But He started to remind me that not everybody sees Him that way. Not everybody lives with that as their reality. In fact, some people are downright scared of Him and don’t want Him to come near them.

I used to be.

I remember going to church growing up. There was this sign that someone on the church staff put up—probably halfway as joke. It stood near the entrance and said something to the effect of “Turn off your cellphones. Lightning may strike.” I remember hearing a heavy emphasis placed on God’s displeasure with any kind of sin or unrighteousness. It was understood—at least from my perspective—that if you sinned, God was disappointed in you. Angry with you, even. And He did punish. Look at the Israelites. Look at Sodom and Gomorrah. I was terrified to make mistakes. I was terrified lest some unknown sin go unconfessed. I lose track of how many times I prayed “the prayer of salvation” just to make sure I did it correctly and didn’t wind up in the hot place.

It wasn’t as if I never heard “God loves you.” That I heard a lot. But the meaning of “love” got a bit watered down under the weight of how disappointed I felt God was whenever I screwed up. And of course, it was inevitable that I would screw up. (After all, what do you expect from a sinner? Sinners sin. It’s their nature.) I felt more put up with. Tolerated. And actually . . . used. Kind of like:

“Here, I love you enough to get you out of hell and into heaven—after you die—if you believe in Jesus. Okay, now that you do, I’m going to put you to work. Go convert people. The more people you convert, the happier I’ll be with you. But if you miss just one opportunity, I’m going to sic my frowny face on you. Because they’re going to hell, and it’s your fault. Oh, and by the way, you’re still a sinner. Just ‘saved by grace’ now. I kinda expect you to fail.” 

Yeah. Way to inspire me . . .

Then one day God told me He liked me.

I remember He had this kinda lady come up to me and say, “Hey, I felt like the Lord was saying He doesn’t just love you; He likes you.” It resonated with me. I knew—I just knew—that what she was saying was true. My ears came open, and I began to hear God speaking true love to me on a regular basis, telling me how much He delighted in me and was pleased with me. And He didn’t stop saying it when I messed up. It became clear to me that His love for me was on 24/7. And it also became clear to me that His love and delighting in me were not dependent on what I did and did not do. 

So, WHO exactly am I inviting to show up on this blog? 

Jesus Christ.

Mr. Love.

Mr. I-Healed-Your-Cold.

Mr. I-Put-Sparkles-on-You-Because-I-Love-You-and-I-Can.

Mr. I-Defend-the-Cause-of-the-Orphan-and-the-Widow.

Mr. I AM.

Mr. Get-Up-Out-Of-That-Wheelchair-And-Walk!

Mr. Fun. 

Mr. I-Turn-Water-Into-Wine.

Mr. It-is-Finished.

Mr. I’m-Already-in-the-Room-in-Case-You-Didn’t-Notice.

 I am inviting the God who totally OWNS the title and the name SAVIOR. When He saves, it’s not based on human efforts—because it’s really “saving” someone if they have do it—it’s based on His being Him and actually manifesting the very meaning of the word. When He saves, He does it thoroughly and doesn’t go about calling saints “sinners” after the fact.

And He’s not saving us from some multiple personality manifestation of His who wants go all “HULK SMASH!” on everybody just because He likes to power-trip and appear the benevolent dictator when His kind, anemic, nice-guy version of Himself shows up. Typical “bad-cop, good-cop” routine.

 No, that is NOT the guy I am inviting. 

I am inviting the God who is already here because nothing can exist without Him. The God who’s everywhere. The God who’s madly in love with you. With me. With all of us. Crazy, head-over-heels madly in love. The God Who permanently interwove Himself with humanity in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. (He just overdoes Himself on our behalf. I love it!)

Yeah, I am inviting the Living God.  

The One Who embodies true goodness.

The One Who technically doesn’t even need an invitation. 

That’s Who you can expect.