In the Tension

In the Tension

Why do I feel tense?


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I never get headaches. I knew that last week when I had a headache that lasted 5 days, something was wrong.

Medication didn’t work.

Meditation didn’t work.

I don’t know how to cope with headaches, since I never get them. So, I went down the google rabbit hole. I learned all about tension headaches and where we hold tension in our bodies.

I stumbled upon this article: 9 Types of Muscle Tension Caused by Trapped Emotions

I was shocked and saddened to read this statistic in the article: “According to a study conducted in 2012, 25.3 million Americans (11.2%) suffer from chronic pain every day and 17.6% suffer from severe levels of pain.”

The author of the article shares:

“Your body is the most honest and obvious way to access trapped feelings and even traumatic memories. No matter how much you try to ignore, intellectualize or suppress how you feel, your body knows the truth.”

I know that the body keeps score.

I’m constantly telling people that the tension is not an invitation to be tense, but an invitation to be tenacious.

  • Why do I feel tense?
  • What is my body keep score of currently?
  • How can I be tenacious through the tension?

I’ll ask you the same questions:

  • Why do you feel tense? 
  • What is your body keeping score of today?
  • How can you be tenacious through the tension today?

I won’t pretend to have learned all the answers last week and as helpful as google is, it doesn’t have all of the answers either.

Here’s what helped relieve my pain…

Laying on the floor foam rolling with a friend.

IMG_5540“Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.” Bessel van der Kolk in his book,  The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

My friend Sandy is a super-shero wife and mom, brilliant engineer, owner and coach of a CrossFit gym, and my friend of 10 years. (And this only scratches the surface.) (Also, this picture is from 2015. We’ve been laying on the floor together for a long time!)

After struggling with the headache for 5 days, she stopped everything and said: “Come on, we’re foam rolling.”  We laid on the floor of the gym and talked me through each part of our bodies and the tension we hold in those parts.

She said, “When you feel a place that is particular tense, hang out there and feel the pressure from the foam roller until the muscle starts to relax”

I’ve been thinking about that a lot over the past few days: hang out in the spot where it feels tense. Press into the tension.

When your body is carrying “trapped feelings and even traumatic events”, it can be tempting to want to quickly move on from that spot. But if we don’t hang out and feel the pressure counteracting the pain, we won’t feel the tension release.

How can we be tenacious in the tension?

Find someone who stops everything to lay on the floor and foam roll with you.

“No doctor can write a prescription for friendship and love”Bessel van der Kolk

A friend’s love is like a foam roller. They hang out in the spot where you feel tense until the pain releases, so that you can be tenacious in the tension. 

  • Who lays on the floor and foam rolls with you?
  • Who hears you, sees you, and holds you until the pain releases?

In the tension together,

sg

Finding Your Voice, In the Tension

How “On the Basis of Sex” & the Women’s March Inspired Me About the Future of the Church


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“On the Basis of Sex”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: I know this case disrupted our lives.

Jane Ginsburg: Who is it for if not for me?

If you have not seen “On the Basis of Sex”, then you need to see if before it leaves theaters. The movie chronicles the story of Chief Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the early years of her career as an attorney. 

During a turning point in the movie, Ruth experiences a setback in the gender discrimination case she’s trying to bring before an appeals court. This case, if they won on appeal, would change the future of gender equality in the US. 

She’s given everything to and for this case. The whole family is involved, including her daughter, Jane. Ruth wants to give up and she apologizes to her daughter for the case disrupting their lives. 

Then Jane says a powerful statement: “Who is it for if not for me?” 

This becomes a turning point for Ruth – both for her relationship with her daughter and for the tenacity with which she holds on to her vision for gender equality. 

Ruth understood something about being tenacious in the tension: 

  1. It’s not about you
  2. It’s about those who come after you

The way the movie portrayed Ruth’s story and her relationship with her daughter, Jane, highlighted the impact our influence can have on those who come after us. Their story reminds us that our devotion to something greater than ourselves can leave an indelible legacy.

The Boston Women’s March

On January 19, I went to the Boston Women’s March. We stood outside in the 30-degree for 4 1/2 hours listening to speaker after speaker encourage us about gender equality and equity. We came together in solidarity for the stories about where we’ve been and where we have the potential to go. 

What marked me more than the speakers were the young folks surrounding me. These young folks came from a range of lived experiences and identities and they came together to acknowledge and advocate. 

Our young people are growing up in a culture where it’s normal for them to go to rallies and rallies. They understand how to navigate conversations about buzzwords that the corporate world is trying to figure out: diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our young people don’t need to figure these words out, because these aren’t words to them, this is their lived experience.

I had the honor of being there with two young Latina women who are hermanitas for me. As I talked with them, I realized the great potential they have to lead not only the future of this generation, but also the future of the Church. 

They understand what Jane Ginsburg understood and communicated to her mom: “Who is it for if not for me?”

They understand that devotion to something greater than ourselves can leave an indelible legacy. 

Millennials, Generation Z, and The Future of the Church

We live in increasingly complex times. As a leader in the Church I’ve watched as we’ve become increasingly insulated as the complexity has disrupted us. I’ve watched as we’ve let go of navigating the complexities – out of fear and out of a lack of clarity.

We stood by and watched the exodus of countless Millennials, because we stopped being tenacious in the tension.

Now, Generation Z, is growing up with advocacy across a range of issues  (many that are and will be disruptive) woven into their lived experiences. 

  • How will we, the body of Christ, respond? 
  • What will our tenacity in the tension look like as we lean towards the vision of loving God and loving others as we love ourselves? 
  • How will we recapture the beauty that the good news of Christ isn’t for us to hoard, but to share with others? 
  • How will we share the full good news of Christ to and for those who come after us? 
  • How can we embrace young folks and empower them to lead alongside us as we build the future of the Church? 
  • How can we listen and learn from their lived experiences as well as disciple them to live out a vibrant faith as followers of Christ? 

8 lessons “On the Basis of Sex”  and the Boston Women’s March taught me about building the future of the Church:

  1. Listen and learn together
  2. Walk alongside others
  3. Make room for wrestling together
  4. Talk about the full gospel because it’s STILL powerful
  5. Prepare to run the long race, because this isn’t a sprint
  6. Devoting time is the gamechanger 
  7. Deconstructing is important, but leads to hopelessness
  8. Create safe spaces to reconstruct the deconstructed pieces of faith 

In the tension together, 

sg

In the Tension, Possessing God's Promises

Possessing God’s Promises // Part 5


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Is the land rich or poor? 

Are there trees in it or not? 

Moses asks them about the fruit of the land. This is no longer an assessment of the soil. Now, we look to the possibilities of the land. 

Moses gave the explorers six questions and one instruction: 

“Bring some of the fruit of the land.” 

Then, we are told a detail that they were going to explore the land during the season of the first ripe grapes. Grapes, a biblical symbol of favor, fruitfulness, and fellowship with God, were ripe for the Israelites to experience and enjoy. The opportune time to possess God’s promise was at hand for the Israelites. Moses’s one clear instruction demonstrates the time was now for the Israelites to eat and see the fruitful possibilities of God’s promise. 

Ten of the explorers saw the fruit of the land. They knew what the land could produce. Yet, from the beginning we see them limit the possibilities of the land. 

The fruit of the land in their hands spoiled.

How often does the fruit God puts in our hands spoil?

How often do we destroy the potential God has entrusted to us? 

They had the fruit in their hands. They ate the grapes. They knew the possibilities of the land. But they could not imagine the possibilities of God’s promises. 

Our inability to imagine the possibilities God has for us can spoil the potential He has already placed in our hands. 

Caleb and Joshua had a different experience. They could imagine the possibilities of God’s promises. 

We learn that as the explorers were in the land, the came to the Valley of Eshcol. The Valley of Eschol is located in Mamre and associated with the Hebron region. A land where Abraham lived “among the oak trees” So, we know the land was rich and had trees – many trees. 

What the explorers do next in this valley of many rich, fruiful trees is so significant, but ten of them didn’t fully realize the significance. They didn’t realize the potential they held in their hands.

The explorers cut down a single cluster of grapes. A single cluster of grapes so large and abundant, they had to carry it on a pole between two of them. 

Scholars say that it’s possible the two explorers carrying the grapes on the pole were Caleb and Joshua. I’d love to believe that this is true and this was what made all the difference for Caleb and Joshua’s experience in the Promised Land. I’d love to say that they could imagine the possibilities of God’s promise, because they carried the potential with them. 

Unfortunately, we weren’t there and we don’t know who the two men were who carried the single cluster of grapes. But what we do know is that a single cluster of grapes was carried out of the Promised Land. A single cluster so abundant marking the beginning of the potential of God’s promise.

Caleb could imagine the possibilities. 

Can you imagine the possibilities of God’s promises? 

Can you carry the beginnings of God’s promises in your hands and imagine that there is more? 

The season of the first ripe grapes is here! 

Our exploration of the land ought to be an imagination of the possibilities. 

As we cultivate consistency in our faith to possess God’s promises, we have an opportunity to name our giants, assess our soil, dwell under the shadow, and imagine the possibilities. 

In the tension together, 

sg

P.S. To explore the story of Caleb more in depth, stay tuned for my new book: Color Me Yellow // Finding Your Voice in the Tension between God’s Promises and their Fulfillment 

Questions to ponder: 

  • How will you hold the fruit that God has placed in your hands?
  • How will you imagine the possibilities of a new season?
In the Tension, Possessing God's Promises

Possessing God’s Promises // Part 4


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To dispossess the giants that dwell on God’s promises, we need to reach the giants. 

Are the cities they dwell in open fields or walled in? 

Ten of the explorers report that the cities are fortified and very large. They weren’t wrong! 

The cities throughout the land had tall stone walls built around them designed to protect from enemy attacks. Stones were dug deep into the ground, so that they could not be knocked down. Excavations of the region reveal that the stone walls could be up to 9 feet thick! These fortified cities were the marks of highly resourced communities with infrastructures they were determined to protect. 

How could the Israelites possibly penetrate the fortified walls to possess God’s promises? 

Caleb offers a different response: “Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us.” 

From Caleb’s response, we see that the question Moses was asking was not about penetration, but protection. Caleb knew they may not penetrate through the walls, but they were under God’s protection. 

In the original Hebrew, Caleb’s response is a figure of speech. In English, we read it as “protection”, but the analogy is: “The shadow from the cloud isn’t over them; it’s over us.” In this arid region of the world, the shadows of the clouds covered people from getting scorched by the sun. The shadows from the cloud were protection.

The shadow from the cloud is over us. 

The Israelites dwelled in tents. The giants in the cities dwelled behind walls. 

Overcoming the giants would be a challenge. But God overshadowed the Israelites. 

We may look at the giants in our lives and say: “we can’t penetrate the walls protecting them.”

Giants can’t build the protection God gives us. 

Walls trap us. 

Shadows free us. 

Walls limit us. 

Shadows make us limitless. 

Fast forward to the birth of Jesus. Mary asked the Angel how she could possibly be pregnant. The angel responds:

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…For nothing will be impossible with God” // Luke 1:35; 37

The word “overshadow” spoken to Mary is a similar word spoken to the Israelites. When we realize God overshadows us, the possibilities are limitless. We move in the freedom of possibilities – the possibilities to possess new opportunities and to birth new visions. These possibilities do not come shut up behind walls. 

Psalm 91:1 says it this way: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

Many scholars attribute this Psalm to Moses looking towards possessing God’s promise. 

We don’t need to be concerned about giants that dwell behind walls. 

We dwell in freedom. 

We dwell under the shadow of God. 

Walk towards God’s promises. 

Walk under the freedom of God’s shadow. 

This story continues as the twelve explores respond to each of the 4 categories of questions. Join in on the journey of learning to possess God’s promises!

In the tension together, 

sg

P.S. To explore the story of Caleb more in depth, stay tuned for my new book: Color Me Yellow // Finding Your Voice in the Tension between God’s Promises and their Fulfillment 

Questions to Ponder:

  1. How can the freedom of God’s shadow allow you to walk towards God’s promises this week? 
  2. What possibilities can you seize this week? 
In the Tension, Possessing God's Promises

Possessing God’s Promises // Part 2


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Last week, we began unpacking this big question:

How do we possess God’s promises?

When Caleb says let’s go into the land, he means let’s possess the land.

Possess in Hebrew: yaresh (yaw-rash) meaning to dispossess what possesses something

The word “possess” implies that something must be dispossessed in order to possess.

To possess the promises of God, we must dispossess the obstacles to the promises.

Moses’s first category of questions about the people in the Promised Land is a helpful starting place: 

  1. Are the people who dwell in the land strong or weak?
  2. Are the people who dwell in the land few or many?

Ten of the explorers say: “The people in the land are strong. The descendants of Anak (the giants) are there. The Amalekites, Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, and Canaanites are there.”

Who were these giants?

Promised Land

What are the obstacles these giants represent?

    • Amalekites: Made them feel doubt
    • Hittites: Made them feel fear
    • Jebusites: Made them feel oppressed
    • Amorites: Made them feel rejected
    • Canaanites: Made them feel small

Caleb saw who these giants were and understood the obstacles they represented, but he responds to the giants in a different way.

Do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. // Numbers 14:9

Caleb’s use of figurative language reveals that despite the obstacles the giants represent, they could consume them. He never minimizes the reality of the existence and representation of the giants, but he doesn’t allow what they are to determine who God is.

I’ve experienced the tension of believing fully in God’s promises one moment and then the next moment confronting a situation that discourages me. What I’ve discovered is that when I’m discouraged, it’s because that situation is uncovering a giant. The fear giant. The rejection giant. And that uncovering leads to discomfort.

Honestly, it would seem easier to ignore the giants. To not wrestle with them. To pretend they are not there. To hide from them.

Ignoring the giants doesn’t dispossess them. The more energy I’ve invested ignoring the giants, the worse the discomfort is when another situation uncovers the giant again.

Having faith in God was never meant to be about ignoring our giants. Faith doesn’t mean we live in a world where nothing hurts, where nothing scares us, where nothing challenges us.

Faith gives us a lens to see how God wants to work in us and is working in us. Even working through our giants.

Naming the giants puts them into the right perspective. The right perspective allows us to consume the giants.

Caleb had the right perspective about the giants. He knew the giants and He knew God. He knew that the giants were meant to be consumed and not to consume them.

Don’t ignore your giants.

Name your giants.

“How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time.” – Japanese Proverb

We can possess God’s promises by naming our giants and consuming them one bite at a time.

This story continues as the twelve explores respond to the next category: the land. Join in on the journey of learning to possess God’s promises!

In the tension together,

sg

P.S. To explore the story of Caleb more in depth, stay tuned for my new book: Color Me Yellow // Finding Your Voice in the Tension between God’s Promises and their Fulfillment

Questions to Ponder:

  1. What are your giants?
  2. What are the obstacles they represent?
  3. What would it look like to consume them one bite at a time?
In the Tension

On The Other Side


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Sometimes making the decision to do something – even when that something is the last thing you want to do – is the best way to stay tenacious in the tension.

Twelve weeks ago, I started working at Instacart. This was the last thing I wanted to do.

Instacart is an app-based grocery shopping company that allows customers to make a grocery shopping list and have someone shop and deliver their groceries to them.

I sat at my training interview thinking: “What are you doing here, sg?”

After my first day working for Instacart at Whole Foods, I really wanted to quit. But I didn’t. I’m not a quitter. I made a decision that day that I was going to try my best to not complain about this opportunity. (Except complaining about how cold it is in grocery stores!)

I was going to do my best to let this be a training season. A training season on the other side of my comfort zone. A training season in customer service – a field I’ve never worked in before. A training season in not being the person in charge. A training season in serving others.

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These are my notes from the other side:

1. Always pray for the people you serve.

From day one, I made the decision that I was going to pray for every single “batch” (shopping list) that I received before I started working on it. I would never meet the people that I served, but you learn a lot about people based on their grocery shopping lists. You learn whether they have kids, gluten allergies, a cold, and tons of other things.

Praying for people before you serve them gives you an open door into their spirits.

It helps you remember that all people are created in the image of God.

It helps you serve them as though you were serving Christ.

2. Make the call.

I would never see my customer’s faces, but this didn’t mean they didn’t have a voice. Before the app allows you to start the checkout process, you have to call the customer if you’ve replaced any of their items. You can bypass this phone call by sending a text message to them about the changes to their order. It’s much easier and faster to send a text message than making the call. From a shopper perspective, we are ranked based on our metrics. The faster you shop, the more batches you get. The more batches you get, the more money you make. Making the call often ruins your metrics, because it takes time.

Serving demands time.

Making the call to the person you’re serving is how to serve excellently.

Excellence demands sacrifice.

Making the call to the person you’re serving values the person over the system.

3. Be kind. Be merciful.

From a leadership perspective, perhaps one of the most exciting things about being a start-up company is the freedom to create and innovate. I discovered this is perhaps one of the least exciting things for employees. Constant changes – while they are exciting for leadership – get passed on to the employees to execute. My shift supervisor was given the task to implement these changes under the watchful eyes of her supervisors. To be honest at first, I resented all the changes. Then, I remembered all the times that I’ve implemented changes among my teams. This caused me to start to be kind. I started to be merciful to the people leading me.

Creativity and innovation thrive in a culture of kindness.

Changes met by mercy instead of resentment help everyone go farther faster.

4. Consider it an honor to be the guinea pig.

I was an anomaly to the metrics system. My supervisors could not understand how I was getting so fast and accurate so quickly. I attribute much of this to notes 1-3 and to fact that I am a fast learner. But they didn’t know that. They just knew that in my short time at Instacart, I was performing like some of the senior shoppers. So what did they do? They made me the guinea pig for the new ideas they wanted to implement to train new shoppers. These new ideas included everything from my shift supervisor following me around observing my approach to my shift supervisor clocking the amount of steps I took per order with a pedometer, and to my shift supervisor implementing new checkout methods with me. At first, all I wanted was to be left alone. Let me to do me. And then I started to think about all the people on my teams that I’ve made to be guinea pigs for new ideas. I thought about why I chose them and I realized that I choose to ask certain people to do things, because I admire their approach.

To everyone I’ve asked to be a guinea pig for one of my crazy ideas: thank you for enduring my madness. And forgive me for not explaining to you that I chose you to be a guinea pig out of admiration.

Consider it an honor to be the guinea pig.

Consider it an honor when your leaders see something in you that they want to clone, so that others can be like you.

If you’re chosen, then it’s because you’re doing something right.

If you’re chosen, then it’s because you’re setting the new standard.

If you’re chosen, then it’s because you’re blazing a trail for others to follow.

5. People love yogurt.

After twelve weeks, I completed probably around 300 batches and the item that makes it on nearly everyone’s shopping list is yogurt. Greek yogurt, almond milk yogurt, grassfed yogurt, and not to mention all the different flavors in these broad categories. People love yogurt. One batch had 24 individual cups of Stonyfield chocolate yogurt. When I first looked at the batch, I thought there’s no way they’re going to have 24 cups of this yogurt. Much to my surprise, they had 24 individual cups. Why? Because…people love yogurt.

What’s the lesson here?

My mom uses this phrase when she’s going to grocery store sometimes: “I’m going to get the essentials.” I came to discover that yogurt was one of “the essentials” for so many of my customers. “The essentials” are those things that make the list to get you through the week.

As we humbly serve others, it’s crucial that we always seek to meet people’s essential needs. That we meet their essential needs to help get them through the week.

I worked my last day at Instacart last week. I can honestly say that although this was the last thing that I wanted to do, I learned a lot about humbly serving others. I learned lessons that I pray will make me a better servant leader. I learned lessons that I pray will make you a better servant leader in the areas God has called you to steward people that He’s placed in your hands.

In the tension together,

sg

In the Tension

Fatherly Affirmations, Fire Alarms, and Fruit Roll-Up Hugs


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We start all of our Sundays with Prayer and Prep at 11:15AM. It’s the most important moment we get as a team to center ourselves as one body, one family, and one movement before we start to serve God’s vision for Radical Culture. But Sunday, November 13 (the Sunday after the elections), God was up to something in our community and in me.

In the days after the elections, I’d spent a lot of time thinking about the question:

What role does God want the Church to have in our country in this season?

As I wrestled with (and continue to wrestle with) this question, I had a fleeting thought that I could have greater influence for the Kingdom if I went back to a legal job. After leaving my job as a lawyer, nothing has gone as I anticipated. The challenges have worn me down and worn me out.

That fleeting thought went away almost as fast as it came and the Lord kept whispering Fatherly affirmations to me about my ministerial calling, my commitment to Radical Culture, and my vision to build-up people into their God-design.

Even as I confront my own challenges in the tension, I’ve learned an important life tip: steward what’s right in front of you.

God allowed that post-election question to marinate in my mind and spirit and with it He had given me clear instructions to do this Sunday a little bit differently. So, my assignment was to steward that question and those instructions.

My objectives for our Worship Experience were two-fold:

  1. Create a safe space for our young people to share their thoughts, feelings, and emotions about the elections 
  2. Start to engage in a dialogue about what role do we, as Christians, need to play

During Prayer and Prep, I looked at our team of leaders and volunteers who were serving and noticed that 12 out of the 16 people were young people 22 or younger. As I looked, I felt God affirm: “I’m doing it. I’m making my vision for Radical Culture to be a movement of young people radically committed to the kingdom of God a reality.”

With that Fatherly affirmation, I went over our two objectives for that Sunday. I affirmed the power of their presence and the power of their service to God’s vision. I shared some words from my prayers that week about the reason I serve young people and serve alongside young people. I told them it’s because I want to build sustainable bridges for them to cross into the future. I told them I want to dig deep wells for them to drink living water from as they stand in the gap for the Kingdom. I told them I want to train them well, so that they will train the generation that follows them well. We prayed together and we started to serve God’s vision.

As affirmed as I felt by God for this particular Sunday, I know that I can never take the opportunity to teach, preach, and build young people lightly. Our young people needed to hear from God’s voice in a way that resonates with them, so that they could be comforted by God’s words, confronted by God’s ways, and conformed to God’s will. And that…well that is not an easy assignment. In these days, where our young people are bombarded by the noise of voices that influence and form them, how could I offer a kingdom-cultural voice?

Here’s another life tip: Pray for prayer people. Choose them. Use them. I have prayer people and I had already chosen the prayer person who prays me into the hardest battles to pray. She prayed specifically about my influence and that I’ve been chosen to have that influence because of my righteousness before God. She affirmed our objectives for that day and my calling. I was ready.

We followed up the worship set with an open-ended question about general thoughts, feelings, and emotions about the elections. I shared from David’s story about a moment when he embraced the mystery of God’s timing and seized an opportunity for reconciliation. Then, we opened up the conversation again to make some observations about Christ-like reactions and responses to this moment in our culture.

As one of our young people shared about the challenges of a Christ-like reaction, the fire alarm went off.

Are you kidding me right now? Talk about mysterious timing! There’s always a message in the mystery. 

I grabbed my guitar on the way out, determined not to miss out on the momentum of this moment. I rallied our community and the young person who was talking during the fire alarm finished sharing.

As the fire alarm went off and the fire trucks approached the church, we prayed. We prayed for those who may be feeling fearful about the future. We prayed for those who were hurting and in shock. We prayed for God to have His way. We prayed for our newly elected president.

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The fire alarm stopped, the fire trucks left, we got an all-clear to re-enter the building, but we stayed outside of the church praying in a parking lot.

Then, one of our leaders led us to keep holding hands and wind up in circles – basically like a fruit roll-up – until we were all in a giant group hug!

In that fruit roll-up hug, I played my guitar and we sang, “No Longer Slaves” as one body, one family, and one movement of young people radically committed to the kingdom of God.

In that moment, I had one of those out of body experience where you’re watching yourself. I watched us the way I imagine God may have been watching us. I smiled as at us. I smiled realizing this generation is bright with the light of His presence outside of the walls of the church. I smiled seeing the power of our young people. I smiled confident that God isn’t waiting to use them until they’re older, but that He’s using them now. I smiled at myself, thankful that He chose me. I smiled affirmed that although I’m in the tension, I’m leaning into and living out God’s calling.

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Fatherly affirmations, fire alarms, and fruit roll-up hugs, have taught me (and are teaching me, because I’ll need to keep learning this) the depth and truth of what the author of Hebrews says:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and since which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may no grow weary or fainthearted…It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline…For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. [Hebrews 12:1-3, 7, 11]

In the tension together,

sg

In the Tension

Go – Lesson #3


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This is the third and final lesson that I learned about the tension from rock climbing. I challenge you to reflect on how God is training you in this season of your life for His calling and vision for  your life.

Lesson #3: Go through the uncertainty

While our whole team was still in the section with the “easy” walls (read “Go – Lesson #1″ to see why they weren’t that easy!), I walked over to the tall and “harder” walls. They definitely were harder. I hooked in my harness and made an attempt to climb a pink path. I was on my own this time. No one was spotting me or watching me. I made my way up the wall. Only to realize, I had no idea how to follow the path of pink that allegedly was supposed to get me to the top. I was uncertain. I let go. And I didn’t even attempt this wall again. It was too uncertain for me, so I didn’t want to make the attempt to climb a wall I had no clue how to climb.

But throughout our time at the rock climbing center, I had this nagging feeling in me that even though I was uncertain about how to climb up this pink path, I needed to go back to it and make the attempt. This time when I made the attempt, I didn’t make the attempt alone. I had two friends watching as I climbed through the uncertainty. (I learned a thing or two from Lesson #2.)

Somehow I found – with the help of my friends who were watching – a path through the uncertainty this time that wasn’t clear to me the first time I tried to climb up this wall. But as I made my way up the pink path to the top, there was a point in the path that swerved all the way to the right. I had no clue how I was going to twist my body to make it over there. My friends were shouting suggestions from their perspective about which pink rocks I should climb. I was thankful for their perspective, because when I was uncertain about where to go they were certain about where to lead me. Their certainty helped me get this far, but then there came a moment when it wasn’t clear to any of us which parts of the pink path I should take to climb to the top.

And then I felt it. With my left hand, I felt a rock hidden on the side of the wall. I couldn’t see it, so at first I was uncertain about whether this rock was actually part of the wall. But as I felt it, I felt that it was a hidden rock for my hand to grip. This rock would allow me the mobility to make it through the right swerve in the path and to the top of the wall.

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In the tension between God’s promises and their fulfillment there will be uncertain paths. I wonder if one of the things that scares us the most about going through uncertain ways is the risky feeling that we can’t see a clear path. to the promise. God may have declared something powerful over your life and you want to believe that His promise will become a reality. But the path to the promise is uncertain. 

I feel a lot of affinity with the story of Abraham and Sarah. (And not just because my name is Sarah ;)). God gave a promise to Abraham about his family, his name, and his inheritance of blessing for all people on Earth. The part that resonates with me is when God explicitly told Abraham to “Go to a place I will show you.” Aka go through the uncertainty. He doesn’t give him a map. He doesn’t give him a gameplan. He gives him a promise and an instruction to go.

Abraham is so obedient that He does go. His story is not an easy story. He makes mistakes. Big mistakes. But check out what Paul says about Abraham thousands of years later:

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” [Romans 4:20-22]

He didn’t waver when the path to the promise was certain. He took the risk of faith in what he could not see and this made him righteous before God.

He climbed up the wall and, like me during the moment when the wall swerved, he didn’t see the rock on the side of the wall, but he felt it and he used what he felt by faith to continue on towards the promise.

Go through the uncertainty with the certainty that God will make the path to His promises clear.

In the tension together,

sg

In the Tension

Go – Lesson #2


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God is training you for your God-design in the midst of your everyday normal life.

Can you see His hand? Can you hear His voice? Can you understand His ways?

These three lessons I learned about the tension through rock climbing are an example of how. You can read more about Lesson #1 here.

But more than learning alongside my lessons, I challenge you to reflect on how God is training you in this season of your life for His calling and vision for  your life.

Lesson #2: Go through the shaking

Another wall in the “easy” section literally became the giant I was determined to conquer before we left! I’m not sure if this wall was so challenging for me because my body was tired from climbing other walls or what. But every time I tried to climb this wall, every muscle in my body started to shake and couldn’t continue to hold on, so I would let go. This happened so many times, I had to take a break from even trying with this wall.

During my break, I rested my arms. I went to the front desk to get chalk to use on my sweaty hands to keep them dry. I cheered for our leaders and volunteers who climbed this wall and made it to the top. I watched strangers climb this wall to try and understand their strategy. I even saw a little girl, who could not have been more than 10 years old, climb the wall in what felt like 60 seconds!

Now it was my turn again. I was ready.

I made my way up the wall and started to shake again. Then, I heard one of my friends – who also happens to be a Crossfit Coach – tell me to go. “Keep going.” My body was shaking like a maraca and I kept thinking there is no way I can go through this shaking! But he kept telling me to go. “Go!” So, I went. I went all the way to the top. I went through the shaking.

Perhaps one of the most challenging parts of holding on and continuing on through the tension is when the shaking sets into our bodies, our minds, our hearts, our spirits, and our voices. How do we go through the shaking when we’re weary? How do continue going through the tension when everything that we are wants to stop holding on, to stop going forward, and to just let go?

I know that it was the voice of my friend telling me to go – in his powerful and persistent coach voice – that kept me going. It kept me going all the way to the top of the wall. It kept me going, even though I was shaking the whole way!

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Our Radical Culture Leaders and Volunteers aka some of the coaches in my life that keep me going!

In the tension between God’s promises and their fulfillment we will feel shaky. As we hold on to that promise, that vision, and that word that God proclaimed to us, our grip will get shaky. We get shaky, because of exhaustion. We get shaky, because our muscles are being worked hard. We get shaky, because we’re fearful that we don’t have the strength to keep going. But God is like a Coach telling us to go. Our friends are like coaches telling us to go. Our coaches know that if we go through the shaking, we find another dimension of strength in us. We find a strength that came from going through more than we could handle. Going through the shaking is when God activates the momentum of power that can only be broken out of weakness. It’s when we go through the shaking of the tension that our voices are most powerful and our victories most prominent.

“Leave safety behind. Put your body on the line. Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind–even if your voice shakes. When you least expect it, someone may actually listen to what you have to say. Well-aimed slingshots can topple giants.” – Maggie Kuhn

In the tension together,

sg

P.S. I love learning. I love hearing about other people’s stories. Maggie Kuhn has a powerful story of using her voice to make a tremendous difference as a social activist for the rights of the elderly. #OldPeopleForTheWin Learn more about her story here or by clicking on the quote.

In the Tension

Go – Lesson #1


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God wants to use every experience of your life as a training season for His calling and vision for your life.

Our Radical Culture community is in the midst of a series entitled “Training Season” that is about that big idea. I love the ways this series is pushing me to think about the training season God has me in right now. A couple of weeks ago our Radical Culture leaders and volunteer went rock climbing and God used rock climbing to teach me a few lessons about my training season!

Over the next few days, I’ll share those lessons with you. I challenge you to learn from these lessons, but more than that to reflect on how God is training you in this season of your life for His calling and vision for  your life.

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Lesson #1: Go through the obstacles

After we were suited up with our harnesses and shoes, the instructor brought us to an area of the rock climbing center where we had the opportunity to practice on “easier” walls. (I say “easier”, because I didn’t think they were that much easier.) Rock climbing walls are color-coded and each color corresponds to a different path to the top of the wall. The first section that I climbed followed a black path. I chose this section and path, because there was an obstacle directly in the middle of the path. (I’m pretty confident that if I had never been rock climbing before, I would not have chosen to go up this section. But I had a little confidence under my harness because I had done this before!)

I like to look at the colors before I start climbing up the wall to figure out my path to get to the top. The first time I got to the obstacle in the path, I tried to get around it but couldn’t, so I fell back and started again. The second time, I decided that instead of trying to find a path to the top around the obstacle, I was going to go through the obstacle. There were places on the obstacle itself to grab with my hands and put my feet on, so I navigated the path my going through the obstacle. By going through the obstacle, I was able to get up the path so much easier than when I was trying to go around it.

In the tension between God’s promises and their fulfillment there will be moments when we don’t see a clear path. There will be obstacles. Sometimes we try to find a safe way around the obstacles. We try to find a way to avoid the obstacles. We try to find a way that may be exceedingly more complicated, but exceedingly less confrontational.

But what if the more confrontational path is the path that gets us to the promise faster? What if taking the path of more resistance, instead of the path of least resistance, actually brings us into a truer fulfillment of God’s promises? What if the going through the obstacles refines our voice, because it causes us to be more clear, more concise, and more convicted about what God has promised us?

God didn’t speak a safe promise to us.

God didn’t speak an avoidant promise to us.

God didn’t speak an confrontation-less promise to us.

The path towards finding our voice in the tension won’t be found in safety, avoidance, or less confrontation. The path towards finding our voice in the tension comes when we go through the obstacles.

In the tension together,

sg