And Furthermore

10398471_1093534068580_953561_n

Dear Mr. President-elect,

My name is Chelsey. I’m an American citizen and a Christian.

I have a lot of reasons to be thankful for my in-laws, but one of the foremost is for the way they taught their son – my husband – to be considerate of emotions and identity. The best way I can explain this might be to give you an example. Let’s use two fictional people called Bob and Betty:

Bob: “Hey, Betty. You’re ugly.”
Betty: “When you tell me that I’m ugly, Bob, it makes me angry and sad.”
Bob: “Oh. I’m sorry.”
Betty: “Thank you for the apology. You’re forgiven.”

Now, for this conversation to work properly, a few things have to happen. First, Betty must remember to phrase her response to Bob’s bullying thus: “When you do/say/act like/think/et cetera this thing, it makes me feel/think this way.” It would therefore not be helpful for Betty to retaliate by saying: “You’re a jerk,” and leave it at that. Growth only occurs if Betty is able to separate Bob’s actions from Bob’s identity. And even more progress will be made if Bob acknowledges his wrongdoing by allowing Betty the space to be upset or angry about what he has said against her.

Because this is the thing, Mr. President-elect: Bob and Betty are Christians. Their identities as children of God are not bound to their actions. Their identities are bound only in the forgiveness and saving work of Jesus Christ. And because Jesus has given all of His followers some specific instructions on how they ought to live in this world, among Christians and non-Christians alike, we, after receiving this free gift of salvation, have a responsibility to obey.

I say ‘we’ because you have professed yourself to be my brother in Christ.

And if you’re my brother in Christ, then I have some things to say to you.

Mr. President-elect, when you say things like this, you make me feel completely devalued. And when you issue an absurdly self-serving apology for it by making excuses, by lying, by deflecting onto others so that they are seen as worse, and by playing it off as a “distraction” from the real issues facing our country, you make me feel worthless; like my very real pain is petty and fake. It does not give me confidence in your maturity as a Christian or as the new leader of the free world or even as just a man.

When you mocked a reporter with a disability and then denied that you ever met the man so you were innocent – a man who, by the way, covered you as a reporter for several years and interviewed you personally in your office – you make me feel incredulous at your complete lack of empathy.

When you stereotype people from other countries as rapists and criminals, it makes me feel disgusted. It builds up walls within the body of Christ and within the country.

When you belittle a war hero because he was a POW, you make me feel disgusted.

When you compare your work as a businessman to a service member losing his life in battle, you make me feel disgusted.

When you call women bimbos – when you say that their husbands are right for leaving them for being unattractive – when you call a woman disgusting for feeding her child – when you say that a woman isn’t fit to do a job because her husband was unfaithful – when you insinuate that men are just uncontrollable animals who will assault women every time they’re given a chance – when you say that women are only as capable as they are pleasing to the eye – when you tell a woman on national television that she must make a pretty picture when she drops to her knees – when you say that you don’t care what anyone thinks of you as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass on your arm (that is, a woman made in the image of the God you claim to serve) – when you do and say all of that, you make me feel completely overwhelmed.

I realize that there’s a lot of “feel-y” stuff in these allegations, and I understand that some people might write me off as overemotional. That’s fine. I don’t really care because nothing I have said is untrue. Perhaps you don’t need to apologize to me for how you’ve made me feel, but you should apologize to those you’ve demeaned and attacked.

You’ve said in the past, Mr. President-elect, that you don’t ask for or need forgiveness. I recently read that you’ve reformed that statement by saying that you hope you won’t have to ask for much forgiveness when you stand before God.

Because you’re my brother and relatively new to Christianity (from what others have said), I feel it is my responsibility to help disciple you in this.

There is no such thing as asking for “a little” forgiveness. When we both stand before God at His coming, we will be completely separated from Him because of our sin. And it doesn’t matter if it’s only “a little” sin. One sin is as bad as the most grievous multitude.

But here’s the good news: Just as one sin is as damning as billions of sins, one death acted as every death. One Man came down from His throne to be born of flesh for you and me. He walked around on this dirt and He taught us how to live and pray and repent and grow. He experienced pain and suffering and loss on our behalf and He fulfilled the Law in all of its inflexible perfection.

He wants more for you, brother, than just “a little” repentance. He wants all of you.

I think you know this, somewhere in your heart. You have been quoted as saying that you “try to do nothing that is bad.” That is sanctification, brother. I am here to walk beside you in that sanctification.

Even though I voted for your opponent, I did not agree with everything she said or everything for which she stood. I thought she was the most experienced and qualified person for the job, but unlike her, I don’t believe that anyone is irredeemably deplorable. No one is out of the reach of our Father. Likewise, I think that the majority of your supporters are loving people who disagree with the horrible things you have said, but who long for change. Just as I am trying to recognize you apart from your actions, I am trying to recognize those who voted for you apart from your actions.

We have to start seeing Jesus in others, you and me. That is why I’m trying to do better by those who voted you into office. I want to listen to their frustrations; I want to listen to the ways they and you think your presidency can do better. And I want to hear you and them condemn the abuses, the hate crimes, and the fear-mongering done in your name.

But I tell you now: just because I respect your office and the decision of our republic, it does not mean I will step aside or be silent if you continue to prey upon those who are different or voiceless or hurting or marginalized. I will not allow it as far as it is within my reach, because Jesus never would.

I really don’t care if you make America “great” again, Mr. President-elect. Jesus doesn’t care, either. He didn’t come here to save earthly governments from ruin or to make man-made kingdoms strong. Jesus came for the poor (refugees and Americans living in dying rural areas) and the weak (aborted children and their mothers) and the sick (drug addicts and veterans with PTSD) and the humble (immigrants and me and you).

He came for the least of these.

I am and will remain your sister in Christ,

Chelsey

When The Promises Of God Seem Weak

190454_1002217065712_285_n

When I was in seventh grade, I had a locker on a lower row next to a boy. Between every class, I had to kneel down at this locker to retrieve my books. And nearly every day, this boy would kneel down next to me at his own locker, grin wickedly, and then rest his hand on my thigh.

Or on the back of my neck, with his fingers in my hair.

Or on my crotch.

I would shove him away every day, but still he persisted. He bragged about it to his friends. They started hanging around his locker just to see me turn red in anger and shame, laughing and hooting at me.

I eventually started lugging around all of my heavy textbooks in my backpack, just to avoid him. I did this for several weeks before determining that I would tell a teacher. But before I could, the boy had gotten into trouble elsewhere and was suspended for different reasons.

When I was in tenth grade, I worked as a student trainer for the football team. One of the players acted on a dare from his buddies and tried to unfasten my bra while I stood in front of him on a school bus.

I only wore sports bras for a very long time afterward because of it.

When I was in twelfth grade, a drunk college guy at a party shoved me up against a wall and put his hand down my shorts.

I kneed him in the groin, got away, and counted myself lucky.

I don’t talk about these experiences much for obvious reasons, but I decided to come forward with them for this post. I’m not doing so to gain pity, but to convey to you the absurd commonness of their occurring. A majority of my female friends have stories just like these – and way, way too many of them have stories that are so much worse. I’m writing about them to put a face on them. These are not just “some women” – they are me. They are women (and young girls) you know, and they happen in places you know.

And now, a man who has openly bragged about committing assaults like the ones I endured is president-elect of this nation.

Continue Reading

7 Things I’d Like To Tell 2014 Chelsey

10313462_10203986894342706_9214751715899097526_n

Dear 2014 Chelsey,

Congrats! You’ve done it! Seminary is done, you’ve moved home, found a new job, and everything is exciting and scary and hopeful. You know (from personal experience, books, and other people who have gone on before) that the roller coaster of church planting won’t be easy, but you’re secure in “The Plan” for at least the next five years, as well as the belief that God will accomplish what He means to, no matter what.

I mean…that’s what you say when people ask you about the future, right? It rolls off the tongue much more easily than: Honestly, I’m terrified. What if the whole thing implodes? What if we run out of money? What if, what if, what if…?

I get it. I do. And I’m here to tell you that the next two years will exceed your expectations. I’m here to tell you that there are incredible, faithful people who will surround you with love and support and will become not only the church – they will become your church. It will be a place in which you feel known. You will finally have a place of worship where you actually look forward to being there.

But it will not be easy.

You cognitively know to expect this. But feeling it – these bruises, this loneliness, these disappointments – the actual feeling of it is something you’re not expecting. And how can you? How can anyone? I’m not sure it’s possible, even if you’ve already gone through the emotional ringer in other places. Maybe the hard truth of this is that an “easy” ministry is a deluded one. Sin is tempting and awful and real and Jesus made you a promise, after all: In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

So before I share anything else with you, let that sink down into your anxious and baptized heart. Jesus has overcome. The saving work – the real work – is done. It is a gift and it is finished.

But there is still work to be done. And again – it’s not easy. So, after you’ve remembered your baptism, start with these:

Continue Reading