Our guilt is in…

Quote

Our guilt is intolerable, unbearable. If we have to answer for what we’ve done, we’ll be crushed…What makes our unbearable guilt go away? Who can bear it for us?…In the gospel Jesus says to us, “I am the willing scapegoat of the world. At my cross, it’s my professional business to be crushed under the unbearable guilt of others. It’s my role to bear away other people’s guilt. That’s what I do, because I love guilty people. If you’ll trust me, here’s the deal. My only guilt will be yours, and your only righteousness will be mine.” – Raymond C. Ortlund Jr. on Isaiah 53

This was just too good not to pass along. Enjoy.

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Oppressing the Oppressed

I just wrote a lengthy blog about the need to end modern-day slavery and how I’ve recently been convicted about how I am the one oppressing the oppressed…..when I accidentally closed the tab I was working on and lost it all.

So this is my re-write, which won’t possibly have as much passion as the first. Just trust me, I was passionate.

This past Sunday as we are working our way through Ecclesiastes, we came across this passage:

Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive. But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 ESV)

I’m not sure what he said exactly that hit me but at some point he called us all out for pretending not to know that we are perpetuating modern day slavery and doing nothing about it, claiming not to know about it.

At least for me, that’s true.

I will google any and every fact mid-conversation (was Cameron Diaz really pregnant during the filming of What to Expect When You’re Expecting?) but I act like there is no way I can know if the products I am using were made in sweat shops or with slave labor. The truth is, I don’t want to know. I don’t want to give up my precious gadgets and clothes and cosmetics. So I turn a blind eye and look away.

First, I know modern-day slavery and sex trafficking is trendy to talk about right now. I’m well aware I’m jumping on a band wagon, but honestly it’s one I should have jumped on a long time ago. It’s a trend in our culture that reflects the heart of God, His unique care for the needy, the oppressed, and the least and one that values and gives dignity to human life, which I wholeheartedly affirm because they have been created in the image of God. And by God’s grace, it’s gotten my attention.

And for those of you who are worried about me going down the social gospel route, don’t worry. I’m not.

So today, I went to the IJM (International Justice Mission) website to see what I could do. I got more than I bargained for. You see,  I’m all for justice and fighting injustice. I voted yes on Prop 35 in the election a few weeks ago, I’ve written a letter to supermarket CEOs asking them to only sell slave-free tomatoes, I’ve written my senators asking them to support anti-slavery bills, but none of those things cost me anything. They were easy to do and I was glad to join in the fight to end slavery, so long as I didn’t have to actually sacrifice. That sentence makes me wince to look at, but it’s true.

So when I went to the IJM website today and found a link that said “Find Out How Many Slaves Work For You” I took the test. What I found out is there are 40 slaves working for me so I can live the way I want to. One of the biggest ways I oppress the oppressed? My cosmetics. Now I’m not sure what this will mean for me in the future and I’m just beginning to think through this, but I started doing some research on what I can do to stop supporting slavery, to stop causing it, to stop enslaving people for my own selfish gain.

Here’s what I found:

  1. Fair Trade USA is a website that has a list of partners that you can search by category and find what companies are certified Fair Trade.
  2. I researched some of my favorite companies (particularly for cosmetics, like Bare Escentuals) to see if they are Fair Trade. They are not. So you can go to this website, Chain Store Reactionand search for your favorite companies and send them a letter asking that they join the fight to eradicate slavery and human trafficking. There are a number of companies who have responded to these letters and instituted changes and commitments to end slavery (including Michael Kors! That’s a win for everybody).
  3. I also researched similar brands that are Fair Trade. While Bare Escentuals does not have any Fair Trade products, The Body Shop, Aveda,  Avon and Nu Skin all do. I’ll be switching my cosmetics and toiletries lines.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten. I started researching Fair Trade cell phones, although it looks like there is no way to get an entirely slave free cell phone so far. But that’s where our responsibility to speak up as consumers comes in.

I know usually I would read a post like this and think, “Oh get off your high horse, that stuff is expensive and I can’t afford it.” You’re right. I’m on a high horse right now. I’m trusting that Christ has forgiven my callousness and cold heartedness, my oppression of others and enslavement to my desires, but at the same time I want to follow Him and live out the Gospel in as many ways in my life as I can this side of heaven. To fight for the good of others and show them honor at my expense, well that’s the very heart of the gospel right there. And that stuff is expensive, but I can buy less of it. I will have to. But like anything else, tithing, giving to those in need, even saving for retirement, you’ve got to make it a non-negotiable in your budget, adjust accordingly, and trust God to provide.

Where I’m From

My sister is probably the longest standing hero I’ve had. For as long as I can remember I’ve looked up to her, emulated her, and sought her advice. She’s a successful business owner, the best hairstylist I know, a phenomenal mother & wife, interior decorator, shopaholic, stand up comedian, singer, and now guest blogger.

She sent me this poem today she was asked to write about her story. It brought me to tears as I thought of our childhood & family, so I decided to pass it along. Thanks Care!

Where I’m from

I’m from sponge curlers, Melaluca oil, and the original Zack Morris phone.

I’m from the house with the basketball hoop, where the front door was always unlocked.
From the palm tree and the pool and jumping on the diving board to see if soccer practice had started.

I’m from wild goose chases, home videos, and bursting out in song.
From laughter, sarcasm, and surprises.

I’m from a Dad from the City and a Mom from the Sea.
From “Life is hard, then you die”, and “I like it better that way”.

I’m from the “Two Paths” sermon, and church every Sunday.
From grace and the Gospel.

I’m from the patchwork quilt of adoption, from Burmese Stacky Uppy and Buttermilk Apple Pie.
From a brother who taught me how to throw a baseball and a punch, and a sister who was the baby but taught me what it means to be brave.

This is where I’m from: pictures hang, prayers are heard, and wisdom is written in journals and on my heart.

-Caris Noble

Lessons Part 4: Man Hating Makes You Miserable

Alrighty, after a short hiatus (read: long) I am back on the blogging train and continuing my “Lessons” series with a hard topic for me to talk about. Man Hating. If this blog stinks, you’ll know why.

I thought I had already written about this year but upon searching my previous blogs I’ve realized that I, in fact, have not really written anything about this. Surprising. It’s probably the number one thing God has exposed in me and brought me to repentance about since moving to Santa Cruz. At some point in the past year (in fact it was many points) I discovered that I’m a man-hater. I never would have thought this, let alone admitted it, before but my ever so faithful pastor and two very honest and very masculine colleagues have slowly but surely opened my eyes to see the truth.

This is a post about God had to let me see the loneliness & isolation of power & control before I saw the need to change.

Let me explain. I met with my pastor for the very first time about a year ago when he invited me into his office to tell me he was praying for me. That spiraled into a lengthy meeting. We spent over 2 1/2 hours in his office talking about my love life, my past, and the reasons why I was still single. He was trying to get me to look at why I was single and really take ownership of how I had unintentionally sabotaged my own love life. He didn’t have anything in mind when he first started talking to me about it, but during the conversation I think he started to see something that I didn’t. He saw that with men I had two ways I would function: fight or flight. I would either passively acquiesce to them or fight them tooth and nail. I didn’t have an enjoyment function. I was always scared, angry, or ambivalent.

Not only that, but he helped me see that I viewed men as competition. I would compete with them by bantering, debating, and harping on the overall failure of men in our culture to man up. I did it in the name of biblical manhood and womanhood but was combative in the way I went about it. It was as if I had something to prove or something to gain from making men feel like failures, and in fact I did. It made me feel more powerful and in control. When my pastor and I met that day he told me something I have yet to forget, “When you compete in relationships you always lose.”

Although my man bashing made me feel superior to men, I wasn’t gaining anything. In fact, all I got was a reputation for being a shrew. And a lifetime of singleness if I didn’t change, or worse, an unhappy marriage to an unhappy man because no man likes to be dominated and scolded by his wife (or any woman for that matter).

So that was November. I started to see that I needed to change and began to change in small ways. There were cracks in my man-hating exterior, but it didn’t diminish entirely. I still felt the need to protect myself and put guys in their place. But fortunately for me, God put me in the perfect place to break that exterior to pieces. Fast forward 8 months to June.

There came a point in early June where I broke. I had spent a weekend at a conference with some of the high school and college guys and felt as though I was the target for their ridicule & mockery all weekend long. They were rude, demeaning, and hurtful and I came to the end of my ability to endure it. I broke down in tears at the end of that weekend and accused two of my closer guy friends here of being part of the problem. One of them gently told me that I was pretty abrasive during the weekend, too. Something I had failed to notice. I was faced with the reality of my own sin & the reality of the way I was treated and I had the choice to own up to my own failure or to continue blaming other people for the way I was being treated without taking responsibility for my part of the problem.

So I did the logical thing. I got in my car and drove away. As I drove, I began to weep. I was weeping because I was hurt, but also weeping because I was scared. Scared to own up to my part of the problem and admit that I might actually need to change. I didn’t want to change. I kid you not, I literally felt like I was being torn apart during that drive. I can’t really explain why but if you’ve ever gone through the painful process of change, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. I realized that everyone else probably saw this huge, glaring flaw in me that I had been blind to. I felt like a fool and didn’t want to have to go back and face anyone again. So I kept driving and honestly contemplated what would happen if I just drove until I got to my friend Esther’s house in Orange County, but by the time I hit Monterey my eyes were tired from crying and starting to close so I turned around and started driving back. I didn’t want to face anyone, let alone face my own sin, but I was trapped. I knew I had to if I wanted to honor God and if I really understood the grace I’ve been shown in the gospel.

So the next day I faced it head on. I had a long talk with one of the guys involved, and he helped me see the depth of my sin and the way I had really set the tone for a lot of my (unpleasant) relationships with the guys here. It took awhile, but at some point I just remember being broken as I realized what a terrible example and role model I was being to the younger brothers & sisters I came here to serve. And I started to hate my sin.

You see, for me the process of change usually goes something like this: 1) Don’t to acknowledge sin or change; 2) Want to want to change; 3 4) Hate my sin; 5) Begin to change. Hating my sin was the final step before I actually began to change.

I knew it would take time to repair the relationships I had damaged with the young guys here, but I started trying. I asked some of the guys for forgiveness, the ones I had openly sinned against. I asked my girls for forgiveness for setting a bad example for them or leading them in a way that caused them to be critical or harsh towards guys. And I began replacing my abrasiveness with kindness, understanding, and patience by the grace of God.

In the middle of that process I met with my pastor again, and he helped me see some of the reasons why I treated guys the way I did. Understanding why is a really big thing for me. When presented with a problem or statement, I usually ask “why?” I’m fascinated by why things are the way they are. So understanding why I was abrasive with men helped. I started to see that when I feel threatened, trapped, unheard, or outnumbered, I begin to fight. It makes sense when you know my background. When you are abused, you start to view people (for me it is men that I don’t quite trust) as a threat. Now people respond differently to abuse, but I became a fighter. Being a fighter is a very good thing in some ways. It is why I’ve been able to face my past & overcome it. It’s why I’ve refused to let my past become my identity. It’s why I’ve been able to share my past with so many people.  So it’s a good thing at times but it’s a bad thing when I fight for no reason. I began to see that my “fight” function was on high in this new environment when it didn’t need to be and it was doing more harm than good. I needed to scale it back a bit.

I can’t say that my old abrasive self doesn’t creep up, but I think I can say that the way I treat guys has changed dramatically and my relationships with the guys in our youth group has changed too. I’m thankful that I didn’t ruin those relationships for good and thankful that God has shown me so much grace since I’ve been here.

Stay tuned for Lesson #5: Attraction Won’t Change Your Life.

Oh gosh, that will be an interesting one if I ever get to it.