A Crisis Of Faith (Part 2 of…?)


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One of my favourite people ever is agnostic. Strangely enough, he has done more for my faith than just about anyone else in my life. We have difficult discussions, perhaps made more challenging by the difference in our worldviews. As much as I wish he would return to a place of faith, I can’t deny the world needs more people like him–those capable of independent thought, not stemming from rebellion, but a genuine thirst for knowledge.

A common theme in our discussions is that he thinks my faith is…unshakeable? He once said he can’t picture me at a place of not believing God exists. For some reason, this has always baffled me, perhaps because belief in God’s existence does not imply it has any effect on one’s life. Perhaps because of the gulf that has always existed between my head and my heart.

I think, to him, it’s hard to perceive the love of a God whose existence you have much reason to question. For me, it’s hard to deny the existence of a God whose love you can’t escape, despite your best efforts. That’s probably the hardest thing to explain: that I’m not a Christian because I’m awesome and I just love this Jesus Guy so much, but because I honestly suck, and He hasn’t backed down from that.

In the face of relentless love, it would be intellectually dishonest of me to say God doesn’t exist, but what does an acknowledgement of His existence guarantee? Can’t I know He exists, but not give a hoot? Can’t I live as if He doesn’t exist, as if I’m sovereign, as if what He says doesn’t matter? I can. And I have. That is the story of my life and my faith journey. Almost 20 years in, I’m still a colossal wretch, but isn’t that the point? Isn’t that what the Cross shows us? That we are all far from awesome, but it’s not a deal-breaker? That we are tansformed, not by understanding we are wrong, but by understanding we are loved? That God, who is Love, is willing to walk with us…as we are?

That’s a hard concept for many people, especially Christians, to grasp. Maybe that’s why I don’t know how to talk to people about this Jesus I know…because He might not be the same one you have heard about. Maybe you’ve heard about a ‘God’ whose love you have to work for, who is put off by your failings and the very stench of your humanity, who dangles the idea of salvation like a carrot, but is really waiting for you to screw up enough for him to cut you off. But, that’s not my God. If He were like that, I would have been cut off years ago…because I’m not joking when I say I’m a sinner.

I’m definitely not a good person, and I probably break more of God’s laws than many people who don’t even believe in Him. I’m detached and callous, I have anger issues, and if the morality police decided to come after me? Life sentence. There is nothing about me that qualifies me to be a Christian, and I’d be an even bigger liar if I told you I could change. It is not in me to love God, or even to love people well. I care, but only as much as my built-in resistance allows. I’m about as far from perfect as you’re likely to find on this planet, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

I am a sinner. And that is why I need Jesus.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8 (NKJV)
New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.


A Crisis Of Faith (Part 1 of…?)


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Eighteen years. That’s a long time to be anything, especially a Christian. For the better part of those eighteen years, I was in an environment that encouraged my faith, and made it possible for me to develop an identity that wasn’t rooted in meaningless religious exercise. I was never taught that my faith made me a better person than those who didn’t share it. As a result of that faith, I developed a worldview founded upon the indisputable value of each person, and tried to live accordingly, though not perfectly.

Over the past eighteen months, I have been caught in a struggle. I don’t consider myself to be what I call an obnoxious Christian, so I don’t believe in shoving my faith in people’s faces or down their throats. Some may see this as being ashamed of being a Christian, but I honestly don’t see what in mainstream (Western) Christianity merits such pride. More importantly, I could not see what in my own life was worth being proud of.

I have moved from a safe faith environment to one that doesn’t readily seem to offer any place for the faith that has moulded so much of who I am. Thankfully, I am surrounded by some of the most amazing people I have ever known, but that encouragement in matters of faith has been missing. Some of these people don’t even see God as worthy of the least significance. Does that make them bad people? Definitely not. But, it made me have to step back and view my faith through different eyes. This place has done more than challenge me–it has revealed the absence of a living faith.

I was (and, in many ways, still am) in possession of a faith that had yet to transcend my intellect and make its way into my heart. You see, I fully believe in all Jesus has done for me, but I had closed my heart to what He wants to do in me. I had woefully neglected to live out the very principles I claimed to hold dear. It took being away from the comforts of home for me to truly appreciate that my faith is worthless if it does not lead to a transformed heart. If I am not growing in my love towards people, if I deny others the same grace gladly extended to me, if I am not kind in the way I think about others, then how am I being Christian (like Christ)?

Now, I’m in a vulnerable spot–and vulnerability is not my strong suit. Surrounded by people who have accepted me, but appear to have little use for my Christ, all my inconsistencies are out in the open. To be honest, this is exactly what I needed…not a faith I can hide behind, but one that calls me to true love and openness.

It’s so ironic that it took being away from my Christian circle to reveal the deficiencies in my faith, but I’m grateful and humbled. Grace has found me in this place, and I trust it to lead me home.

 If the faith I claim to hold has not taken hold of me, it is less than genuine…and so am I.

Eating My Words/Challenging My View Of Men


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If you spend enough time around me, one thing becomes clear: I’m frank–often painfully so. Spend even more time, and we’re bound to arrive at one of my core conclusions: men are wicked. I am not a bitter female, I have never been in a relationship or had my heart broken, I’ve never been on either side of unrequited love, and most of the guys in my life are simply amazing. But, I have seen enough to be aware of the kind of havoc men wreak on society, especially women, when they don’t stand up to the enormous task that is manhood. That, to me, is more than enough cause for caution.

“Men are wicked.” For the past year or so, I have been increasingly uncomfortable with this philosophy, even as my exposure to the horror stories has increased. Are men wicked? Yes. Is it any less wicked to hold that idea as a baseline? No. I have six nephews, two godsons, and several friends with young sons. I cannot bring myself to see any of these males as wicked, even though I know they will grow up and imperfectly execute the requirements of being a man.

See, men are not simply wicked. They are also broken, as is all of humanity. If I zoom in on the wickedness, and ignore the brokenness, it makes it almost impossible for me to view men with compassion, especially in my thoughts. I have close male friends, and I’m pretty sure they think I’m more than slightly cynical when it comes to this, even though I think I’m merely stating the facts, just being my frank self. How do I characterise men as wicked without inadvertently including all those men I love and respect?

Statistically, it’s frightening. So many men are simply not stepping up, and there doesn’t seem to be much hope for this generation of men. It’s easy to think that decency, integrity, honour, and fidelity are things of the past. Still, how am I helping by reducing men to the ones who are not worthy to bear the name? Whether I want to admit it or not, labeling men as wicked makes it easier to dismiss them altogether. It is as destructive as those women who would hold men to no standards whatsoever, simply because they are afraid of being single.

So, what do I do now? I would like to renew a commitment…to love and support the good men in my life, to encourage their efforts, and view them with honour. More than that, though, I will no longer define men by facts. I have no doubt men will continue to be wicked, but I must also remember that they are broken and human, just as I am…that every man was once a vulnerable little boy…that the odds are stacked against them, and even society doesn’t expect much of men. I will no longer add to that lack of expectation, difficult as it is likely to be.

I must remember that men were designed to be living examples of strength founded upon love and protecting the vulerable. I must honour what is there, look for and celebrate the good, even when I do not see it.

Where men fill the purpose and design of men as the Bible has outlined it, humanity flourishes, and where men refuse to step into the space that men are called to fill, the world burns.

                                        Matt Chandler

Disclaimer: This is an entirely separate issue from a man’s suitability as a mate (standards matter), and I remain happily and gratefully single…no need to get excited (you know yourselves). 😛

Walk WITH Hope…Please help!


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It is almost inconceivable that one four-letter word could have such power to change my life. For the past eight months, I have had the privilege of living in L’Arche, being part of a community that emphasises the power of ‘with’. I get to share life with people whose abilities differ from mine, and, as we walk with each other, our gifts are discovered.

I could not find the words to aptly describe this reality, so I borrowed some from our community leader, Carl MacMillan:

“At the heart of the mission of L’Arche is the belief that each person has unique sacred value, that people with intellectual disabilities have gifts that can build a more compassionate society, and that the way we live our relationships with each other holds the power to transform us, and to change the world.”

All this is possible because of the difference between doing for and doing with. When we reduce our interactions with others to what we do for them, there is this crushing weight placed on our souls. We so easily lose the benefit of mutually-transforming relationships. When we take the time to focus on the ‘with’, we see not just the people around us, but we see ourselves. We are finally able to connect with each other at the place at which we are all the same–the point of our humanity.

In L’Arche, people with intellectual disabilities are not ‘them’, or patients, or clients, or any random label you can think of. People with intellectual disabilities are core members, the heart and soul of our homes. Our core members possess many abilities, and are full of gifts and light. Above all, they are teachers and friends. It is not uncommon to find oneself called out of a perceived reality and into that of the beauty of the human spirit, the beauty inside each of us, regardless of our differences.

This is what living in L’Arche has done to and for me. I find myself growing in my ability to connect with people as people, and I receive daily lessons in walking with those around me, sharing the highs and lows of their lives. I am learning to embrace my weaknesses, to not run from my vulnerability. My soul is being stretched, but it is a discomfort I welcome, because this is what I need.

I fully believe in the mission of L’Arche, and that is why I am about to do something I have never done before. I am most uncomfortable asking for financial support, but my community, L’Arche Daybreak, is having a fundraising walk. The Walk WITH Hope makes it possible for us to continue establishing and living the mission and vision of L’Arche, and to share that with the rest of the world.

Please consider donating by visiting my personal sponsorship page. I wouldn’t ask you to do something I wouldn’t do, so I have already made a donation. This is a cause I wholeheartedly support, and I ask you to do the same. If you would be so kind as to share the link with your friends and family, I would be most grateful.

Even if you are not in a position to donate, please take the time to read up on L’Arche (Google is your friend), and see if you can carry that spirit of honouring each person’s dignity into all areas of your life. Thank you again, both for your time and your generosity.

Image source: L’Arche Canada’s WITH Campaign (discoverwith.ca)

In the end, the most important thing is not to do things for people…but to enter into relationship with them, to be with them and help them find confidence in themselves and discover their own gifts.

– Jean Vanier (founder of L’Arche), Community And Growth

I Told Myself I Wouldn’t Do This, But…


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I am Jamaican. I am a Christian. I am heterosexual.

And, I am deeply wounded by the way in which some Jamaicans, Christians, and heterosexuals are navigating the whole issue of homosexuality. Then again, maybe that’s it. Maybe, in the minds of those who so readily disregard gay people, they’re not even people–just an issue. Perhaps, in those minds, they’re the ones who are going to lead children astray, teach them that being gay is normal, force us to live in a world in which it is commonplace to see two men or women engaging in rather public displays of affection. Maybe they’re afraid, but enough is enough.

Who gave us the right to act as God’s mouthpiece, when we’re busy misrepresenting His intentions? Under whose authority do we decide that ‘the world’ that ‘God so loved’ did not include gay people? How do we live so comfortably with the idea that so many men and women are afraid of being true to themselves, because to do so would mean risking ostracism and even death?

It is indeed incredibly sad that so many people, Christians included, would rather focus on issues, all the while missing the very people involved. It is even more distressing that principles God laid down out of love for us, out of His commitment to our joy, have become fodder for cannons of condemnation. It is an injustice that God has so patiently given all of us time to come into the light, that He so relentlessly pursues us even after the light has found us, yet we want to cram truth down people’s throats in an effort to open their eyes.

I have had enough. Enough of young men being killed because a mob decided it wasn’t okay to be gay in their presence. Enough of ‘men’ forcing themselves on women in an effort to ‘straighten’ them. Enough of young people committing suicide because they were bullied for being gay. Enough of Scripture being flung at people, as if truth were meant to be wielded like a sword. Enough of this ‘them vs. us’ mentality. Enough of the notion that the fullness of the expression of grace reveals itself in heterosexuality–as if being straight offers any measure of protection from immorality.

We will never get anywhere until we move past the gay and start seeing the people. Maybe some of us will have to have gay sons, daughters, friends, uncles, nieces, etc., before we put a face to homosexuality. Maybe we already do, but they’re too afraid of our rejection. Maybe, like me, you will have to have someone you love and treasure be almost killed by law enforcement officers–and for what crime? Sitting on a park bench beside someone of the same sex.

Can we please stop pretending that being gay is the end of the world? Being gay does not make you more evil or less of a person than anyone else. It does not mean you decided to tell God and society to go self-fornicate, just so you could live your life. It does not mean you’re not special, beautiful, gifted, funny, insecure, angry, sad, hopeful, and anything else that fits on the spectrum of emotion. Being gay does not make you any less human.

We don’t all have to agree on how to approach life, but if we can’t agree on the sanctity of life, where is this civilisation of which we speak?

Before I Move On


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A drop of snot should not be so powerful.

For all my doubting of my soul’s existence, there are things that just wreck my soul, if only for a moment. There I was, halfway into the journey home from a retreat, sitting in a coffee shop with my three co-workers, and I let my eyes wander, as usual. He…touched me, somehow. Sitting two tables away from us, I kept seeing him, even after looking away and returning to the discussion around me. I must have told myself to stop staring at least 10 times. Even my body shifted towards him. All because of one drop of snot, a beacon of sorts.

Was he crying? Was it just the weather? Did he not feel it? Balanced on the end of a nose perfectly at home in a face clichés do no justice. A face I hadn’t even noticed…because of that drop of snot. That’s when it hit me–I had seen him a few minutes earlier, reaching for one of the employment application forms. Seen him, but not noticed him, and suddenly I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. I became aware of his restless hand motions as he filled out the application form, of the way he flipped through his tiny spiral notebook.

This complete stranger was suddenly real to me. He wasn’t just another face. He was human. Very much so. I had seen him, and I could not put him from my mind. Without even looking at me, he had collided into the place where I am most human.

“Is it weird to ask a stranger to borrow a pen?” The words were out before I could stop them, and my co-workers’ response gave me the courage to leave my seat. He gladly offered me a pen and a page from his book. Completely convinced of my official weirdo status, I wrote him a note, thanked him for his pen, and went back to our table.

A few minutes later, I was back, and he was nice enough to let me sit across from him, and we talked. Well, he did most of the talking. His name is John. Only then did I notice the state of his hands and jacket, and other tiny clues that should have alerted me. John is homeless. Still, for all that I was blind to, it was his utter humanity that spoke to me, that almost haunted me all the way home.

But, it won’t last.

Perhaps it is a consequence of our tendency to put adjectives in front of the word ‘people’, but we are such masters at missing the very thing that makes people who they are: their humanity. I do it, too. Incredibly easily. So, before I move on, I ask you to help me pray for John. More importantly (since prayer isn’t everyone’s thing), help me look for John–the John in each of us. Just a soul awaiting recognition.

I am by no means suggesting John needed to meet me. It seems I needed to meet him. He is more than a blog post. He is…strangely real. I pray for him, but I will move on. Because that’s what we do, isn’t it? We return to our lives, secure our own worlds, and express the requisite pity when the occasion calls for it. Should we enjoy whatever good there is to be found in this life? Definitely, but maybe we can take a moment to look. We just might find that place where we are all the same, and learn to live, one human with another.

We are not called by God to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love.

– Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, 2015 recipient of the Templeton Prize

A Lot Like Dying…


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When I first thought of this post three months ago, my aim was to highlight the beauty of life…just the gift that each moment (crazy and otherwise) is. Moving from home made me realise the impact my absolutely boring life had on so many people I hold dear, and it hit me: people would miss me if I died. I am by no means unique in that regard, so, as is the case with most of my ‘light bulb’ moments, my mind penned a post. And then life happened.

It shouldn’t be possible for so much to change in 90 days. Then again, maybe nothing changed, and that is the problem. I don’t know, but I think we all have at least one thing that, if it were different, we’re convinced we would be different. Whereas I didn’t blame my environment for the scary creature I was, part of me retained the hope that a change of environment would lead to the blossoming of a better Lori. I’m not known for my optimism, so this ‘better Lori’ was pretty basic. You know, maybe just a few notches below ‘normal, functioning human being’.

Funny enough, so many things in my life are finally going right. I am closer than ever to financial independence (however real that struggle is), I have access to the resources I need to get my health on track, I finally have the time and space to get to know myself and God again, and I’ve met some awesome people. What could go wrong?

Deception is a bittersweet poison. I knew better, but I really thought I could get my act together. That act needs to be abandoned. I am never going to be some new and improved version of myself, because I can never outrun the kind of propensity for self-destruction that composes the fibre of who I am. No amount of effort will disguise the stench of death that clings to me…that I cling to. I am never, no matter how fit I get, going to outrun myself.

I have the things I thought I would never have, a life I can finally enjoy, yet I have never felt closer to death. This is the truth I must own–that, even at my best, I’ll do my worst. Seems that should have me running to the Saviour.

‘Cause I am a sinner
If it’s not one thing, it’s another
Caught up in words
Tangled in lies
You are the Saviour
And You take brokenness aside
And make it beautiful.

“Brokenness Aside” by All Sons and Daughters
Words and music by Leslie Jordan and David Leonard
© 2011 Integrity Music
CCLI#: 5881109



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For some time now, I’ve been wondering what would happen if people dared to be honest. See, I like to think I’m honest, but I doubt I am. I see relatively clearly, and I tend to say it as I see it, but if my innate dishonesty hobbles my capacity for objective sight, what’s the point? 

I think I’m a hypocrite…most days, anyway. Can any other label be as fitting when I face a world I have no desire to even be in? When God’s name flows so easily in conversation, but there seems to be no place for Him in my heart? When I tell myself this will pass, because it has passed before? The fact is, each step of this tortuous dance is familiar, yet I will not end it. Because I’m a hypocrite.

There is much to be said for the comfort of a cyclic existence, even with the overhanging knowledge that there is an end, and a rather unpleasant one at that. Knowing better awaits us outside of our self-constructed prisons rarely serves as motivation to break free. If you’re me, motivation does not make a habit of presenting itself. I’d rather tell myself I need to change than actually take steps in that direction. Because I’m a hypocrite.

Enthralled witness to my own demise, the question of an exit strategy arises. As much as I possess an intellectual hold on grace, I’m not very good at facing it. Grace exposes the liar in me. It tells me I will fail, but empowers me not to. It reveals my intrinsic unlovableness, yet lavishes upon me a love so independent and ferocious, I instinctively flee from it. I refuse to take hold of the redemption I so readily remind others of. Because I’m a hypocrite.

Perhaps it is the admission of hypocrisy that leads to its end.

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

– “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go” (George Matheson, 1882)

Grace in the Wilderness


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punitive – adjective: inflicting or intended as punishment. (Thanks to the lovely folks at Google Dictionary.)

If there’s one area of life I can claim deep familiarity with, it’s that of making mistakes. And not just any mistakes, mind you–the kind that make people cringe, that inspire head-shaking on a wide scale…the kind that prove the extent of my tendency towards self-destruction.

Against that background, the linking of “what” and “if” become inevitable, and how I torture myself. Whereas it is undoubtedly healthy to acknowledge that actions have consequences, being the extremist I am, I struggle with the idea that my life could be anything but a lost cause. When there’s a clear picture of what your life not just could, but should, have been…and it’s excruciatingly evident that the disparity between that and your reality can readily be attributed to your actions, hope proves elusive. 

“This is not punitive” — words that have been engraved into my subconscious, despite the raging battle to remember just how solid and life-altering they are. And I forget. Often. More often than I remember. When you’ve wrecked your own life, you begin to think you deserve whatever comes your way…if you’re anything like me, that is.

How very…human of me. If I wasn’t wise or powerful enough to do what was within my reach, by what stretch of the imagination would I then be able to set my life on an unalterable course? As crazy as life may be, as much as “this is my fault” rings true…this is not punitive.  

God definitely allows us to make our own choices, but He cannot act outside of His own nature. God is Love; He is Redeemer. He longs to lift us from pits of our own making. Our demise is never the goal of anything God does. Even when we have driven ourselves to destruction’s door, He can rescue, He can pull us back to Him. As a writer, that makes so much sense to me. Characters rarely follow precisely the path laid out for them, but they’re still only in the story. They’re not exercising sovereignty over the writing process, especially for the ending.

Why would I not trust the Author of Life to resolve convoluted conflicts of my own making…not trust Him to still give me a good story, even if it varies from the perceived original intention? Why not trust the One who made people, knowing they would fail–who put in place the perfect plan of salvation BEFORE sin was even imagined…before the first sinners were created? Why. Not?

No matter what we’ve brought upon ourselves, we have not moved ourselves beyond the reach of grace. True victory is not found in convenience, or even in a change of circumstance, but in the discovery of God’s heart–a heart overflowing with good intentions towards us, a heart that disciplines us out of love. The heart of the One who is with us in the agony of the wilderness, and has put grace there for us to find.

This…is…not…punitive. Maybe you need that reminder as much as I do.

Thus says the Lord:

“The people who survived the sword
Found grace in the wilderness—
Israel, when I went to give him rest.”
3 The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.

Jeremiah 31:2,3
The Holy Bible, New King James Version
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

I Am A Liar.


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Roads paved with good intentions often lead to a predictable destination. That may very well be the story of the major portion of my life. Or, maybe I should get one of those life things before I attempt to determine its story.

Whatever the case, I am a liar. What other option is there, if any plans I make in the direction of change tend to be little more than passing acknowledgements of the need for a difference? Who else can I be when I make promises I know I can’t–and often, won’t–keep? When I’m content to see what needs to be done, but do nothing about it?

There are few poisons as potent as self-deceit. You see, it is all too easy to think that knowing something is wrong is a sufficiently significant step in the right direction. Some of us, present company topping the list, never take another step. How natural it is to sit and nurse the idea of disturbed equilibrium, weaving it into a grand quest (complete with the requisite slaying of dragons), only to have it stay there and become nothing but an overgrown obstacle. Welcome to my world.

I’ve had quite a few people tell me I know what’s wrong with everyone but me. Comforting as that notion may be to those holding it, it is so erroneous that it is almost laughable. Fear not, I know what’s wrong with me (or have a good enough grasp of the extent of my dysfunction)…I’m just not particularly inclined towards doing anything about it. What does that make me? Not just a liar, actually. It makes me full of–ehem, overflowing with excrement.

Usually, at this point, I’d launch into some lovely truths about God and the fullness of grace. For me, those are not the platitudes they can so easily double as. But, today, doing so would serve only to cement what is the point of this post.

I. Am. A. Liar. And that, my friend, is the truth.