HeartSupport http://www.heartsupport.com Hold Fast. We Believe In You. Wed, 26 Nov 2014 21:31:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Kevin Jordan of This Wild Life on Relationships http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/kevin-jordan-wild-life-relationships/ http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/kevin-jordan-wild-life-relationships/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=18004 Kevin Jordan of This Wild Life shares stories of heartbreak and growth as well as the importance of friends and what happens when you lose those deep connections.

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Kevin Jordan of This Wild Life shares stories of heartbreak and growth as well as the importance of friends and what happens when you lose those deep connections.

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When Our Body Image Determines Our Worth http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/body-image-determines-worth/ http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/body-image-determines-worth/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 06:57:38 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=17913 When I was 15 years old I was what singer Avril Lavigne would come to dub as a “skater boy”. I was skinny, wore baggy JNCO jeans, had long hair, and enjoyed playing Nirvana songs on guitar. I looked like this: By age 26, however, I looked like this:   As a teenager I quickly learned that longhaired skinny kids […]

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When I was 15 years old I was what singer Avril Lavigne would come to dub as a “skater boy”. I was skinny, wore baggy JNCO jeans, had long hair, and enjoyed playing Nirvana songs on guitar. I looked like this:

Sledge-teen

By age 26, however, I looked like this:

1929851_562209266132_6098_n

 

As a teenager I quickly learned that longhaired skinny kids were only cool in the movie Dazed and Confused. In real life? Not so much. So I cut my hair, and bleached the tips like what I saw in the magazines. People noticed and the attention felt good. I wasn’t getting picked on anymore for the way I looked. So I paid more attention to the things society said makes the man and quickly found that 6 pack abs were what the ladies craved.

By the time I entered the military I ended up as human petri dish for every muscle supplement known to man. I was obsessed with the way I looked. Do I feel fat today? Better put in an extra 30 minutes at the gym. Every mirror became a critique. Every gain and every lift reminding me “I’m not that dorky kid anymore. Try and beat me up now.” The more attention I got, the better I felt. Tell me I’m worth something. That I matter. That I’m not transparent.

The reality for men is that even our identity gets wrapped up in body image. We think it defines who we are. Oh, he’s the fat kid. That guy is the athlete. And the skinny guy over there is emo. And that guy probably just eats gyms and is a meathead.

Yet what we believe of our appearance is the internal stock of what we believe about ourselves. Society has trained us to think we need to look, act, and dress a certain way in order to be accepted. To have worth. For most of my life I’ve lived in such a way as to cast myself in the spotlight. I want my 15 minutes of fame and if I get shafted at 14:59 then I’ll do whatever it takes to get that extra second. If we’re honest, most of us tend to live that way. Most times I post on Facebook and Twitter so that I’ll get more likes and retweets, and if I get those, then I believe I have worth. So we take provocative selfies that show we’re losing weight, getting chiseled, or are “bikini ready.”

We desperately want to be told that who we are and what we look like matters to people.

I think that’s why everyone saw Kim Kardashian’s ass plastered all over the internet recently. In the grand scheme of things having my bare ass plastered on the internet isn’t going to win me a Nobel Prize nor is it going to end world hunger. But if enough people take notice and approve then it tells me I have worth. However, that mansion of approval is nothing more than a house made of straw and approval is a monster fed that is never satisfied. We help feed that monster when we compare our bodies to others to garner acceptance. Spending more time in the gym to cut. The latest fad diet. Or potentially starving ourselves to live up to an ideal that’s a façade, airbrushed, or downright fake.

I’ve spent the better part of a decade now shackled by the idea that the way I look determines my worth. I’m just now getting to the point where I can pass up mirrors and spend time at a gym that’s focused on my health and longevity, not the way I look.

But how do we go about actually believing this? How can we change our perception with a society that’s hell bent on air brushed perfection and an inferiority complex?

There’s a Cherokee Indian tale in which an old brave is teaching his young grandson about life. He sits him down by the fire one evening and explains there is a battle between two wolves that rages inside us all. One wolf is evil. Full of anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other wolf is good. Full of joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

The question is asked, “Which wolf wins?”

To which the old brave replies, “The one that I feed.”

The more we feed the wolf of society that tells us we have no worth, demands perfection, and breeds lies the more we’ll believe that about our identity and appearance. But the more we feed contentment, hope, and truth the more we begin to starve the wolf that would seek to destroy us.

Which wolf will you feed?

 

 

 

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JT Cavey of Texas in July http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/jt-cavey-texas-july/ http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/jt-cavey-texas-july/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 17:22:59 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=17892 JT Cavey, the new lead singer of Texas in July, spoke with us shortly before their album released. He shares open and honestly about the need for community to make it through struggles, and treating people equally and why he takes issue with a “macho” attitude.

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JT Cavey, the new lead singer of Texas in July, spoke with us shortly before their album released. He shares open and honestly about the need for community to make it through struggles, and treating people equally and why he takes issue with a “macho” attitude.

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Perfectly Imperfect http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/perfectly-imperfect/ http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/perfectly-imperfect/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 00:33:39 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=17692 I’m by all means and classifications underweight. And a lot people say that’s not a bad thing. Except it is. A few months ago, I walked into the doctor’s office for my regular physical and he told me I was too thin. He said my weight was making my heart work too hard. He said I couldn’t even think about […]

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I’m by all means and classifications underweight.

And a lot people say that’s not a bad thing. Except it is. A few months ago, I walked into the doctor’s office for my regular physical and he told me I was too thin. He said my weight was making my heart work too hard. He said I couldn’t even think about having kids yet. He said I needed to see a psychiatrist.

I walked out in tears.

I’ve always been skinny and on the shorter side, and I’ve long dealt with the names that come with that. I’ve felt like the bag of bones next to my curvier friends, and I hated it, and after that appointment, I felt sure that I weak, and worse, that I looked it.

After that doctor’s appointment, I started checking the scale religiously to see if I had gained a few pounds. I stopped wearing jeans because I was sure they hung too loose on me and made me look sickly. I was sure my husband didn’t want a skeleton wife.

I changed my diet, among other things, and months later, I’m still thin, but I’m at a healthier weight. I had to buy all new jeans in a larger size. I’m running 50 miles a month. I’m eating right, and I feel great— the best I have in years.

But if I could, I’d change something about this whole experience. I wish I had loved my body a little more a few months ago.

When the doctor warned me about my weight, I was mad at my body. It was failing me. I wish I had loved my body, instead of treating it like some project. I’m afraid we do that with our bodies. We, as women, say “if I could just lose a few pounds” or “get a few curves” or “tighten my thighs,” instead of loving our body here and now.

Victoria’s Secret has a campaign right now called the Perfect Body, in its ads, there are a line of curvy and tall women posing with the words “Perfect Body,” promoting “perfect fit and comfort.” Instead, the retailer has come under fire for implying that the perfect body looks like the airbrushed models.

In return, another campaign has launched, #PerfectlyImperfect, meant to showcase women of all ages and sizes. I love that idea. I love that perfectly imperfect is exactly what we are.

But it doesn’t stop at the hashtag.

We need to love ourselves right there.

The truth is I did need to get to a healthier weight, but I didn’t have to hate myself to get there. I don’t blame the doctor. He did his job. The trouble was in seeing myself as a project that needed to be fixed.

Our bodies are not a work-in-progress. They are ours and meant to be loved and hugged and cherished. They are meant to boast sweatpants and leggings and dresses and faded, but comfy T-shirts and all kinds of jeans— not just skinny ones.

Honestly, my favorite jeans are a little baggy and my favorite shirts are ratty T-shirts from college. That’s the body I love: the one that isn’t trying to look better in the mirror or on the scale, the one that is perfectly and imperfectly me.

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Suicide Stigma and Death With Dignity http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/suicide-stigma-death-dignity/ http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/suicide-stigma-death-dignity/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 17:06:52 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=17380     “How’s he doing?” “He’s okay….he had to hold the other guys brains in the back of his head while waiting for a medic. The suppressive fire was too strong to get anyone out there. Guy seized a bunch and eventually died after about an hour.” “Damn man…” He puts his hand on my shoulder and then walks off […]

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“To run away from trouble is a form of cowardice and, while it is true that the suicide braves death, he does it not for some noble object but to escape some ill” -Aristotle

 

“How’s he doing?”

“He’s okay….he had to hold the other guys brains in the back of his head while waiting for a medic. The suppressive fire was too strong to get anyone out there. Guy seized a bunch and eventually died after about an hour.”

“Damn man…”

He puts his hand on my shoulder and then walks off without saying a word.

In war I’ve rarely seen moments of dignity in death. And if there happens to be any it’s because someone went out swinging. But it’s still ugly. And it’s never pretty. Sometimes the death is slow, long, and extremely painful. The dying are reassured that they’ll make it and to hold on to hope even when we know all hope is expended. There’s a common misconception, however, among popular culture that if there’s a dying man on the battlefield it’s okay to perform a “mercy killing” (aka battlefield euthanasia) to put him out of his suffering. But it’s nothing more than that. A stigma. And is also universally condemned under the Geneva conventions and highly illegal. Instead, what you will see is often what’s portrayed in the movies. Men weeping and begging their brother to hang on.

If art imitates life then I wonder what it is that makes us create movies where hope is held onto even in the midst of a hopeless situation? Why can we put down Old Yeller but even terminal cancer patients and dying soldiers we want to hold on to hope?

In light of Brittnay Maynard’s recent death I pondered these questions. I examined the arguments of those that are advocates for her being able to take her life and those fiercely against it. And if I’m honest, I was torn. I understand both sides of the argument. Would I want to continue living if each day was increasingly unbearable and involved suffering? Or would I hope the doctor slipped me a lethal concoction that sent me to sleep? I’d probably opt for the painless death in all honesty.

But here’s the problem I ran into when I played with the idea of it being okay to take your life if you’re terminal. What kind of message are we sending to our youth in advocating that type of death? What kind of message are we sending to those that are suicidal?

Every last one of us can name someone we know that’s gone through horrific circumstances. The pain of the present (or even past) haunts and torments them daily. We each probably know someone whose depression is intense and unrelenting. We can probably name someone who lives in a situation where they may think suicide is the only way out. And these people have been there for years. Not 6 months. Not 3 months. But years.

Because their pain, mental anguish, depression, or unrelenting abusive situation is continual, by condoning “Death with Dignity” are we not telling them “if your situation is hard enough and painful enough, it’s okay to take your life”? I speak with so many men and women already who believe that a painless death would be far more merciful than to walk another day in the agony that consumes them. So where do we draw the line?

For so many of us in the mental health battle Brittnay’s death is a massive blow towards destroying this suicide stigma. Instead we just might be unintentionally advocating for it while blanketing it under the term “mercy”.

What we fail to remember, because we don’t like dwelling on it, is that we’re all terminal anyway. And when we lose hope, other people lose hope. But when we give hope, other people find that too. Garret Rapp’s Instagram succinctly states: “There are two kinds of pain in life. Pain that hurts you and pain that changes you.” I believe his point is that the two aren’t exclusive from one another. You let the pain hurt you and bring you to despair. Or you let it change you. Just what if Brittnay Maynard instead spent her final days becoming a voice for suicide prevention? What an amazing way to repurpose that pain and needless suffering she was experiencing.

Regardless of circumstance, we can always repurpose pain. We can truly have some semblance of dignity even when we’re dying. We can spend what little time we all truly have holding the wounded on the battlefield and saying, “Hang on. You can make it.”

 

 

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When Recovery Feels Impossible http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/when-recovery-feels-impossible/ http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/when-recovery-feels-impossible/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 20:20:10 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=17353 The gun fired. It cracked the air and shook my body. My heart raced. Footsteps littered the streets. Waves of people started to run. Some screamed. I lurched forwards and felt my stomach drop. This was it. I had to go. I leaped from the starting line of a half-marathon I decided to run on a whim over winter break. […]

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LibertyInviteStartGunThe gun fired. It cracked the air and shook my body. My heart raced. Footsteps littered the streets. Waves of people started to run. Some screamed. I lurched forwards and felt my stomach drop. This was it. I had to go.

I leaped from the starting line of a half-marathon I decided to run on a whim over winter break. Thirteen miles of shin-splinting, feet-numbing pain later, I rounded the final corner and saw the finish line for the first time. Everyone else disappeared, and for that last quarter-mile stretch, it was just about me, myself, and my run. It didn’t matter how fast anyone else was going; it didn’t matter who was ahead of me; it was me, and that line, and nothing else.

The other thirteen miles looked altogether different. Most of my thoughts were measuring how I was stacking up to others. It was a race. So when people passed me, I couldn’t help but wonder: should I have done something different? What if I had trained harder? Why am I not as good as them?

I hear a lot of people asking themselves the same questions when it comes to their recovery. They’re glancing over their shoulder and seeing people pass them up. Some wonder, “Why aren’t I better by now? What did I do wrong? What am I missing?” And underneath that, they’re really wondering, “Why am I taking so much longer than everyone else to get better? I should have recovered already.”

I’m sure by now, you’ve heard at least a dozen heroic stories of people being neck-deep in every sin known to man, and overnight, they made a one-time turn and never looked back. And maybe looking at your own life, you feel entirely inadequate because you’ve been in the same single struggle for years. Stories like that frustrate you. Your soul grieves, “Why, God? Why am I not better yet? What am I not getting?” Failure after failure after failure. You’ve had more “day ones” than you can count, and you’re sick of starting over. Your knees are sore from begging, your voice is hoarse from shouting, your eyes are swollen from sadness. You’re sick of the roller coaster of promise and failure, hope and disappointment. You stopped believing it’s actually possible for you to get better. You don’t trust yourself anymore when you say, “This time is going to be different.” Something in you itches and whispers, “It never will.” These thoughts are like quicksand, and life starts to feel like one giant desert of traps set for you to fail. Recovery seems like that elusive oasis that everyone talks about but has never seen.

The good news is this: none of that is true. Your real problem isn’t that you’re “doing recovery wrong”. You’re not missing anything. You aren’t beyond hope.

Your real problem is that you’re making recovery a race. And when you do that, most days you’re going to lose. But it’s not because you’re actually underperforming; it’s because you’re comparing competitors who are running different events.

What I didn’t see in the middle of my half-marathon was that my “competitors” weren’t actually competitors at all. They were running an entirely different race. They had different training regimens, different coaches, different eating plans. They had different amounts of time to prepare; they had different schedules to train. They had different athletic backgrounds. They had different families that taught them different things. They were born with different sets of strengths. They had different genetic inclinations. They were born in different places, times, families, upbringings, and lives than me. We might have been traveling along the same course, but we certainly were not running the same race.

You too have different circumstances, wounds, tools, relationships, stories, backgrounds, abilities. You can’t possibly compare. Your journey is not like anyone else’s. You’re weighing the “time to recovery” as a measurement of success and ignoring that pole-vaulting and curling are two different events entirely. You’re beating yourself up for losing to a Kenyan sprinting a 5K when you’re trying to crab-walk a marathon.

kenyan v crabwalk

Even if you feel like you’re in dead last to the rest of the world, the truth is, in a one-person race, you’re also straight up first. When you stop beating yourself up for not being ten miles ahead of where you are right now, you can use that energy to actually get there. No one else can take those steps for you, and no one else is racing you to take them. It’s just you, yourself, and your journey. And if you stop comparing, you might just free yourself to run your own race. At your own pace. And have the peace knowing where you are right now is exactly where you should be.

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Happy Birthday to the Ground http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/happy-birthday-to-the-ground/ http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/happy-birthday-to-the-ground/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 22:45:53 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=17316 It was my brother’s birthday cake, and the entire loaf took a nosedive from my wife’s lap onto the passenger side floorboard of our car. It landed without hesitation in one proud “splat”. My wife turned to me with that, “OH, SHIT” face and two hands smeared with would-have-been sugary bliss. A few minutes earlier, she couldn’t find her phone […]

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It was my brother’s birthday cake, and the entire loaf took a nosedive from my wife’s lap onto the passenger side floorboard of our car. It landed without hesitation in one proud “splat”. My wife turned to me with that, “OH, SHIT” face and two hands smeared with would-have-been sugary bliss.

A few minutes earlier, she couldn’t find her phone in her purse, so we stopped in a neighborhood nearby to search the car. Now, there’s one thing you need to know about my wife to more fully paint the picture of my frustration: she is a professional at losing anything that has value. Her phone, her keys, her wallet, her purse—she is a mastermind misplacer.  And that night I was already exhausted. Having to pull over because she lost her phone was the last thing I had the patience for. Tensions mounted as we realized her phone wasn’t in the car. She went to sit back down in her seat and decorated our car with cake.

There are varying levels of anger. Most people think the louder you are, the angrier you are. And that’s true to a point, but when you get so angry so fast that you can’t even feel it all at once, you stop thinking and say nothing. It’s a fragile state where even the softest sound could set you off. And as I was cleaning up the cake, I was completely. And utterly. Silent.

I put it all back on the tray and started walking to find a street-side gutter to chuck it into. And with every step, my anger brewed. The extra cleaning, the wasted time, the mounds of inconvenience. I walked almost a quarter mile of gutter-less street before I gave up and marched back—uphill and seething. As the lights of my car got closer and closer, I realized I was going to have to confront her about this. And at this rate, it was headed nowhere good.

I was twenty steps out. The NERVE she has to be mad at me.

Fifteen steps out. SHE lost her phone. SHE dropped the cake.

I was ten steps out now. But I don’t want this to blow up into an all-out argument. In a fleeting moment of clarity, I realized that I couldn’t un-drop the cake. It was done. But I could do something about how I was going to react now. And I realized that a couple months down the road, this could be one of those moments we would look back on and laugh at.

With five steps left, I had a choice. I could snap at her OR, I could let my anger and my pride go, forgive her instead of blame her, and have a good laugh about it.

I think in many of those moments, we chose to hold onto our anger; we choose to fixate on the hurt. We think that their pain will justify ours, and somehow two wounds will make us healed. It’s easier in that moment to want them to hurt back, to satisfy your anger. But “getting even” and hurting them doesn’t heal you. It just makes you both wounded. You have another option though. You can forgive them, let them go without hurting them, and in turn, let yourself heal too. You can’t change the fact they hurt you—it already happened. It’s done. But you too have the choice of what you’re going to do now.

As for me and my wife, we chose to laugh. Hard. Happy birthday to the ground.

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Giving up the Crown http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/giving-up-the-crown/ http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/giving-up-the-crown/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 16:57:26 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=17213 A few weeks ago, I slid into a chair in council chambers in a Dallas/Fort Worth city. I checked my watch and turned on my iPad. Like every second and fourth Tuesday night of the month, I was there to cover the meeting for a local newspaper. The agenda for that night’s meeting was light, and I was glad. I […]

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A few weeks ago, I slid into a chair in council chambers in a Dallas/Fort Worth city. I checked my watch and turned on my iPad. Like every second and fourth Tuesday night of the month, I was there to cover the meeting for a local newspaper.

The agenda for that night’s meeting was light, and I was glad. I was tired. I had been at city hall since earlier that afternoon when I covered a press conference put on by the mayor. I was ready to get home and eat something with chocolate and go to bed early.

About halfway through the meeting, the double doors in the back opened loudly and mayor stopped talking. He had skipped over something earlier on the agenda, but I hadn’t noticed. All eyes turned to the back of the room where three high school girls stood. Two of the girls, beautiful and slender with skinny jeans and track jackets, flanked another girl, who was shorter and had stringy red hair she had pulled back in a ponytail. They were ushered to the front of the room and the mayor started telling their story.

The two girls had been nominated for Homecoming Queen, but in a prank against the red-headed girl, other students had falsely told her that she was also nominated for Homecoming court.

After hearing about the prank, the two girls made a promise that if either one of them won the crown, they’d give it to the red-headed girl.

And that’s just what happened.

People at the meeting where I was at began crying and clapping when they heard that. Everyone wanted to hug them and meet them and shake their hands. I snapped their photo and found myself smiling.

Here is the good in the world, I thought.

These girls appeared on Ellen. They made headlines for what they did, and still, as they stood there on a Tuesday night in city hall, they shrugged and whispered giggles to each other. It was easy to see they were all friends.

Just 17 and 18 years old, they reminded me of something beautiful I’d forgotten: There is good. There is hope. There is grace. There are people in this world who are willing to give up their crowns. I pray you bump into those people in your daily lives. I pray we are those people.

As a Christian, the story of the girls reminds me of another one: the story of Jesus. Here was someone who gave up his throne to put on skin and come to earth. He gave up his crown for the sake of others. He gave up his comfort to love others.

 

So when someone sees these three girls and hears their story, they can see hope and know that it tears through the muck of this world. People need to be reminded of that. I need to be reminded of that.

I’ve forgotten that I was only popular in high school because I clung to people who were popular. I wasn’t nominated for homecoming court. I went dateless to prom. I drove an obnoxiously loud Ford Ranger. Then recently, I had lunch with a high school friend, who kindly reminded me that I wore a hideous black leather jacket constantly (I had blocked that fashion choice from memory).

I seriously have no idea how I made it through high school.

These three students reminded me goodness shines and it doesn’t have to be just in the high school hallways. They reminded me that I need to love others more, help others more, give others more spotlight.

We don’t have to give up the crown because it’s the right thing to do or because it’s moral or because it’s in the rules. We give up the crown so others can get a glimpse of grace and remember there is good still.

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There Will Be Blood (Reflections on the Christian Church) http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/there-will-be-blood-reflections-on-the-christian-church/ http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/there-will-be-blood-reflections-on-the-christian-church/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 10:00:02 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=17136 “I have had the worst experiences with church….” “…the constant judgment, the unmoving beliefs in their theological views. It saddens me that I feel I can’t find sanctuary inside those walls.” “…7 years later I still haven’t really been back.” These are just snippets of numerous emails I’ve received after my most recent blog on why I’m a Christian. I […]

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“I have had the worst experiences with church….”

“…the constant judgment, the unmoving beliefs in their theological views. It saddens me that I feel I can’t find sanctuary inside those walls.”

“…7 years later I still haven’t really been back.”

These are just snippets of numerous emails I’ve received after my most recent blog on why I’m a Christian. I picked a scab and revealed a gaping wound many of us have. Most of our experiences within the walls of the church have left us half dead, beaten, and disillusioned.

Recent news only continues to report what many have indeed experienced. Seattle mega-church pastor Mark Driscoll resigned after numerous allegations of spiritual abuse, bullying, misogyny, and an extremely unhealthy ego. Sovereign Grace Ministries, however, takes the cake: Pastors covering up child abuse, protecting the predators, not informing parents of what was going on, and even forcing the children to hug their abusers and tell them they were forgiven.

So when we hear those stories and remember our own personal experiences, the thought of ever attending church makes us shudder with horror.

I think the problem lies in the fact the church has, unfortunately, become a resort for pretty people as opposed to a hospital for the broken. But I also believe we have helped create this environment. We expect our pastors to be pretty instead of bleeding all over the stage. Pastors also wrongly assume they can’t share where they’re hurting and failing for fear of giving their congregants a license to do whatever the hell they want. In each of those instances it shows one major mistake: Neither understands the Good News of Jesus. The good news is that God knows you’re a mess, loves you in spite of it, and asks you to be honest about it so you can find healing as a community.

Instead we have these high expectations when we walk into church and this strange game we play where everyone at church is happy and clappy, so when people who are hemorrhaging walk in they can sniff out the fake like a bloodhound. And when everyone is busy pretending and not dealing with heart issues, you get religious and judgmental people that love rules instead of helping hurting people.

The lead pastor at the church I attend once gave a fantastic analogy: Imagine you found a Rembrandt masterpiece in a dumpster covered in mud and stained. Would you write it off as a loss and leave it in the dumpster? Or would you try everything in your power to gently remove the grime, being sure not to hurt and damage the masterpiece underneath?

Sadly, many churches have become a place where rough cleansing tactics are used and people get further damaged and the masterpiece is never called out.

So it leaves us skeptical of church when in reality there are churches and people desperately trying to love and look like Jesus. However, even if you find a church where people look and typically love like Jesus, there’s a catch: There will be blood.

No matter how great the church, no matter how loving, it’s still comprised of broken people who will eventually wound you. I tell people at my church often, “stick around long enough and I’m bound to light you up like the 4th of July.” I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve been wounded and said, “F this. I’m out. Everyone sucks.” Most times though it’s because someone in leadership that was hurting bled on me or I was the one bleeding on everyone else. Every single person in the church will at some point inevitably suck, and that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

My wife once explained to me that when we were growing up, we were all hurt openly or subtly by people whose hopes, dreams, and expectations were shattered by others. It’s like hugging a person who’s covered in broken glass – the closer you get, the more you will get stabbed and infected. Some of their glass will inevitably become part of our glass, further leaving our own needs and desires shattered. Each of us continues to walk around like cracked snow globes, with shards of debris poking out like limbs on a Christmas tree. Each of us walking hazards to one another. And even if you become a hermit, you will still have your own brokenness to process and handle.

So what do we do with the fact that no matter where you go, you’re going to be wounded by others?

I think the answer comes in the form of recognizing the type of environment where there’s healing when you get wounded or where it will only produce gangrene and death.

I once attended a service where a Baptist preacher gave an entire sermon rife with political undertones and ranted for a good hour on how this nation was going to hell. The people in the congregation afterwards talked how they thought it was the “best sermon they’d ever heard” simply because he had tickled their ears and leaned toward their political ideologies. The following week I returned to my home church and heard a sermon on how the world was broken and that each of us could feel that within our gut, but that we still had the opportunity to do something despite the fact many of us were still struggling and felt unworthy to help. We could live the mission and life of Christ to those around us and alleviate suffering. So they had sign ups for disaster relief, to work in orphanages around the world, to serve their neighborhood and help feed the homeless. It grated against a lot of people (even me) because the call to action was steep and caused us to give up our comfort.

What amazed me was that both sermons agreed that something was wrong with the world. One, however, produced a type of parishioner who hated the world and condemned it much like the Pharisees in the stories of the Bible. They also got to hear things that already aligned with their beliefs. The other activated their congregants to restore and love the world and rubbed against our selfish tendencies. One producing non-action and moral superiority where no one struggles and the other saying, “Listen, you can live selfish, but it’s just going to bring you pain. There’s life over here if you want it. There’s hope and healing over here if you want to be a part of it.”

In seeing the difference of those two examples I can tell you that the type of church I’ll always attend will be the one that serves the needs of my community, the world, the hurting, the victim, and the marginalized. I’ll always seek out a church where the pastors share openly about their failures and shortcomings. The type of church I’ll always be a part of will be the one where I can approach the leadership and say “You hurt me, and here’s why” and they accept that, review it, and apologize if there’s truth to it. I will always be involved in a place where messy people can be messy, have doubts, struggle with sexuality, gender identity, or addiction.

Will I get hurt there? Oh yes. But are the friendships, authenticity, and opportunity to impact the world worth it? Definitely.

 

See conviction wells up inside, an imprint from above
Seeks to reject injustice and not to judge
Works to fix the things that are broken
Walks in humble regard to their fellow man
And never forgets that the greatest law is Love

-Being As an Ocean, Grace, Teach Us What We Lack

 

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Garret Rapp (The Color Morale) Shares his Past http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/garret-rapp-the-color-morale-shares-his-past/ http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/garret-rapp-the-color-morale-shares-his-past/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 16:43:25 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=17118 Garret Rapp of the Color Morale shares his story of a past that involved sexual abuse, abandonment, bullying, bulimia, and self-harm. His goal in life now is helping others find hope and healing through his music and conversations beyond the merch table.

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Garret Rapp of the Color Morale shares his story of a past that involved sexual abuse, abandonment, bullying, bulimia, and self-harm. His goal in life now is helping others find hope and healing through his music and conversations beyond the merch table.

The post Garret Rapp (The Color Morale) Shares his Past appeared first on HeartSupport.

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