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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Filtering by Tag: humility

Found Wanting: Kris Camealy, "I've wanted to be known."

jenmichel@me.com

I have been curating stories for a blog project called, “Found Wanting." This series will end in several weeks, and I am thankful for each person who has submitted a guest post. If you've only just arrived, I hope you'll catch up on the stories below. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, it was not uncommon for him to approach the sick and sin-sick with this question: “What do you want?” In John 5, he speaks with a man lying next to the healing waters of Bethesda, a man who has been an invalid for 38 years.

“When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’"

The man seizes an excuse. “I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up.”

Was it too much for this man to hope for healing?

What is too great a risk to invite the responsibility for walking again?

There can be fear in desire: fear that we will want what God will always refuse to give; fear that we will not want whatever God, in his sovereignty, chooses to give.

Ultimately, we are profoundly afraid of ceding into the hands of God our trust.

I’m grateful for those willing to share their stories of desire here. I'm neither applauding nor condemning their stories: rather, I am amplifying their desires - and reminding each of us that to be human is to want. In my book, Teach Us to Want, I write, “Desire takes shape in the particularities of our lives. We cannot excerpt desire from the anthology of our stories. Our desires say something about us – who we have been, who we are and who we are becoming. They tell a part of the story that God is telling through us, even the beautiful and complicated story of being human and becoming holy.”

To catch up on the series, read these featured stories: Amy Chaney, "I didn't want to be a coach's wife." Beth Bruno, "I've wanted beauty." Wendy Stringer, "I didn't want to move to suburbia." Steve Burks, "I've wanted to produce entertainment." Faydra Stratton, "I didn't want a child with Fragile X." Brook Seekins, "I never wanted to be a missionary in Africa." Sarah Van Beveren, "I have always wanted to be strong." Holly Pennington, "I didn't want to find out what I wanted." Larry Shallenberger, "I wanted to know what I wanted." Hannah Anderson, "I didn't want - because I couldn't afford to." Megan Hill, "I want your blessing." Bronwyn Lea, "I wanted a boyfriend, college scholarships, permission to sleep over at the popular kid's house." Jennifer Tatum, "I've wanted to be a woman of faith, but . . ." Sarah Torna Roberts, "I didn't want to be broken." Suanne Camfield, "I want a bigger house." Courtney Reissig, "I wanted a baby." Cara Meredith, "I've wanted it all." Anonymous, "I want to not want marriage anymore." Deborah Kurtz, "I wanted a husband." Ben Jolliffe, "I wanted nothing." Charity Singleton Craig, "I wanted to get married." Hannah Vanderpool, "I didn't want to stay in America." Dorothy Greco, "I don't want to doubt." Natasha Sistrunk Robinson, "I wanted security."

Today, Kris Camealy shares her story of desire.

* * * * *

I've wanted to be known.

I flush with embarrassment to admit my intense desire to be known, and not merely to have friends, or to be well liked (though those are part of it). Rather, the desire to be known that shames me was an ugly lust for notoriety. I wanted to be known for what I accomplished, craving both recognition for me as the accomplisher, and admiration for the mighty works of my own hands.

It is most honest to say that I fashioned an idol out of fame and worshipped heartily at its base. This admission of where I've been makes me sick with grief, but I share it now, because in this way, I can give testimony to the good mercy of God.

I believe we all have an indwelling desire to be known. We are created in the image of God, who himself desires that all of His creation would know Him. Adam and Eve walked in communion with God, fully exposed, fully known, lacking nothing. I found myself hungering for this same intimacy, this kind of pure fellowship, and believed, for a time, that the world's recognition of me, would serve to satisfy a heavenly hunger.

The redemption of this in my life came only by way of a hard humbling. When God brought me low, his gentle, persistent mercy and blatant outpouring of grace coupled with His instruction, by way of His inspired Word, redefined what this desire ought to look like in the Christian life. God passionately pursued me into a wilderness of my own making, where He himself fed and nourished my heart, broken by shame and regret. I had gotten it wrong, but God's jealousy brought my desires into their rightful place.

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. "For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another," (Isaiah 48:11).

It was in this desert, where God showed me that He bears intimate knowledge of who I am. This realization transformed my desires to be known. Knowing that I am deeply known by God changes everything. When a soul is matched with its Maker, and the passionate love of God fills the human heart from within, being known by man proves itself to be a shallow, vapid desire that cannot possibly fulfill with any lasting meaning or hope of satisfaction. My desire to be known has been replaced with a passion for making HIM known.

Because I know my natural bent, when I fear my desires I only need to surrender them to God. He gives wisdom and transforms my human hunger into a spiritual one. I crave the things of God, because in them I find soul-satisfaction. My delight in being known by God binds my heart to His, and in this communion with my Maker, He aligns my desires with those that are pleasing to Him.

* * * * *

kris in greyAs a sequin wearing, homeschooling mother of four, Kris Camealy is passionate about Jesus, people and words. Her heart beats to share the hard, but glorious truth about life in Christ. She's been known to take gratuitous pictures of her culinary creations, causing mouths to water all across Instagram. Once upon a time, she ran 10 miles for Compassion International, a ministry for which she serves as an advocate. Kris is the author of, Holey, Wholly, Holy: A Lenten Journey of Refinement, and the follow up, Companion Workbook. You can read more from Kris at kriscamealy.com.

what to do when you're proud

Ben Goshow

What do I want? I'm growing convinced that this is an important question for all of us to be asking - even if asking it means open ourselves up to a host of threatening possibilities: the disappointments we've had from God, the self-suspicions we try to smother, the process of change (and necessary repentance) to which God is leading us.

What do I want? This is no tame question. It's a bit like letting the lion out of its cage.

And yesterday, I needed this question. I needed it after having had a difficult conversation with someone I love. Worse, I know they love me, which is always the problem with difficult conversations. Why can our humanity be so hard? Why are we each so fragile? Why, when I love people, do I so easily misunderstand and feel misunderstood?

(P.S. Joe, this is NOT about you.)

I left the conversation feeling sad, discouraged, afraid. I even cried when recounting the conversation to Ryan. But I now realize that my ego was bruised more than anything else. This man - my friend - hadn't hurt me: he had hurt my pride.

I picked C.S. Lewis up this morning, turning to chapter 8 ("The Great Sin") in Mere Christianity.

"There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it in ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.

The vice I am talking of is Pride."

Pride, says Lewis, is the root of all other vices. It's essentially competitive in nature, he concludes.

"Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, of better-looking than others."

Then Lewis exposes the worst of all pride - that which grows in religious people.  Here's a test he proposes for determining whether we are among the smugly spiritual set:

"Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good - above all, that we are better than someone else - I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil. . . It is a terrible thing that the worst of all the vices can smuggle itself into the very centre of our religious life."

"If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step," writes Lewis, "is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed."

I am a desperately proud woman. Recalling the conversation that had left me reeling for the better part of an evening, I saw this: that I had been hurt by a slight, bruised by someone's disinterest. I came unglued because I had not been recognized as extraordinary enough.

What do I want? Oh, the truth is that I want your admiration. And I must it in greater degree than you give it to others. And when it comes to the book I've written? What do I want? I realize that it is not enough that the words get said. It matters to me that I have said them.

What do I want? Yes, a lion indeed, prowling and ravenous.

What are we to do when our desires are skidding off course? When we want something that can only be had by disaster? When we do not want as God wants? When our desires have been misshapen, as mine have, by selfish ambition and vain conceit (Phil. 2:3)?

First, we see. And in seeing, we confess.

And then, we ask God for better desires and new prayers. We don't put them on and immediately feel they fit. We put them on and ask God to make them fit. For me, it looks like this prayer, which I wrote in my journal:

"Father, move your church to a fuller understanding and appreciation of desire and its role in spiritual formation. Help us to no longer exclude questions of wanting because of fear, and move us into greater authenticity, allowing ourselves to be seen, known and by Christ. Desire feels like something feral: it is easier to deal with cognition and behavior, for these feel more under our control. But our hearts—in all of their wild unbelief and rebellion, their melancholic discontent and bottomless greed? What can be done about that? Father, we need brave conversations beginning in the church. We need greater grace—for the willingness to admit our sin and confess it, even to despise it.

I pray for more good theological work to be done in the area of desire. Thank you for the recent renaissance of interest. Thank you for James K.A. Smith and his work. I pray for more female voices in this conversation, and I thank you for the ways in which men and women are so different in their capacities for listening and for speaking. I celebrate whoever is speaking on this subject, and I want to confess my desperate need to be singular and special, to be the absolute best. Forgive me for the egotism of this project and this book. And teach me (gently, Father) the ways of humility."

This is my new desire and my new prayer: that more able voices will be able to challenge the church toward a conversation I feel is so necessary for the church. That it will begin to matter less to me that I have said the words and matter more that they are being said.

I am proud. You are, too. And by grace, God will illumine this in each of us, leading us out of the cramped space of our small ambitions and into the spaciousness of living for his glory.

 

 

(On the basis of good advice) Help Wanted: Pray-ers

jenmichel@me.com

Lorna Dueck produces and hosts the Canadian television show “Context with Lorna Dueck,” a weekly broadcast which explores current events from a Christian perspective. She also writes for the Canadian national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, about the intersection of faith and public life. During her 20+ years in media, Lorna has accumulated some impressive awards: (From her website) “A winner of Canadian Church Press and Word Guild Awards, Lorna was presented with the Leading Women Award for her outstanding contributions to the fields of media and communications. And in 2009, she was awarded the “Distinguished Christian Leadership Award” from Providence College and Seminary in Manitoba. In 2012 Lorna was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her contribution to Canadian Society.”

Last night, our church hosted an event with professionals working in media, and Lorna hosted the conversation from her office in the CBC Broadcast Centre, and she spent time telling us the story of God’s leading in her own career and the development of Context. There was so much that was encouraging and inspiring, especially because everything began on the floor of her living room, as Lorna says, “when I was sitting with my children in my housecoat, reading the newspaper.”

“Let me impact the media for you,” Lorna prayed that day.

(And what God will do when seeds of desire are sown . . .)

I hope sometime to write about Lorna’s story in more depth, but for my purposes here, I’d rather focus on one answer she gave to a question she fielded from our group.

“What’s your secret to staying humble?” someone asked.

Lorna laughed. “I guess that’s kind of a funny question to answer. ‘Yes, I’m so humble, and here’s my secret,” she joked.

Lorna talked about staying grounded in spiritual disciplines. But she also commended connection within Christian community.

The family of God. They keep you humble.

Lorna specifically mentioned the team of people who have been praying for her now more than twenty years. In fact, anyone she hires comes to work for her on the condition that they also have a team of people who commit to consistently praying for them and their work with Context.

Have people pray regularly for you and your work, Lorna told our group.

And that sounds like sane advice to me.

(Anyone interested?)

 

A Prayer for Smallness

jenmichel@me.com

A Prayer for Smallness

I wake today to things ultimate: Your Word and Your work.

Your Word sustains a splintering universe: In Him all things hold together.

Your Word ratifies the beauty of creation: And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, it is high; I cannot attain it.

I wake today to what is ultimate but shrink before the impossibilities of finding smallness and rousing to worship: Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.

I confess that I am proud and self-sufficient, working more fervently than I pray. Have mercy on me, according to your unfailing love.

I confess that I am anxious and worried, failing to find in You my provision. Have mercy on me, according to your unfailing love.

I confess that I am distracted, neglecting the priorities of Your kingdom come, Your will be done. Have mercy on me, according to your unfailing love.

I confess that I hoard glory and love the praise of others. Have mercy on me, according to your unfailing love.

I confess that even my service and sacrifice are corrupted with self-love. Have mercy on me, according to your unfailing love.

I am the chief of sinners. Have mercy on me, according to your unfailing love.

Grant me repentance, for I am saved by grace.

Form in me the humility and love of Christ, who made Himself nothing.

Make beautiful my life’s breath, a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to You.

If  only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

Today, I worship You as Creator God; You are Infinite and Ultimate.

Today, under the sky and by your grace, I find myself small.

And the truth shall set me free.

 

(Find a copy here to download and print: A Prayer for Smallness)