What I'm Learning in Christian Community

 
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com·mu·ni·ty /kəˈmyo͞onədē/ noun

  1. a group of people living together in one place, especially one practicing common ownership: "a community of nuns" synonyms: brotherhood, sisterhood, fraternity, confraternity, sorority

  2. a particular area or place considered together with its inhabitants: "a rural community" synonyms: district, region, zone, area, local area

  3. the people of a district or country considered collectively, especially in the context of social values and responsibilities; society: "preparing prisoners for life back in the community" synonyms: population, populace, people, citizenry, public

  4. a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals:"the sense of community that organized religion can provide"

  5. a similarity or identity: "writers who shared a community of interests" synonyms: similarity, similar nature, likeness, sameness, comparability

  6. joint ownership or liability: "a commitment to the community of goods" synonyms: joint ownership, common ownership, shared possession, joint liability, joint participation

  7. a group of interdependent organisms of different species growing or living together in a specified habitat: "communities of insectivorous birds"

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I woke up the other day aware of the gift of community. I looked around and felt provided for, cared for and part of something bigger than myself. While reflecting on my moments of weakness in the days gone by, I became aware of how I’d experienced Christ in those around me. I noticed Jesus in the way they responded to me. As I sit today, unable to do much else in my body’s current state of viral infection, I let these things percolate. I’m becoming aware in the “too good to be true” moments, where the script on repeat of “I am misunderstood” is being bashed on the head. The fact that someone remembered details about my life as if they’ve actually been listening to me talk feels like a dream. The fact that a friend biked to my house to bring me love-made ham soup without the things I’m allergic to shoved the lies of “not being worth it” out of the way. All this gold feels like boots my community wear that crush serpents heads beneath the feet of Christ through the words and actions of those I’m doing life with.

At the same time, I’m all too familiar with the swirl of thoughts that disconnect me. My mind sometimes gets flooded with “they don’t actually love me” and questions like “why do I not belong” and “why does everyone hate me” (yes, it sometimes really gets that extreme.) When the tornado hits, I find the facts I need to validate my emotions. I turn to social media and feel the weight of being on the outside more than what’s even real. I feel like keeping it at my and Jesus. Pursue connection with any of these dang people who just keep hurting me? No thanks!

By the grace of God, I choose not to isolate in the name of Jesus. Increasingly I’m choosing to believe and enact upon my need for people in the lie storm. I’m growing custom to confrontation and confession. I usually confess to the Lord in private first, but rarely these days is that enough. Confession with my mouth heard by the ears of a brother actually precedes repentance (James 5:16, Matthew 10:32.)

It seems that in that honest, raw and human state that I counterintuitively breakthrough the cloudy swirl and experience community in all its beauty. When I have nothing left in the ideal department to offer, when people get to see what’s beneath the Instagram tiles, and calculated word selection, I experience connection.

All this makes me wonder about the word “community.” It makes me believe it’s more meaningful than getting my needs met and having friends.


Twenty two years ago I was about to be born. If my “baby book” is any proof, I’ve had people that loved me and cared for me from the start. Since before I was breathing polluted air, people celebrated my heartbeat, and before I could offer them anything, they appreciated me. Still I so often felt alone, and sometimes still do. Why? I’m pretty convinced of the enemy’s strategy, seeking to destroy Christian community, probably more stealthily than lots of other things. After all, if people feel alone, there’s a suddenly infinite possibility for more torment galore. Seems like a logical place to start attacking… too bad for him that we figured it out.

Most of my understanding of community has taken shape in the past two years since starting to attend a new Church. Beyond the building, it’s been a place that’s housed gifts of truth-telling relationships. It’s provided space for me to reflect on my experiences of community growing up and how they’ve been impacting my capacity to engage with a new one.

My concept of community isn’t always accurate and my expectations of the people around me can be unrealistic or inappropriate. I’m learning that as a member of something bigger than myself, I need people. I’m experiencing the tangible and sacramental reality of being loved by God as I’m letting others love me.

To “rely on God” or to know “God as provider” or even “God as Father” or “friend” often means to rely on people, let people provide for you, and let people parent you and be your friend.

I’ve been surprised by how God makes it known to me that He sees me and knows my needs through others. He is big enough to nudge someone in my community to text me at the perfect time to build me up in my broken state without me telling them a word. He is good enough to remember my strongest childhood desire from years past, being a big sister, and satisfying it in the perfect season through the gift of investing in youth I can pick up from school and be a sister to.

Regardless of who I do life with in the future, I’ll always choose to be humbled in community - so help me Lord - because of what I’ve learned in living it out here. When it feels nicer and safer to stay in my claims of knowing what’s good, I intent to commit to choosing surrender and facing relationships. As painful as it can be, it’s also exponentially more rewarding than the other options.

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A community of humans isn’t everything, but communion with God is. He created us to host His presence, however, so we cannot escape the reality of communing with God through life with others, Christian or not, extroverts or not.

If we are His body, that means to depend on Him means to depend on each other. A teacher once said it like this: “you cannot behead Jesus, put the head in a sac and be OK with having a little head in a bag with you in your room all the time.” (I’m paraphrasing)

In Christ, there’s more than just a “sense of community that organized religion can provide.” One of the online sourced definitions alluded to community being classified as a feeling. I disagree. It describes community as a sense of fellowship with others that flows from the reality of "sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” I think yes, that’s an element of Christian community. But at large it is more of a choice. Love is a choice. And community is bound together by Love. It isn’t a feeling of fellowship. It’s a choice to be in fellowship. The more we choose though, the more we will feel. It’s part of this mystical reality of being united with Christ. We share a similar nature with each other as image bearers, and we are drawn to Christ in each other (whether we can articulate or not.) Christianity is the only way of life that I’m aware of that consists of people being bonded together because of the same victory Jesus won once and for all, yet it looks so vastly different in each person’s story. This “common interest” is beyond sharing key verses as foundation for identity. It’s an unseen reality of Heaven that infuses each mind’s each day with new mercy. It’s a kind of supernatural experience too deep for words.

I’m convinced that true community can only be consistently experienced by those who are living together in one place. That’s why your first community is your family. That’s why people who don’t heal their hearts from inevitable family wounds have issues in community, probably even issues even getting through this blog post! Genuine community requires of each man a deep vulnerability. Where there is vulnerability there is pain. If the wounds are left untouched, a distorted understanding of the Father, distorted relationship to Church, and distorted capacity to live in community is likely.

In a more mysterious way, the proximity factor is also why through Christ it’s possible to survive in times of transition or solitude. Because God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit abide together in one place, because they are mystically united, and I am too united to them in Christ, I can access community always.

Because community is also commonly defined by a particular area, region or zone, you cannot choose it. Sure, you can choose to live wherever the heck you want. But you can’t choose who else has chosen to live there. It’s probably quite rare that people move houses just because they have don’t like their neighbours.

The Lord has more than likely destined you to be where you are right now geographically. Most importantly He’s destined you to abide with Him first and then to exist in a particular country, province, region, city, area, neighbourhood, street, home, for a reason. It’s not a mistake that you are where you are. It’s in the passing by conversations that we have opportunity to bear each other’s burdens with authenticity and grace.

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To begin experiencing the gifts of community, begin taking ownership for it. You can’t expect people to do it for you. As much as community is a gift by which we benefit, a people from whom we receive, it requires from the individual a positioning themselves outside of their comfort zone. It requires them to step out of hiding and into the light. Passivity in community is sad to see. I notice such a hunger in the hearts of those crying out for the nourishment that only human connection can bring. Like the one definition says, community is a “commitment” and requires “ownership or liability.” It compares community to “joint or common ownership,” to “shared possession.”

We must take ownership over how we relate to community, and participate in the ownership of the Church body (and sacramentally the building) itself. We are all part of it. For example, I felt like no one would care about changing the toxic chemicals in the infant’s nursery to ones that won’t slowly kill their health. I spent a year trying to perfect my letter to the elders. Then I realized the most helpful thing for me to do is to be me, and act on the way I see the world in this context. Because my perspective is a gift to the body and to assume others will adopt my perspective is far less effective than just buying the non-toxic cleaners and putting them where they’ll be used. It was much easier to spend 100 bucks than to pout about my inability to craft the ideal budget for new supplies, all the while hoping someone else will deal with it. I claim ownership as a cell in the body and believe that my perspective matters.

When I first moved to Lethbridge, Alberta and started doing life with this new Church, I didn’t just expect that people would offer to drive me to family dinners and community events, I walked 1.5 hours to get there with two frozen pizzas in a bag over my shoulder, and entered strangers’ homes uncomfortably. I’m not saying I’m perfect at this. But I have discovered the secret to crushing loneliness: showing up. I encourage you to do the same. If you want to be part of a community group, don’t wait for a community group to start, or expect people to invite you. Start your own. Invite other people. Or at least invite yourself to something! Position yourselves to be in the light. Not the limelight, but the Light of Truth. The Light of Life. Come out of hiding. God is Light. I’ve recently been choosing not to escape my feelings when I feel like I don’t belong. Instead, I call it what it is, and remain in a posture of connection, even when I don’t feel like it.

Church, it will sometimes feel like you don’t belong. The enemy’s working to amplify our speculations and cause perceived offence. The reality is, where there’s humans you will even be offended by people! But no one else can claim your responsibility to live comfortably in that tension.

Your individuality matters, don’t let that be taken away from you. A healthy community will be made of healthy individuals who have a healthy perspective about themselves. There was a time that I could not give myself to community. I didn’t know who I was yet defensively said I did. It wasn’t until admitting my not knowing that I found life in connection. Individuals in a healthy community can depend on one another, but are not co-dependent. They can receive offers of “the drinks on me” and even ask that someone cover their bill when in need. But they need not expect this from any particular person. One definition for community was “a group of interdependent organisms of different species growing or living together in a specified habitat.” We are independent, but we are interdependent. Our individuality depends on our reliance to each other. We need to come to the end of ourselves and recognize our need for love from a brother. We need to allow others to be themselves. That’s the way it works. Each cell plays a specific part in a specific system. Each system in the body must live in harmony with it’s members in order to contribute healthily to the body at large.

Where we have that, let us celebrate. Where we don’t, let us pray, and act.


Where we are convinced we are good with “Jesus’ head in a sac",” purge us of our pride.


Where we are too preoccupied with the humanity of community, draw us back to Your heart.


Where we are longing for connection but unwilling to participate, forgive us.

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I have been blessed to have people who have given me what they have received. And likely so have you. Both spiritually and physically, our needs are met and gifts are given. The blessing of family! We have blood-line ancestors and forefathers of faith who fought for things that we don’t have to. We can receive an inheritance from Christ through our parents and older siblings (both blood and spiritual) in faith. Their breakthrough will rarely be our struggle. Their ceiling will commonly be our floor.

The book of Acts paints a beautiful picture for Life Together. As does Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

“Human love cannot tolerate the dissolution of a fellowship that has become false for the sake of genuine fellowship, and human love cannot love an enemy, that is, one who seriously and stubbornly resists it… Life or death of a Christian community is determined by whether it achieves sober wisdom on this point as soon as possible.”

There is a distinction made between human love and spiritual love.

Human love is fine. But it only goes so far, and then it hits a wall. We direct and project all our needs onto others and commit to the quest of finding what we want out of relationships. We play within our safe zones, guarding our means of control. We rule over our own relationships, and pick and choose to do life with people who are like us. We withdraw from those relationships that cause new pain, that tap on old wounds, or don’t consistently give us the benefits we’re after. In human love we live “by uncontrolled and uncontrollable dark desires” and results in rigidity that could never breed the healthy fruit we crave.

Spiritual love on the other hand does bear that healthy fruit. Part of the package is the pruning process. It moves past polite and tells the truth. It is love for the sake of Christ. It is divine and has no fear of missing out on benefits, but rather honouring one another. Spiritual love “lives in the clear light of service” and it is “ordered by truth.” It is committed regardless of what it feels like because it is for the glory of God.

Bonhoeffer, the one who writes of this contrast, communicates the central idea in comparing these two types as the Church being the fellowship of Christ, by Christ and for Christ. He touches on the lifelessness and eventual death that will happen when community is viewed as merely an association of people with a common purpose. He shows that human love and actions are related to a desire for human community, but Christian love, spiritual love, comes from Christ. He unpacks the truth of Christ standing between me and others, and displays why that liberates us to be authentically ourselves and draw the same out of others.

I’m finding within myself that there is a dissonance between these loves. One feels genuine and the other a counterfeit. It feels uncommon, even in churches, to witness such genuine love. It feels like we bow to this fear-mongering “safety” net and miss out on the beauty and benefits of true Christian brotherhood, sisterhood.

It seems to also rub people wrongly or stir up a fight or a flight. It’s why a man who’s never been to church can come into a service and be inexplainably uncomfortable at the sight of genuine affection between two straight, married, men. It’s why it’s culturally abnormal to see a pure and undefiled cross-gendered 20-year-age gap friendship. It’s why people think it’s strange that I willingly spend time with 12 year olds and genuinely enjoy (most) moments.

Because both loves take up space inside of me (and I allow them to) I have an awareness of this mysterious thing called authentic Christian community. Because I’m growing and giving myself to community, the good, the bad and most often the ugly, I’m being strengthened to choose spiritual love above human love.

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Breaking Free From the Prison of Your Pictures

I am a visionary, a dreamer.

Someone who sees prophetically into the future, but prefers to run full force toward pictures until they are reality, rather than yielding and trusting and thanking for glimpses of glory.

If you too are a pictures person, someone who engages with life and makes decisions based on images tucked into your heart, you may find these thoughts helpful.

I’ve learned that idealism is a gift... that the pursuit of ideals can draw us close to the One who created us. When we operate in faith, we may not even consciously understand that what we are pursuing is humanly unrealistic. Other times we may know how seemingly “impossible” something is, but lean so into Him that we believe that only in His strength we will accomplish such a thing.

On the other hand, idealism tortures. In the safety of our minds, ideals are rarely broken. They are complete, whole, and perfect. But real life is messy. When we bow to our ideas, instead of placing them at His feet, we cannot see the beauty in broken reality. We are crushed, deeply impacted, by the rhythms of the world that tamper with what our energy was focused on.

That’s where there’s an important distinction between day-dreaming and partnering your faith. When we let ideals take over our thought life in a day-dreaming mentality, our well-being is dependent on the fruition of the picture. We need to see it happen. This strengthens control in the wrong way. When we dream in broad daylight and choose to do so in faith of His perfect plan and sovereign reign over all things, we find excitement in the dream, but freedom from the chains to it. We live, move and have our being in another realm, independent of the progress to our goal.

Ideals are intimate, and therefore when we become intimate with Love Himself, our ideals flow from health. I was so captured by His Love that things I forgot I even dreamed of as a child came back to my mind. I started having a heart for things I used to want to do badly. Somewhere along the way, I lost hope of these things, as my view of my Daddy became tainted and limited. In this fresh indwelling of His heart for me, I was taken away in dreams with Him. But the focus was being with Him, not the dreams themselves. I felt encouraged to dream with Him because He was near, and safe, and not expectant that they be fulfilled, rather, showing me that joy is found in dreaming itself. He has made me okay with not knowing if and or how these things would happen.  I just bask in the thoughts and enjoy knowing with Him all thing are possible. Whatever that will look like.

Be encouraged today, dreamer. To first be a lover, and then let your visionary nature flow from intimacy with the source of creativity Himself.

On Church; Deacons & 'Dresses'

Most of my upbringing happened with an Anglican Church as home-base.

I was used to seeing my dad (in the choir) wearing "a dress," and watching people bow to the cross before stepping onto the stage, but I didn't understand why they did. I thought it was strange. I didn't ask questions.

Over the years, I've experienced aspects of God's vast nature through different expressions of faith, opposite ends of Christian spectrums. From conferences at the site of the Toronto Blessing, to our quaint church start-up that began in my parent's living room... from candle-lit traditional vigils, to massive baptist church teaching sessions... from a Presbyterian church in the middle of a corn field to summer camp worship and bible study on a floating dock... from Taizé style music to downtown dance parties for Jesus.. from a highly missional downtown church where I learned that church shouldn't always smell nice, to spotless Cathedrals with full-time janitorial staff... to reciting ancient creeds, to shaking with Holy laughter spouting off words in unknown languages... there's been a lot.

The gift of experiencing God in different ways has empowered me to freely express myself. From reflectively sitting at Charismatic events, to flailing my arms at the back of an Anglican Church. Each community, each encounter with God, each mentor, teacher, leader, and each worship experience have all shaped me. On a sunny September morning two years ago, I biked to a Church in my new city. Carrying all of my experiences, disappointments and beliefs about Church in my heart and mind, I walked into a day I'll never forget.

Thus marked the beginning of my time at Via Apostolica.

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A place where teaching has awakened my love for the Bride of Christ, a place where humble resilience and radical obedience has been modelled, a place where I've discovered the colossal Grace of God, a place where community has redeemed painful memories, and so much more. As our lead pastor (aka Priest, aka rector of the Cathedral --- yeah, we are Anglicans now too!) says on our website:

"Jesus is what holds this church family together.  We are a Christ-centred and devoted Church, full of imperfect people who are endlessly in need of God’s saving grace.  We love this place and though no church is perfect, we are committed to building Christ’s dream - a glorious Church."  (Stephen Barbour)

I find beauty in the Christian Church's extensive diversity. In the reality of Faith in Jesus being all-encompassing, each group of people, each system in the body is modelling an aspect of who He is, together being prepared to be His perfect and spotless Bride. It's all for Him.Thomas McKenzie in his book 'the Anglican way' digs into the compass rose, pictured above. I love every aspect of this. There is room for everyone, in every season, at every checkpoint of their journey with Christ. It's beautiful.

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WHY I'M THINKING ABOUT ANGLICANISM MORE THAN EVER THIS WEEK...

Two of my mentors and spiritual brothers (and another pretty rad dude I haven't gotten to know) were ordained as Deacons on Wednesday.I grew up hearing the 'D' word, but didn't know what it entailed until now.While covered in dust, crawling under the church stage to re-wire XLR cords, I pondered the significance of traditional dress that one of the men preparing for ordination had just explained to me, showing me the alb he'd just picked up days before ordination.

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White robes represent the righteousness of Christ (the word righteousness actually means 'garment' if you dig deep... takes 'being clothed in Christ,' or 'putting on Christ' to a whole new level!) These 'albs' are worn to state that ministers are serving not by their own volition but because Jesus covers them with His righteousness, empowering them to pour out the Love He's given them.

Black robes are called 'cassocks' and were traditionally worn as Priestly streetwear.

Scarfy sash thingies are actually called 'stoles,' and different placements signify different orders of clergy, where different colours represent seasonal themes in the Church. The Deacon’s Stole hangs diagonally from the left shoulder and then is secured at the right side. This is an outward expression of their inward call, to be a bridge between the Church and the world.

Priests and Bishops have different positioning of this piece, according to their calls too. The colours of the stoles are somewhere along the lines of purple or blue for advent and lent, white for Christmas, Easter, weddings, etc. Green for seasons after epiphany,  and red for days like pentecost, saints’ Days, confirmations, and ordinations.

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What I love about my community is it's conviction and capacity to engage with the tradition of these vestments and the sacraments, all the while not taking ourselves to seriously. To hear the Bishop make a joke about his 'silly hat' and then publicly repent immediately sensing a spirit of mockery, perhaps, is amazing. For dudes in collars to play dodgeball, or have arms covered in ink under their albs... pretty amazing.There is room for the Spirit to move when our faith is not in the traditions themselves, but in the Creator, the Redeemer, the Alpha & Omega. He makes a way for singing in the Spirit while serving the elements of the Eucharistic feast. He makes a way for Holy jolts to occur while chants fill the air. He is worthy.Because of His worth, these three men laid down their lives as they've known them to be consecrated to the Lord afresh, in a significant, life-altering and beautiful way.The responsibilities of deacons involve assisting at worship - particularly setting up the altar for the Eucharist and reading the Gospel. They are also accorded responsibility for pastoral care and community outreach, in keeping with their traditional role of manifesting the church in the world. Each of these men embody these characteristics in unique but faithful ways.I am blessed to have grown in awareness of my need for the Eucharist through them, and to have heard the gospel spoken as if Jesus himself used their voice boxes to speak to my heart when I needed hope and forgiveness.I'm inspired by the way they care for people, both in the Church and the community.To capture the evening, I created this video. With all my love for these men, this church, the Church itself, and ultimately for Jesus - the one who is awakening me into greater realities of His immense delight in me as a member of His body.

Hallelujah!

Stop! Look, recognize, celebrate!

I took time this morning to look at past March 27 posts, to recognize the increase of faith, freedom & fun that has been added to me by the grace of God, for the glory of God.

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In celebrating, I'm sharing, trusting that it may too, increase your faith for freedom & fun. I pray that you may see God's faithfulness in placing the lonely in families and healing the broken hearted through words documented.At 16 years-old in March of 2014, I was living in Barrie, Ontario billeting with a couple in their 60s or 70s. I was pursuing my deep desire for excellence in the form of becoming the best possible figure skater I could be. My body-based, kinaesthetic personality type that loves living into personal integrity and self-control, thrived in the competitive skating environment. Especially because I'd not grown up with such caliber of training and atmosphere of athletic excellence, and it was suddenly all around me.My attention naturally goes toward seeing what is wrong, and correcting it. This  is a gift. It manifested in countless hours of drilling technique into my muscles, repeating seemingly subtle, but absolutely intentional, movements over and over and over. It energized me to analyze my every movement and apply the "right" technique again and again until I experienced ability to complete particular elements. It was oh so satisfying.At this point in 2014, I was still travelling to my family's home each weekend, leaving my Monday-Friday-skating-community behind, only to leave my hometown-community each Sunday night.5 years ago last Sunday night, I was lonely. Over my parents' rustic wood dining room table, we prayed a bold prayer. And on March 27th, 2014 (only 3 or 4 days later) it was answered. I wrote this on the private blog I kept for family & friends:"My heart was literally in my mouth and tear ducts as I heard the words 'Yeah, so… my dad’s a youth pastor,' confirming the Max Lucado books and facebook picture- hints I’d picked up on. Sitting on the floor of my new soul sister Jeslyn’s bedroom, looking at recipes to create for our first time hanging out, we started talking about random stuff. I noticed her bible and devo book on her night stand and was just like… bingo. This is the answer to my prayers. Thank you Lord.  It wasn’t until I heard those words come out of her mouth that my face became hot as lava and my heart wanted to explode. Thank you Lord. From that moment on, it felt like our friendship was opened up. We just talked freely about everything and we share the same opinions on like everything due to our compatibility in values and beliefs. What a crazy blessing this is. As I walked into my room back here at Mike and Ann’s, I noticed my prayer board, under the heading “Supplication” saying “A friend, companion, mentor…” Reading that, I’m just simply overwhelmed by God’s timing and crazy ability to just make all things come together. I have most certainly found a friend and companion in Jeslyn.   I am in completely and utter awe of God’s perfectness. THIS IS CRAZY. May I just raise a point? A question if you will? How on earth is God not real? I’m reading Matthew right now, and learning a lot bout the importance of FAITH. Many times in Matthew, I’ve found Jesus explaining the importance of faith and the difference between the woman who reached out and touched him, fully believing she’d be healed, and the crowds that were uncertain, is phenomenal. My prayer this morning was literally asking for guidance in learning how to be more like the chronically bleeding woman. When you surrender something to God (like this situation of friendship) and you just finally let go, saying I HAVE FAITH IN YOU….look what happens."

I recognize the increase of faith that came after this miracle.

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That gift of relationship with Jeslyn developed into opportunity to live with her beautiful, healthy family - my new billets for almost half a year. They welcomed me, loved me, and served me so beautifully. I began staying on weekends and going to church with them.Later, their house was the roof under which I also dove into the beginnings of sadness and broken-heartedness. It was there I laid my head on the nights my dreams shattered, and my butt broke. (Literally, fractured my tail bone.) I lost control over my athletic endeavours and entertained anxious feelings and swirling thoughts.It was after moving out of there and back home that things got worse.On March 27, 2015 I wrote this:"Over the March Break, there were a couple times I was scared. I was so overcome by anxiety, that the way I was reacting was actually scaring me in itself.  I literally felt like I hit rock bottom. The good thing about being down there was that the mention of going any lower (which was in fact brought up at one point) forced me to snap out of some things. Forced me to face anxieties head on, and to be real. So, with many tears, hugs, tears, walks, talks, tears, and kleenexes, came the next step...  Gripping fatigue has enveloped my character. Part of this can be blamed on adrenal fatigue… which is an actual condition and a very strong reality of what i’m dealing with. The recovery from adrenal fatigue…. the fancy way of saying recovering from burnout….  is what i’m considering this time in my life to be. It’s why I’ve been spending a lot of time doing the things i want to do. It’s why i’m passively choosing not to commit to leadership role in a specific church community. God has designed me to be a leader, and i am well aware of that. But since daycare, i actually have been leading. In some role, way, shape, or form. Celine Dion was created to sing, yet she’s had to take vocal leaves and rests. That’s no different. The recovery from adrenal fatigue is why i’m passively choosing not to get involved at school in a committed role. “Yeah, i’ve just been going pretty hard for the past couple years, so i’m learning to just be.” I said, explaining to a friend who recently asked me what i’m up to these days, who responded with “Jo you’ve been going hard your whole life.”  But the other part of my extreme fatigue has been social isolation. The point is, that with the social interaction I’ve been partaking in this week has helped my energy increase! Not only because of the rise in blood sugars by eating more variety, but the actual chemical role that people have on my well being. That said, before this whole skating journey, I didn’t know how to be by myself. It’s refreshing to have an afternoon just on my own after a week of social interaction, and this whole process has helped shape some sort of balance into me that I’m SO thankful."I am experiencing shadows of this gripping fatigue yet again in March 2019. And I trust confidently that the Lord is faithful to guide and to heal.I pray that you will choose to trust in the same promise of guidance and healing. I pray that we all grow in confidence that the human body is more important than we often like to admit. I pray that through it He will show us more of His healing power and deep care for our hearts. Today, I call out the beauty and glory that God has displayed through my story, and while parts of me still feel like they're sitting in pits, He truly has pulled me out of the pit and set my feet on solid rock. I bask in recognizing His greatness through the turmoil, and His greatness in bringing me out of it.I recall this as testimony because I have friends in the deep waters of 200-pound-heaviness on their chest. And I empathize. I feel the weight grief, the swirl of anxiety. To watch people suffer through, is more of a guttural experience of empathy that drives me  to confidently say "This sucks. And there is more to the story. And you will be OK."

I recognize the increase in freedom from anxiety, and freedom from agonizing lies that I am alone.

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Finally, I scrolled through a post from March 2016, amazed that I'm thinking about similar things today...  the significance of routine, the role of discipline, my need of them and lack thereof.In March 2016 captured thoughts like this:The biggest thought I am dwelling on is about routine. Why do I like routine so much. Yes, I am a person who thrives on routine, and to a certain point I’ve tried to honour “who I am” in that… but if I am truly nothing apart from Christ, and I’m after a life just like Jesus lived  (because of His call to us as His followers and my commitment to renouncing the ways of the world,) is that really who I am? No! And no matter what “natural tendencies” I face, there is no excuse for not challenging them, when we have the Holy Spirit. Which I do. Which you can too if you don’t already.  I’m still doing some thinking and learning and listening on this one. I’ve actually been thinking about it for a few weeks since the start of no routine and going bonkers. But this week, amidst absolute inconsistency, no day being the same as the last, and two day streaks of not even having time to go upstairs and check my agenda (yes, that’s right… the girl who lives with her planner by her side)  I’ve found rest. I’ve still been able to function and actually radiate… WHEN I choose to submit my will to the will of God the Father.  And when I am aware of His presence in the moment. Moment by moment. Oh Lord, may that always be my prayer… to abide by your schedule and yield to your rhythms..  

I recognize the increase of fun and the capacity to live such an unstructured, un-routined life.

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At the same time, the importance of routine is making itself known righteously. Not a god, but a value. A discipline. A principal, unto Presence.In light of slowly letting the all-or-nothing worldview be re-formed, I trust there will be an increase in the freedom to yield to routine, because the Lord is in it.  Being a disciple of Christ is more often "both-and" than "either-or."I pray that in this season, you too will be awakened to the fluidity of Christian life. We often divide things into either or, when we focus solely on principal without the reality of Presence.May He continue, in His grace, to draw us near and to eradicate the lies that seek to keep us isolated in our darkness. May you find 'your people,' who will remind you that it's going to be alright, people who God will use to speak Truth to you, to walk with you and Love you unconditionally. May March 27th be a day set apart for annual reflection, a moment to stop, to look back, and to recognize how far you've come. Amen.