What God As A Baby Says About Burnt Dinner And Broken Toys

Jesus, I’ve been waiting to talk to you. Waiting until the topic was big enough to matter. Waiting to hear your opinion on an issue more significant than laundry.

But the other day, while I folded my clothes before bed, I realized something. You’re not simply a God of big, abstract, distant things. You’re a God of the Small and Near.

That’s what Christmas really means, isn’t it? Emmanuel. God with us.

I know the songs and the Bible verses. I grew up around these sacred hymns that somehow lost their richness because I feel like I’ve always known them.

I often relegate you to the invisible, to the Shoulds and Should-Nots. I’ve made you the God of the faraway and celestial things, and in doing so, I forgot to talk to you about how discouraging it is that there will always be dishes at least three times a day, although I know I should be thankful for them. Or the fact that the baby is still sick after two weeks, and I don’t know if I should take him to the doctor or not.

Once again, I was wrong about you. You aren’t a policing theologian with a microscope, identifying character inconsistencies and whispering behind my back about how I should resolve them. Sure, you have opinions about which songs to sing in the worship service, or how to invite people to our small group, but you also know the best way to cook a steak or how to cure my baby’s diaper rash.

And you’re a little sad, as I was, that one of my favorite coffee mugs shattered into pieces at my feet when the baby grabbed it off the kitchen table this morning. But we are both glad no one was hurt.

The pictures we see of you throughout the year are ones of the grown-up Jesus, the teacher and the minister, a kind man but one with many constraints on his schedule. So I try to be efficient because we are both busy, and I don’t need to bother you with the small things.

But Jesus, this is the time of year when we remember you were not always a famous face, a man in demand.

The Christmas story is one we all know because it’s our story. It’s you and us, babies, at our most vulnerable. It’s so extraordinary but we miss it because it’s so close, the story of pregnancy and labor and birth and babies. We know it so we gloss over it, eager for the good part.

But that is the good part. Because what you meant to say by becoming a small thing is you care about all the tiniest things in our lives. The things we think no one cares about.

You are God of the Small and Near.

You are the God of rushing around to stash toys away before guests arrive. You’re the God of dirty diapers and muddy floors. You are the God of cups of coffee that used to be warm but I couldn’t sit down long enough to enjoy it. You are the God of fresh, clean sheets and stubbed toes. You’re the God of the poetry I can’t shake from my mind or the lyrics from that song I remember for years.

You’re the God of sex and so many negative pregnancy tests and finally a positive. You’re the God of the baby who wants to eat all night and the fumbling about in the morning dark, wishing for a few more hours in bed.

You’re the God of missing ingredients in the dinner recipe and getting the dryer running again. You’re the God of the new toy the baby loves and the acrylic paint that almost made it onto the four year-old’s clothes. Almost.

I hate that I’ve missed you in so many places when I thought you were only the God of prayer meetings and quiet times and Sunday mornings. Because you are the God of before and after church stuff, the God of falling asleep with the Bible open and the God of checking my son into nursery after the service already started. You’re the God of the long afternoons after the Sunday meeting because someone just needed to be heard, and you’re the God of takeout on the way home because just the thought of cooking after all that wears me out.

We know you as the man who healed, the God over our bodies and sickness, or the broken man on the Cross, declaring you God over death. And in the garden with Mary, you’re the God of the resurrected life and All-Things-Made-New.

But this Christmas, in our hearts and our stories, you’re a baby, a tiny baby at the start of your life, and you can’t even hold your head up. You blink at bright lights. Your mother teaches you how to breastfeed. You snuggle in close to your bed made of straw and sleep until the cold or hunger wakes you.

This Christmas, you’re not an important man with crowds crushed around you. You’re not a celebrity face plastered onto some giant billboard. You’re just a tiny little baby, and anyone could pick you up. You’re at the mercy of humanity, for better or worse, and we can’t believe this is your story because it’s ours.

You’re not just God of heaven anymore. You’re God of my life, my moments, my story.  It feels like you get me, like I have a friend who knows the sting of betrayal or the weight of grief.

As the God of the Small and Near, you are intimately acquainted with not only my sorrows and successes, my pain and joy, but also my fantasies and boredom and the daily chores that keep this little life going. Every last detail in the margins, the things even I don’t care about, you’ve made your business. You know it, you see it, and you are in it.

Jesus, I’m sorry I’ve missed you in the little, in-between places that make up my life. But I don’t want to anymore. I want to notice your presence alongside me. I welcome you into my daily doings, the sacraments of work and play and sleep and food that make up all my days. I want you to be the God of all the minutes, not just a few of them. I don’t want to crowd you out by scheduling you in.

Please come in to all of it. There’s room for you, Emmanuel.

 

 

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What I Told Our Four Year Old About Good Friday

Today is Good Friday, and I feel compelled to mourn. Confused, grieving and very lost early in the day, I’m sure Jesus’ disciples felt the same way, and much worse. I can only imagine they had no clue where to turn as they watched their leader, their friend spend the day dying.

But by three in the afternoon, Jesus had died. Little did they know the day was not a loss. Because you want to know what he was doing after he died? Plundering death. Leading a train of captives out of the underground toward heaven, in history’s grandest triumphal procession.

So tonight at dinner when we asked our son if he knew what today was – and he didn’t – we told him it’s the day Jesus died. But we know the end of the story so we fast-forwarded a little.

We said Jesus died, and he went to the place where all the people who had died were staying, and he brought them out in a giant parade, led them right up to heaven, probably singing and everything.

I asked John what song they were singing as they marched in their jubilant parade. He chanted, “God knows you. God knows you.” I love that. That’s what Jesus said he would say about the ones whose names are in the Lamb’s Book of Life. We have been purchased with a death for not just heaven but to be fully known and fully loved, not just in the future-someday, but now.

God knows you. In and out, up and down, the past, present and future. Maybe that sounds terrifying to most of us with a doozy of a shame complex. But because of today, because of Jesus’ death and his parade out of hell, we can all be not just known but loved too.

What Happens When We Don’t Ask Questions

We assume someone who is overweight should just work out. Or the skinny kid should eat more.

We assume the single 30-something has too high of standards. Or maye there’s something wrong with him.

We assume the childless couple is self-absorbed, preferring wine and cheese parties and late night soirees to slumber parties and the sleepless nights of parenthood.

We assume the frazzled mother could benefit from some parenting classes. Or maybe she failed them.

We assume the failing marriage is his fault. Or hers.

But we don’t know that the girl with extra weight has tried everything. That the skinny high schooler eats 4000 calories and works out every afternoon.

We don’t know that our 30-something neighbor met a few girls online, but nothing panned out yet. He didn’t want to settle for a shallow version of love. And he’s already had his heart broken more than once.

We don’t know that the couple with no kids started fertility treatments last year, to no avail, and they’re trying to decide between IVF and adoption, both of which may break their hearts and their bank accounts.

We don’t know that the strung out mom at the park, the one we can’t believe is yelling at her kids, is about three days from getting evicted and her husband took off again, this time, maybe, for good.

We don’t know that the husband fought on hands and knees for this marriage that “can’t be saved”. He doesn’t want to give up, but he doesn’t know how to take back the years of pain he caused. He can’t heal her. He can’t do all the work.

It’s easier to stand far off, to judge, label and categorize. It doesn’t require my time if I can write someone off as “beyond help”.

My heart never has to break; I never have to open my wallet if it’s her fault she’s getting evicted. I can pass blame. I can cast stones.

But when I judge, I lose touch with myself. I become someone I don’t even like, a hypocrite. A Pharisee, stone in hand. And I forego the thing I will one day need most: mercy.

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Not only that, I miss my role as a human when I judge. I stand on the outside instead of leaping into the jungly mess with the hurting. Maybe I won’t be able to pull them out, but at least they won’t be alone. And when the time comes for me to need the rescue, I will be able to receive what I’ve given.

The measure of mercy I use will be measured back to me. The mercy I dole out is the mercy I’ll receive.

Mercy is required of us, a command. But it’s not just that. The day will come when I need mercy, and if I’ve been stingy with this big-hearted, compassionate forgiveness, I will find that mercy is stingy with me.

Let’s not stand far off, fingers pointed away from ourselves. Let’s not be accusers who steal dignity and humanity from someone with our assumptions. Instead, let’s be controversial. Let’s assume the best, ask questions and let people keep their precious humanity so when the time comes, we may receive that same mercy, free of accusation.

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How To Get Time Back

I used to hate November. It smelled of death.

In November 1994, my friend Melissa’s mom died of cancer. Melissa was only motherless for two years. In November 1996, Melissa died in a car accident, days after the anniversary of her mother’s death.

I had to wait four more years before my friend, Joe, died, this time in another car accident, within the first two weeks of this dreaded month.

Soon I learned to ball up my fists and wait. Who would November kill this year? I cynically asked myself. It was only a matter of time before death aimed straight for that month and took another loved one away.

I felt obligated to loathe November. What choice did I have? Until one day that tiny God voice somewhere within asked me if I wanted to keep hating November. It suggested so audaciously that maybe God didn’t want me to hate entire months or days, that all time belonged to God.

I took the bait. Okay, God. I don’t want to hate November anymore. Give me November back.

I had to wait five, maybe six years. Josh and I were married and we told God, Give us a year without a baby, please. But as soon as the year was up, I wanted that baby.

Nothing. Month after disappointing month went by. No pregnancy.

Then in March the next year, two lines showed up in pink. Pregnant! I calculated the due date date: November 8. Two days before the death of my friend, Joe.

John ended up coming a week later, November 15. And maybe that was better. Smack in the middle of the most worstest time of my year.

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And that is how, in 2010, God gave me November back. What was once a time committed purely to mourning and emptiness had been turned into a celebration. A birth where death had lived, stealing and destroying.

Now my remembrance of my loved ones drips with redemption and hope, where before it felt so empty.

Isn’t that so like God, to trade our mourning for joy?

What day or month or season do you need back? All our years and days belong to him. Ask him to give it back to you, to restore beauty and goodness where it’s been stolen. He can do it. And at just the right time, in the best way, he will.

Resting My Way To Heaven

I don’t think my husband understands me. 

I don’t think he knows what it feels like to push myself until I’m ragged just to quiet the whispering-shouting “Not Enough Not Good Enough” voice.  

I wonder if he knows the feeling of starting each day hopeful and ending each day with a blasting awareness of all the failure, what went wrong, what I should’ve said or did or prayed. 

I think my husband’s problem is he likes himself. He tries to take an hour at night for quiet and alone, sometimes working, reading or praying, or watching a show he likes. Sometimes he takes naps and never apologizes for them. He doesn’t feel compelled to answer the phone whenever it rings. He doesn’t obsess over everyone’s opinion of him. 

He works hard. He gives his family, his church and his God everything he’s got. Everything. 

And yet, the strange part is he works harder than me. And he always knows where his keys are. He has time to counsel and study and preach and strategize and administrate, care for the yard, have a tickle fight with John and still not get spitting mad about another bed-wetting at 4am.

How does he do it? He knows how to rest.

He rarely compromises it. He knows how to quiet his heart down. He can hear Holy Spirit whisper his value to him. 

He can work well because he rests well. 

He seems strange to me, and to the rest of the world, who spend most of our days trying to earn our keep. But my hubby knows in his heart what most of us believers know in our heads: he is accepted and loved and good and whole and making a happy God happy right now. Just as he is. 

Dance

We might say we know that, but we don’t believe it. We are still buying our value on the world’s currency. 

About a year ago, I was falling apart again. Sick all the time. Worn and resentful. Failing to say No. The days all blurred together. 

One morning I made myself a drink and say down at the table moments before I left for work. I wondered how much longer I could sustain this pace in this tired body. 

As I sat there, I could almost see my soul looking back at me. Bent over, sunken eyes, worn out, so worn out. My heart filled with compassion for my body and soul, who had been totally neglected in this season of running. I’d been mercilessly beating it, morning to night, requiring more and more. Work faster, work harder, I demanded. What is wrong with you? Why can’t you keep up? Why must you be so high maintenance, body?

But I was starved of sleep and nutrition. I didn’t have what I needed to keep going. My mind said Move but this old vessel had nothing left. The compassion and awareness lasted a few days. Long enough to leave an impression.

Rest is still hard for me though. There is no instant feedback. No positive affirmations.

No one will thank me for resting or mention my awesome resting ability in their blog. Resting will earn no new subscribers to my writing.  Resting does not fold laundry or teach my son the alphabet. It’s so hard to justify it from a productivity perspective.

But the truth is I get to rest. It’s a right I have as God’s adopted daughter. 

I was made to work, and I was made to rest. I cannot do one without the other, or I am out of balance. 

Failing to rest stems from an earning-it mentality. We feel we owe something to someone so we never stop. Because a heart that never rests lives by the Never Enough code. It doesn’t believe it deserves to rest, and so it never will. 

It may take breaks for TV shows or dinner, but it will always be thinking of the next thing it can do to matter. 

Rest is not an activity. It is not merely pausing from labor. It’s not one more thing on our To Do list.

Rest is a state of mind. And you can take it with you. That’s a good thing. 

So let me ask the crazy question we pretend to already know the answer to. What if we already mattered? What if, as my husband believes and Jesus longed to convince us, we are already loved and adored and cherished

I love how Paul talks about it in the first chapter of Ephesians:
 
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. IN LOVE he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” (Ephesians 1:4-6 NIV). 

See all those happy love words? We are either loved already (the Gospel of Jesus) or we have to earn love and heaven (every other religion in the world). 

I call myself a Christian so I guess I should start acting like one. I think I’m going to rest my way into heaven. How about you?

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Isn’t It Supposed To Happen More Than Once?

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Sometimes Christian music is so flat and depressing. Is it okay if I say that? 

It’s because it’s so entry-level, so absorbed in “that one time Jesus saved me”. And then the story never progresses.

I heard a song today with the lyrics “My chains were broken…when your loved washed over me.”

Really? All your chains were broken? At once? Well, a lot of mine have been hanging on. They break off moment by moment, year by year, monumental moment by monumental moment. I’m freer than when I got here, but not all free.

The love of God didn’t come up from behind and tackle me one day, leaving me without fear and problems and hangups. I’m still a mess. But I’m less mess.

I’m becoming who I am. 

And that’s the Gospel, folks. It’s transformation. Sanctification. God in the dishes, God in the fighting, God in the the dirty clothes, God in the hugs from my son, God in the highway breakdown.

The washing-over of love is supposed to happen every day, like a lot of times. Because that’s how much I need it. Not one time, a long time ago.

And slowly, like a rock in a riverbed, the edges wear off. I get shinier and smoother, but it’s just so, so, slow.

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I need a lot of love washes.

So Christian music, and Christian people, please remember the real Gospel. Please stop acting like salvation saves everything at once with glorious visible manifestation. It doesn’t. (Cause God knows we couldn’t handle that much freedom at once.)

But everything will be made new. Everything is being made new. The promise is a guarantee. Future history. As long as we stay in the river.

What’s one hangup you’ve gotten cleaned off, or at least a little cleaned up? Leave it in the comments, then let’s put it in the river together so it can get washed off.

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God, Actual Size

I’m really good at exaggerating to make a point. I am one of the best exaggerators I know. Maybe the best in the world. Whoops, there I go again. (I know you saw that coming.)

When I find myself face first in a dilemma, it always feels like I’ve been stuck for centuries and the whole problem is hopeless. Often I complain, which I call “external processing”, but my introvert husband doesn’t buy it. My condition feels insurmountable, whether it’s a health issue, a financial crisis, worry about my future career, or what to have for dinner.

Each poses a troublesome obstacle for my tiny brain. Why? Because I’m excellent at elevating problems. Good self-talk shrinks problems down briefly, but before long, another one pops up to take its place.

God’s answer comes in the form of two old words that always trip me up: magnify and exalt. One particular spot brings them together in radiant obscurity:

Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together. (Psalm 34:3)

Like any good, modern English-speaking Christian, I hop the text. Sounds archaic. It probably means sing songs to God or something. And…moving on.

But if he just means music, why isn’t he saying that? Because magnify and exalt are not only about guitar and drums and hands up – or down, if you’re more comfortable – on a Sunday morning. David’s talking about a proper view of God.

I remember in grade school, taking a magnifying glass out to the driveway, and if we tilted it just right, we could chase an insect with a ray of fire or burn a scrap of paper. It was a fun science experiment. You should try it, if you haven’t.

Magnification makes things larger. When I encounter an obstacle, my response is magnification. Will it be God or the problem? What I choose depends less on the problem and more on what I’ve been practicing up until that point.

Exalt is really an old word, and there are no elementary science tricks to help us with this one. The word means “to raise in rank, honor, power, character, quality, etc; elevate.”

Back when I had all-disposable income, I used to attend concerts as often as possible: Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, to name a few of my favorites. They played different styles and genres, but they all played on a stage.

Stages elevate, which makes the band easier to see, but it’s also a physical representation of what we’ve already done to the band. We paid a minimum of $30 for lawn seats or nosebleeds because months before, we “exalted” this band or artist to the position that justified spending that much money and time. The stage is a place of exaltation. 

Dave, high up on stage.

So here we have two old words that finally make sense.

Magnify = make bigger.

Exalt = lift up.

What if I was to make God bigger and lift him up every day? How would I do it? Here are a few ways to make God actual size:

1. Worship and praise: Making God large is most certainly done through worship, by singing songs about his power and connecting our hearts to heaven through music. Worship admits to our hearts about our own smallness and gives God the proper stage elevation in our lives. Psalm 22:3 says “You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.” God’s governs from the top of his people’s adoration. When we praise God, we allow his ruling and government into our situation, where we are sure to benefit from his mercy and justice.

2. Remember. One of my biggest problems is forgetting, not just where my keys are, but mostly how God has powerfully intervened in my life, again and again. He brings the right thing at the right time. He gives me all my necessities and more. When I forget, I grow fearful and orphaned, trying to figure out how I will make my own ends meet. Psalm 78 illustrates how our hearts wander and fail us when we forget what God does:

“The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle; they did not keep God’s covenant, and refused to live by his law. They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them.”

Israel, fully-armored warriors with God on their side, panicked when they forgot every time God supernaturally moved in their midst. They forgot. And they ran. Their problems grew while their God shrank.

3. Gratitude. A relative of remembering, gratitude puts us in the recipient position. It’s the place where I acknowledge I am the one in need, and I need someone to give me something. That’s what Thank You means. “I needed something; you provided it. Thank you.”

When my God dims and my troubles brighten, my heart grows anxious instantly. It looks like even God can’t save me this time, I tell myself. Paul faces off against this forgetful fear in Philippians 4.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.” 

Anxiety bows to prayerful gratitude.

So next time you can tell your problems are swelling, and fear is rising up and choking you out, put on some worship music, write a short list of the last five times God bailed you out and thank him for each of them.

Then you can restore God to Actual Size in your heart and mind. Now doesn’t that feel better? 

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People can change

In my line of work (mental health), I have to remind myself of this all the time: “They’re still breathing, so they can still change.” Hope can be painful, but we should still do it. I have several people I have to believe for today. Who are you holding out hope for today?

 

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These stories pump water

I love brand new ideas, really good ones I wish I thought of. Don’t you?

Well, here’s one for you. Have you heard of CausePub yet? If you haven’t, you’re about to.

I just wrote a story for CausePub, an organization creating books for a cause through group-publishing. [Click here to read the story and vote]. [Their current book project is called Couch Rebels, a collection of stories about folks who rebelled against horizontal life and got up to do something, to change something, even if the thing they changed was themselves. The concept is genius. Here’s how it works.

  • CausePub identifies a charity or cause they want their book to support
  • CausePub solicits stories from adventurers and story-tellers
  • After stories are submitted, they approve the stories and post them to their site
  • Story-writers solicit votes from friends and strangers
  • CausePub selects great stories they love with the most votes
  • The Couch Rebel book will be published as a Kindle eBook on August 14. So soon!
  • When anyone purchases the book, the proceeds are divided between the cause, the writers and basic overhead costs.
  • For Couch Rebel, 50% of the proceeds will benefit Blood: Water Mission. The breakdown is in the graphic below.

[Follow CausePub on Twitter here and find them on Facebook here.]

Here’s where I need your help: I wrote a story for CausePub, and I need your vote.

The story is below. It’s a story about a time when God met me and my seatmate on a plane to Atlanta. I didn’t see it coming. I love this story because it makes me like God even more. Please read and take a second to click VOTE. Thank you so much.

What God Thinks About You

“So, where are you headed?” I asked the young brunette next to me to end the awkward silence. She smiled the stranger smile, as if wondering how long this conversation might take. “Somewhere tropical. With friends.” She needed a little prodding, and I wondered if I should just lay off. Instead, I offered my own less glamorous destination: Atlanta.

I attempted to stir the conversation with more questions about her destination, responding with appropriate amounts of awe and jealousy. I hoped we would catch a common thread in our lives and the chatter would take off, giving me an opportunity to eventually talk with her about Jesus.

But no such luck. The conversation flailed, and we politely took up our books. I leaned into the window, pretending to read, but inside I argued with myself, knowing God might have bigger plans for this three-hour plane ride.

Eventually, my discomfort with silence grew larger than my desire to be well-mannered company. “What are you reading?” I finally inquired. She stammered a bit. “It’s a little unconventional. I’m not sure I want to say.” She tucked the pink book cover down toward her lap. I attempted to reassure her I didn’t have plans to judge, but I wasn’t going to push it. But what was she reading?

“I’m reading about artificial insemination,” she offered hesitantly, waiting for the verdict to read on my face as she turned the cover toward me. “I’m not married yet, but I’m 35. And I want to have a baby.”

Oh.

Click the button below to keep reading and vote.

Vote

The God of Self-Help

If you’ve been in church, or been around churchy people, you’ve heard people talk about God. Mostly he sounds like a philanthropic celebrity, but kind of religiousy. The hazy God-descriptions based on scriptural references don’t help.

“He’s the God of the oppressed.”
“He’s the Father to the fatherless.”
“He’s a friend to those in need.”
“He is a refuge for those who seek him.”

While these might be true, why the archaic language to describe someone who is supposed to be “closer than a brother”? These antiquities of speech only widen the gap between confused little me and a God who already feels far away.

I grew up in church, and for those of us who did, at some point we decided if we wanted to interact with God or not. If he was really there and worth our time. The general malaise present in many North American churches serves only to sedate and even quench the passion for the divine with which children are born.

Eventually, if you stay in the shades-of-slate suburbia long enough, you’ll be introduced to The God of Self-Help. This God wants you to “be good”. With only rare head nods to a nicely tanned, smiling Jesus, DIY spirituality is the flavor of the millennium. The mantra: “I can do it myself, with a little help from Jesus.”

Needing help is reserved for only special occasions, like praying for orphans in Africa or the parent with a rare form of cancer. People who really need it. Otherwise, we rarely have to bother God. After all, he hath bestowed on us Deepak Chopra and Oprah and Dr. Oz. What more do we need? A full life awaits us.

I’m a Christian, and I follow Jesus. Self-help affirmations and feel-good quotations give me the willies, but if I’m honest, I will usually pick The God of Self-Help over Real Jesus. Why? Four main reasons:

1. I can do it on my own.
2. I should do it on my own.
3. I owe Jesus to get my crap together after all he’s done for me.
4. I don’t want to bother with all this relationship stuff. It’s too unpredictable.

Self-help offers the thing we all want so desperately: a formula for success with little mess. How do I get to heaven? How can I make the boss like me? How can I have one more baby? How can I get the things I’ve been wanting, tangible or intangible?

I want to achieve. I want to check boxes. I want to feel good. I want to make a difference because I want my name on something. I want people to be impressed with me. And I don’t want anyone questioning my motives or giving me a hard time. Get out of my way. I am trying to get rich and famous, or at least be decently oblivious and happy over here.

And it sure seems like Real Jesus wants to come in and mess it all up.

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It’s easier to dismiss the King James deities, all unrelatable and distant. The Self-Help God offers me a solution to my surface desires, which distracts me with niceties and a busy spiritual life.

Then along comes this Jesus guy, God with flesh on, messing everything up. Touching lepers, playing with kids, drinking wine, sitting in dirt. And dying.

Suddenly it becomes quite clear that Self-Help God is holding out on me. Because why would this other God go to all this trouble to redeem a bunch fully qualified humans? Why the bloody death if we can just read a handbook to pass? Overkill much?

Or perhaps self-help is not enough. Perhaps I am a giant, flailing mess and not even the people around me can toss the tube over cause they’re too busy drowning in it too.

Indeed, self-help is help yourself. Every man and woman for him or herself. There are no extra resources. I need all the points I can get. It’s “I can’t save you so you better work and try to save yourself.”

I’m sorry I’ve been dialing the God of Self-Help while keeping the Real Jesus at arm’s length, suspiciously eyeing him and fearing for what he will ask of me.

I still want to fix myself. I think I need to try harder. But Jesus’ crazy life says I’m desperate, and if I slow down long enough to look around, I can see that I am. I need way more than self-help. I need a rope deep enough to reach into hell and pluck me from the flames seconds from the burn.

God, I’m sorry I drank the Kool-Aid thinking you were gonna help me be a nice person, that you were peddling best-sellers on formulas for a better life. You couldn’t care less about my manicured lawn and nails if my heart is rotting out. You look past skin and landscaping to see the whitewashed tomb inside.

It’s ugly. I need a makeover. This is no DIY project. It’s major surgery. There is nothing worth saving here. I need a life-transplant.

Real Jesus, I’m done with The God of Self-Help. I am really sorry I’ve been one of those friends who only calls when she needs something. And I’m sorry I’ve been a liar, liar, pants on fire about my relationship with you. I’m a novice. A born-yesterday beginner. But I’m aware now.

Help.