Post-group vent.

so it has been a long week, not only physically but especially emotionally and spiritually.  And after it all, I find myself feeling many many emotions that are swirling around, everything from excitement to intense despair to a sense of confusion and loss.  We had a group here from Grand Rapids this week, and they were a big group but very good and interesting kids who I hope got a lot out of the experience.  They were the exciting part.  Watching them interact, sometimes to the extent that things got intense, with the material and the sites was inspiring, as well as sometimes frustrating or saddening.  One girl is particularly on my mind this week, and will continue to be, for she was candid in a way I haven’t seen a lot of folks be about things that had happened to her in her own life and family.  

There was a lot, however, that leaves me feeling confused and sad and angry and frustrated all at once.  In some ways I could almost describe it as feeling violated.  To explain, this week I was the recipient of some pretty difficult criticisms, some done well and some done not so well.  My boss expressed a criticism of me that hurt to hear but helped me to think through some things that I hadn’t fully processed. That sucked when it was happening, but felt fruitful in the aftermath.  However, I am still reeling from what I can only describe as a full frontal assault (or at least it felt like it) from one of my co-workers today.  I love the people I work with, and I think the best of them, and I was very hurt and surprised to find myself in a situation that felt a whole lot like a “let me tell you everything I dislike about you” situation.  To be fair, I don’t know or think that this was the intention…. I find it hard to believe that anyone on our staff would intentionally go there.  But that is definitely what it felt like.  We have talked alot about compassion this week and understanding and I have tried (and failed sometimes) to live that out, and at times I have felt like  I was walking on eggshells in an attempt to be nice or kind to others, or to avoid seeming short or selfish to those I work with.  A feel as though a few of them have failed to give that intention back. 

So here’s what happened (at least as I heard it)– i was informed that I am insensitive and rude, examples of which being my request to the group to have an opportunity to say goodbye to Alex before he left for Maine on Thursday, my comment that “there are a lot of folks crying tonight” after the worship evening on Thursday, my telling someone that they had set something I was leading up incorrectly, my moving tables around for breakfast after someone had started setting up for breakfast already, etc.  Writing these down makes them sound all the more ridiculous than they felt while they were being thrown at me, but that isn’t the point of this.  I can understand that sometimes the things a person does can be taken negatively rather than neutrally (which is part of this).  In each case, my actions were interpreted as aggressive or malicious rather than simply neutral.  And part of this is a personality thing….. the person in question is very different from me and we have almost polar styles.  What is interesting to me, and most hurtful, is the lack of grace in all of this, what appears to be the assumption that I am somehow trying to make a person feel bad for something as simple as moving a table is beyond me.  What gets me the most about it all is that rather than talking to me about it, this person sat and festered with it and then used a group meeting to instigate what felt like a personal attack in the name of “group unity”.  Bullshit.  Its just my opinion, but if a person is feeling something like that inside, the way to deal with it, especially talking biblically, is to talk to the PERSON first.  Don’t hijack a staff meeting to stage an intervention.  I felt like I was being talked down to, as though my own feelings weren’t valid, and most of all, as though there was no attempt before hand to try to understand or gauge my own feelings.  And then I was told that this person had talked to EVERYONE else one on one about this before coming to the staff meeting… which made me feel ambushed.  I don’t know what to do about it, and this is really only a rant and not really answers, but I am seriously at a loss for how to move forward.  

I was never asked– why would you want to say bye to Alex?  Instead I was informed that it is cruel for me to try to be honest about that request because everyone else is either single or doing long distance right now.  I felt guilty having to explain that Alex and I are gearing up for almost a year apart, and that isn’t right or Christian to make a person feel that way.  

So thats where I am right now…. frustrated, confused, sad.  I cried a lot this week, and probably will some more before its all over (cuz it isn’t over).  I pride myself in working hard and being as selfless as I can, trying to do at least my share or more, but I feel as though none of that is appreciated.  Instead, I find that the more I do, the more crap I get.


Thats ministry, I guess…….

Week Recap

A lot on my mind today.  Things to remember-

-ana’s sharing during the zega exercise about abuse

-“It’s not like everyone in E. Grand Rapids lives right on the lake or anything; I mean I live there and I dont live on the lake…. I live a couple blocks away”

-the Star Wars “blind man” skit

-boundaries in ministry

-frustrations with what it means to work here


-emilio playing egyptian ratslap with the kids from Michigan

-peter’s and brenna’s enactment of the turning over the moneychanger’s tables in the temple

-bill’s sermon about God’s calling us to seek the better life that we often fail to see, the call to live more fully the life God made us for.


Things I am struggling with:

-feeling safe to express myself honestly without being judged or misinterpreted by others

-being honest about my boundaries and having those boundaries respected

-working on a team with other extremely extroverted, talkative people.

-finding God in the chaos

-staying emotionally healthy

Check it out.

We are hosting a special event at BSM with Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw next week, and so if you are in Philly or wanna be there, come check it out.  It is going to be AWESOME!!! (PS, I have gotten to organize a lot of this, which was super fun!)

Here is the Flyer:

Jesus for President and BSM

This just in from the white house…

President Bush on Friday said, “…We must remember that the desire for freedom burns inside every man and woman and child. More than two centuries ago, this desire of freedom… had inspired the subjects of a mighty empire to declare themselves free and independent citizens of a new nation. Today that same desire for freedom has inspired 72 immigrants from around the world to become citizens of the greatest nation on Earth — the United States of America. I congratulate you. I welcome you. I wish you all a happy Fourth of July. Thanks for inviting me. May God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.” 


ugh. I have been reading a lot about empire v. kingdom stuff, and this sort of thing makes me really uncomfortable… the assumption that a desire for freedom is universal and/or equal to America, that freedom means democracy, that the empire of the United States is somehow blessed or set apart by God… I understand that for some folks this sort of language probably feels comforting and even confirming, but right now it feels like just another instance in which the gap between faithful Christianity and the Christianity of America glares brightly.


Ps…. today alex and I were down by the independence mall in Philly for the fourth (there was an all you can eat ice cream festival, I couldn’t pass it up) and we saw a bunch of seperatist/anabaptist types on the corner of the road yelling about empire and the gods of america (which were, money, sex, entertainment, and the ‘american jesus’).  WHile I didn’t agree with the execution, i was surprised and even scared a bit to realize that, generally speaking, I agreed with what they were saying, and in fact believe it strongly myself.