February 14, 2018

Declare Your Love

Photo by William Stitt on Unsplash/td>
NOTE: I wrote this a few years ago for another website. Thought it worth sharing again on this day.

We were leaning up against my truck. She and I. We had kissed many times before this. But this time, I wouldn’t forget.

For months, I had wanted to tell her something every time we kissed. I wanted to tell her that I loved her. But I was terrified to say it. What if it scared her away? I was crazy about this girl. The last thing I wanted to do was chase her off. And then it happened. She pressed her hands against my chest just enough to gently push back so she could look me in the eyes. “I love you,” she said.

She beat me to it.

Next summer, I will have been married to that girl for 18 [21] years. I still have the same crush on her I have always had. Every year around Valentine’s Day I remember that night. Why didn’t I tell her I loved her first?

I don’t look back on this because I’m competitive in some weird way about this with my wife. Rather, it’s the lesson I think I learned that night, from that kiss and those words. I have no idea how many times I’ve told her I love her since then. Countless. It’s easy. But getting over that hurdle of fear that first time seemed insurmountable. Fear paralyzes us from stating our love, following our passion.

So, let me ask you this: What do you love and, yet, are terrified to say out loud?

It’s the first step of stating it out loud, claiming it, that is the hardest. Once you state your passion, you can’t look back. It’s out there. The good news about this is that you no longer have to hide.

Like me, sometimes you might be fortunate enough to have opportunity announce itself to you. Much more often, though, you are required to name it and take hold of it. In any case, the hardest work—yet most fulfilling—is still to come.

When she told me that she loved me, I didn’t have to reciprocate. I could have remained fearful. What if I didn’t really mean it? What if she didn’t really mean it? It’s risky. It’s vulnerable. Why? Because if it’s taken away, well … that’s why we call it a “broken heart.” This is the risk we take when we announce our passion.

This also exposes a truth about following what you love: you never know until you try living into it. Love is hard. It takes work. And yet it’s fulfilling in a way that surpasses so much in life. It nourishes your soul. There’s no metric for this. But you know how it feels when you are tending to that which you truly love.

For me, I loved that girl. So, I married her and do what it takes to stay in a caring relationship with her. I love being a dad. So, I make sure I’m present and involved even when I feel incapable. I love the Church and those that aren’t yet a part of this incredible community. So, I found a way to make it my life’s work. All three of these terrified me to say out loud at one point in life.

What are you afraid to say that you love? Who is it? What is it? Maybe it’s an art form, a calling, a passion … what is it?

Only you know. We don’t know yet because you haven’t told us.

Maybe you’ll get lucky. Maybe what you love will find you. If it does, you are faced with a choice. Will you let fear take over? Play it safe? Or will you seize the opportunity?

I say, kiss it on the lips. Declare your love. And live into it.

February 13, 2018

Ashes on the Streets

A few years ago I wrote about the practice of taking the imposition of ashes out to the streets on Ash Wednesday. I share it again below with a few edits ...

Photo Credit
A while back, Sara Miles wrote this in a Huffington Post article,

"It's rare in our culture to admit, in public, that you're not in control--that you, basically, are not God. And given the din of advertising and political polemic and hype and doublespeak surrounding us, it's rare to escape the fantasy that money or science, fame or violence or shiny objects will somehow save us from death."

It's still a potent statement a few years after she wrote that. Maybe even more so.

Ashes to Go is the term coined to describe the practice of taking the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday out to public places. This practice has its detractors. Some think it to be a religious short cut; that it's simply not enough–as this post points to.

One of the most radical characteristics of Jesus' ministry was that he touched people–normal folks, in normal situations. I can appreciate a holistic ideal for what this important service is to communicate but I think it is important for us to capitalize on opportunities to be outside of our buildings, within our communities and being completely who we are.

We are prone to forget what it is is like to be outside of our church buildings and let all of our senses absorb what is happening around our holy fortifications. This simple of act of taking the imposition of ashes out into our communities reminds of what kind of people Jesus has called us to be.

That is to say, it may be that "ashes to go" does more for the Christian than it does those passing by, receiving ashes and I am okay with that. If this activity doesn't work for you then I have a simple response:

If not now, when?

Find an opportunity to take the gifts of the Church into your community so that you might learn, grow and flex spiritual muscle you may have forgotten you had. You may find a community more ready for you than you realized. You may find a community oblivious or hostile. In any case, you will know something more about your neighbors than you did before. I cannot overstate how important that is. You will also learn what it feels like to be a Christian "out loud," a Christian exposed and that may be the most important aspect of such an effort.

February 12, 2018


Photo by James L.W on Unsplash
Lent begins this week.

Is it strange that Ash Wednesday, the the Christian season of Lent begins, is on my birthday this year?

Possibly even stranger is that it is on Valentine's Day!

Unfortunately, many Christians are unfamiliar with Lent. It's an important and formative season for those of us that call ourselves Christian. A few years ago, my friend Mike Angell and I co-wrote a blog series on spiritual practices during Lent. It's conversational and brings together two perspectives on these traditional Christian disciplines. If this season is new to you or familiar but unexplored, check out the series and please let me know what you think.

February 7, 2018

Bonus: Conversation with Diocese of Iowa

I'm trying an experiment this week. This is bonus episode is from a talk I gave for the Diocese of Iowa. I'd love to know if you like this or not. Reach out and let me know.

A few things mentioned in this bonus episode:

The Episcopal Diocese of Iowa

Ep. 12 with Steven Tomlinson

Surprise the World by Michael Frost

A Spirituality of the Road by David Bosch

The Story of Christianity vol. 1 by Justo Gonzalez

Dallas Willard's The Great Omission is a great place to start with the concept of "making disciples as we go," rather than "go and make disciples."

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