Tag Archives: questioning

Facebook, peer pressure, cold water, and what to do

It happened.

I knew it would, and I had been trying to figure out how to respond to it when it did, but, when it actually happened, I still didn’t have a clue.

See, there’s this thing, going around on Facebook where people dump water over their heads in support of a horrible degenerative disease that goes by the initials ALS, and since over half my Facebook friends are kids, well, I was gonna get nominated to dump ice over my head at some point, sooner or later.

But see, I’m in this thoughtful season of life, when I want to think about everything before I do it.  So, I wanted to know where I actually stood on this “challenge” thing before I simply lemming-style dumped five gallons of ice on me – in public (well, filmed, and then posted on Facebook, so the modern form of public).  I know, I know, I’m probably over-thinking it.  Or, as my brother would affectionately say, I’m “femaling it up”.

But I didn’t want to just mindlessly dump water over my head.  And no, it’s not because it’s cold.

See, I want my kids to think through something before they do it.  And if I want that from them, then I need to model it.

And I’m not really sure of the best response.  See, ALS is a degenerative disease where you lose control of everything.  And that’s horrible.  And if pouring a bucket of ice over my head will help someone research it and come up with a cure – great.  Pour five buckets over my head.  But see, pouring a bucket over my head means that I’m not giving money to fund that person to go find that cure.  So, I should give money.  Which I’d do if I had any (being a student will take all the money you’ve got – and then some).  But even then, even still, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with it.  Because, see, if I simply give money, than I can be done.  I don’t have to think about it anymore.  I can say I did my part and go dive back into school papers, or hiking in the mountains, or drinking coffee with one of my teens.

But that’s not really what we’re called to do as Christians.  We’re called to sit with each other in our pain.  We are called to help someone out – to take care of them – no matter what.  To stay there, where they are.  Not to throw money at them and then walk away.  Not to say, “Hey, look how much I care; I’m pouring water over my head” and then walk away.  I’m called to befriend those in pain, those who are uncomfortable, those who will ask much of me because they can’t give anything back.

So, how do I do that?  I don’t know anyone with ALS.  Do I go find someone who has ALS?  Do I just accept that God hasn’t put anyone in my life with ALS and focus on the people He has put in my life – and their needs?

Truth is – I don’t know.  I could dump a bucket of water over my head in solidarity or something, sure.  But…doesn’t that just bring more attention to me than to the thousands suffering?  I mean somewhere the video label will say ALS on it, and so everyone will know I care…but do I, really?

The only answer that comes to mind, as I wrestle with this, is one that feels trite because it has been a Christian cop-out so often – prayer.

I don’t know anyone with ALS; I don’t have anything to give; I don’t really believe pouring a bucket of watery frigidness will do any good, so what do I have?

I have God.  I have prayer.  And, in the long run, assuming I actually pray and ask God to do a work – in my heart at the very least – that might be the most powerful thing I could do.

Note – if I felt God was calling me to do something about ALS specifically, this would be different.  Maybe I’ll talk about that next week.

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Baptism

under water

 

“What we do in life echoes in eternity”

I couldn’t understand why I had to do it; I just knew I needed to.  But there was no way I was going to do what I needed to do before I knew WHY I needed to do it.

That sounds confusing.  Let’s back up.

When I was ten, I watched my babysitter get baptized, and something in me longed to do the same.  When I told Mom that I wanted to do that too, she said I should wait until I was older, when I knew what that action meant.   Years passed and while the desire would come back when I watched others get baptized, somehow it was never the “right” moment for me.

The summer I was twenty-six, I had been back from Bahrain for a full year, and I had just begun healing.  My church had a baptism, and as I watched some of my youth group kids get baptized, the old longing returned.  I knew next year, at next summer’s church picnic, I would get baptized.

I never doubted that this was going to happen, but I instantly wanted to know WHY I needed to be baptized.   After all, I had said the prayer seventeen years before.  If a simple prayer saves you (I’m not convinced of this, by the way) than I’d been saved for seventeen years.  Everyone who knew me knew I was a Christian.  If the point of baptism, as it appeared to be in the Bible, was simply declare my faith, why did I need to go through the actions?  It wasn’t necessary.  My salvation was not dependant on my baptism, so why?

No one could really answer my question other than, “Well, Jesus did it.  And we’re supposed to imitate Jesus.  So, you need to do it. It’s an obedience thing.”

But that didn’t really explain anything for me.  WHY?  WHY was this ceremony, were these specific actions, necessary?

So, since no one could explain it to me, I took my Bible and journal to a coffee shop, and had it out with God.  I told him I wanted to do this, but I also wanted to know what I was doing.  I wanted to understand the significance of these actions.

And I sat there in silence, staring off into space, waiting, listening, for a good chunk of time.

And gently, quietly, a picture of a wedding worked its way into my consciousness.  As I looked at the bride and groom in the picture, I realized they could have asked a similar question.  The wedding ceremony didn’t change how they felt about each other.  It didn’t change their commitment level to each other.  The wedding was simply a public declaration to the world of what was already in their hearts, and it was the bride and groom’s asking the congregation to be part of their story.  To celebrate with them in the joyous moments, to cry with them in the unbearable moments, and to help them push through in the moments when all they would want to do is run in the opposite direction.    And there was something about the ceremony that made the commitment more solid, harder to break.  Maybe it was the ceremony itself that changed the commitment into a covenant.

And the same was true of me getting baptized.  It was me declaring my love and obedience to my Lord and Savior.  It was me inviting others into my story, asking them to keep me accountable, to help me out, to rejoice with me.  It was an intentional public display of affection.

The quiet sploosh of me being dunked beneath the water, will forever be one of the most holy sounds I ever hear.   In that moment, my physical body echoed what my spirit had long ago done, and it was about time the two were unified and in agreement.

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