Citizen of Heaven

I came to You in filthy rags, dung

buried beneath my nails, shame

lowering my head

my reckless self-

loathing was a tomb

till I met You

I was stumbling blind, zombie

walking through my life, empty

failures trying to hide behind

mascara eyes, a panic

room till I met You

You whispered my name

and I ran out of that grave

out of the shadows

into the light of your day

I still question my worth

and the weight of my words:

Did I contribute to equality?

Did I contribute to oppression?

Will the bare naked

sins of my past, stand

as evidence to accuse me?

You open your hand to me, take

mine in yours, smile

at me reassuringly, forgiveness

a blanket embracing me

I am beginning to forget

why I ever doubted You

When I was broken, lost

in a loveless world, identity

stolen, homeless, orphaned

You called me a citizen of Heaven

the weight of Your glory crushing

the weight of my chains

Love made me your equal

now I have a future and a hope

because of you, Jesus,

I can dream anew.

The Language of Oppression

The language of oppression hides

in bitterness and hate, cowers

beneath tables and folds

of a woman’s skirts, lowers

its head and hands

to the feeding trough, surrenders

its body while its insides

scream defiance and resistance

The language of oppression chokes

out Truth, stifles

what really happened

to our mixed race

American



I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately. I’m wrapped up in poetry and editing books where I am taking the last classes of my master’s degree in English. After reading a lot of Native American poets like Layli Long Soldier, I was moved to respond to the way so many Americans are stuck looking backwards. Even though their narratives are stories happening right now, they are influenced by a perception that some Americans are victims who are owed something by other Americans who were oppressors. There is something wrong with that.

On this blog, I shared a very personal poem from my own struggles with identity and heritage. That poem went on to be published by Sylvia Magazine.

No one would imagine I would have such issues, though, because I am as white as white can be. In our culture, white is synonymous with oppression. In the South, I am particularly aware of the hateful stares of my “minority” neighbors. Everyone assumes that I have had an easier life because I am white and that my ancestors owned their ancestors. If they asked, I’d tell them the truth: my ancestors lived in tiny rooms with newspaper walls on land they did not own. They worked alongside former slaves; they didn’t own any slaves of their own.

Racial identity is a complicated thing in America. We want to claim a strand of our DNA like we are pure bred of that nationality. The truth is that we are all mixed. If it were not so, we would not have survived in this brutal, foreign land. For love or survival, we formed alliances with other cultures and mixed our blood with our neighbors.

I can look back on that and say my poor ancestors were taken advantage of by an oppressive majority race, or I can look back on that truth and say my ancestors made sacrifices to afford a better quality of life for their offspring. I believe both are true, but which one perpetuates peace and harmony in society today?

We can’t change the past. At some point, we have to make peace with what happened to our ancestors and be thankful for the sacrifices that were made to provide a chance for a new life for all of us. The American melting pot is not easy or beautiful to all groups of people, yet we all are that pot. We need to realize that it says more for our resilience and determination that we are still here despite all the atrocities of the past than it does to point fingers at others and claim we are better than them because we were victims. In every family tree, there are both victims and victimizers. Instead of more protests, insincere apologies, and tax-paid handouts, we should embrace our own life story and make the most of the days we are given.

Looking back on history is not where we find our identity; it is where we learn how to do better in our own lives. True identity can only be found in Christ.

Warrior Woman Part 1: What It Means To Be A “Helper” Of Men

Eve is given to Adam as his azer kenegdoor as many translations have it, his “help meet” or “helper.”…But Robert Alter says this is “a notoriously difficult word to translate.” It means something far more powerful than just “helper”; it means lifesaver.”The phrase is only used elsewhere of God, when you need him to come through for you desperately…. Eve is a life giver; she is Adam’s ally. It is to both of them that the charter for adventure is given. It will take both of them to sustain life. And they will both need to fight together. –Ransomed Heart Ministries

I remember the first time I ever learned about the “help meet”. I was doing a deeper study of the creation story in Genesis through a book from the Matthew Henry Bible Commentary. These books were massive, by the way, and filled shelves in my dad’s study as well as the studies of several other pastors I would come to love and admire over my lifetime. They weren’t just popular, they were the resource pastors were taught in school to consider a go-to for understanding the word of God. But Matthew Henry’s style of explaining the Bible was different. He was smoothly poetic at times and, other times, fiercely wordy. He read like a cross between Shakespeare and C.S. Lewis, and I imagined if I saw him, he’d have a long white beard and a gentle smile because that’s what wisdom looked like to me when I was a child. So this kind old Moses told me that there was a divine purpose for why Eve was made from a rib of Adam in the creation story.

…the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved. —Matthew Henry, commentary on Genesis 2:22

I grew up with this knowledge that I was something truly designed to be special and treasured in this world. I was anxious to find my Adam and, like most little girls that feel this way, walk out the relationship of love and nurturing that God intended for us. I remember filling journals with my ramblings and questions: Is it this guy? Is it that guy? Again, like so many of my peers, I filled myself with shame for this longing. I felt utterly pathetic to not have a date by my sixteenth birthday, and completely worthless when he still didn’t show by my twenty-first. It is embarrassing how much I searched for him—and how much I had to say about it. I walked head first into a lot of hurt because of what C.S. Lewis calls the vulnerability of love.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”  –C.S. Lewis “The Four Loves”

Our hearts were meant to love, but sometimes love is a battlefield.

Pat Benatar would say love and romance is about fighting with and hurting the one you love, but it’s really supposed to be more like how Warren Barfield sings it; love is not a fight but it’s something worth fighting for. That song came out of a place of real hurt and real healing. A change of perspective didn’t just save the Barfield marriage; it saved the marriages of others who heard the song. You can read more about that here.

Women everywhere are uniting in excitement over a new Hollywood heroine: Wonder Woman. In this film, the role of a kick-butt rescuer is given to a woman. There is a scene in the film where Diana–Wonder Woman–goes out into battle in World War I to rescue enslaved people on the other side of the Germans. To rescue them, she has to cross No Man’s Land, a place where no man has been able to cross alive. No. Man. While the men are telling her not to go, Diana drops her cloak and runs into the war.

Wonder-Woman-Movie-Concept-Art

Images credited to the film “Wonder Woman”, Gal Gadot. Warner Brothers, 2017.

Diana is a fierce defender of truth and justice. She fights for love because she sees fallen mankind from a godlike perspective and wants to restore them. She can see the victory before it happens because she knows the source of her strength is with the gods, and she trusts that the gods want mankind to be healed. Diana is a symbol of what the Christian woman is supposed to be.

In Christ, we have a higher calling to love and battle. We are called to intercede for the lost as representatives of Christ in the world (Ephesians 5:1-33; 2 Corinthians 5:20). We are called to fight for others with strength and courage (Deuteronomy 10:17-19; Deuteronomy 31:6). Why? Because Christ is calling back his Creation from the fall (Colossians 1:15-23).

I’ll admit that my first experience with this symbolism did not set well with me because she was fighting like Azer-Kenegdo (pronounced Azur-ned-go) with or without a man beside her. She didn’t stop to have a pity party that her Adam was not there to fight life with her (what I would have done). No, Diana ran out to battle alone because she knew who she was and what she was fighting for. I believe Christ is calling us to be bold for him and, in the same way, pursue our purpose in the world.

wonder_woman_battlefield_no_mans_land

Images credited to the film “Wonder Woman”, Gal Gadot. Warner Brothers, 2017.

The good news is that Diana isn’t left to fight alone. An Adam does show up for her. The point, though, is that she was not dependent on him to live out her purpose in this world. In fact, sometimes she has to fight alone even when she has him (that’s a story for another day). In the same way, ladies, God is calling us to rise up and see and join the fight.

To learn more, consider following the 14-Day FREE Devotional, The Heart of the Warrior, on the YouVersion Bible app. This devotional is based on a great book by this title written to tell the man’s part of the story. You can read more about it here. The Eldridges are well-known for their books on this subject for both women and men: Captivating, Becoming Myself, and Wild at Heart. You can read more on their website here.  Last but not least, you may want to consider a full getaway emersion experience here.