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Grace For The Psoriasis-Laden

So - you know how we post things on Facebook and Insta Feeds to kind of show the world that we are still here. We find memes, sayings, quotes from influential people, and we plaster them on our stories, and we feel good that we got a story in - ya know?! Something meaningful like a pic of the family, or quote from a theologian we admire (ok that is something I like to do) but we just leave them there and wonder if people will give us a thumbs up, a heart, a wow or laughing face - you know the drill.

Today I posted a quote from John Wesley (if you know - you know) - and my son - this guy here - responded with a really good question...

(I took this from his Insta feed - because I haven't seen him in a while - thought I would share. Ha!)

This was the post:

Tanner's response to this post was, "Why not be gracious in judging ourselves? What's the definition of judgment?" As I thought through his question, I had a huge "Aha!" moment. In fact, as I "processed" our interaction this was my response, "I agree!!! Yes!!! You are right!!! I think the point was (maybe?) we jump to judging others so quickly without giving grace - but maybe the reason we do that is we can't give grace to ourselves in the first place??? Good point!!!" His response, "My thoughts yes." And he "hearted" my response! I LOVE HEARTS!!! (And exclamation points!!!)

At the same time that I was processing this I have been having a moment! Yesterday, I was feeling my head and realizing that I had these huge lumps on my scalp that just keep getting bigger, and finally - I was just "over it," so I just started digging at them to see what they were. (I would suggest NEVER EVER DOING THIS! But, I did it, and immediately, I realized I had happened upon something that I had never experienced personally - psoriasis of the scalp. Oh, it was pretty bad! (still is not great!) Well, the first thing I did was try to figure out how to cure it, etc... texted my doctor, talked to my sister - you know - all the things! And this popped up when I googled "causes for psoriasis," (again - never do this either!)

REALLY?!?!?! Hahaha!!! I KNEW that this was TRIGGER #1 BEFORE I even saw it!!!

Hahaha!!! Oh my word!!!

(My new look - after applying medicine to my scalp.Yay!)

So, how does this tie in with what we were just talking about?!?!

As I have been processing all that has happened in the last three years - YEP! I am STILL PROCESSING - this time MY STUFF, from MY JOB, from OUR FORMER LIVES, I have really been hard on myself. Very little g-r-a-c-e.

I have been dealing with shame, struggling with intense feelings of self-disappointment, self-anger, self-judgment and the inability to understand the "whys" of all of it have landed heavily on me.

Do you remember what I talked about last week?

I am learning to love myself, and I am learning to now give myself grace and trying to kick harsh judgment to the curb. This is difficult. But, I am realizing something, I am human! Did you know that?!?! (O.K. those who live with me are not allowed to comment!) God created me as a human being (with some serious help from my parents!) and when God created me, (and you, and all of us) God said, "You are VERY good." Do we believe this?!?!

Last night I got into the thick of the book I have been reading for a while "God is a Black Woman" by Christena Cleveland, PhD. I stayed up too late-but I could not put it down! (Before I quote her book - I have a disclaimer - I have never experienced being a black woman in this culture, and I do not want to in any way try to make you think that what I have experienced is equal to the pain she explains in this book - but her writing so clearly explained something I have experienced all of my life - I have to share it!)

Dr. Cleveland talks about the difference in her life when she is allowed to imagine God as a black women as opposed to the typical "whitemalegod" that has been placed before us as

the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To a black little girl in a culture of white privilege and a family that felt beholden to "prove themselves" as. worthy of whitemalegod's love - the striving for perfection was the only way to survive. And yet, it was never ever enough. As a child, she was punished severely for a lie she had told. And these were the things she believed after that beating, These were the takeaways - if you will:

"It's not okay to need affirmation.

It's not okay to have a need.

Your humanity is shameful.

Your humanity is to be punished.

You're the problem: you made me hurt you.

To be human is to be shameful; to be "good and faithful" is to be perfect and needless." (p.83)

These are ideas that I believed for most of my life! And these are the very things that have caused me to lack grace for myself. whitemalegod was constantly saying these things in my head and in my heart, and therefore the judgment and self-condemnation has been brutal.

I am a feeler! I deeply empathize with the pain of everyone in the room! That is who I am. (And - reminder here - God said I am very good!) So, when Dr. Cleveland shares what it would be like to live in a matriarchal society - I glimpse hope and wonder. She quotes scholar Heide Gottner-Abendroth by saying, "...matriarchal societies aren't simply the reversal of patriarchal societies, with women ruling over men. Rather, they are need-based societies that are centered around the values of caretaking, nurturing, and responding to the collective needs of the community" Then, in her own words, "In matriarchal cultures, everyone - regardless of your gender or whether you have any biological kids - is taught to practice the societal values of caretaking, nurturing, and responding to the collective needs of the community. In such cultures, these values are the basis of what it means to be human." (p.114)

Are you hearing this? Are you still reading this?!?

BEING HUMAN IS NOT THE PROBLEM!!! Telling people they have to live up to some perfect measure WHILE being human is the problem!!! NO RELIGION, NO RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD TAKES AWAY YOUR HUMANITY!!! (Although there are some that act like there are no needs that touch their souls) - THIS IS NOT THE JESUS WAY!!!

Jesus was constantly affirming people. Jesus was consistently pointing out that he was not here to condemn the world but to bring life, love and hope. Jesus NEVER ONCE tells us to NOT be human!!! Jesus loved so much that when he looked upon the crowd - so needy - so helpless - his BOWELS were moved as he felt COMPASSION - hmmmm.... this does not sound like whitemalegod to me. This does not sound like emotionally constipated god to me...THIS SOUNDS LIKE IMMANUEL - GOD WITH US - GOD BECAME FLESH to be WITH US!

I am preaching to myself here! When I realized that I had a severe problem on my scalp, I realized my need - because I had no idea what to do. I texted someone who saw my need and helped your girl out. And, instead of blaming myself for all of the stress of the last three years, I bought myself a little head scarf, some special shampoo and some medicine, admitting my need for some TLC and GRACE.

For in those moments - I also admitted to feeling a little panicked, broken, and too tired to fix it all. But, I also gave in to grace.

Just because I can - I am keeping our Christmas tree up for Valentine's Day and maybe beyond that. I changed out the decorations, and I am adding a few more that remind me that I am loved!

The sand dollars, found, cleaned and given to me by my Mama remind me that warmer days are coming, and there will be more sunlight some day.

The pine cones and red berries help me stay in the present when I would rather move in with summer - for good.

And the white lights sooth my soul.

My needs for affirmation and grace and a non-judgmental presence are valid. LOVE reminds me that I am valued, held, beloved.

GRACE teaches me that my humanity is valued by God and perfection is not required.

So, yes, Tanner - those are my thoughts too. Thank You for schoolin' your Mama!

You have made it this far - if you wish to stay - a prayer follows.

A Prayer For You and Us

By, Nadia Bolz-Webber

"Blessed are the agnostics.

Blessed are they who doubt. Those who aren’t sure, who can still be surprised.

Blessed are they who are spiritually impoverished and therefore not so certain about everything that they no longer take in new information.

Blessed are those who have nothing to offer.

Blessed are the preschoolers who cut in line at communion.

Blessed are the poor in spirit. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.

Blessed are they for whom death is not an abstraction.

Blessed are they who have buried their loved ones, for whom tears could fill an ocean.

Blessed are they who have loved enough to know what loss feels like.

Blessed are the mothers of the miscarried.

Blessed are they who don’t have the luxury of taking things for granted anymore.

Blessed are they who can’t fall apart because they have to keep it together for everyone else.

Blessed are those who “still aren’t over it yet.”

Blessed are those who mourn. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.

Blessed are those who no one else notices. The kids who sit alone at middle-school lunch tables. The laundry guys at the hospital. The sex workers and the night-shift street sweepers.

Blessed are the forgotten. Blessed are the closeted.

Blessed are the unemployed, the unimpressive, the underrepresented.

Blessed are the teens who have to figure out ways to hide the new cuts on their arms.

Blessed are the meek. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.

Blessed are the wrongly accused, the ones who never catch a break, the ones for whom life is hard, for Jesus chose to surround himself with people like them.

Blessed are those without documentation. Blessed are the ones without lobbyists.

Blessed are foster kids and special-ed kids and every other kid who just wants to feel safe and loved.

Blessed are those who make terrible business decisions for the sake of people.

Blessed are the burned-out social workers and the overworked teachers and the pro bono case takers.

Blessed are the kindhearted football players and the fundraising trophy wives.

Blessed are the kids who step between the bullies and the weak.

Blessed are they who hear that they are forgiven.

Blessed is everyone who has ever forgiven me when I didn’t deserve it.

Blessed are the merciful, for they totally get it."

— Nadia Bolz-Weber

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Here's a thought that isn't likely new to you, but maybe you have never realized or remembered that it applies to you.

When life happens, and throws those hurtful curve balls our way, we become more human and more valuable to other humans. I can't, and I think maybe most people can't identify with straight A's, perfect children, or success that didn't require failure. The guy who writes a book about raising children before he has kids of his own has little to offer. The hurt, defeat, and painful lessons have a high price and CAN have a valuable payoff when serving others, including our Lord. All the "stuff" you and Ken have experienced has increased your ability…

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