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I Think I Can, I Think I Can…

Often those of us from Western cultures (and probably others too) think that if we think hard enough about it, that our bodies will follow our instructions.

“I think therefor I am”: I think I will not get sick, therefore I will not.  I think I will not grow another pimple, therefore I won’t.  I think I will lose weight, therefore I will.

I think if I change my body, I will feel better about myself.  I don’t think I will get addicted, therefore I won’t.  If I think hard enough, my body will fall in line, will do what I want it to.

This separation of our minds and thoughts from our bodies dates back to Ancient Greek philosophy and carries throughout western history as it changes over time to what we have today.  It affects us so often that we hardly notice it.

We hardly notice until, that is, when we’re sick and saying things like, “don’t worry Boss, I’ll for sure be better tomorrow for work”, or “I’ll make it to the game tonight, I know I’ll get better by then”, or “my kid is sick but I’m not planning on getting sick though.”

That’s just not how it works.  Of course there are things that we can do that help our bodies be as healthy as they can be: we can appropriately exercise, we can take vitamin C and wash our hands, we can monitor our alcohol or refuse to start smoking as to not become addicted.  But that’s just not how it works.  We are not able to think our way out of germs and illness, we are not able to think our way out of how our bodies naturally react to whatever we put in them or on them.  “I think I can, I think I can…”  doesn’t work when it comes to what our bodies naturally are going to do.

“I think I can, I think I can…” worked for The Little Train that Could to give her the motivation she needed to get up and over the mountain and deliver the toys.  But “I think I can, I think I can…” doesn’t change the ways that our bodies naturally are going to be.

Our bodies will naturally take on a certain size, shape and weight.  From time to time our bodies will encounter an infection or disease that will make us sick.  Our bodies will change shape throughout our lives, as we age, so do our bodies.  Each of our bodies will age in different ways, but we can all probably expect to find wrinkles, sagging skin, achy joints, less muscle tone and strength, worsening eyesight and hearing.

No amount of thinking can change any of these things.

God created us each perfect and in God’s image.  When we say that God makes us perfect: we are not saying perfect as is always right, we are not saying perfect by a magazine’s definition of a “perfect body”, when we say that God makes us perfect, we only mean that God makes us whole and complete.  That’s God’s definition of perfect: whole and complete.  In God’s image we reflect God’s character of love, grace and forgiveness.  And being in a broken world, a world where there are diseases, illnesses, and injuries, each body, no matter who you are, will be susceptible to all sorts of changes, illnesses, shapes and sizes.  Because of brokenness and imperfection of the world, our bodies are the way they are – for better or for worse.  In God’s perfection, we are whole and complete just as we are.

The more we accept ourselves: mind and body both, with the love and grace that God has for each of us, the more we will come to love ourselves, give our minds and body grace to be broken, and be open to the Holy Spirit working through us for good in our lives and in the world – despite our brokenness.

Shiny, Happy Christians

Today I heard the phrase “shiny, happy Christians” and it literally made me laugh out loud.  The idea that anyone, much less a Christian, would be all the time and always shiny and happy.

I’ve seen the shiny, happy Christian before.  The Christian who is always dressed nice, with their hair dyed and done, always smiling and outgoing, always doing what’s good, eating right, exercising, studying and working.  And of course, going to church and praising God with all their heart, body and soul.

They give the image that everything in their life is perfect.  They are baptized, they have Christ, so why would anything be wrong?  Life can’t go wrong then, you can’t be wrong then, after all, you’ve committed to being a Christian.  And Christians are good people, right?  And Jesus forgave you and made you into a new creation, right?

Except not really.  You see, the shiny, happy Christian doesn’t exist.  It was never meant to exist.  The shiny, happy Christian is in denial that we are all just humans: whole and broken, saint and sinner.  The shiny, happy Christian is in denial that even with Jesus, life can be painful and full of bumps and bruises.  God never promised anyone that life would be shiny and happy.  God never promised that being Christian would make us shiny and happy, or immune to pain and suffering.

God promised us that, although we live in a broken and sinful world, and that although we will be broken and in pain sometimes, that our lives will not always be easy, shiny and happy, that in the valleys and in the peaks God will be with us through it all.  Holding us and crying with us when we are sad and broken.  Celebrating and dancing with us when we are joyful and excited.

We are baptized into Christ, into God’s family.  With Christ we are made new creations.  We are not made into better humans though, we are simply washed clean with the waters of baptism and the power of the Holy Spirit.  Our baptism is renewed each day.  We are not better humans when we are baptized, we are simply forgiven humans.  Forgiven and loved so that we can live freed from the chains of a broken world, living in the hope of Christ and sharing that hope and joy through loving and forgiving others.

Fomenting Insurrection: The Name

The Office: Season 7 Episode 23 · “Dwight K. Schrute, (Acting) Manager”

Dwight: So I expect you to be on your best behavior, which means none of you will be insubordinate, nor will you foment insurrection.
Jim: Question, if we already fomented insurrection, may we be grandfathered in?
Dwight: Define foment.
Jim: You define foment.

 

Recently I attended a meeting that was so paternalistic and offensive that it took me 5 days not to get worked up at the thought of the meeting!  Not to mention I still get worked up telling the story of the meeting…

The committee gathered was seemingly useless in the face of a highly debated issue that has literal life and death outcomes for some people.  With the ideas I brought to the committee, I expected some pushback, but what I got was…so much more!  I felt like I was hit by bulldozers with all the pushback headed towards me.

Where we could have done (or at least started) so much for the good of people and justice for God’s children, instead we talked about things, patted ourselves on the back for showing up to a quarterly meeting, and said see you in June.  I wanted to dissolve the committee or at least put all harm done to people and families on the hands of the committee members, but instead I have resolved to turn what is barren and dried up into something new and exciting that works for good.

Leaving this meeting, and in following a quote from a favorite TV Show, The Office, I committed myself to fomenting insurrection.  Fomenting insurrection in this committee to put fire under them and to do God’s justice work like their name implies.  Fomenting insurrection in the church so that it may repent of its sin, remove the painful and dark stains of the wrong done in the name of Christianity in the past and present; so that it may more closely reflect Christ’s love for humanity, the world, and the whole cosmos.

And so comes the name of this blog.  A name I’ve been waiting to come up with for at least 5-6 years.  So my hopes and dreams for this blog is that it reflects its name.  Fomenting insurrection by reflecting on the struggles and joys of life, of the church and in the world.  Bringing a word of hope and a call for re-creation and re-newal, a gift from the Holy Spirit.