Monthly Archives: May 2014

you are not forgotten.

To some extent, I feel like I don’t even need to write anything else, that title says everything I want to.

But then I think, well, what if it’s misinterpreted?  Or, more importantly, what if someone reading this needs that to be explained, needs further convincing, because they aren’t quite sure whether or not to believe it?  If that’s you, we’re in the same boat.

There is a wise woman who has put words to this–Sarah Bessey–and by clicking on that external link (the underlined name, for those of you who are still working on being tech-savvy), you can watch a short video that she made specifically about this truth that we are not forgotten, but the rest of her blog is definitely worth checking out as well.  And it should be noted here that, though the thoughts in this post have been stirring in my brain for quite some time, it is her video/subsequent words that spurred me into actually writing them down.

For the past few years, I’ve lived in this tension of knowing that Jesus is very real and very present but at the same time being very sure that he was too busy to remember who I am, that his time was better spent on someone else.  I became convinced that he had, in fact, forgotten about me.

This is not an isolated occurrence.  I felt this way when I started college and again during one of the many summers I spent working at a Christian camp, and those are just the times that immediately come to mind right now.

I just finished reading a book of Mother Teresa’s letters in which she speaks of feeling a sort of soul darkness, an overwhelming sense that God had forgotten her or left her alone.   And not even just alone, but lonely.  Like bone-jarringly lonely.

And while I haven’t felt the Lord’s absence to that degree, I can begin to understand being filled with questions about whether or not we’ve been left to fend for ourselves, forgotten even by the One who created us and breathed us into being in the first place.

One of Mother Teresa’s spiritual advisors wrote about how the ache that she felt was made even greater by the fact that it hadn’t always been there–making the point that she wouldn’t have known something was missing if she had never experienced it firsthand.

It’s not entirely clear to me why this happens, why we experience seasons of doubt or loneliness, why sometimes it just seems like we aren’t heard or like we aren’t actually even being listened to.  And oh, how I wish I could wrap these thoughts up neatly.  Just throw in a couple verses about how Jesus is always the same, about how he’ll never leave us or forsake us, and that would be that.  But life isn’t always that neat, yeah?  I can say those things, all of which I believe to be true, but none of which alleviate the very present and very real sense of being left alone.

I would love to be able to say, also, that these seasons don’t last forever.  But maybe that isn’t true, maybe the sense of loneliness will stretch on and persist, leaving us with gaping wounds that we can only hope will one day be filled like they used to be.

Isn’t hope what this life is about, though?  We press on, we keep living and breathing, because we have hope that one day this will get better.  One day all of this will make sense, and we will understand why Jesus chose to let us stay in whatever space it is that we feel trapped in at this moment.

And already, I can feel myself being able to minister out of and through loneliness.  I think that knowing what it feels like has given me that much more insight into the reality that people without hope must wake up to day after day after day.  And while, to some degree, loneliness is a very unique experience (meaning that each person wrestles with it in a slightly different way), it also begins to fade a bit when it is offered up, when we begin to speak of it to others.

So if this is you, if you’re in a lonely place right now, my encouragement to you is to not give up hope!  Rather, let the hope of something better be what keeps you moving forward and pressing into this life.  Put words to your loneliness, invite others into it with you.

And friends, know that just because the Lord is silent does not mean He is absent.  He sees you.  You are not forgotten.


finish well.

Yesterday I had a heart-to-heart with one of my favorite 3rd graders who had just thrown a backpack at a woman holding a baby carrier.  In her defense, she just has really poor aim, but I felt it was something I should probably address anyway.  I walked away from the conversation feeling like she had a pretty good grasp of the situation, and that I had made it clear that throwing things isn’t the best idea.

I’m not sure when I’ll start consciously remembering how wrong I often am about these things.

This afternoon, I turned around to see the same kid throwing a cup full of something (cereal? peanut butter? It remains unclear.) at the wall of the snack area, allegedly trying to hit the garbage can but instead coming within centimeters of hitting another child.

When confronted, she looked at me with this stare that clearly conveyed that she was sure I was the crazy one, that throwing the cup was actually completely normal behavior.  We then had the exact same conversation we’d had the day before, with the exception of a more immediate consequence–she was treated to a lesson in sweeping and taking care of the Club (which, come to think of it, she really should have paid me for…it was a great lesson.).

Yet, instead of doing the easy thing by spending five minutes sweeping up the mess that she herself had made, she decided instead to tell me how unfair the situation was and how she, in fact, wasn’t going to help at all because it wasn’t her responsibility, someone else is paid to clean up those kinds of messes.

And I thought, oh good. I’m being taught a lesson right now.  I need to pay attention.

Because as much as I hate to admit it, I totally understood where she was coming from.  I would MUCH rather let someone else clean up the messes that I’ve left behind.  In the moment, it is significantly easier to begin something and walk away, to leave it for someone else to fix and deal with.  The important part of that statement is, of course, in the moment.  I don’t think I’ve ever looked back at a scenario that I left intentionally terrible and thought, “wow, I’m so proud of how I didn’t finish that, of how I had the worst attitude ever while walking away.”

Finishing well is important.

Whether that means revisiting a situation or conversation that there’s still hope for or following through wholeheartedly with a project that we aren’t super excited about anymore, seeing things through to the end is an important skill to have.

Think about it:  If we only tried to perform to the best of our abilities in things that we absolutely one hundred percent were excited about, a lot of things would get left undone.  And who would do all of the other things that we deemed unimportant or unnecessary?

At some point in time, we need to start living life with the realization that we have a responsibility to uphold–those messes that we’re leaving for other people?  They’re ours, and we need to either not make the mess in the first place (a largely unrealistic expectation) or be willing to pick up a broom and get work done.