world vision, culture wars, and soul stigmata

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My hands are anxiously wiping the tingles off my neck in rejection of the nerves crawling up my spine. Because I’m working up the steel to share something about myself that only my husband and two other friends have ever witnessed me doing. Promise the person you’re sitting next to that after reading this post, you won’t think I’m 76 shades of screwball. Honest to gosh darn truly, sincerely and for reals, I’m just your average girl-next-door kind of NORMAL (<—– whatever the heck that means), I swear on Zacchaeus’ wee little grave – may he rest in peace.

Having said that, this is one of those stories where you’re gonna have to take it or leave it and that’s fine by me, but I can’t not share these burn-words anymore because at the end of the day there are people (and you know how much I love people) who need support rods to hold up their backsides before they crumple under the weight of our Christian culture wars.

~ ~ ~

It happened last Saturday while Austin and the boys were up in the Green Mountains of Vermont visiting extended family, playing hockey, skiing and doing other random “guy time” kinds of things. I was blessedly alone for three whole days (!!!!!!) and when my life goes down to that level of still and quiet is when a certain Ghost comes to hijack my body for it’s own purposes.

I was standing in the master bathroom making my teeth get brushed when an unseen force punched me in the gut and before I could comprehend, IT was happening again. I went double over my stomach and commenced weeping all over the floor – beserkley, blindly and back-racking with Goliath sobs. Because I have the gift of NOT-tongues, I started praying through the pain with my body and in the midst of throwing my limbs around and guttural-ing my lungs out, I asked the Holy Spirit why and what am I praying for?

For lack of a better term, I call these happenings soul stigmata. Soul stigmata is when I soak into my bones a pain that sits inside the heart of God until it fills every atom I’ve got and I carry that pain as my own until it’s all prayed out. It’s a total embodiment, out-of-my-control kind of invasion; there is nothing left of me except for the skin that holds the cells of this occurrence together – I am just a willing instrument being played by the Spirit’s grief. The grief is always too much and leaves me feeling like drool and mush everywhere from toe to top. I am nearly good for nothing the rest of the day.

I was arching and groaning and raining out my eyes; throwing my body around the room and asking again: why? Why is this happening and who or what is it for?

Right behind those “w” questions came a Voice upfront with the answer: “I love my gay children and they are being hurt. Pray with me.”

(We can all agree that God loves all His kids, yes? Regardless of what else you believe when the word “gay” comes across your seeing space? (P.S. In the wake of the “word” gay is a gay person.))

And with those words, it was like my chest exploded with red-hot shards of hurt. My whole body couldn’t get air as I spiraled deeper into suffering next to Him. On a molecular level I was being injected with the affliction of a person who’s been torn apart by discrimination. Even though I have never truly been discriminated against – in those brief moments I knew what it felt like and I wanted to expire from the utter consumption of it. I felt like someone had mutilated my insides. I felt isolated and alone and dark. I felt unloved and unwanted and kicked. I felt the raw lure of suicide’s escape and knew why the bullied and discriminated go for it as a lifeline.

I have actively empathized with faction-less people for as long as I can remember, but all my days of empathizing have never come close to this invasive, clawing, take-over prayer. And I will NEVER truly feel what it’s like to live with the black hole of hateful bias day in and day out – good God, 30 minutes and I couldn’t even stand when it was over because I was a puddle of melted down identification. I wonder if I will ever not be haunted by this red-devil sensation.

~ ~ ~

Coincidentally, two days later on Monday night, I read an article in Christianity Today reporting a shift in World Vision’s employment policy. The organization had decided that it wouldn’t discriminate against professing believers legally united in a same-sex marriage. If you don’t live under a rock, then you have probably seen at least a little something of the maelstrom this announcement has caused. If you do live under a rock, for the love of all things holy don’t come out! (Just kidding, come out, come out wherever you are – maybe only long enough to cast some Love around.)

On Tuesday morning I gathered my three BUBS around me for social studies homeschool-style and taught them what a Christian culture war was and gave them examples from Harry Potter to Rob Bell to Beyonce to the most recent cosmic-sized catastrophe surrounding World Vision. And I told them how little children and gay people were getting hit in the crossfire of another damn duel. I was crying while I was teaching.

The boys told me that they love it when I preach so I leaned in even closer to their faces, took turns staring at all their eyes and fervently invited them to imagine a different experience than the one they were born into. Using my fingers to mark their responses, I asked them what advantages they had arrived on the earth with. We came up with 7 BIG ones and keeping those advantages in front of their minds, I tried as best I could to express what had happened to me on Saturday on behalf of my gay brothers and sisters. I told them, among other things, that with our 7 BIG advantages we can hardly imagine what it feels like to be bulldozed by hate or prejudice. Then we prayed, me and these kids of ours who are learning so early how to see people and identify like they’ve lived inside another person’s story and body.

<This is NOT the part where I try my hand at crafty evangelistic tools, attempting to get you to think my way; it’s not my jam to be your Holy Spirit.>

This is the part where I tell you that I haven’t slept so good the past few nights, maybe if the pain would just get off my chest I could find that even-type breathing that spins you down to slumber. But, no. It won’t leave me and I don’t believe the ache won’t leave because there are people on this globe that disagree with my doctrine smoctrine, I care less than a gnat’s cleavage about our differences in opinion. Doctrine is theory and doesn’t have flesh and bones and faces, an orientation, empty stomach or a soul. Doctrine has been debatable from the beginning of time and will continue to be argued until Kingdom come – we are NEVER going to agree. The pain in my chest and my sleepless slumber has nothing to do with how much we beg to differ, but does have everything to do with all the senseless, needless, staggering “lengths that we go to to much so much distance between us.”

(“We all write songs about life, we just sing ‘em different. You sing the words, but you don’t know the song and you expect us all to sing along, how selfish.” ~Listener)

Dear Jesus, this isn’t a doctrine post or a position post or a straight post or a gay post. This is a Love post – a post about a Love so strong it took over my willing body, lassoed me next to One wounded side so we could keen and growl and bleed and lose our tears together. And I am still losing my tears, right now and I cannot even stop because I’ve read enough thinly veiled disgust in one day to keep me in soul aches for a lifetime. On the other side of Jesus, family is global and I beg you to stop talking about my family like they are sub-human. I beg you, STOP.

On Wednesday afternoon I learned the World Vision reversed their decision. God only knows why and I am out of words. I pray for another take-over in my body – this time it might not catch me by surprise.



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