Unexpected Gifts

Unexpected Gifts: betraying community...

Unexpected Gifts: betraying community...

Betrayal is one of those realities of life that can be hard to wrap our heads around, mostly because it almost always catches us off guard. We don't see it coming. We can't predict its culprit. We can't prepare for our response. We don't know the intentions of our betrayer. And in those cases where the betrayal is our doing, sometimes it can feel as if we are watching from outside our bodies as we get caught up in the forward momentum of whatever is happening.

Unexpected Gifts: the unknown self...

Unexpected Gifts: the unknown self...

I am what I have

I am what I do

I am what other people think about me

During various stages of life, I've bought into one or more of these lies. In fact, it's hard to recall a time where they all did not simultaneously play a part in my own sense of identity. At times my sense of self has been wrapped up in the books on my shelf, the clothes in my closet, the gadgets and toys I own. It's been impacted by the words I say and by my actions towards others. It's been affected deeply by how people react to my words, how they've spoken to and about me. Yet when I think about it more deeply, I realize that none of these things are me. 

Unexpected Gifts: transition...

Unexpected Gifts: transition...

I hate leaving. I hate feeling as if I'm losing a relationship, as if someone I love dearly is abandoning me. This is what transition can feel like for many people. This reality makes it necessary for the transition process to be handled with care, offering space for both grief and celebration. Without room for all the emotions that become tangled up in transitions, the shifts that individuals and communities face can lead to excessive pain, bitterness, resentment, and much more.

Unexpected Gifts: isolation...

Unexpected Gifts: isolation...

Until we confess the poverty of our friendships, many of our attempts to foster inclusion run the risk of becoming awkward and inappropriate attempts of tokenism. It doesn't feel good to be the "token" anything in any community. It diminishes everyone's humanity to be misled by communities that appear to be inclusive but are actually using minority members for cosmetic purposes.

Unexpected Gifts: insulation...

Unexpected Gifts: insulation...

In churches where people stay for years, rarely missing more than one or two Sundays a year, life becomes routine and creativity can feel smothered, stifled. When community members feel that time away could harm their role, the ways in which they engage and are accepted by their community, then community potentially loses its vibrance. Its edge becomes dulled. Its energy becomes encapsulated by this feeling of safety, a reality that is visible to any outside observer.

Unexpected Gifts: doubt

Unexpected Gifts: doubt

Life does not happen without questions. They're inevitable. Communities that make space for questions are often healthier, more vibrant, and certainly more nurturing than those who stifle them, burying them beneath the surface of our collective consciousness. More important than questions, healthy communities must make room for something else, for a word that has become riddled with connotations of weakness and failure...

Unexpected Gifts: failure...

Unexpected Gifts: failure...

How a community handles failure—the failure of the group or the shortcomings of an individual member—demonstrates more than anything the strength of that community. And nothing can destroy a community faster than a spectacular failure handled poorly.