Friday, April 26, 2013

Funtastic Friend Friday: Kaitlin Shinn

Today's guest blogger is one of the East teammies and a girl who undoubtedly makes me laugh each and every time that I am with her. Kaitlin is a sophomore at UNC and got placed on our Young Life team a little over a year ago. It has been an incredible blessing to see her grow over the last year as she has fallen more in love with Jesus and has become one of the best Young Life leaders that I have ever met. She has an uncanny ability to make our entire team laugh with her antics and her choice words. I am thankful for our car rides to lunch at East over the past year, for the serious conversations and for the epic dance parties. Kaitlin will be a guide at Young Life's Wilderness in Colorado this summer and I am beyond excited for her time there and all of the ways that the Lord is going to grow her.

Kaitlin has a beautiful way of crafting words that strike the heart. I am beyond thankful for her words in this post because I know how real they are and how much they mean to her. Her adoration of Jesus is intoxicating and I am so excited to share her post. 


Farther Along

“Terrorism Strikes Boston Again, as Bombs Kill 3.”
“More Bodies Identified in Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion.”
“Bangladesh factory collapse death toll rises to 161.”

I read the headlines from last week and they are shouting, telling of yet another way in which the world is coming undone. To me, it seems sometimes like the world is like a child caught in the tides of the ocean, getting smashed over and over in the head with wave after wave of tragedy, ears filling with water and eyes burning with salt. It is tumbling and tumbling, head over heels until the even difference between up and down is lost in the blackness. 

As I was reading them, what struck me this week was not pain. Instead, as I heard about tragedy after tragedy, death after death, I looked within and I felt nothing. 

Somehow I’ve come to a place where in my head I believe that if I truly listen to the stories of pain in the world, if I allow my heart to crack and break it will eventually become so unhinged that I’ll lose my ability to function. So instead I build walls. I construct them higher and higher, creating a fortress and within them my heart grows hard, slowly becoming stone. Over and over I choose to hide, until I don’t know if I even have the capacity to feel broken for the world anymore. 

Slowly, though, I hear that small whisper in my ear, that still small voice. That this isn’t what the world was meant to be, that this isn’t what he intended for us, and that numbness is not of the Lord.

            “Mary, He’s calling for you,” Martha’s whisper breaks through the fog in her head. And Mary is on her feet, she is running, pushing through the mourners her family had hired in the wake of her brother Lazarus’s death, pushing open the door to their house in Bethany. All that matters is that she got to Jesus.
She falls at Jesus’s feet in the dust, panting, the grit pressing into the soft skin of her knees. Her eyes are bloodshot, her hair a tangled mess. “Teacher, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Her voice breaks.
The mourners have followed her, bringing the chaos back. A swell of noise rises as they wail, lifting up their voices to the heavens as if to shake their fists at the sky, hopeless and angry. Jesus looks at her. He is broken for what has become of this world, for how distant it has become from what He intended. A tear runs down his dirty, weather-beaten face, weaving a path through the dust. His tears are not loud, attention drawing, like the mourners; they are quiet.
In this moment in John 11, Jesus not only weeps for the loss of a dear friend, but also weeps over the very existence of death itself. The passage says that when Jesus saw Mary, he was troubled, using the Greek word tarasso to emphasize the depth of his feeling. This same word is used for the terror the disciples feel when they see Jesus walking on water, the pain Jesus feels in the Garden of Gethsemane immediately before he is crucified, and Zacharias’s fear when he sees an angel in the temple.

I see how deeply compassionate Jesus was, and immediately I spiral into self-loathing. I wallow in it, bathe in it, feeling shame and guilt and inadequacy. I wonder if I ever loved anyone or anything, really; I hate myself and I hate myself until I have thought myself in circles for so long that all I can do is cry. But again I hear that still small whisper, breaking through the haze, My sweet child, self-loathing is not of Lord.

So I turn back to the beautiful God-man that is Jesus, and oh, how he is captivating.

That a divine being weeps for the world, one who is infinite like the stars, who is big like a galaxy, who is light and joy and love itself. That silent tears streak his face, tracing through the Middle Eastern dust.

That He never gets overwhelmed by the number of voices clamoring for His attention, each with desperate pain in need of a hand to pull them out from the waves. Patient, He has time for each of us, giving us a new name, no longer defined by our brokenness or our past. 

That He sings a redemption song over the people of the earth, singing that one day He will wipe away the tears from our eyes, that there will be no more pain and no more suffering and that He will swallow up death forever. (Isa. 25:8)

At the end of this journey, I think all I have left is Jesus, and the hope of life through Him. 

For the promises He has made to us, they are staggering. That we are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, that our unveiled faces will reflect the Lord. That the life of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. Most powerful of all, that He will remove this heart of stone from us and will give us a heart of flesh. (2 Cor. 3:18, Pro. 3:18, Eze. 36:26)

And maybe that knowledge is enough, bigger then my self-loathing, my numbness, the world’s pain. Maybe it’s enough, the beautiful relationship He offers me, the hope of the future He promises, the transformation into His likeness. As I reach the end of myself, I think that maybe I don’t have to have all the answers. That it’s enough just to know that I have Jesus walking beside me, and inside me, and to hear His promise that this numbness isn’t permanent. That I don’t have to hate myself. That I am not finished.   

At this moment, I think of that well-known and loved Josh Garrels song. He sings, “Farther along, we’ll know all about it/ farther along we’ll understand why. / So cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine,/ we’ll understand this, all by and by.”

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