Connection in Conflict

As much as my natural instinct is to avoid conflict at all costs, there are times when I’m grateful for it. Maybe more accurate would be that I am grateful for the relationships that make conflict necessary.

Yep. Conflict is necessary, though not all conflict fits that description. When conflict happens as a result of attempting to use force to determine who wins and who loses, that’s completely unnecessary—and counterproductive—conflict. That’s true in marriages, workplaces, churches, countries.

Conflict that erupts because we are different and we care enough to be invested in each other’s lives? That’s the sticky, clumsy, messy nature of genuine connection. And it’s scary as hell. And it’s heart-wrenching when it breaches containment and spreads beyond what we know how to heal.

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What Hope?

When I think about fear and shame and their connections with the compulsion to self-protection and harming ourselves and each other (perhaps a word to summarize that might be ‘sin’), in some ways it softens me. It helps me have compassion even on those who are harming others. In my best moments, it helps me have compassion even on those who are harming me.

At the same time, it reinforces the overwhelming sense of helplessness and hopelessness that anything in life can actually be healed or improved. I might be able to fix something in my own life, but can life for all people everywhere ever get better? It seems unlikely.

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Really Known

There is some vulnerability in sharing my ideas, especially considering how little I like conflict since there will always be someone who disagrees. But there’s not that much risk to it. I’m really good at being able to engage, share thoughts, talk about ideas, ask questions, and even answer questions about myself—all without really exposing anything really very real about me.
Shame and fear are there, and they’re real. And I am trying to learn stillness. To quiet the fear and transform the shame. To learn to trust and know the value and grace that are more real than any of the rest of it.

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Buses and Curses: Gender in Genesis

The year is 1996. A sixth-grade boy (Boy-Number-1) was on a school bus, and other students were filing on one-by-one trying to find a seat by a friend or at least in a spot that wouldn’t ruin their day. Another boy (Boy-Number-2), trying to explore what it was like to express an opinion like a man, overconfidently asserted something about women’s proper roles that illuminated much about the general level of sleaze he was being exposed to by the adults in his life.

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Formed of the Earth

Creation is not just a dogma or an ‘ism.’ It includes but is more than even just the existence of the world around us. Rather, you and I and every other person and plant and animal and mountain and sea and plain and metal and chemical, all of it is the result of creation. Creation is intentionality. Creation is life and growth and care. Creation is personal and inherently inspirational. It makes something where it did not exist before, and it gives it shape and purpose, and it spreads, giving life to others (both biologically and spiritually) to create as well.

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The Story of Life: A Beginning

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

It’s the most simply elegant opening I can think of for what is any but a simple book. Or rather, anthology of written works of a whole spectrum of genres and complexity levels and audiences and languages and cultures and time periods.

This history is about God and creation. About all people and life and presence. About words and light and life from God, about God, being God.

Light and life and presence. Intertwined motifs that cannot be overlooked. They remain throughout the Bible, and sometimes we hear more of one or more of another, but everything is about these things in one way or another. 

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Night and Day

Death and life, destruction and construction, desolation and consolation. Cycling through these is painful, and existing among them is reality. Enduring them is wearying, and growing from them is necessary for survival.

The last time I was writing consistently was over a year ago, before the stars went dark. It was in the midst of descent into depression. Some say depression and the Dark Night of the Soul are distinct. I’m confident that is true some of the time. I’m confident they overlapped for me.

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