’til the wheels fall off

/// This the the fourth and final post in our LBF:Book Club series on Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Father Greg Boyle. See the first three posts here and here and here. ///

til the wheels fall off 1

Mother Teresa says it like this: If we have no peace, it’s because we have forgotten we belong to each other. I think it safe to say, most the world, Christians included, have indeed forgotten we belong to each other.

We draw lines, build fences, pray for hedges and shrink our circles. We stay in our Christian bubbles and keep our kids there with us. We read about war and famine and bombings and ISIS and through up a prayer for “those people.”

A quick scroll through my Facebook feed is all I need to glimpse a world of people who have forgotten we belong to each other.

The one possible exception to this relational norm is marriage. You may be thinking marriage is different from other relationships we have, and it’s true, it is. Biblical marriage is a covenant, or promise, between three people: two spouses, one God.

On our wedding day we boldly proclaim:

I take you Fellow Sinner,
to be my partner in life,
to have and to cuddle,
from this day to forever,
for good and for hard,
for consistent paychecks
and for overdrawn bank accounts,
in cancer wings and in CrossFit gyms,
to love and to cherish-ish,
till death takes us apart.
We belong to each other.

Basically, I am in your corner ’til the wheels fall off. 

But I wonder, what would happen if we declared this to one another? If we spoke it over those we’ve labeled as “other“?

I’m not suggesting we lower the relational bar for marriage, but I am asking us to explore what it would look like to make a similar commitment to our fellow human beings. Because, as Father G says, kinship is what happens when we live like we belong to each other.

You stand with the least likely to succeed until success is succeeded by something more valuable: kinship. – Father G, Tattoos on the Heart

What would happen if we show up for people when they can’t show up for themselves? If we “see in homies what they don’t see in themselves… until they do.”

Jesus is very clear on his most important mandates to us as his followers:

Love God.
Love people.

He doesn’t leave room for debate here. The disciples can’t argue what Jesus means by “love.” (Possibly the way we “love” when he turns water into wine? What do you think guys?)

Jesus spells it out clearly: love people, as yourself.

 

John Piper describes the second commandment as seeming, “to demand that I tear the skin off my body and wrap it around another person so that I feel that I am that other person; and all the longings that I have for my own safety and health and success and happiness I now feel for that other person as though he were me.”

 

Intense right?

 

I think it was meant to be. When we truly love another as we long ourselves, we come face-to-face with God in them and God in us and the walls of hostility and oppression and injustice crumble. The veil is torn and the Kingdom comes just a little bit closer to earth.

 

Can we commit to being people who are for our fellow humans? Can we stand in awe, instead of against or apathetic to, each others burdens? Can we commit to call forth the best in each other, to speak of the imago Dei in them, of God in them, despite how far below the ills of this world it is buried?

 

Can we remember we belong to each other?

 

I take you Fellow Sinner,
to be my kin in this life,
to belong to each,
from this day to forever,
for joy and for lament,
for when you show up
and when you don’t,
for when I sin against you
and you sin against me,
for smiles and hurt feelings,
for apologies and forgiveness…
’til the wheels fall off.

Are you reading along with us? What quote(s) impacted you? Was there a homie’s story that brought you to tears or made you laugh out loud? What themes from the book have lodged themselves in your heart? Leave your words in the comments OR meet us tonight on Facebook at 8:30pm EST.

slow work

/// This the the third post in our LBF:Book Club series on Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Father Greg Boyle. See posts one and two here and here. ///

slow_wait

“How do you know when to move on?” My friend asks about one of our neighbors, only half expecting an answer, letting the question float into the steamy Miami atmosphere. It lodges in my heart, jagged and sideways, not sitting quite right.

Teilhard de Chardin wrote that we must “trust in the slow work of God.” Ours is a God who waits. Who are we not to?

It takes what it takes for the great turnaround. Wait for it.

I’ve come to realize I thought I was done with waiting. Our six-year international adoption is complete. Our sons were freed from foster care and are now legally ours. We made it to Miami. Seven years of waiting for monstrous life changes; over.

Only now, I find myself waiting for life change in others. This waiting rubs against my humanity, much in the same way my own waiting did. Waiting isn’t a posture of the human heart capable of muscle memory.

My friend’s question is valid, I suppose, when we think of our finite time and resources. When we consider successful outcomes and potential returns on investment.

But, I’m coming to realize, it takes what it takes. For healing. For wholeness. For the great turnaround. And when we wander into the jurisdiction of God, we’re reminded of the slow work of God, and our only response: to wait for it.

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I think waiting and hoping are two sides of the same coin. One doesn’t wait without hope, and there is no hoping without the slow work of waiting.

When you’ve chosen to stand where Satan threatens to steal the meaning of it all, the challenge then is to make meaning of it, even in the midst of waiting. To live in the already-not-yet of the Kingdom is to hope when hope feels futile from within and looks foolish from outside. It is a slow, often misunderstood, work.

Like Pedro, my hope can only come from being intoxicated by the dream that light is better than darkness. And when we are drunk on light, we encounter a God who waits. For us. For our neighbors. For the whole broken world.

It takes what it takes.

Wait for it.

What we ought to believe.

Not much in my life makes sense outside of God. Certainly, a place like Homeboy Industries is all folly and bad business unless the core of the endeavor seeks to imitate the kind of God one ought to believe in. In the end, I am helpless to explain why anyone would accompany those on the margins were it not for some anchored belief that the Ground of all Being thought this was a good idea. – Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart

Before we lived here, I didn’t understand this quote.

tats2

 

I first read Tattoos on the Heart last summer. We were in the thick of packing up our earthly belongings to move across the country. We used adjectives like “at-risk” and “under resourced” and “poor” to describe the neighborhood we were joining.

That was before we lived here.

Now, I agree with Father Boyle; not much in my life makes sense outside of God.

We left our hometown with five little people and nowhere to land.
We live on a street where bullets fly. 
I home school my 23-year-old neighbor.

It’s all foolish and poor financial planning to live on the gifts of others. It’s reckless choose this neighborhood. It’s absurd to be stubborn about hope.

Unless.

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Unless the core of it all is to imitate the God we ought to believe in.

But can I let you in on a little secret? Sometimes it’d be easier not to believe.

This God says we’re standing in the right place if we’re with the poor. With those who mourn. The hungry and thirsty. He says if we are persecuted and lied about and pushed around; we’re in the right place.

There’s not a one of those things the world can make sense of. Stand with the poor? Move into someone’s broken heart? Join the parched and the weary? You’ll know you’re with me when you’re lied about? Pushed around? Really Jesus?

Really.

The God we ought to believe in, He hasn’t so much promised the things this world counts as important. Or wise. Our even just a decent enough idea. Imitating Him is swimming upstream the whole dang way.

That bit about being helpless to explain these choices? I get that part now too.

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Last summer, one of my friends who lives among the marginalized in London told me this is her favorite quote from the book.

I secretly thought maybe she was a little cruel. Like somehow she had been a mean girl in high school and hid it really well as an adult, or maybe my judge of character had started to slip.

Yes, yes, in some Church circles choosing to stand with the marginalized is sexy business. Until you do it. Until it isn’t.

tats6

 

I was recently interviewed for a podcast and, of course, the host asked me about safety in our neighborhood. I gave the standard Christian answer, you probably know the one, something about the center of God’s will being the safest place to be.

Here’s the thing: I have lots of thoughts on the topics of safety and wisdom and privilege and laying down our lives, but at the end of the day, I’m helpless to explain it outside of God thinking this is a good idea.

Helpless.

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Are you reading along with us? What quote(s) impacted you? Was there a homie’s story that brought you to tears or made you laugh out loud? Leave your words in the comments OR meet us tonight on Facebook at 8:30pm EST. If you’re a blogger, you can link up your own post below as well.

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LBF Book Club ::: Tattoos on the Heart

Back in December I had this crazy idea to start an online book club. The next week we painted an entire house, moved cross-culturally, attempted to organize all earthly possessions for seven people, and jumped head first into living among and loving our neighbors.

So it’s March, and the book club is coming alive!

book club_tattoos_on_the_heart

I’m excited to launch the LBF book club as an extension of this online space AND as a way of joining together with YOU, as we seek to move closer to the heart of God.

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion is the first book we’ll unpack together, and one of the most incredible pieces of art I’ve had the privilege of reading. The author, Father Greg Boyle, has an extraordinary gift of communicating the universal human experience through themes of redemption, shame, compassion, success and love that knows no bounds.

I promise you – no matter who you are, where you are – this book will touch you deeply and teach you things about yourself you don’t even know you need to learn.

Right now, Tattoos on the Heart is on SALE on Amazon for only $9.40! (And now it’s dropped to $9.25!!!) Don’t wait, head over and purchase your copy now! You might be a loyal library patron, as am I, but trust me when I say, you want to own a copy of this book.

DEETS: To make it easy for you to participate, the “club” part of the book club will take place in three places:

First, Right here! Each Monday in April I’ll share thoughts from the chapters we’ve read in the previous week and you can join in the conversation in the comments. For you writer types, there will also be a link up for you to share a post from your own space!

Second, Join the Light Breaks Forth Book Club Facebook Group! Monday evenings at 8:30 pm EST we’ll “meet” to discuss the book. From the comfort of your own home (and pajamas), you can sip your favorite beverage while we dig into the themes of the book and how they are shaping us. If Monday evenings aren’t good for you, feel free to join in any way – Facebook is loose like that and allows for communication anytime night or day, which in this case is awesome.

Third, I’ll be using the hashtag #lbfbookclub on Instagram to share pieces of how the book is impacting me throughout the week.

SCHEDULE: We will discuss chapters one and two on April 4th, chapters three and four on April 11th, chapters five – seven on April 18th, and chapters eight and nine on April 25th.

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Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
~ Isaiah 58:6-8

This verse is the riverbank against which all my writing flows. The books chosen for the book club will focus on moving these commands forward in our own lives. I hope you’ll join me!

Questions? Plan on joining? Have you read Tattoos on the Heart? Wanna read it again? Let me know in the comments!