Raise your voice about someone else, for a change.

Part 3 of DEFENSELESS, a collection of thoughts for 2015.

I was raised in a two-parent home where we ate dinner together several nights per week. My mom never had to work and my dad never missed a dance recital or a play or a sporting event. I went to private school and drove my dream car at age sixteen and got to hand-pick my college. At my wedding, my mom helped me get ready and my little brother played a song and my dad walked me down the aisle before paying for it all. I’m embarrassed to say it took me more than twenty years to look that life in the face and acknowledge how blessed and privileged it was.

You may have already heard this spiel recently, but get used to it. I’m going to get mouthy about it this year. I’ve felt some serious freedom from the Lord to open up about my privilege and my desire to listen for the cry in the night. This is way bigger than race, too. This is about proclaiming freedom for people other than myself.

You’re already free, Rach. I set you free a long time ago. You just keep forgetting. Raise your voice about someone else, for a change.

Everyday I meet women locked up in their own fear and insecurity. Everyday I meet people living in the shadows of shame and regret from their own pasts. Everyday I meet someone who’s been burnt by the Church. Those people are worth my volume. If we all spent a little more time proclaiming freedom for others, imagine how much space that would leave in our own lives for God to break chains.

I want to take a good hard look at the way Jesus loved people, and then ask Him to help me walk in that direction. When tense conversations arise and people start getting loud about politics and religion and morality, I want to be found standing on the “wrong” side of the line, arms outstretched with Jesus’ name on my lips. Those stones will have to go through me first.

If you feel like your voice has been shut down or locked up or drowned out, you are my freedom bell. I’m about to do my best to let it ring. Privilege acknowledged. I want to stand for the defenseless.

You can be strong and soft.

Part 2 of DEFENSELESS, a collection of thoughts for 2015.

Recently someone told me I had a strong personality, and y’all… it totally hurt my feelings. I listen and read and ask a lot of questions, but I talk a lot too. I try to keep it to invite-only, but when someone asks how I feel about something, I’d like to think there’s freedom to share it. So why did it sting to hear my personality referred to as strong? Without getting into politics and discussing feminism, can I say I felt hurt because of my perception of womanhood?

I’ve always had a fear of being “too much.” I don’t think men could ever understand this, but you women know what I’m talking about. I fully acknowledge that I lead a very privileged life, and don’t worry. I’m discussing that tomorrow. Privilege aside, there’s still a lot of stigma out there with women and their roles. In some conversations, I feel like I can’t say the same thing as my husband without receiving judgment. In some conversations, I feel like my opinions are unwelcome or regarded as out of place. Even if those things aren’t actually true, I feel the weight of my womanhood as a burden when it comes to my voice.

To be clear, the comment was made in a conversation full of love and encouragement. But there were several similar conversations over the span of a few months, and the culmination of it all got my wheels turning. I went on this quest to prove that I wasn’t strong. I remember raising my voice at my husband in my kitchen one night about it. I told him I felt like I was ringing a bell that sang,  “I am meek! I am mild! I am a listener! I follow directions!” and that I felt like nobody was listening to me. I remember raising my voice. Being defensive.

And then I began to see. I might actually have a strong personality. There’s nothing wrong with that. God made me fearfully and wonderfully, and He designed me to communicate to people. He created me strong.

But He also created me to be soft, to listen and choose to stay quiet sometimes. He created me to meet people where they’re at, to sit on opinions and work through them. He created me to filter my perspective through the gospel of Jesus and how fiercely He loves people. Just watch Me, Rach. Watch Me and learn. You can be strong and soft.

Strength celebrated and leveraged. Eyes and ears and heart open. I stand defenseless.

Your stuff stinks, too.

Part 1 of DEFENSELESS, a collection of thoughts for 2015.

I got saved in preschool and galloped through years of Christian school on a high horse, writing papers with titles like “Statement of Faith” and skipping out on a semester of college to travel the world with a missions organization. Several years later I married a man who had also grown up with Jesus but carried some baggage. I passionately played the role of savior. I was determined to pull him out of his miry depths and give him hope. Looking back, I’m just grateful the Lord did those things in spite of me.

And it wasn’t just my husband. Now that I’m acutely, painfully aware of it, I can see this playing itself out in many relationships and environments growing up. Give me all of the problems! Come to me, all you weary! You make me feel so much better about myself! I guess deep down, I felt like God would be more pleased with me or something? I don’t know. I’ve always felt secure in my salvation but I’ve also always battled an obsession with approval. Maybe I craved that with the Lord. When I felt conviction about something, I’d give myself a pep talk about all of the things I’d done right in life. When I felt the burden of sin, I’d try to deflect it. I’d commiserate with friends to make myself feel less icky, or I’d downplay it or flat-out ignore it.  Ignoring my own pride and focusing on others’ problems might have been a subconscious strategy to get that pat on the back I’ve been living for all of these years. God would be pleased with me, right?

Wrong. Not just wrong, but horribly wrong. Like, better off dead with a millstone around my neck in the depths of the ocean wrong. Not only had I been prideful for years in other areas of my life, I had brought it into my marriage and my life as a mother in such a destructive way. And instead of patting me on the back, God recently smacked me in the mouth.

Hey, Rach? Your stuff stinks, too. I died on the cross for you, too. You might’ve given your life to me at  young age and had a pretty easy life so far, but you don’t stand clean before Me without Me. In fact, you can’t do much of anything right without Me. You are pretty much a mess most days.

He asked me to sit down for awhile, on one of those uncomfortable chairs in my heart that makes me squirm and tempts me to people-please my way out of it. And God kept telling me nope. He told me that it was for my good, that I wouldn’t be able to please my way out of it anyway and I might actually die trying. He told me he wants to give me life abundantly, but that sort of freedom involves humility and confession and repentance.

Walls torn down, accolades cast aside. I stand defenseless.