From Gene Edwards, A Tale of Three Kings: The almighty, living God turned to Gabriel and gave a command. “Go, take these two portions of my being. There are two destinies waiting. To each unborn destiny give one portion of myself.” A destiny stepped forward: “This portion of God is for me.” “…remember, whoever receives such a great portion of power will surely be known by many. Gabriel spoke again. “I have here the second of two elements of the living God. This is not a gift but an inheritance. Yet even this element of God cannot accomplish its task nor grow and fill your entire inner being unless it is compounded well. It must be mixed lavishly with pain, sorrow, and crushing.”

Here’s how I fell for the “okie-doke.” This song. I was 18 years old, just graduated from high school the year prior, and was attending a Bible Study with my best friend. During that time, I became a Lay Leader in my local UMC, and began preaching and teaching Sunday School. I began learning about church polity and politics. I bought and read a variety of Bible translations and experienced the ecstasy of Holy Spirit in ways that continue to anchor me in my present journey. I listened to John P. Kee and Hezekiah Walker as well as Maranatha and Hosanna Integrity Music. LOTS of prayer, reading and tears, and I’m better for it, and not much has changed.

This particular song had a crushing effect on me. I had been alive long enough by then to have observed, let’s just say, a lot. I felt the disillusionment that this organism I was a part of, and believed so much in the potential to change the world for good, was encumbered by. It has taken me literally over 35 years to accept that this is the best, and worst, part ~ every aspect of the human condition is present in the Body of Christ.

As a child, I was always loved. I mean, really loved. I had an extended family who made me feel cared for, applauded my uniquenesses, and cheered me on. I also had family struggles that, for years, created this inner vacuum wherein I focused on the things I perceived I lacked. Maybe “they” could have done a better job, and maybe “they,” “couldn’t”; however, what “they” did do is instill or provide things that, without “them” I may have never gotten. “They,” like me, are composed of light and shadow. I didn’t know then how much the advantage of reflection would be of great benefit. I am not at all suggesting a dismissal of harm, I am just on the other side of it, able to use the wounds as tools. That changes the inner dynamic as well as the narrative.

What if, we stop gaslighting ourselves, see the “light” and the “shadow” of each other, hold them with equal relevance, yet, agree with Spirit to vibe with the light in others and guard our hearts regarding their shadow side? What if we trusted that which is trustworthy in others while not opening ourselves to their projections of how they want to be seen when “they”/we demonstrate frowsy behaviors. What if we relieve ourselves of black-and-white thinking wherein we judge others as “good or bad,” “right or wrong,” “righteous or sinner,” and choose to create peace between the lion and the lamb in our own souls? We have our own work to do. What if I acknowledge that Jesus both walked on water but also referred to a lady who asked for help as “a dog” – and I haven’t researched what that means yet, but it sounds really foul.

What if we…what if we risked not living in someone else’s crooked room… All of our excuses to not co-create our best lives, “they!” statements, and being the audience to foolishness would fade away. What if your “compounding” is so you can become mature, broken bread and wine poured out from the deep wells of your own soul to nourish others? What if you, too, bought into the heart-centered belief that you could be a part of this sometimes frowsy living organism that is spiritual community, and with eyes wide open, you choose to demonstrate great self-love, Spirit love, and love for the other, because you wanted to? Wow…

Matthew 12:46-50 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

46 He was still speaking to the crowd when his mother and brothers appeared outside, asking to talk with him. 47 [a] 48 But to the one who had informed him he replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his talmidim, he said, “Look! Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 Whoever does what my Father in heaven wants, that person is my brother and sister and mother.”

Church ~ is like our mother and siblings. She adored me, and she had her less than stellar moments. Siblings, though they love us, don’t always vibe with our decisions. Jesus makes a great point about family of choice. However, just like natural family, spiritual family can also be a “hot mess express.” Since you, like me, fell for God’s “okie doke,” the choices you make about how to show up in community and family of birth and choice are yours ~ just remember we are all still connected…Jesus’ mom was there while he hung naked and dying, some of his siblings left him when things became difficult, and a non-relative he held in his arms made sure his broken body received a dignified burial. Don’t miss your story in The Story, whatever that may be. Also, remember that “the church” is just… us. The gift of power without intentional inner work can be deceptive for any of us; however we have a totally phenomenal inheritance. So, stay connected, keep growing, and remember when it gets hard ~ it’s just us.

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