Face pressed to the glass.

A few years ago I was in a horrible argument. I had sent a text I should have never sent. The minute I pushed send,I knew I had made a mistake. I had severed a relationship that I valued.I took and still take full responsibility for my part. But what happened after was not at all what I had expected. I began to apologize and plead that the people on the other end of the message hear me, it was not my finest moment. I explained that what I had sent meant something that they did not understand. One person in the conversation within hours was at my dining room table and we were figuring it out. We were hearing each other. I cried and asked for forgiveness and she showed mercy and let the healing process begin. The other person never did. In fact things just kept getting worse. I felt like a little kid, faced pressed against the glass of the classroom, that everyone could see but no one could hear. That I was never given the chance to tell the whole story.

The last few days I think a lot of us feel that way. That we are not being heard.

A few weeks ago when the Christian community took Jen Hatmaker to the shed for an interview that she did with Jonathan Merritt, it stirred the same feelings inside of me.

No one was hearing her.

No one was asking her any questions. We were just putting down the books and blogs and picking up the stones.

No one asked her what in her life had changed that her views had now shifted. No one invited her to the table to be heard. No one asked what had broken and how could they see more clearly.They just let her stand outside of the window with her face pressed to the glass trying to be heard. But immediately we shut the door,  turned our backs and dismissed the voice we had all been worshipping and tweeting for years.

I am not saying you have to agree with her. I am not even saying you have to ever had to read another blog. But what I am saying is that maybe we need to start asking questions.

Maybe it is time again to hear.

I think if people that have known me for a long time would look at my life in the last two years they would say that I have changed. That my views and stances have shifted. That something is different.They are right. I have. But to know why, that is not for the world to know. My people know. My circle knows. And to many of my conservative acquaintances  they would perhaps argue that I am not following Jesus the way they believe I should be. That I don’t fit in a box anymore.

But they do not know the whole story. They do not know my why. They do not know the shattered parts.They will just leave me in the hall with my face pressed to the window.

I feel that we are all have our faces pressed to the window this week. We all want to be heard, but no one is brave enough to open the door.

Or if the door is opened it is met with

“God is in control”, “ You need to trust in God”, “God bless our new president”, “You need to respect him”,“The election is done”,” This doesn’t affect me”,

But friends what if we responded with” let me hear you…..”

Let me hear what in your life happened or is happening that you feel so strongly about this.

Let me sit with you in this grief and not say anything.

Let me open up my house and give you a seat at the table.

Let me understand you more.

Let me just hear your story.

You see we all have stories. Some of our stories are broken and bruised and raw. And if  we continue to only know a piece of the story and respond the way we are, we will continue to keep the door shut.

Instead of pushing each other out of the classroom into the hall, with our faces up to the glass, we let each other in.

We hear the pain. We hear the fear. We hear the families. We see our neighbors.

We realize that to dismiss a person for one check-mark, that we have reduced ourselves to the same.

“Somehow I wonder if it’s in shattered places, with broken people, we are most near the broken heart of Christ”- Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way

I am addicted to Jen Hatmaker- and I think you are too.

I feel like it is time I come clean.

I have been hiding this too long and personally it is getting too heaving to carry around anymore.

My name is Sheli Massie and I am addicted to all things Jen Hatmaker.

There I said it. I will consume everything Jen Hatmaker throws at me like a ravenous hyena in the savannahs of Africa. I devour it. I am not lying. I stayed up all night to finish her last book. I should not be staying up all night unless a child is puking or I am on a Netflix binge of House of Cards with my husband. I ate only seven foods for month a couple of years ago because I thought it would somehow make me more like Jen and forgot about what the purpose of the exercise was in the first place. If there was a Hatmaker sticker for my car you know I would have it on there. I know I have an issue. My children know I have an issue. They took me last Mother’s Day over and hour away for a normal Sunday morning service in a car full of screaming children so I could see her speak. I may have ugly cried my way through the service and wondered where she got her gorgeous skirt and sassy belt. I had a Jen perma smile on the whole way home. My children clearly knew the way to my heart.

My eight year old is one who likes to “keep it real” If you want to know the blatant truth she is your girl. What she lacks in social filters she makes up for with empathy abounding.

But she is also the one who reminds me of who I am.

Last night she asked for school lunch and I eagerly said yes. Of course you can have fish sticks, canned peaches and chocolate milk. If it means that I only have to make five lunches in the morning I will ignore the “running to the bathroom” it gives you.

She quickly added though.

But can you still write me a love note, so I can put it in my pocket? I like to read them in the afternoon to remind me what you said.

You see sweet one. We all need to be reminded of who we are. Of what really matters. I forget daily that I am not who social media deems as important. I am not close to who the writing world thinks is imperative. And I am not even close to who the world thinks is essential.

But I am important to six other people living under this roof. Even when they are rolling their eyes at me or slamming doors, I am still someone.

When I measure the worth of who I am next to the fame of someone else I will always come up a thousand miles short.

I would never compare my fifteen year old daughter on the basketball court with an NBA player. I wouldn’t tell her after the game, where she left it all out on the court, that she was ok but not even close to being good enough.

I would never dream of telling my son that he played a horrible game and should have scored that goal.

Somebody kick me in the teeth if I compare the education feats of one child to another. The comparison of one sibling to the next is such a confining place to live and if we are confined we never have space to grow into who we are called to be.

Yet this is what I do to myself every day.

I confine myself with comparison.

I measure the worth of the words I write and hold them next to award winning authors. I compare myself to the crunchy mom whose child has never consumed a preservative and shame myself for my lack of child raising skills.

I believe that I am not enough so why even try. Why try when I will never be Jen Hatmaker.

DUH.

God never called me to be Jen Hatmaker. He never called me to be Kristen Howerton. He never called me to Glennon Doyle Melton. He never called me to be Sarah Bessey. He never called me to be Beth Moore (although that would be fun to be so cute).

I hold these women to the highest respect and may have a writer crush on them. ( It’s a thing.) Although we can read and consume their beautiful work we cannot let it paralyze us into a creative coma.

Creative consuming coma’s do not create.

It happens all the time. A new book will come out. And then there is the blog reading. And the tweeting. Oh the tweeting. It will consume me. I will set myself up and think that if this is the measurement of success, then I will be over in the corner crying in my yoga pants.

It’s as if we are telling God. What you are breathing in me to create is not enough.

And here I am paralyzed like I imagine others are too. Jesus did not call you to be Jen. He called you to be brave enough to be you.

We need you in the world. We need your words. We need your stories. We need your triumphs and your pain. We need it all.

Because I promise you this. When you begin to speak your truth there is another sweet one who realizes that she is not alone. She is not the only one. Her voice through you can be heard.

And this is so much better than any tweet could accomplish.

 

*Know I have a nothing but the highest respect for these authors and speakers. They are the brave ones who go before and are a voice for so many.

My Unsexy Missional Life- a reflection and review of Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker

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I wish I could say I had something profound to say. Something to say that would make you want to change your life. But today, at this moment, all I want to do is lay flat on my face before Jesus. I want to cling to his feet and beg Him to tell me that none of this is true. That the unthinkable suffering and death that we have seen in these last weeks is not true. I want to scream at God and tell Him to take it all away. To make Himself known on this earth. I want Him to stand before me and tell me that we will wake up from this hellish nightmare that continues to flash before us on every media avenue. I know it sounds arrogant and demanding. But there are some days I just need my Father God to hold me and take all the anxiety away.
But I know He is. He is here. He is in you. He is in me. He is the prayer that we plead. He is in the tears that wet our pillows at night.
I have been feeling helpless. II imagine that I am not alone in this feeling. Helpless in the struggle. I can read. I can watch videos or TV. (I didn’t, I can’t. Call me a coward, but I call it guarding my mind. I don’t need to see Satan to know he exists.)

But what can I do?
But what can we do?
We can do the next right thing. I know it seems obsolete. Like it will make no difference at all. But it does. I am not saying that to change the world, to take away its evil you need to join the Peace Corps or move to Africa ( my hippie self wanted to do both, and I still do) . But in the small and large decisions that we make every day we can be a part of the healing.
This summer I have been privileged enough to be asked to read and review a book that literally wrecked me. I have been ready for a change and especially these past few weeks I have been aching for it.

 

If you are plagued with tension or discontent or a nagging sense that there must be more- that there has to be a faith somewhere that rings true and hopeful and gracious, a faith other that this mean, ugly, partisan, judgmental, self- indulgent version of Christianity, which has to be total bunk-then get down on your knees and thank your lucky stars. God has blessed you with this inner conflict. He isn’t leaving you in complacency and boredom to check boxes and do church. He has enlisted you in the cause of your generation and is calling you forward. You lucky think. You will not be left and lost, wondering what all the fuss is about. Wishing things would never change. – Jen Hatmaker, Interrupted.

 

Jen Hatmaker’s newest book Interrupted, revised & expanded, she suggests that to be the church, a world changer, a mission minded person you just have to do the next right thing. And sometimes the next right thing isn’t what you are thinking it is.
What does it look like?
This is it. We can follow our Jesus to every dark, scary, broken place He just insists on going, determined to heal and restore people, because He is a good Savior and we can trust Him. (Interrupted,xx1)
It doesn’t mean the next right thing that feels good. It doesn’t mean the next right thing that will make you more popular. It doesn’t mean the next right thing that will make those around you pleased.
It means quieting your soul and asking your creator what it is that HE wants you to do in that moment.
For years after I first visited Liberia, Africa with Samaritans Purse I assumed the next right thing to do was to move there. I came home and immediately started pestering praying that my husband would take a job with Samaritans Purse as a teacher. We would move our entire family overseas and I could raise my kids with red dirt on their feet. I knew that God would agree with my plan, He had to, it was His kind of work. But the next right thing, was my right thing. and God was nowhere in my motives, or at least my timing of it all. The next right thing was to wait.
We waited and I ended up traveling back to Africa two more times for two different reasons. Both were amazing trips and I felt like that is where I was supposed to be at that time.

And here we are, years later and a huge shift has occurred in my life and thinking. God has clearly revealed to me that my mission, my next right thing, is the seven people under my roof I claim to love. ( yes, I included myself, because self care is vital to healing).

 

There is no t- shirt for my mission that I have been called to at this time. It’s not sexy to say that I am in the trenches with a sick child we cannot find the diagnosis for, a child who self- harms, and a marriage that needs to be more than two roommates existing. No one is going to organize a fundraiser or create an Etsy page to pay all the medical and therapy bills. There is no “home from the therapists” gathering as we come home. It’s hard. It’s ugly. It’s lonely. And usually that is just my heart.
Me getting on a plane to Africa and serving in a third world country was easy for me. Leaving my family to fly across the world was safe for me at that time. It was safer for me to serve, than it was to face what was about to happen at home.
I needed to really look  and be honest with what was going on around me. To stop working with the big and sexy missions at this point in my life. The missions that get the attention, the blogs, and the t-shirts and start serving the ones under my roof. To pay attention to the disconnect. To acknowledge the silence in between commercials. To admit that I would rather be with my friends than try and connect with my husband.
The moment I realized that I only have two summers with my oldest home and that doesn’t sound like enough ice creams in my heart, I knew that this is where I am called to serve. It isn’t glamorous. It isn’t going to get any media attention. But that is the thing. To be the church. To be the church that is missional and different we need to just do the next right thing. And the next right thing for me is to love the people under my roof well.
What is your next right thing? How can you be a part of a missional church?
I am giving away two copies of this life changing book! In order to be entered into the drawing leave a comment below telling me what your next right thing or tell me that you have shared this post. I am telling you if you read no other book this fall this one has to be it!

 

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