(Some of the fam in Florida, along with some significant others. In the middle you will find Wyatt on my sister Molly’s lap (her boyfriend Seth at the far left, Wyatt’s power couple parents, Matt and Lauren, next to him, and my brother Jordan and his girlfriend Ruthanne at the far right [parents and oldest brother Aaron not pictured].) And then there’s me in the middle, with the dumb smile and overly nice dress shirt. Literally the only single person present besides the eleven-month old. Lord, beer me strength.)
I once tried to do regular Round-Ups like this, but then I kept forgetting to do it. I haven’t posted one in over a year.
Typically, I defer to Rachel Held Evans “Sunday Superlatives”, or Ben Howard’s “[insert hilarious meme] and the Best Things You’ll Read All Week” or Sarah Bessey’s “In Which I Link You Up.” But it’s hitting me lately that as much as this is about “link love”, it is also about me, about what is affecting me right now. One blogger friend, after I first posted my very first list of links, noted that these would be great to reflect on one day. I could look back and remember the messages that made an impact in me; the hope-giving, life-saving ones that changed me. I couldn’t agree with her more.
Also… I wanted an excuse to plug my fresh new Facebook page. I have avoided facebook at all costs. Even after I came out here, on my blog, I untagged myself from every status that shared my posts. I was terrrrrified of it, because of all the people in my Real Life. Of all the distant relatives and their pearl clutching, email typing, frantic panicking over the state of my soul (which has not happened.)
But my spine is a little tougher now. I’m braver. And I am making peace with the fact that being a public person requires extra transparency. Authenticity. Courage. And, yes, it requires you to go “LIKE” my page (As an aside: I’ll interpret any non-likes as sheer acts of aggression. Choose wisely.)
Onto the links.
Why I’m Done With Letting Critics Tell Me Who I Am by Esther Emery (one of my favorites)
PLEASE. DON’T LET THEM TELL YOU WHO YOU ARE.
Don’t be defined by the critics. Not by listening to them. And not by fighting against them. Not by positioning yourself to be more appealing to them. And not by begging them to change their minds.
You. You. YOU have a voice. And it is uniquely yours. But it comes through a glass darkly. It isn’t always going to land the way you wanted it to land. Sometimes the problem is craft, sure. You can always get better at making yourself visible. You can always peel off one more layer, making it all that much easier to see the pure and naked soul within.
But that isn’t going to lose the critics.
Two-Part Post about Youth Pastors and LGBTQ Youth from my incredible, in-real-life friend, Laura Statesir
The most important thing you can do as a Christian youth worker is to reaffirm your love and God’s love for that youth. Assure the youth that this does not change your relationship with them. Remind the youth that God’s love is unconditional and that this does not change how God feels about them. Reassure the youth that this does not change their personal relationship with God. Make sure they know that this doesn’t mean that they are no longer a Christian or that they are no longer welcome in your church/organization. Remind them that everyone is welcome at the table of Christ.
Encourage the youth in their faith.** To a lot of youth, a Christian youth worker is a reflection of Christ in their lives. They are watching your reactions to see how God feels about them. If you express unconditional love then they will know that God loves them unconditionally. If you express judgment or condemnation they will feel that God condemns them as well.
The Man in the Center by (the incomparable) John Blasé (At Deeper Story)
We’re not painting a picture that takes the breath away and leaves your eyes pooled with tears. I’m no whackadaddy fundamentalist nor the son of one, but if whatever your burning theological issue is doesn’t have Jesus in the center of its page, then as my friend Brennan used to say, your burning theological issue may not be burning or theological. It may just be an issue, and have absolutely nothing to do with the love even a 6-year-old boy can understand.
In which this is for the ones leaving evangelicalism by Sarah Bessey (technically, more than one week ago. But also, the thing that saved me.)
I’m someone who believes that we are in the midst of major shift within the Church – what Phyllis Tickle calls a “rummage sale” – similar to the Great Schism, and the Reformation. The Church is sorting and casting off, renewing and re-establishing in the postmodern age and this is a good thing. The old will remain – it always does – but something new is being born, too. If it is being born in the Church, it is first being born in the hearts and minds and lives of us, the Body.
She followed up with a beautiful letter to those who stay. Another must read.
Jesus isn’t an evangelical. But he lives and moves and has his being among the evangelicals, too.
Giving Up… My Worry by another life-giving-in-real-life-friend-mentor-rescuer Steph Spencer
I’ve heard faith defined as placing our confidence in something. Sometimes it feels like the only thing we can be confident about is that at some point, all of our lives will hit bottom.
And so I place my faith in that worry. I am confident that something dreadful will come to pass in the near future. And the more I am confident in that, the less it feels like anxiety and the more it feels like truth. The worry fools me into a false sense of security.
But security is not the same thing as peace. Peace is what Christ came to offer me.
~ ~ ~
My own most-read post this week:
Most popular comment (ALSO, the comment that left me speechless, and teary, because it was from Jen Hatmaker and because she was so damn kind and insightful.)
Ben, officially, I am your friend and I am for you. You are welcome in my comment feed, my inbox, and my home any time. And also? NEVER STOP WRITING. Wow. You are sincerely gifted. I am proud of you. You are managing a gentleness and grace in the midst of crazy. You will be so glad of that five years from now. (I always think through that grid: Will I still be proud to stand by this in a few years? Was I gracious? Was I kind?) Lastly, I died laughing: “We were cracking open beers, listening to country music, talking March Madness (which I feigned stress over).” MARCH MADNESS IS GODLY. Please work on your theology. ;0)
Like I said in the beginning, totally plugging my new FB page. Come and “like” it, we’ve got a good group growing there, full of loving and kind and funny people. You’ll fit right in, I am sure of it.
If you prefer, email, enter yours in the subscription ribbon that should be floating near the bottom right. If it isn’t, no problem, redirect your eyes to the top of the right column.
Enjoy your Saturday!