Scoffing at Deceit

Yesterday, I read the psalm David wrote after Doeg the Edomite, King Saul’s chief herdsman, betrayed the High Priest, Ahimelech (Psalm 52), which resulted in Ahimelech’s death. David’s description of Doeg reminds me of the wicked man I see in the news everyday. Like Doeg, he regularly practices deceit, loves evil rather than good, and loves falsehood rather than speaking the truth. When I hear him speak, I find myself laughing at the absurdity of his claims.

Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero?
    Why do you boast all day long,
    you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God?
You who practice deceit,
    your tongue plots destruction;
    it is like a sharpened razor.
You love evil rather than good,
    falsehood rather than speaking the truth.    Selah
You love every harmful word,
    you deceitful tongue!

The evildoer of today is considered a hero to his followers, sadly even to millions of people who call themselves “evangelicals.” But surely he is a disgrace in the eyes of God.

David was sure that God would bring Doeg down to everlasting ruin. I also trust that God will judge this evildoer. And when the Lord brings him to his knees, this “hero” will beg for God’s mercy and the righteous will laugh saying (Psalm 52:6-7):

“Here now is the man
    who did not make God his stronghold
but trusted in his great wealth
    and grew strong by destroying others!”

Knowing that God will eventually bring this man to justice does not fill me with joyful laughter. While I wait for God’s justice, the evildoer destroys others.

If he is going to boast, he should not boast of his riches. If he is going to boast, he should not boast of his business successes. If he is going to boast, he should not boast of his knowledge. If he is going to boast, he should not boast of ratings.

If he is going to boast, let him boast that he knows the heart of God (Jeremiah 9:24).

24 but let the one who boasts boast about this:
    that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
    justice and righteousness on earth,
    for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord.



via Daily Prompt: Laughter

Snowpack and Rivulets

When I saw the daily word prompt this morning, I read a couple of posts to find out how the word of the day inspired other bloggers. Today someone wrote a short poem about rivulet being another boring, uninspiring word. Au contraire!

Rivulets: the little streams of water that trickle down the mountains when the snow melts or after it rains.

I love to run in the rain. Jumping over puddles and running in the rivulets, I am one with nature. I love bodies of water no matter the size: oceans, lakes, rivers, mountain streams, creeks, waterfalls, rivulets.

Living in a semi-arid environment, I don’t take rivulets for granted. I have experienced drought. This year, the Colorado snowpack is far below normal. Ninety percent of the state is abnormally dry. I worry about wildfires this summer. There won’t be as much runoff to supply the water we need. Not so many rivulets.

Seasons changing. Soil nourished by spring rains and rivulets of water from melting snow. The earth coming alive after a long winter. Flowers blooming.

I find this riveting.

via Daily Prompt: Rivulet

To partake or not to partake

When my husband and I shop for our weekly groceries, we always walk down the bakery aisle to pick up bread and bagels. I sneak a peek at the donuts and cakes and pastries but rarely partake because I know they’re not good for me. Yesterday, the cinnamon rolls looked especially yummy.  We picked up a four-pack and each of us ate one for breakfast this morning.

Was it worth it? Yes and no.

Yes, because indulging myself once in a while keeps me from feeling deprived. I love the smell of cinnamon rolls. I savored every bite. If I ate sweets everyday, I would not enjoy them nearly as much. Knowing that I can afford to indulge myself occasionally motivates me to stick to my healthy habits the rest of the time. Partaking of treats now and then is a reward for being disciplined about diet and exercise.

No, because the cinnamon roll wasn’t as good as it looked. I have noticed that I often feel disappointed after eating a donut or a slice of cake. I don’t feel that way when I eat fruit or Greek yogurt or crunchy peanut granola bars. No, because I consumed a bunch of empty calories that will go straight to my gut and I work too hard to do that to myself.

There are two more cinnamon rolls left. They still look yummy. My husband can have them.

via Daily Prompt: Partake

Free to be real

via Daily Prompt: Authentic

When I saw that the word authentic was the daily prompt word today, it immediately brought to mind my New Year’s resolution. On December 29, 2017, I published a post called “Free to be real” on another blog. This is what I wrote about being authentic four months ago:

A few months ago, after my brother-in-law Greg passed away, I played dress-up with his granddaughter, Macy. My sister Amy took a picture of us. I thought about sharing the photo on social media at the time because it captured a fun moment but I didn’t because I don’t like the way I look. When I jut out my chin, an unconscious gesture, I accentuate the strong jaws I inherited from my paternal grandfather. Today, I’m willing to share the goofy photo because life is teaching me that I’d rather be flawed and real than perfect and fake – both inside and out.

I have always been reserved, holding back from expressing myself freely. It’s a protective instinct. I have to really, really trust that I am safe with people to let my hair down. Although I am more comfortable expressing myself by writing, I still censor myself too much. I filter out what I don’t want other people to see, holding back what I really think. I control what I say or do, especially to avoid criticism. When I censor myself, I conform to the expectations of others instead of sharing my unique perspective. Sometimes I keep my thoughts to myself because what I have to say might offend or turn off one friend or another. Not appropriate for atheists. Not appropriate for Evangelicals. Too boring. Too weird. Too much navel-gazing.

Censoring myself to avoid disappointing or offending or boring others is not extending the same grace to myself that I would to someone else. I don’t expect or want other people to be a cookie-cutter version of me so why should I try to be like anyone else? Self-censorship isn’t being real and authentic. By editing out parts of me, I present an incomplete image, just as in keeping an unflattering photo to myself, I hid my playful side. 

I will never be perfect and that’s okay

Like everyone else, I have a public personality or persona. My persona is the social facade that reflects the role I play in life. It is the image people expect me to uphold, the image I present to meet the demands of my environment or the situation I am in. My persona is the way I want other people to see me. 

The persona is a mask disguising the real self. It often represents an idealized image or role. Some of us have a professional buttoned-down persona, others want to be seen as the life of the party, others maintain a facade of toughness, and still others resist being typecast. Your reputation is based on the impression people have of you, so in that sense, image is everything.

When the persona is false, based on pretending to be something you’re not, image is nothing. Pretending to know everything when no one does. Pretending to have a perfect life when no one does. Basing your image on things that are superficial – like money or the way you look. That kind of image is meaningless. We may fool a few people with a false persona but perceptive people see through the act whether we want them to or not. 

Spiritually speaking, people who put a lot of effort into protecting and maintaining a chosen persona have a lot more inner work to do to face the truth about themselves. In Falling Upward, Richard Rohr wrote that you should be really careful about any idealized role or image because they are hard to live up to and can trap you in a “lifelong delusion.”

I have to admit that I do have an idealized image. She is a Nice Person, a Good Person, like my grandma. I want to be seen as kind, gentle, and considerate – the kind of person who doesn’t step on toes or make anyone feel bad. I want the world to see me as someone who is never angry and never says anything bad about anyone else. The real me falls far short of my ideal.

I’ve always been turned off by people who are pretentious, fake, phony, or hypocritical. I’d rather be around people who admit that they don’t have all the answers, that they don’t do everything right, that they don’t always look good. I’d rather be that kind of person myself.

I have learned that my idealized self is not worth protecting because 1) it isn’t achievable and 2) although I will never be perfectly good, God loves me anyway. Francesca Battistelli’s song, Free to Be Me, sums it up well:

When I was just a girl I thought I had it figured out. My life would turn out right, and I’d make it here somehow. But things don’t always come that easy and sometime I would doubt.

‘Cause I got a couple dents in my fender. Got a couple rips in my jeans. Try to fit the pieces together but perfection is my enemy. On my own I’m so clumsy but on Your shoulders I can see, I’m free to be me.

I have nothing to prove. I’m free to be the real me.

I knew when I resolved to be the real me four months ago, that it was not without risk. There is the risk of not being accepted. There is the risk of looking stupid. There is the risk of disappointing others and even disappointing yourself. Being authentic is worth the risk.


Radically Disruptive

I make no secret of my opposition to the president of the United States. Even his supporters would agree that he is disruptive. After all, he promised to “drain the swamp” and “make America great again,” presupposing that America was ever great in the first place. He has disrupted the norms of decency. As a person of faith, he destroyed my respect for American evangelism by exposing its hypocrisy. But as disruptive as he is to my notions of what is normal, he will never disrupt my life the way Jesus did.

Jesus disrupted social norms, but in a good way.

  • Instead of bragging about how great he was, he was humble.
  • Instead of being served by others, he was a servant.
  • Instead of seeking power, he was meek.
  • Instead of being greedy, he was generous.
  • Instead of condemning sinners, he forgave them.
  • Instead of being ruthless or cruel, he was merciful.
  • Instead of seeking revenge, he turned the other cheek.
  • Instead of hating his enemies, he loved them.
  • Instead of building walls, he opened doors.
  • Instead of being impressed with piety, he sees the truth in our hearts.

Jesus was and is and always will be the light in the darkness, the calm in the storm.

The rains come down, the streams rise, the winds blow. Life on this earth is disrupted. The house built on sand falls with a great crash. But a house built on this rock will not fall.

Image credit, Ivan Aivazovsky, Title “Walking on Water,” courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

via Daily Prompt: Disrupt