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Lessons and New Beginnings

In a few days, my family is moving from a small town in northern Idaho to a much larger city in the western United States.

It’s hard to believe that we have to move on, yet there’s a sort of completeness that fills me as I think about it.  I have no doubt that it’s time for the next phase of our lives…and that we’re ready for whatever comes our way — thanks, in large part, to the preparation of this phase.

And my, what a phase it’s been!  My husband was in graduate school for Acting.  I think I was in graduate school for life.  I’ve learned seriously important lessons over the past 4 years.  And since new beginnings are always a time to reflect, I thought I’d share some of them here…

1. The only way out is through.

2. All I’ll ever have is a small glimpse into what is eternally True.

3. God is good.  

4. Love means honoring people’s freedom…then giving them all kinds grace when they use it to screw things up.  MOST IMPORTANT PART: this goes for me, too.

5. From our greatest trials spring our greatest blessings.

6. It is more important to be authentic than liked.  Of course, with few exceptions, it is possible to be both.

7. Wherever I am today is because I chose it.

8. At least 35% of the Avett Brothers’ songs should be canonized as scripture.  Case in point:

9. The Kingdom of God is within.

10. I married the right dude.  Just look at him.

11. The church is as true as the gospel.  Especially because of its flaws.

12. God’s love brings freedom to live from what’s real.

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Radical Freedom, Radical Grace — Part 1

This is a post that’s been brewing for a really long time.  I’ve got bits and pieces written in fragment after fragment in my drafts folder.  It’s a big topic.  It’s an important one.  At the expense of sounding melodramatic, it pretty much sums up my entire philosophy for living on this planet with other people.

It’s too big a topic to cover comprehensively in a format like this, but I figured I’d at least try to articulate some of the most important philosophical underpinnings.  Then I’ll follow it up with a post on how this approach affects the way I interact with people.  For the record, this is a faith-based perspective that is deeply informed by my Mormon beliefs and my own experiences with God.

Quite simply, it goes like this: I believe in a world of radical freedom and radical grace.

Here’s why…

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On Fig Leaves, Coats of Skins, and Things As They Really Are

I’ve always loved the passage in Jacob 4:13, which explains the primary role of the Spirit: “…The Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are…” (emphasis mine).

The idea of Things As They Really Are is one of the most profound spiritual concepts I’ve ever encountered.  It’s about much more than adhering to the “correct” interpretation of abstract theological principles; it’s about embracing all the truth we can, even difficult truth, on our way to a fully actualized life in Christ.  As important as good theology is, I believe that on the path of real discipleship, often the most difficult truths we encounter are personal — things we’d rather not face about our communities and families, and especially ourselves.  And yet the Spirit exists to show us these truths, to help us strip away layers of deceit and shame, so that we can stand face to face with God, knowing Him even as we are known (see 1 Cor 13:12).

I often think of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  After they partook of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they discovered their nakedness.  Suddenly ashamed, they rushed to make coverings of fig leaves — as if, somehow, the fig leaves would restore their former innocence, or at least hide that they had sinned.  But God wasn’t fooled.  He called out to them, made them stand before Him, demanded an accounting of what they’d done (as if He didn’t know).  Then He cast them away with a curse…and a covering of skins He crafted for them.

There was a time this story made me shudder.  I imagined myself standing before God, naked, exposed; and God sending me away, angry with my performance.  How is this love? I wondered.  I had missed two critical points in the story:

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