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Sunday, June 21, 2015

To the unsung heroes of Father's Day






To the unsung heroes of Father's Day


I wonder if this is how pastors feel delivering a sermon for Mother's Day.

After all, they aren't moms themselves. But they have to somehow encourage moms, and speak as though they get it.

Likewise, I've never been a bereaved father.

But I feel it's really important to tell you today, that you matter. And your sacrifice and grief aren't altogether unnoticed.

I know that time and time again, after the loss of your child, well-meaning friends and family came up to you wanting to know how your wife was. Never mind that you lost a child too. And in spite of the fact that your grief was just as real, just as overwhelming, you answered those friends and family.

In fact, you yourself were just as concerned about your wife.

Something in your family broke -- and you couldn't fix it. You try to fix everything in the house -- the budget, the lawn, the cars, the dishwasher. You take your job of providing stability and safety for your family very seriously.

But this -- this was something you could never fix. This was a tragedy you couldn't prevent. These were hearts you couldn't save from being broken -- and hearts you can't seem to mend.

And that perception of failure  ... the helplessness as you watched your whole family grieve . . . undergirded everything.

You probably went to work too soon. There were now not only a house, food and cars to pay for, but funeral expenses and medical bills. Maybe your wife had to quit work. Or take unpaid maternity leave. Financially, things got way more complicated. In spite of your hidden tears, numb heart, anger or sadness . . . you went back to work anyway.

I know you pulled more weight around the house too. My husband did. Grief always left me exhausted, and I struggled to care. What did food matter? What did a clean house matter? My husband took on a large role of providing food (even if PB & J), and tidying the house more. He was "on" constantly.

That left little room for his tears. Or his feelings. His grief, as it turned out, wouldn't totally rear it's head until my grief had started to settle in a bit.

That's what you guys do. You put us bereaved moms first. And even take our comments and badgering that "you don't care" or "you don't seem to miss them or love them like we did!" You take accusations, and know it's not true. And then you keep pushing forward.

I know that bereaved dads don't have the same social support moms have.

We moms -- well, we can cry in public as much or as little as we need to without breaking any social norms. We get to attend support groups, be a part of bereaved mom's groups galore on Facebook, read tons of mommy blogs and books, and we even have our own International Bereaved Mother's Day.

You guys? Well, I hate to say it, but socially, you're a little screwed when it comes to pregnancy and child loss.

Most people don't think to ask how you are. Many of you don't want to talk about it, but even if you did -- who would you talk to? Support groups sound like they would just be full of weepy women, and not exactly your cup of tea. Or pint of beer. Or whatever. Just not for you.

It's not like guys enjoy sitting around talking about feelings. You have to DO something, like put an engine together, or climb a mountain, or kayak the river to get your emotions out.

And yet again, we bereaved mommas totally misinterpret your intentions. "Why are you running away?" "Could you just slow down?" "Can we please just talk things through?" And maybe most of all . . . "How are you FEELING?"

You are busy fighting for your family the only way you know how -- with less support than you deserve to have from all the rest of us. And I want to tell you, we see. We care. And we recognize the sacrifices you make for your family.

I didn't always see these things in my husband. I accused him at times of not caring about our babies. I begged him to come to a support group to no avail. I got all irked when he had "mental checkout time" in front of the computer or outside.

I wanted him to grieve like me.

But he didn't. And now I understand more why.

He needed to keep it together to make our family run while I was fallen apart.

He did that out of love and self-sacrifice.

He did that because he's a bereaved dad, but also because he's a husband.

So to all you bereaved fathers out there . . . I want you to know it's ok to NOT have a happy Father's Day. It's OK if today reminds you of the son or daughter you wish was making you breakfast today, or tossing a football outside, or going fly fishing with you later.

It's OK to grieve. And to do it in the way that makes sense to you.

So go ahead, climb a mountain today. Or play computer games. Or work on the car. Or whatever you have to do to be OK.

We'll hold down the fort here for you for awhile.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Self-Care (And Pursuit of Purpose)

With the full expectation of Baby Z leaving our home after the summer, I've decided to make MYSELF a pretty big priority.

Not in the "I'm going to drink lots of coffee, eat lots of ice cream, and go shopping whenever I feel sad" kind of priority. But I'm choosing to make self-care a big priority, especially in a few key areas.

Physical Fitness

You guys know that I recently started the 30-day Shred again from Jillian Michaels. The last few weeks I haven't been as consistent, but I'm exercising at least 3 times a week. I know that exercising is going to be key in feeling confident in my body, and releasing the endorphins I'm going to need. (My goal is to do 5-6 days of exercise each week -- but I keep reminding myself, progress not perfection.)





Diet

I'm choosing to do Arbonne's 30-day Clean Eating Challenge this month as a part of my health challenge to myself. Gluten, dairy and sugar do nothing to help my mood or energy. If you want more info one what I'm doing, here's more about it.








Emotional Health

Personal development is one of the biggest priorities I have to have right now. I don't want to lose the goals, momentum or personal health I've worked hard to attain. So that means 30 minutes of personal development each day is not optional. That my self-talk has to be spot on. And that tea dates with friends (and many of them) are going to be a must.



I'm also going to focus on fun. Getting time outdoors every day. Going on hikes with the family. Going to the park, playing in the sprinkler, spending quality time with Ryan. Making memories with Z for the time we can. And there is definitely going to be a girls' night in Seattle with my two girlfriends going salsa dancing at Century 21 Ballroom.














Me and God

Lately (full confession here), I haven't been the Christian I want to be. I'm spending time on Facebook and not time with God. How can I expect to be fulfilled without Him? Last weekend, as my birthday approached, I spent some time in reflection and realized that this world DOES NOT SATISFY. It just doesn't. A nicer car, a home, a pretty wardrobe -- it's all so temporal and will not fulfill us. And as I've been chasing these things, it's pretty obvious to me that the journey is not taking me toward fulfillment, but toward desperation.



And so I'm starting an online Biblestudy through Jennie Allen, called "Anything." It's about surrendering to God, and discovering and fulfilling HIS purpose -- and letting go of our purposes for ourselves.

If you want to join me, here's a link to more info and to register:





If we have enough interest, I'll start a Facebook group where we can go through some of it together and chat about what we are discovering about God's purposes.


Financial

I know this sounds weird to include this, but I've discovered that if our finances feel out of control, then I feel out of control.

Ryan and I recently graduated from Financial Peace University. We're on track to get rid of all debt (mostly school loans), and save up for a home.

I'm also committing to take my business to the next level. Can I just be honest here? I'm not perfect, and at times, I've struggled with how my business has done over the last 4 years. As soon as I get some momentum going, we either lose a baby, or take one in. The last 6 months, I've been consistent in growing my business, but I've realized that I have put some self-limiting beliefs on what I can accomplish.







I don't want to survive this summer or Baby Z leaving -- I want to thrive. I want to show everyone that I have accomplished what I have told you I will accomplish for several years now. I'm recommitting to my goals.


I know that I will not do all of everything perfectly -- but I know that I'm going to be intentional, set goals, and create some accountability and mentorship in my life to help keep me on track.



What do you do for self-care? And what kind of goals do you guys have this summer? 


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Court Update on Baby Z

For those who have checked in on me following court, thanks for caring.

In a strange twist, I have actually NOT felt like writing in any shape or form following court last week. It's very different to want to hide inside a shell and not let anyone in -- but that is exactly how I've been feeling.

In spite of that, I've decided write a quick update. Maybe because I'm emotionally drained reliving my court experience over and over again for those who have asked. (I don't mind that you asked, by the way. I appreciate the concern. I'm just feeling drained.)

So for those who don't know . . .The plan is for Z to go home.

At court, the biggest cause of concern for me was that, for whatever reason (and I hope it was a good one), our social worker did not come to court. The difficulty I had with this is that Baby Z is entirely dependent legally on people speaking up for him. The right people need to say the right things. I was quite concerned that the fill-in social worker would not do an adequate job, but she is someone I knew from Youth for Christ and she did well enough.

That however, did not help the state of my twisted-in-knots stomach for the hour in which we had to sit through others' cases, not knowing why our social worker was not there, or who would fill in for him. My prayer that God would be Z's voice and judge was even that much more urgent.

My parents and Ryan came to court. It was nice not to be alone.

At the judge's bench, bio mom asked if I was ok. Truthfully, I had just gotten over a flu, my stomach was empty and twisted, and the only thing running through my brain is "try not to cry. try not to cry. try not to cry."

(You should know that promptly after court my mantra failed me inextricably.)

I answered bio mom with a shrug of my shoulders. I didn't feel up for talking, though I did appreciate her show of concern.

In a nutshell, that was court.

I don't feel comfortable with the permanency plan, and I am making my reservations known in the appropriate ways. But foster parents really don't have much of a voice. I'm a tool the state uses to rehabilitate families.

As Deanna, Leyla's first foster mom says, the system is broken, and we as Christians get involved to bring as much light and as much Jesus as we can to it. Even still, the system is not perfect, and feeling voiceless is not easy.

At this point, we don't know the timeline for going home. But we are hoping to at least have him through the summer.

Here is where our little family could use support as we move forward.

For those of you who have been following along with our story, you know that Ryan and I just spent a year preventing pregnancy and trying to heal emotionally from our recurrent losses/infertility. Truth be told, the idea of handing Baby Z back is really bringing back some struggles and grief for me to that end. Pregnancy announcements are hard again. Triggers (while not yet as painful as they might be) are multiplying. I am trying to picture a life without Z in it, and it is very hard to imagine.

Please pray for Z as he has no words to voice his opinion on the matter. As he works through the hard feelings of leaving our home and going to a new home, pray that God would comfort him. A lot. Because I won't be there to help him through it.

Pray for safety for Z -- from hurtful people, from any abuse or neglect, from dangerous situations. Just pray a hedge of protection around him.

Please pray that if it's in Z's best interest, our family will still be allowed to visit Z or have some sort of relationship with him after he moves home. This will be entirely dependent on if bio mom WANTS us around. Pray for me as I work to have some sort of relationship with mom. As we balance the back and forth of parenting the same kid.

Pray for Madelyn and Leyla's hearts as they say good-bye to their brother. Pray for our extended family as they say goodbye to their grandson, nephew and cousin.

Pray that God just never lets go of that baby's heart. Just keep praying for God to chase him all through the years, through childhood and the teen years and as a young adult and on -- that God would never let go. And that Z would find God and have a relationship with him.

And pray for me please. Some days I'm doing really well. And when when you ask how I am, and I say good, then I usually mean it. Besides this going home deal, life is actually pretty good. I'm thankful for my family I have, and my business that is going really well. And then there are days like today that are just harder, for no real reason. It just kinda hits. I long to do grief differently this time. To make it through the other side without losing my business momentum, or happiness, or the balance in my heart I have worked so hard to create. So pray for protection for me too.

And I suppose it needs to be said that bio mom could use your prayers too. Having her children come home will be quite an adjustment, and she could use all the help she can get.

Love you all,

Rachel

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Frozen

Court is tomorrow.

It's the date we've had set in place for the last 6 months. Inching ever closer, feeling forever away . . . except it's here. It's caught up with us. The day the judge will likely decree that Baby Z goes home.

What can I say? I feel like we are all standing on train track watching a freight train come barreling toward us, and no one can move. I can't protect my baby. I'm not supposed to think of him as my baby.

Maybe this isn't what I am supposed to feel. Or say. Or think. Maybe my perspective is all wrong, and somehow I'm supposed to find joy in this.

I don't.

It's a freight train. That's what it is. Just a freight train.

I am scared and numb. And we're all frozen on the tracks.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How I really feel about the Duggars -- and why




Writer's note: I thought long and hard about whether to post the following blog. Have I met my purpose in writing by my first post about the Duggars? Will this be construed as getting on a soapbox, or attempting to drag a Christian family through the mud? 

I normally write a post, and immediately publish. But this time, I took a day to really mull over the value of my words. Will they contribute to healthy discussion? Or has that ship already passed? In the end, because I have been asked several times the same questions, I'm going to go ahead and publish.

I understand that this might make me unpopular and you might vehemently disagree. All I ask is that if you choose to read, read all the way through. Ponder my thoughts. And if you have something to add in light of a healthy discussion -- I'm up for a good discussion.

Thanks all. 

Rachel


When I posted my latest blog on the Duggars,  I was really surprised at some of the negative feedback I've received. It is strange to me because in only a few words I wrote what seemed to be common sense and not that controversial.

Yes, we are to love. Yes we are to forgive. Yes, we are to support the victims. Yes, we are to make sure that we call things for what they are. Yes, we should affirm natural or God-given consequences. And yes, we need to be uber aware that the way we respond in times like these is so very important for non-Christians who are watching us.

These points seemed pretty straightforward to me. But apparently, they are not so straightforward.

So I want to clarify a few things.

1. The intent of my post was not to gossip.

So much of the controversy around anyone discussing the Duggars right now is that it is gossip. "We weren't there, so we can't voice an opinion." This to me sounds like "let's just stick our head in the sand this time and pretend that nothing happened."

Can I just be really straightforward here? Most of us are not immediately present when something newsworthy happens. Have any of you been in Iraq lately? Where you in Boston when the bomber placed deadly backpack near kids, adults and runners?  What about when Casey Anthony's daughter died? We rely on the media all the time. We trust the information that comes from the media often (admittedly not always.) We rely on police investigations to find truth for us.

And most of the time, we discuss them.


YES. Gossip is talking about someone's personal business. Intimate details that should be private. 

You might not like my response to this, but here you go.

I would not have chosen for this scandal to be so public. (I would also not chose for it to be a secret. I think the authorities should have known right away, and that the church body should have been informed right away.)

I'm not convinced that the mass publicity of this abuse in the best interest of the victims. I imagine that whatever self-consciousness these girls already had is now so much worse. To have everyone looking at you, and wondering if YOU were the one the one fondled, the one with a secret.

Honestly, I can't imagine how they are feeling right now. I can't. I understand the concept of triggers. And I'm sure that everywhere right now is a trigger for them.

But I didn't CHOOSE this publicity for them.

Their parents did.

I feel confident that Jim Bob and Michelle really felt that making a reality TV show was the right thing to do -- to be a testimony for God.

But they chose this knowing the skeletons they had in the closet. And we all know skeletons have a way of making themselves known. Especially when so many people in the world can't stand what you stand for, and you have a very public platform for. The world is looking for a reason to discredit them. And guess what? They found it.

I am not saying that this family does not deserve to have some privacy. But what I am saying is that they chose to be in the public eye, they chose to make themselves an example of healthy, pure sexuality, and they did this knowing the position it had the potential to put their daughters in.

My post was not about furthering gossip. To speculate, to slander, to draw false conclusions. The purpose of my post is to say this:

Christians: The Duggars have given the world an example of how sexual abuse is handled so often in the church. TOO often. We are in the hotseat, yet again, for mishandling allegations of sexual abuse. We have a responsibility to the victims to label sexual abuse for what it is. We have a responsibility to allow the consequences of these actions to fall where they should. We have an obligation as Christians to pray, to support, to love, and to forgive. But in a way that AFFIRMS the real suffering of the victims. Not sweeping it under the rug of a cheap and easy forgiveness.

I understand not wanting to talk about this. I do. But the world is talking, and they are watching, and they are wondering if we Christians are OK with the way this was handled. And we shouldn't be OK with it. And I think that is OK to say. Actually, I think it is RIGHT to say.


The way the Duggars and their church leaders handled the allegations of sexual abuse was not legal nor was it in the best interest of Josh or the victims.

There. I said it.



2. A crime is not worse than a sin. But it is different.

A few of you questioned whether I have a full appreciation for the gravity of sin. Trust me, I do.

However, there are somethings that are sin -- but they are also something more.

If Josh had simply had consensual sex with another teen, it would also have been sin. They would have gone against God's plans for their lives.

But that was not what happened here. God's laws were broken. Man's laws were broken. And children were victimized.

Calling a lie a sin, premarital sex a sin, and incestuous child molestation a sin can appear to place them all in the same boat. With the same gravity.

I get that all sin, no matter what, comes between us and God. In that way, it is equal.

But telling a white lie that you were on time (when you were really 15 minutes late) -- and sexually victimizing multiple children over a long period of time -- do not require the same consequences. There are natural consequences that really SHOULD happen in one case over the other.

That is why we need to call it a crime. And not just a sin. Because it is both. And because the consequences for a white-lie-kind-of sin is not the same as for a felony-kind-of sin.



3. "He who casts the first stone . . . "

Jesus has told us not to judge. It's true. When the adulteress woman was about to be stoned, he intervened in a crazy, shocking way. He turned religious fundamentalists away from quite literally ruining this sinner of a pagan woman.

And yet, if you dig through Scripture, that same principle he applied to non-Christians, he did NOT apply to us in the church.

Here is 1 Corinthians 5:1-12 (NIV):

1It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. 2And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? 3For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. 4So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh,a b so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

6Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.



9I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sisterc but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”d


God makes it plain that while we personally are not to judge those outside the church -- we are encouraged, allowed, (and dare I say it?) commanded to call our brothers and sisters out when they have blatantly sinned.

I understand that the sexual abuse is no longer happening. And that this verse is talking about people who are actively involved in sin (incest of all things), but are still attending church and under the guise of being pious.

However, the Duggars have not actually said that they way they responded was wrong. They regret that it happened. (We all do.) But there doesn't seem to be any indication that they regret their actions following the abuse.

I'm not going to get into a huge discourse on on church discipline here. But what I will say is this:

The clergy in the church were mandatory reporters. [I'm a mandatory reporter. It means that when we see or understand that a child is potentially in danger of abuse or neglect, we (by law) are required to call CPS. This does not mean that we have to have proof. But a reasonable belief. And yes, I've had to make that call. And YES, I know it is so so hard. But it has to be done.]

The Duggars' church failed them.  They did not report to authorities. They failed the other families attending by not disclosing that there was a boy who might have exposure to their children with a history of child sexual abuse. They failed the reputation of the Christian church as a whole.

The Duggars themselves failed their children. (yes, I am saying this. Yes, I understand that in so many ways, we all fail our children). But as parents, our legal, moral and spiritual duty is to protect our children from reasonable harm. The girls' right to be protected needed to trump Josh's right to privacy. That did not happen.

When we as brothers and sisters in Christ rush to forgive without affirming the gravity of the sin, to offer only support to those who have failed in a pretty big way, to rush past any criticism of others' actions for fear of being judgmental . . . we are also failing as a church.

We are failing the victims who have a right to have their suffering affirmed, and not discarded. We fail the outside world when we claim Christians should not have to endure any natural consequences of their actions just because they have repented and have been forgiven. We fail ourselves when we refuse to take a good hard look at how abuse is often handled in the church, and we don't call for reform.

So yeah, talking about it? It matters. Because only when we are being honest with ourselves about what happened versus what should have happened can we make the changes needed to make sure this sort of abuse/neglect doesn't happen again.


4. So what kind of accountability am I expecting?

Simply this. If the victims chose to press charges, and there were no statute of limitations, I would be in support. Not because I long to see Josh or his family suffer. Not at all. I know they have suffered immensely. But because I support legal jurisdiction, and the right of a victim to come forward and ask for justice for the crime committed against them.

I will not be signing any petition to get this show back on television. Josh losing his job, and the Duggars losing their show for now seems to be natural consequences enough. And I think Jim, Michelle, and Josh are all adult enough to deal with it. Furthermore, I believe that if God still desires to give the Duggars a platform, he will do it.

In fact, I'm hopeful that there is some redemption to all of this mess.

5. There is one more thing I just feel like I need to say. 


My heart has been and continues to be for the girls who were exposed to sexuality against their will and far too young.

I have never been sexually abused. I'm grateful for that every day. But I have a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old who I pray will be able to make it through this life without that particular pain.

I have watched the crippling effect childhood sexual abuse has had on some of my friends. I could not wish that on anyone. In fact, I became a foster parent in large part to do what I could to protect children from this kind of abuse. My heart deeply, deeply grieves for those who have been forced to endure this kind of horror.

To the Duggar girls (or for any other victims of abuse), I want to say this:

What you have endured as a child . . . and what you are enduring now as this story is made public . . . grieves me, grieves those who love you, and grieves the heart of God. If I could, I would take this all away, and I would write you a new story. But I can't. 

I hope that in spite of the publicity, you are able to have any healthy counseling or resources you might need today or in the future. I hope that the church becomes a healthy, safe place for you. A place where you can unburden your secret, and know that you will be believed. That you will be offered protection. Offered very real support. That your church body will be able to love you just as Christ would. 

This cannot be easy for you. To have been abused by the ones you loved. The ones you LOVE. So please know that we are praying for you. We are praying for your families. And we are praying for God's comfort and healing presence in your life. 


And while we can't write you a new story -- we are doing everything we can to prevent what happened to you to happen to another girl. And if we can't prevent it, we'll do our very best to help support her as she heals.









Saturday, May 23, 2015

It's not a sin. It's a crime.



Hey Christians. Here's the deal.

I was going to keep quiet. I wanted to keep quiet. I was going to let this one just slide by, and let all the other news sites, bloggers, media junkies, and joe shmoes write about it.

But the thing is. I can't.

Because I keep reading about it. And because one thing keeps popping up, and I've got to tell you. It's driving me crazy.

When an act not only defies God's laws, but man's laws -- it is not a sin problem. It is a crime.

When an act strips children who have no voice of their innocence, it is not a matter of getting someone's heart right before God. It's about true rehabilitation. 

When a parent knowingly allows innocent children to be alone with a sex offender, it is not a "hard decision." It is straight irresponsibility.

I may not be a total Duggar lover, but I'm a supporter of them as fellow Christians. And I'm not trying to make light of what they had to deal with. I can only imagine how hard it was to hear that their son was up to that. And I can only imagine the pain they are feeling now.

But as Christians, please understand that we can love them, we can support them, and we can forgive them -- but making EXCUSES for any of their behavior is absolutely unacceptable.

Please know that when we say "God has forgiven" and "who are we to care what was done 15 years ago?" and "he was only a child" or "they did their best" . . . that to the rest of the world, we look like spiritual pansies.

And worse, we look like enablers.

So let's stop talking about his "sin." Let's stop petitioning to get their show back on. Let their family deal with the consequences of their actions (and in-actions as it may be.) Pray for them -- but for the love of all things holy, please pray the most for the victims.

Because the WAY we respond as Christians matters.

Let's love. But let's also stand for accountability.



For a more in-depth explanation of my position on this, here's my next post: How I really feel about the Duggars -- and why. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Christ did not die for me. Here's why...



pulled up to a stoplight near our home, the first car in a long line of traffic. It is a busy intersection, hemmed in by a 7-11, Starbucks, Wal-Greens and a supplement store (which in spite of seeing it every day for 6 years, I can't remember the name.)

While Spirit 105.3 played over the radio, a homeless man crossed slowly in front of me.

His grayish white beard hung limply to his mid-chest. This thin frail arms showed weathered, leathered looking skin. On one foot was a gray sneaker. The other foot -- a mismatched white one. 

He was tall, thin and old looking.

Too old, I thought. I wondered what a clean shave, some nice clothes, and some meat on his bones would do for him. I wondered what happened in his life that his is now gimping along the white-striped road in front of me, with mismatched dirty clothes and averted eyes.

He made his trek to 7-11, then I lost sight of him.

I briefly thought of stopping to buy him some food, but then I remembered I had kids in the car. Sometimes I let fear that something might happen to my kids prevent me from doing what I would otherwise do. 

As I watched him, I became painfully aware of my own comfort. My expensive mini-computer (which I call a phone) sitting by my lap. My minivan that comes with AC, heat, leather seats and butt-warmers. My cute, washed (but of course not ironed) clothes. The expensive products prettying my face. 

And even more painfully, I became aware of something I had that he likely didn't.

Hope. This man needed hope. 

I was rich in hope. He was starved.

The radio blared on, and a phrase interrupted my stream-of-conscious thinking with a truth I have heard throughout my life:

Christ died for me.

Most days, I wouldn't have payed much attention. I've heard it a million times. But not today. 

Because watching a man with no hope opened my eyes to a horrible lie I have believed: 

If Christ died for me, and I am saved, then that's it. His mission is complete. 

I am saved, I've been redeemed, and I'm darn comfortable, thank-you-very-much.  We could just get this earth thing over with, head on to heaven and everything will be fine and dandy. 

But did Christ really die for me?

So often, we Christians tell others that if they were the only person on this earth ... Christ would have died for them.

I think that approach comes innocently enough. We want everyone to know the value they specifically hold in God's eyes.

But the danger comes when we internalize this. And really, finding out that the creator of the universe cares so much about us as individuals really kinda goes to our heads. Or at least it goes to mine.

All of the sudden, my personal wellbeing has just skyrocketed in importance.

But can we also be honest about what is equally true? If we had never been born, Christ would still have would have died.

Because there are others. 

Because scripture says, God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Get that? Whoever. (Not just me.) The whole WORLD. (Again, not me.)

Christ did not die for me. He died for the world. 

He came for the homeless man I should have fed and should have told about Jesus. He came for the neighbors I choose not to meet. He came for the families in Nepal, who I haven't been praying for. 

He came for the hurting and the broken and the proud and the wealthy and the sick and the wise and the foreigners and the intellectuals and the kids and the old people and the gays and the straights.

His heartbeat is not for Rachel. His heartbeat is for the world.

And it's about darn time my heartbeat starts echoing his.

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