Friday, September 22, 2017

This Day Made for Me

Four years ago on this day, I was baptized as Sopphey Vance. We had a small service in the Fellowship Hall of the church because the sanctuary received new carpet. You could say that the previous summer was the Summer of Love between Christianity and me. But it wasn’t without a fight, without drama, and without hardship.

At that time I had ended a big part of my social activist life and at the same time I hit rock bottom physically. If it wasn’t the nausea, the mood swings, the panic attacks, the fatigue, the constant upheaval, the tears, the arguments, the end of a relationship...it was that haunting and gnawing feeling that though I ran. I could not outrun God.

I had vowed to myself on the January of that year that everything would change. That I would never suffer like I had the past few months. And I still did, but through that suffering, anxiety, and indecisiveness I found myself standing face to face with God once again. The last time being 12 years before when I told God, without knowing if God was real or not, that He could stuff it because I was branching out.

Four years ago today I stood in that church professing my quavering faith to Christ. Professing my intent to do sin no more. I stood there reciting the Apostle’s Creed, the Lord’s Prayer--and I trembled with fear. Because through my physical illness I looked at God straight in the eye and I said clearly. “Do your worse. Anything you do worse than what you’ve already done in the past year, I will endure it! I will lift my aching, sick body, and will do this. Your agenda and mine will work together.”

That’s how I entered into covenant with God. Along the way I learned I was saved through Jesus Christ. And I learned to be in communication with the Holy Spirit for the good of others or for me. Nine months ago I decided to further my dedication and promise to God by expressing my intention to go to seminary..and to be ordained..and to proclaim repentance and forgiveness.

And now I’m having doubts. It’s not that I doubt God’s call, because I can’t put my Bible down and I can’t stop innovating and doing things at church. It’s not that I doubt that I can teach Bible Study or any number of things I do at church. I’m fighting with God. Maybe I’m not as bold as Jacob was when he fought with God. But I am a fighter before I am a lover.

And today, I fought. Today I didn’t lose but I changed my attitude. This doubt that I hold is not consistent with my beliefs. If anything it’s trying to rip the foundation of my core apart. Who I’ve been as an individual and who I am in Christ are not completely the same persons. They’re a mix of each other for better or worse.

And where does that leave me in my covenant with God? Well, there’s enough boat left to save myself as the rains flood over the earth. I’m not perfect and I’m not the best. But, to be a good follower of Christ I do believe there are some things that I could do better in. Then there’s stuff that I have no power over and I turn those over. I pray for the strength every day to continue my path with God.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Creating Blanket Statements

What do we mean sometimes when we go through the Bible and create blanket statements such as: "Well so and so never said this explicitly." Or, "you know, in verse so and so it says these things but what if that was just a cultural reference. Surely, God didn't ever mean that?"

I'm learning vocabulary to identify what we do when we discuss scripture at a verse level or line level. And like all good unreliable story telling, I've forgotten what those identifiers are.

I read the Bible slowly. Not because I'm a slow reader, but because I sit through the words and I categorize them into three categories:

a) is the statement a cultural reference
b) is the statement 'divine' and Spirit influenced
c) is the statement an individual or group's agenda

Makes for slow reading.

And it's not like I've not read some of the parts of the bible before. It's just that sometimes some things stick out and sometimes they do not. For instance, the following statement in Genesis:

"The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on earth, and his heart was deeply troubled."

Is this statement a cultural reference? Is this statement Spirit influenced? Is this this statement an individual or group's agenda?

Today in Sunday School as we read 1 Samuel 18:1-5 and 20:41-42 I used the scripture from Genesis to portray a point: God loves us SO MUCH. So much, He holds us in reverence above animals and land. We are made in his own image. We have the breath of life in us. How could he regret making us? He doesn't have wrath for us, he has wrath for the wickedness IN US.

Did God really regret making us in His image? Does God really love us so much? I'm still discerning. It's a slow process. But, it's something to think about.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Time Management Skills

My sis and I had a very serious talk one evening. She said, "Sopphey sometimes I feel like I'm living with a celebrity. Every time I text you, you take forever to answer. When I call, you always say you'll call me back. And when you finally call back, the conversation is quick."

And I was bold to say that even though it seems like I don't make time for her during the day. That's not completely true. Because even if I send her a short text after a long period of time... I still responded.

Even if I only answer the phone to tell her that I'll call her back... I still answered the phone. Making time for people is very important for me. Because there were times when I didn't answer the phone call right away. I'd hung up and call back two weeks later.

I value the people I have in my life so much. But I value myself more. It should always be like that. Though sometimes, even though I value myself more, it doesn't mean that these people become invisible to me. I know when I'm putting myself before others too much; when they are wanting my attention yet I can't give it.

When I close myself off. I know this, I see this. And so I wonder how I could better manage my time so that I can put myself first a lot. And at the same time have friendships with others. So that they can enjoy the person I am when my needs are being met.