Monthly Archives: September 2017

When the Idol of Patriotism Meets the Idol of Race

I’ve been encouraged this week by the number of white, Conservative Christians who are willing to speak against the Idolatry of Patriotism that has been growing since Trump’s election.

People who usually prefer not to be confrontational are trying their hand at judging their friends, and pointing out issues for fellow white Conservatives that need addressed. That’s a good thing!

Earlier this week, I saw a post being shared among some old college friends which said:

“One day, everyone will bend the knee–and no one will be singing the National Anthem.”

This has the potential to sting certain people, if their priorities have fallen out of order.  If any Americans have placed their identities as “Patriots” above their status as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, this quote might trigger them…

I’ve certainly met some politically-active Conservatives who would argue about that quote–even though it’s pretty obvious we won’t be singing the The Star Spangled Banner in Heaven. And I’m sure you’ve met them, too.

But I was pleasantly surprised by how many people gladly accepted the light criticism and didn’t take offense.  There were plenty of “likes” and “shares” and “amens,” even though I think the author of the quote probably expected some would react defensively.  (I certainly expected that, too.)

A little later, a blog post was brought to my attention: a letter to the Conservative, White Christian.

It’s a very kind and carefully-worded plea with the White, Christian Church not to bow to the Idol of Patriotism, and it’s worth a read:

“I am afraid that we are equating our hope in Christ with our hope in America. Can I be blunt? Our hope is not in America. True freedom is not ours because we are American. It is ours because of Christ. Now, don’t hear me wrong. I am incredibly grateful for those who have given their lives for this freedom. Yes, I am grateful beyond measure to God that I have been born in America, but I’m afraid we have become idolaters of this great country.”

Idolatry needs to be called out wherever it rears its ugly head, because it’s the most serious sin of all…and it has a way of spreading through sub-cultures like a virus.

This is why, once again, I was happy to see Christians generally responding favorably to the warning, rather than choosing anger and tightening their grip on the deadly idol.

All of this encourages me! When members of the Body feel at liberty to speak freely with each other, even about hard topics, I believe the Holy Spirit can do great things.


 

But what makes the “Idol of Patriotism” so alluring in today’s culture?

Why have certain Christians turned to this false god in recent years?

I believe those particular white Christians have responded wrongly and in fear of the “Idol of Race” that was exposed with President Obama’s election. 

Long before Trump took the office (with 58% of the white vote)–President Obama earned 95% of the black vote with his first victory.

That’s nintey-five percent.

When he was up for re-election in 2012 (in which he eventually received 93% of the black vote), black Conservative Alan Keyes had some thoughts about the Idol of Racial-Pride in his article “Black America: Reaping the Harvest of Racial Idolatry.

“Obama’s 2008 victory depended on virtually unanimous support from many black Americans. Among them were professing Christians, who put aside every consideration of faith and conscience to support someone dedicated to socialism, rooted in the God-erasing ideology of scientific materialism. This dedication led him to take stands on moral issues (like abortion and the law-enforced acceptance of homosexuality) that outrage and directly assault the tenets of the biblical faith these black Christians otherwise profess.

But for Obama’s sake, they put the idol of false racial pride above their respect for God and His word.”

Ouch and amen? Like the Conservative Christians have responded widely while their idol is challenged?

Or “Ouch, but you just don’t understand why I NEED this idol…”?  As I expected the Conservative Christians would react?

In another article, Bishops are Putting Race Above Values of God, Keyes wrote:

“Barack Obama is a dark-skinned man. But how can it be anything but the worst kind of racism to suggest that his skin color has greater significance for good than his dedication to [abortion] has for evil? Whatever significance we attach to the characteristics of the flesh, don’t the teachings of Christ…clearly ascribe essential significance to the characteristics of spiritual life…? Are we now to believe that God is a respecter of skin color?

[Christians] should know that their vocation calls them… to preach to Obama and all his errant followers the way to Christ…rather than to seek, on account of the idolatry of race, “things that unite” them to Obama, though he wars unceasingly against God’s will.”

In other words, Christians have been making idols out of political figures for at least a decade.  But, let’s be honest, it’s probably more like “forever.”  This is a human problem, not strictly a white one, which crops up when communities feel threatened by each other, and they start yearning for safety in political power rather than in Christ.

Many white Conservatives feel there is a double-standard when very little was said eight years ago about black Christians who were struggling with the Idol of Racial Pride.

-Maybe they just weren’t listening.

-Maybe there were more Open Letters to the Black Christians (besides the one written by Alan Keyes), and white Christians just missed seeing them.

-And, yes, regardless of whether a double-standard exists, it’s wrong to respond in fear by crowning an Idol of their own.

But that’s WHY these idols have such power and room to grow in today’s culture.


 

If we care about our white brothers and sisters enough to warn them about their idolatry (and we should), then we must also address the ways the Black Community has been guilty of the Idolatry of Race, which replaces Hope-and-Change in Christ with identity politics.

Both idols damage Church unity.

And it’s not okay when any Christian puts something in God’s place.

We must take a step back in compassion and empathy and think about the reason our Patriotic brothers and sisters believe “God’s Nation” is in jeopardy, and we must be bold enough to tell them when their fears are misguided…

…be bold enough to say, “You’ve let half-truths push you into the arms of an Idol.”

I’ve been encouraged to see that happening this week.

My question is, will we only call out the idols of the Christians who fit the stereotypes or physical category we put ourselves in? (Only speaking to other white, Christian, females, for example?)

Or will we be ready to address both the idols of Patriotism and of Race, when necessary for the sake of the Kingdom?

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The Gospel According to Snoop Dogg

Let’s cut to the chase. I don’t want to talk about Snoop Dogg’s version of Christianity, exactly.

I want to talk about this article, which warns Christians to be careful when talking about it:

Snoop Dog is Releasing a Gospel Album and why the Church Should Care

“Herein lies the controversy that the church has stumbled over time and again: How do we react to celebrities who thank God for awards…or claim their faith pulled them through a difficult time, and then turn around and live a “Hollywood lifestyle”?

Could it be that this man, who has walked a hard road and has produced some of the most questionable content our culture has seen…is seeking God?”

Oh, sure, it’s very possible Snoop Dogg could be looking for God.

But the root question is, SHOULD THE CHURCH SPEAK UP IF/WHEN HE ADVERTISES A FALSE VERSION OF HIM?

If he’s still seeking, but hasn’t actually found God, then what makes us think he can lead others?

Unfortunately, sometimes Christians get so excited about the word “Gospel” on an album cover that they don’t put much thought into exactly how it will do a better job leading people to Jesus than all the other music Snoop has produced.

There seem to be at least a few people at churchleaders.com who think his fans might somehow stumble into the Truth, just hearing church-y words on their radio.

“There are a few things I hope we can keep in mind as the album releases and people start talking about it…

…there are going to be Snoop fans who don’t know Jesus and will listen to the album. Let’s not turn them off to the church by criticizing the album or its producer.”

Uh.

Really?

“…people who have never heard gospel music may hear it for the first time. They may be moved to find out more about Jesus and his church through this music. They may even come to visit your church.”

Maybe.

Also, maybe people who’ve never heard a Christian be bold and take a stand for rationality will read my blog and be moved to find out more about Jesus through my frequent criticism of poor thinking.

Maybe they’ll come visit my church.

I mean, maybe.

But maybe that’s not the point.


I remember the good ol’ days in Sunday school, when evangelism and discipleship were explained with the candle analogy. God lights a fire in our hearts, and we become like little candles…who then can pass the flame on to others.

(Don’t hide it under a bushel!)

But, if that’s true, then Snoop Dogg will have a hard time doing much good for the Kingdom if he’s still seeking God’s flame himself.

It’s almost absurd:

Christian Leaders:  “Be careful! You don’t want to accidentally extinguish Snoop’s flame!”

Me: “Uh…does he have a flame? It doesn’t look like his candle is burning.”

Christian Leaders: “See, that’s precisely the negativity he doesn’t need! You’re going to snuff it out!”

Me:  “Snuff out WHAT? I still don’t see the flame.”

Christian Leaders:  “Staaaaahp! He’s trying to spread the Gospel to others! Don’t put out their lights, too!”

Me: “I…just…I can’t…”

Christian Leaders:  “…all those needy souls, holding candles. Snoop can’t light them if we’re too judgmental.”

Me: (*pounds head on desk*)

HE DOESN’T HAVE A FLAME!


 

Timid Christians must stop telling themselves they are fulfilling the Great Commission by saying nothing at all… and that silence is better than offense. (It’s not.)

Your silence makes the problem worse.

Watching Snoop run around, trying to light candles with a cold wick, is just cruel.

In fact, shame on anyone who gives up the responsibility of lighting the darkness to a man who thinks “Gospel” just means a song without the F-word. 

Snoop Dogg is equally as lost as his listeners.  But instead of offering to light his candle, our plan is to let him dabble in a little preaching!…while we wait comfortably at church for anyone who might show up–somehow–steered by the blind guy’s directions.

Brilliant.

Women Who Don’t Judge Aren’t My “Friends”

I don’t have a ton of friends.

This is partly because of my current stage of life, focused on children. And it’s partly because of a culture that allows all of us to hole up in our homes with our stocked fridges and running water and no real NEED to mingle unless we force ourselves.

But it’s also hard for me to find friends because I don’t want THE TYPE of friends that so many other women try to be…  

I don’t agree with the cultural definition of “friendship” or most Christian Woman Goals for relationships, and so it doesn’t work out.

As an example, I’ve seen this photo (and many like it) shared by Christian women before:

 

These ladies are kind women.

They’re sincere women, who genuinely want to be the best friend they can be!

But–a woman who won’t judge me can’t be my friend.

(Also, I don’t drink coffee…so I don’t take pictures of my coffee cups…and apparently, that’s some sort of pre-requisite for female bonding.  That, or wine.)

Seriously, if you are asking me to let you talk without judging what you’re saying, that’s a deal breaker for me. 

Does the world REALLY “need more women” like that?!  We need more women who just smile and nod and never question anything they’re being told?

We need more women who support whatever we say when we’re venting, because it’s more important to make a mom feel supported than to tell her what you really think?

I’m just going on record to say: I don’t need more women in my life like that.  I have a few already, and we’re not great friends. 

Usually, our interactions go something like this:

Friend: If you ever need someone to talk, I’d be happy to listen. No judgement!

Me:  Well, I know what you mean. But I don’t mind being judged when I need it. Lord knows I have things to improve.

Friend:  *still smiling and nodding*  Uh-huh, yep! Just make sure you’re taking care of yourself first!

Me:  Actually, I was born putting myself first.  (*laughs*) That’s when I tend to feel the most stressed…

Friend:  *still smiling* *clearly wanting to disagree* *refuses to “judge”*

Me:  *senses awkward dilemma*  *not sure how to help*

Friend:  Well, you’re a great mom! And you’re doing a great job!

Me:  Oh, well, thanks.  (*realizes this friend literally says “You’re Great” to EVERYONE*)

Friend:  And I’ll be praying for you!…

 

Now that’s a woman who doesn’t judge!

She’s very nice and out-going.  (And, again, she genuinely wants to be the best kind of friend she can be.)

The problem is that judgement is another word for “thinking about what someone says and potentially offering another perspective.”

Humans are the only creatures able to think-critically, which is why they make the best friends.  If I wanted “no judgement,” I’d forge a relationship with this artificially intelligent chat robot, named Mitsuku.

He/she CAN’T judge, so it’s perfect!

Except, I want friends who think critically and bring their own perspectives to the table…


 

Now, if I simply don’t understand how a “no-judgement” conversation  is supposed to look, I’d be happy for someone to explain.

Why do we think we want “no-judgement” friends? What am I missing?

But, in the meantime, I don’t think we need more women who sit in front of us–like a coffee-drinking wall–and never responds to what we’re saying unless they echo, “Yes!”

(And “God loves you.”)

I don’t think we need MORE women who tag us in a bunch of half-baked memes from their favorite “Christian Quotes” Facebook group to let us know they’re always there…and they always will be…and we’re awesome…

I’m just…

No, thanks.  🙂

When Satire Comes True

I hadn’t heard, until today, about the college president who hosted an event for black students that included cotton decorations and collard greens… but, I’m not surprised.

A couple years back, I wrote a satirical piece about a museum that tried to make black students feel more “welcome,” as Michelle Obama recommended. (Yes, she actually encouraged businesses to “welcome” more black individuals.)

Can you imagine how that would sound?

Certainly patronizing:

Tour Guide:   (*Big smile)  WELCOME BLACK PEOPLE!!!!   And, of course, welcome to the rest of you, too.  We’re glad everyone is here.  But we are especially glad to see the kids we wouldn’t normally see in a cultured place like this! (*to a black male in the group)  I assume, young sir, that you’re here for Free Black Admission Day?

Black Male:  Actually, I’ve been buying my own student pass every season for three years now…

Tour Guide:  Really?!  Well, that’s okay! You can still pick up your complimentary “I’m Welcome at the Museum” T-shirt before you leave…

That would be ridiculous, right?

But that’s what happens when businesses and schools and the culture in general all begin focusing on something as petty and impossible as making ALL PEOPLE OF COLOR “feel” a certain way.

Eventually, the focus on diversity must turn ridiculous. It’s inevitable.

That’s because differences of opinion have far more to do with individual personalities, family values, and education than they do with skin color.   This means (SHOCKINGLY!) that not all black people think the same way.

Thus, when businesses and schools focus on making “black people” feel heard and validated and welcome, it ends up being patronizing instead. That’s why identity politics ends up feeding the stereotypes it claims to be fixing.  Always! (Click on the underlined words to read more about how that happens.)

At the end of my satire piece, the tour guide yells out, “Hey, what if we do a promotional deal where you can get a free bucket of fried chicken?”  (And, of course, the patrons begin to mutter and leave.)  So, she tries again:

“I can throw in a grape soda! We just want you to feel welcome!” 

And THAT’S what the president of Libscomb college was trying to do with his collard greens and cotton theme. 

It’s ridiculous.

It’s patronizing.

But what else was he supposed to do?

From all sides, he is being pressured to MAKE certain groups feel a certain way…not based on their shared values and ideas, but based on their skin color alone.

Make all black students feel included.

Make all black students feel heard.

Don’t let any black students feel offended.

Um…that’s only possible if all black students think the same.


 

The “Cotton-and-Collard-Green Debacle” was brought to my attention when someone shared this student’s post, and I almost went cross-eyed reading all of her contradictions.

“People at Lipscomb are ignorant of the feelings, thoughts, and culture of black lives…

BUT

“I am only one black person among millions, and I DO NOT represent everyone.”

(How can people be less ignorant of the feelings, thoughts, and culture of black lives, if all black people are different?  Answer: They can’t! They will ALWAYS be ignorant. For the same reason, people at Lipscomb are ALSO ignorant of the feelings, thoughts, and culture of white lives…unless they know every, single white person in the world intimately.)

Or how about these quotes:

“These students who are apart of your body are hurting… They’re hurting because people on this campus don’t listen to them.”

BUT

“…there are white students out there claiming that their black and white peers who are hurt are being over sensitive… I want you to reevaluate why you think you are allowed to have that opinion on a matter that you can’t ever truly understand…?”

If people get hurt when they’re not listened to, then I’d like to announce formally how much I’m hurting, too!

Now, why does this student think she’s allowed to have her opinion on a matter she can’t ever truly understand? (That is, she’ll never understand what it’s like to be a white student and told–point blank–that her opinion doesn’t matter as much as an offended black person’s.)

The answer, of course, is that ALL OF US are “allowed” to have opinions as individuals, because all of us have different personalities and upbringings that affect our perspectives.  

This student is allowed to believe that anyone who is “hurt” automatically gets the microphone.

She’s still wrong. But she’s “allowed” to have an opinion, just like everyone else.

Unfortunately, she gets tripped up when she keeps trying to bring whiteness and blackness into the mix.

Making somebody’s complaints and sensitivities RACE-BASED isn’t just wrong–it’s dead wrong.  

It’s condescending and patronizing to make skin color a basis for listening to a person.

Now, I’m going to get a snack…can I bring anyone a grape soda?

How To Get Your Kindergartener Punched

This opinion piece is making the rounds on Facebook because everybody loves the idea of a tough little girl, defending herself against evil little boys:

Why My Daughter Has Permission to Kick Your Son in the Balls.

Sure, every time the author advices that we teach our son to keep his hands to himself she adds the parenthetical, “and your daughter, too!”

…But I can’t help noticing the headline focuses on physical aggression toward little boys, and that’s what makes me uncomfortable.

It doesn’t say, “Why My Daughter Has Permission to Punch Yours in the Ovaries.”

Something tells me that article would be less popular.

Here’s the deal: I recognize that self-defense is a necessity at times. I get that we live in a world where we might have to react PHYSICALLY and VIOLENTLY if a stranger acts physically/violently first.

But, do we really expect 6-year-olds to understand if and when “keep your hands to yourself” doesn’t apply?

Are we really making the playground a safer place when we send our ball- kicking Kindergarten girls to join the butt-touching Kindergarten boys and expect the teachers to figure out who started it all?

But, most importantly: what happens AFTER your little Amazon completes her Justice Jab on a boy’s tenders?

I’m guessing, in the minds of the many mothers who shared this article, the young girl leaves the boy on the ground, writhing and promising “I’ll never do it again!” while the girl takes the walk of pride back to the classroom and all the other kids on the swing set cheer.

That’s how you think it works, right, moms?

Can you hear your daughter’s badass theme music right now?

Unfortunately, there’s a problem!

The only way your 6-year-old daughter gets to enjoy her empowering moment is if the boy suddenly starts following the “don’t put your hands on girls” rule.

Otherwise he’s going to stand up and bloody your Princess’s nose…

…and THEN what?

******

You know, there’s a reason bank tellers are taught to just hand over the money and sort out the details later.

Armed robbers have guns!

And, when the bad guy is capable of hurting you worse than you can hurt him, suddenly the self-defense thing becomes more complicated.

Suddenly, keeping your hands to yourself MIGHT be the best strategy to keep yourself from harm until the (better-armed) authorities sort out the details.

Call me anti-feminist, but I don’t trust Kindergarteners to understand all of that.

I tell my kids–both boys and girls–to keep their hands to themselves. Period. Full stop.

Because it’s not smart for me to send my little vigilantes to school, ready to take justice into their miniature hands…

…when they’ll probably get hurt worse eventually…

…and the root problem with the bully still won’t be solved…

…and they can just go sit with the teachers until the authorities figure out a solution that doesn’t involve amateur wrestling matches breaking out.

(Note: I will not be kicking any principals in the nuts.)

Moms, we need to think through the advice we’re giving and make sure we’re not just living out our own fantasies of beating up other people’s brats, through our kids.

There’s a good reason there are NO VIOLENCE policies in elementary schools, where the aggressor and the victim change moment to moment. (The same reason we don’t send kids to school with mace.)

If you want to establish new rules for your kids, may I recommend homeschooling? (Seriously! I’m a big advocate for homeschooling!)

And when your daughter and YOUR son are the two who can’t get along, you can be the one who figures out who started it and who is allowed to do the punching.

Maybe you can tie your boy to a tree, so your girl can get a fair shot without retaliation?

But, in the meantime, stop telling six-year-olds it’s okay to escalate situations while you’re at work. If your daughter kicks my son in the nuts, he’s going to punch her in the face.

You should at least warn her about that.

My Testimony

I wrote this in 2013, intending to read it at my church.  

That never happened, for one reason or another. And I eventually forgot it existed!  It wasn’t until today, when I got an email asking for details about my depression, that I realized I’d never published this account. 

It’s long.  But if you want to know about my death and rebirth, here’s the story.


 

My name is Amanda McKinney, and I’m an idolater.

In theory, I’ve always known that I had idols. But I never really understood how many things I love more than God, until He took all of my comfort—stole my idols right out from under me—and left me broken and shaking in fear.

This is my story of darkness, depression, and mind-numbing terror.

And it’s a story of the sweet, sweet safety of Jesus.
****
First, a little about who I was in August of 2013, while anticipating the birth of my second child:

I’ve always been very introspective. I’m a question-asker and a voracious reader. I was raised in church, graduated from a Christian Highschool and college, AND spent more than a little of my spare time writing about God and theology on my blog.

I could quote Scripture with the best of them.

I’m familiar with G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, St. Augustine, and Martin Luther. I could argue evidence for the existence of God from ten different angles and explain why the Prosperity Gospel is heretical. And I almost always tackled three or four books at once, on topics I both agreed and disagreed with.

In short, I had an answer—or at least a theory—for everything.

But after the birth of my son, I struggled with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, which threw my entire world for a loop.

It started with not being able to sleep well. My racing heart and anxious thoughts kept me awake all night, which began to take a toll on my already-worn-out mind.

After several days of fighting irrational fears and telling myself it would get better soon, it became harder and harder to believe I really WOULD be alright again. My body physically dealt with the symptoms of panic attacks, while my head and heart struggled with their own issues.

Like that horrible song you can’t get out of your head, my brain kept telling me everything was BAD…SCARY…and eventually MEANINGLESS.

I could not stop thinking:

“What if I don’t sleep tonight? What if I’m never able to enjoy sleep again? What if I’m so tired that I can’t take proper care of my children? What if? What if? What if?”

And, eventually, those questions turned to the Spiritual realm as well:

“What kind of God allows mental illnesses like this in the first place? What could the purpose be? What if He’s not really as good as the Bible says He is? I honestly can’t remember feeling truly happy…and it certainly doesn’t feel like I ever will again. What if I don’t ever, ever feel happy again? What if…?”

Now, let me remind you, I know a lot of Scripture. I’ve read tons of commentary about pain and suffering—including Lewis’ excellent book The Problem of Pain.

But none of that head-knowledge was comforting to me in the least!

The ability to appreciate Scripture was rooted in my mind, and that was the thing that was broken and hurting!

Where could I turn, when I couldn’t even trust my own thoughts? What was the point of all the learning I had done all my life, if it was basically useless to me at my most desperate hour?

And, most importantly, WHERE WAS GOD?!

As days wore on, I became more and more desperate for relief…for just a spark of hope..for a glimpse of God to remind me He is there, and He is good.

I wrote this in my journal one night:

“I used to criticize all the ways humans self-medicate. How they cling to false theologies and comfort each other with pretty lies. But now that I’m experiencing the hurt for myself, I understand completely. Don’t bother me with complicated theories and scary Truth right now. I’m totally head-learned out. Lie to me if you must! Just help me, Jesus. Be my Healer. Hold me in your arms. Promise me peace and joy!”

I wasn’t looking for another quote about God.

Instead, I was desperate for HIM—personally, intimately…and He felt very, very far away.

The longer I went without His voice, the more I realized I was experiencing emotional Hell. What else would you call the absence of God?

No joy. No hope. No relief. No God.

Where, where was He? And, if He was so good, why had He left me in Hell?

####

Then, finally, God came to rescue me. The details are somewhat long, and they wouldn’t mean as much to you anyway.

God spoke directly to my heart and confirmed His presence in the way that I needed to feel it.

Suffice it to say: through some eery “coincidences”–and the video testimony of a perfect stranger online-–God got my attention.  And then he answered my prayers.

I literally couldn’t stand, from awe and amazement that the Creator of the Universe was interacting directly with ME.  For years, I had been repeating, “God sees you and loves you.”

But to actually experience that truth…it overwhelmed me.

Furthermore, God revealed that He was using my horrible, panic-filled battle with depression to address deep soul questions I hadn’t been motivated to tackle until I was at the end of my rope.

All my life I had asked to become more like Jesus, and finally I was learning for myself that it’s NOT an easy process.

That “refining fire” we hear so much about? Yeah, turns out it burns. And Jesus wasn’t kidding when He said, “In this life, you WILL have trouble.” That’s a promise, folks.

It’s terrifying when you think of just how much trouble one person might experience. (I was driving myself crazy asking all of those “what if?”questions.)

But I realized my obsessive desire for sleep and comfort actually reveal one of my idols. Turns out, I often want a trouble-free life more than I want Him.

Another of my idols is my own ability to reason and problem-solve. I spent hours sacrificing to this god, desperately searching for medical solutions to my problems on the internet…

…and the only thing I discovered, for sure, was just how little we humans really know about the human body and brain.

There were so many conflicting opinions! So much advice that promised to help me calm down and rest that only ended in disappointment!

Suddenly, I realized I wasn’t in control of my body the way I always thought I was. In fact, I realized the terrifying truth: I’m hardly in control of ANYTHING at all.

The mind/brain of which I’m so proud is a gift from God. But if I start valuing it more than I value Him, it can be stripped away.

There were two verses I focused on, while sorting all of this out.

The first is Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

And second, 2 Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

These became the foundations onto which I rebuilt my understanding of God, even as my body still refused to cooperate.

Slowly, slowly, (muuuuch more slowly than I would have preferred), the Truth of these words began to sink into my heart….and God began allowing the horrible fog to lift from my brain.

#####

The whole time I was lying awake, scared and out-of-control, I comforted myself with the idea that things would go back to “normal.”

I thought I’d be “me” again soon—if I just could hang on.

But, now  I know that was a lie.

I’ll NEVER be the same.

The woman I was before Collin’s birth is DEAD, and the terrible yet beautiful truth is, God is the one who killed her.

Don’t be confused by the word “beautiful.”  It literally felt like death—frightening, lonely, and totally unfair. We pay lip-service to the idea of suffering in church, but it’s a whole different animal when you’re up all night choking on it.

It’s more than uncomfortable.

It’s bigger than “sad” or “worried.”

It’s trauma.

It’s surgery, turned fatal with the DEATH of our sinful selves.

And it takes lot of time, prayer, and loving/wise counsel to help us recover from that kind of pain.

It may be strange for some of you to think about “recovering” from an encounter with God, but I think it’s biblical. God wrestled with Jacob and popped his thigh out of socket. He had Jonah cast into the ocean and swallowed by a fish. He made Joseph wait in a prison cell for years, an innocent man.

It seems God constantly puts His children through serious, totally-unexpected and “unfair” crises that last longer than we ever thought we could endure.

In fact, that’s exactly what a mentor of mine wrote to me, when she heard about my struggles:

“We don’t get to choose the time, place or type of suffering – but anyone serious about following Jesus WILL suffer, even if it’s not direct persecution…

In times of suffering, most of what is happening is the removal of things; the emptying, not the filling, not the learning of lessons. It feels like dying, because, in fact, we are – we are dying to self, our tidy theology, our ability to control our circumstances and our fond illusions that we can… But after all that, when all hope has died, when we no longer put our hope in our deliverance (a subtle idol) – He resurrects us. He wants so much more for us than just to be once more at ease.”

In the middle of my depression, I couldn’t recognize the awful, painful experience as something for my good. But, now, I more fully understand Psalm 119:71, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn your statutes.”

I learned just how much of a control-freak I am—and how much I try to rely on my own head and strength to get me through tough times when, the truth is, I’m almost completely OUT OF CONTROL.

My mind could be taken from me in an instant.

It’s only thanks to God that good feelings like safety and comfort and happiness exist in the first place, and He determines when to give them out.

There is very little in this life that *I* get to steer.

But, in my pit of darkness, I was pierced with the reality that God truly is my ONLY hope, and that has been a worthwhile discovery. He saw fit to strip away my safety and to take happiness far, far away, to help me see how badly I need him.

It sounds crazy. But He took me through Hell to accomplish his good purpose.

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In closing, God wounded me, and I still have scars from the ordeal. Not only that, but many of my questions remain unanswered, even though God has helped me better understand a few things.

As He continues to insist that I trust Him—completely—He keeps me guessing in a lot of areas. Unfortunately, I still have to answer “I don’t know” to many, many things…and I still struggle with anxious thoughts and trouble relaxing…

My name is Amanda McKinney, and I practice idolatry.

But, I know the One, True God is pursuing my soul. He is breaking down the Old Man and making something totally new. And, even when I’m awake and confused, He is producing in me the fruits of His Spirit…including joy, patience…and PEACE.

Will you praise Him with me?

You Don’t Speak for Me, Case Study #2

Awhile back, I wrote about the way identity politics CREATES stereotypes, though it claims the goal of erasing them.

Activists end up lumping people into categories using mainly color or gender and then speaking for the WHOLE group, as if all women and minorities feel the same way.

I challenged my readers to speak up whenever someone claims they are representing “black people” or “women” as a whole by saying in no uncertain terms:  YOU DON’T SPEAK FOR ME.

Today I came across this brilliant letter, written by an American immigrant from Jamaica and telling a black activist, plainly, that he doesn’t speak for all black people:

“My concern is that you and your book function as deputized stand-ins for the black male and the black experience in America, respectively. And I believe that as stand-ins, both fail.

Because I write as a black immigrant who chose to live in the United States, whose biggest hope as a child was to become an American citizen, and who chose to embrace the American Dream you condemn, please consider these words my Declaration of Independence—an independence that only my beloved America could have given to me.”

You can read the rest of his Declaration of Independence (from identity politics and thought-policing) by clicking here.