Truth: Disappointment.

As a child I received my fair share of spankings.  My parents never doled them out in anger and rarely did they act in the moment.  And they never truly hurt – the mere thought of the punishment was what caused me to cry – getting caught was never a happy moment.  While spanking was a good punishment for a time, the act ended when I started laughing as my mom was spanking me and she discovered I had placed magazines in my pants to ease the blows.  My punishments shifted to having my Gameboy taken away, being sent to my room, or denied having friends over to play.

These acts were certainly good for my attitude and were well-deserved, but honestly they were fairly rare for me as I was a pretty decent kid.  When I did mess up, I would end up having a talk with either one of my parents and then the hammer would fall in judgement.

In my final years of high school, my parents began to use the most detrimental punishment of all: “We’re really disappointed in the way you acted.”  There was no consequence, no physical punishment, no spanking – just that sentence.  And it truthfully hurt me more than any other punishment I had experienced.  If I messed up or did something wrong, they’d tell me that they were disappointed by my actions and then leave me alone.  And my heart would break.

I believe my parents – either when they were spanking me, grounding me, or speaking truths into my life – were not disappointed in me, but disappointed by my actions.  They knew that I knew better, yet I chose to not be better.  I knew not to swear or yell or lash out in anger, but I did.  I knew that there were certain people I shouldn’t hang out with, but I did.  I knew not to smoke, drink or chew (or go with girls that do), but I did.   My short-term vision couldn’t see the long-term danger of these people, actions, and things.


When it comes to my spiritual life, I think God is oftentimes disappointed in my actions.  God knows I can do better.  God knows I can be better.  God knows that I know better.  But sometimes I choose to not do what I should.  Nothing I do surprises God, but when I make those choices they bring disappointment with them.  Like my parents, God isn’t disappointed with me, but is disappointed with my choices.

Life is challenging, difficult, and filled with all kinds of ways for us to slip up and miss the mark.  God wants us to be good, decent, loving, kind, generous, and forgiving but knows we’ll screw up on occasion.  More often than not, we will do the things we know we shouldn’t.  But we should always remember that God loves us and wants only the best for us.

May God give us the ability to learn from our mistakes, and never wallow in disappointment, but get back up and try to be better.  May we generously and lovingly forgive when others disappoint us.  May we know that God loves us and is never disappointed in us, but in our poor choices and actions.

much love. sheth.

Truth: Hidden.

The church I’m attending is doing a summer series titled “Hidden Figures” – it’s about the small, not-well-known people in the Bible who have had major impacts on the people around them.  I haven’t thought about most of these people – Micah of Moresheth, Ananias, the daughters of Zelophehad (and others) – but they’ve had lasting impact on the formation of my faith and that of my Church.

As I’ve been thinking about these hidden figures, I’ve been reflecting on those hidden figures in my own life – the people who have had a lasting impact on who I am (and who I’m becoming).  People who, at the time, I didn’t know were molding and shaping me into the person I would become.

The teacher’s aides who tutored me when the teacher was too busy for me.
The lunch ladies who gave me free meals when I forgot my money.
The elderly couple who took my brother and I to eat at the fanciest restaurant we’d ever been to (they had live lobsters – a big deal for a 9 year old).
The twenty-something who took time to mentor me and take me to Elitch’s.
The old ladies who bought me lunch after church and check in on me.
These were all little things that people chose to do for me that stuck with me, showed me I was valued and loved, and taught me that I should do the same.


There’s this verse in Hebrews, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Heb. 13:2, NIV).  I think it could be reworded: “Do not forget that strangers, in showing you hospitality, are angels and you didn’t even know it.”  The truth is, most of these hidden figures in my life were angels for me.  They gave me hope that I was smart enough and I could learn my multiplication tables.  They showed me that I won’t ever go hungry if they’re around.  They gave me something good and nice for no reason at all, other than because they loved me.  They knew the importance of guidance, mentorship, and discipleship.  They let me know that I was valued and visible to them.

I should acknowledge the people who do so many small things for me that I don’t fully recognize as being impactful in the moment.  The janitors, housekeepers, and groundskeepers who maintain the facilities around me and keep me safe and healthy.  The administrative assistants and secretaries and finance office people who do all the paperwork to keep things running.  The nurses and assistants who do 99% of the actual work in doctor’s offices and hospitals.  The people who send me cards in the mail just because they were thinking about me.

And I should also keep in mind that I may be someone’s hidden figure.  I may not always know it, I may not always intentionally be doing something, but I will nevertheless have a lasting impact on most of the people I come across.  I need to be mindful of my actions, my thoughts, and my words and be as loving as I can possibly be to all the people I meet.

May we all see the hidden figures who have made us who we are today.  May we be thankful for those who have had positive impacts on us and forgiving of those who have had negative impacts on us.  May we have eyes to be more aware of those around us who are hidden in our day-to-day lives and acknowledge their impact on us today.

much love. sheth.

Truth: Gossip.

I usually start my favorite conversations with: “Did you hear what happened?!”  Immediately following this question I give the scoop – who it was, what they did, when it happened, where it happened, and why they did it.  My high school journalism teacher would be proud that I am able to report so succinctly after all these years, though he would probably be questioning the accuracy of my source material.

The truth is, I love to gossip.  I love to hear all the details, then speculate on the subject matter, and pass judgement.  But my gossiping isn’t always this nefarious thing where I’m attempting to damage someone’s reputation – sometimes it’s just sharing information about what I heard from someone who heard something from someone else.  I’m a sharer of information!

I’d like to blame my gossiping on my grandma, who would go to McDonald’s with her best friend and the two would gossip for hours.  Multiple times a week they would finagle their way into getting free coffee while discussing all the news that wasn’t fit to print.  But as much as I would like to, I can’t blame my genetics on my propensity for gossiping.

The thing is, I’m not a fan of gossip and the damage it creates.  I’ve seen pastors battle with congregants over rumors of retirement.  I’ve seen men sort through the gossip to save their marriage.  I’ve seen friendships destroyed, jobs abandoned, relationships ended, and innocent lives taken because of gossip.  I’ve been the victim of it and know how hurtful and judged a person can feel being the subject of gossip.  And yet, I still do it.


I know the Bible has copious verses on idle talk, mischievous tongues, slanderous lips, busybodies, and gossips.  I know the damage that my own words have done when I have spread gossip, when I have taken tidbits of information and exaggerated them to expansive proportions, when I have learned something about someone and speculated on it with someone else.

There’s this line from an old country song that sums up what I’m feeling when I gossip: “I always feel the best when my conscience hurts the most.”  I really, truly know that gossip is hurtful and damaging, and still, I do it because it makes me feel good.  If I can tear down someone who I think is better than me, I’ll feel better about myself.  If I can condemn someone else’s actions, I can feel better about my own.  If I can damage someone else’s reputation I’ll look better than them.

When I gossip, it’s usually because I’m not feeling good about myself and I want to bring others down to my level.  When I can lower others I think I’m not such a terrible person.  But I’m not doing anyone any good – I’m just damaging them and myself.

Living in a small community where my neighbors are my friends and my friends are in class with me, gossip is HUGE (yes, it’s a Christian community, and yes, we manage to gossip a lot).  We talk behind people’s backs, we tear one another down, we bend the truth and spread it quickly.  We gossip about people not living up to certain standards when we ourselves aren’t living up to them, either.  We’re petty and manipulate the truth.  Gossip takes control and runs us over.

There’s a fine line between sharing information and sharing the juicy details.  It’s a short walk between telling an anecdote and telling gossip.  I wish the lines were clearer, the boundaries bigger, the differences larger.  I seek definition and turn to the dictionary to define ‘gossip’, but it’s pretty unclear: “rumor or report of an intimate nature.”  What are the qualifications for information becoming gossip?  What qualifies information to be just information?  At what point does a conversation turn into a gossip session?

I think part of what defines a conversation as gossip is the intent – is this a conversation about a person or is it about revealing something hurtful about that person?  Is it the full and honest truth, or is it just picked-out details to paint someone in a negative light?

Another part that defines a conversation as gossip is interest – is it because I’m truly interested in the person and situation, or because I’m wanting to get into their affairs and speculate?  Am I putting my nose where it doesn’t belong?

Lastly, what defines a conversation as gossip is outcome – am I sharing this information as it pertains to something or someone else, or am I sharing it because I want to cause damage?  Is it an attempt to bring someone else down a peg or two because I’m not at their same level?

This gossip thing is hard, and I think there’s something to be said for it’s frequent condemnation in the Bible.  God desires for us to love and care for one another; God desires for us to lift one another up in all conversations.  God wishes that we would be better, do better, and gossip a whole lot less – because our gossip not only hurts other people, it hurts our Creator.

Let’s think before we speak.  Let’s question the information we’re about to share.  Let’s find other things to talk about.  May our words be tempered by wisdom, may our mouths build bridges, and may our conversations be beneficial.

much love. sheth.

Truth: Evil.

I recently finished up my paperwork to move into the next step for ordination.  One of the things I had to do was write out my faith statement followed by a deeper explanation of one of the subjects within that statement.  A brief, one-page explanation.  I chose to write about evil, because that’s easy to succinctly define, explain, and say what God thinks about.  My one page ended up being nearly two, and I could have easily stretched it out into one hundred.  Evil is a huge subject, and it’s something we all think about at one time or another.  It’s something we discuss; it’s something that happens around us; it’s something that affects us.

We want answers to why kids kill one another.  We want answers to why adults allow kids to kill one another.  We want answers to why adults kill one another.  We want answers to why people suffer, starve, thirst, or remain in pain for years.  We want answers to why there is injustice, inequality, and all the -isms (racism, sexism, classism, ageism, etc.).  We want answers to cyclones and earthquakes and forest fires.  If we were created to be good and decent beings, why are we so terrible to one another?

The other night I was talking with my dad about all of this and I mentioned that I’ve been trying to pin down exactly when everything went south.  My belief system tells me that it happened in the garden of Eden, but I want more.  I want someone or something very concrete to blame for why the world is the way it is, and I want that someone to be more recent than the dawn of time.

I want to blame the generation before mine for being so wild and free.  But…
They can blame the generation before for being too restrictive and controlling.
And they can blame the generation before for being too turbulent and unstable.
They can blame the generation before for being too exploratory and chaotic.
And they can blame the generation before them for being too…
They can blame the generation before…
And they can blame…

We all want to blame someone or something else for the evil in this world because it’s so un-explainable.  While I believe that there are supernatural ‘things’ moving in this world  and contributing to evil, ‘the devil made me do it’ is not entirely the answer.  There has to be more.

Certainly some people choose to act in evil: murder, rape, fighting, slander, gossip, etc.  Sometimes people have to choose evil to obtain good: stealing bread to feed a family, fighting in a war to free captives, supporting the enemy of my enemy.  But some people inadvertently choose evil: buying from unethical corporations, voting for leaders who are unknowingly evil, having health insurance with a company that denies life-saving procedures.  Sometimes there’s just evil in this world – hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc. – these aren’t evil in-and-of themselves, but they cause evil through senseless death and destruction.

Why does a good God permit evil?  Why does God allow bad things to happen?  Where is God when evil is occurring?  Does God want evil in this world since it seems like nothing is changing?

As much as I hate to do it, I have to admit that we live in a fallen world that started with Adam.  Paul wrote, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth…” and that we as people “…groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:22-23, NRSV).  While we live with the consequences of that far-away sin, we live with hope for reconciliation and renewal in the future.

Sometimes evil is supernatural.  There is an enemy who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).  We can’t blame all evil on this enemy, but we should acknowledge its existence and movement in the world.

Sometimes evil happens so that good can happen: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28).  I am not a fan of this, and we should never ever say this in the midst of evil.  [Seriously.  Don’t console people with this.]  This is a hindsight perspective when we can see where things were terrible and how that moved us forward.

Sometimes evil is un-explainable.  We can point fingers at God, at society, and at each other, but there’s nothing and no one specifically to blame.  It’s just there.

I think there are some things we can do when we’re faced with evil:

  • First, we should never stop having the discussion with God. We should question why evil exists, why such a good and loving God would allow evil, and why nothing is being done to change it.  We should always have these conversations with our Creator.
  • Second, we should never stop trying to combat evil.  We can divest and boycott, protest and march and refuse to back down.  We can write letters, campaign against evil, speak for victims, and give space for victims to speak themselves.  We can wisely support programs, organizations, and companies working against evil in the world.
  • Third, we should do all the good that we possibly can in complete opposition to evil. We can offer our time and resources to developing and supporting good.  We can encourage and pray for those who are in the midst of evil.  We can be a present and active source of good in the world.

It’s not easy work – either understanding evil nor working against it – but it’s work that needs to be done.  May God give us courage and resilience to witness, stand against, and oppose the evil in this world.  May God give us hope and strength to encourage and heal those wounded by evil.  May God give us voices to always ask our Creator and one another why evil occurs.  And may we someday find the answer.

much love. sheth.

Truth: Great Things

The graduating seniors were recognized at lunch today – it was a moment to laugh, smile, cry, and dream.  We watched a slideshow of their time here on campus, there were ‘Senior Wills’ (objects and programs passed on to underclassmen), and we celebrated the upcoming commencement.

A phrase about the seniors was said: “they’re going to do great things”.  This caught the ear of my classmate, who hopes the same isn’t said of our class.  Because ‘great things’ is a pretty lofty goal – a high, nearly unreachable point that many of us will never achieve.  Most of us will never be the Stated Clerk for the denomination.  Most of us will never be a best-selling author.  Most of us will never be pastors of a mega church.  Most of us will never lead the National Day of Prayer Breakfast, preach in a stadium, or lead a conference with thousands of attendees.

Most of us will never do these ‘great’ things.  And perhaps we shouldn’t aim for them, either.  There’s too much pressure in this world to do great things: we must have the greatest Instagram photo of the best meal at the best restaurant.  We must be the best and greatest friend, wife, boyfriend, partner, or student.  We must change lives and make a real, tangible difference.  We must always be present, with a cheery disposition and a kind word at the ready.

I don’t think we need to aim for doing great things because then we’re aiming for greatness – we’re striving after recognition, not selflessness.  We don’t need to aim for great things because there’s plenty of ordinary, little things that need to be done.  The great things get accolades, money, and fame.  But the little things, the real things, the things we can do, are the things we should do.


Today at lunch another student and I received the Alice Phiri Award, which in part “acknowledges an enrolled student who gives above and beyond to help…helping others without the thought of compensation or accolades.”  I am humbled and astonished to be the recipient and it baffles me that I was actually even nominated.  I can’t thank Karen, Leslie, Lauraine, Emily, and Christy enough for thinking of me and taking the time to throw my name into the ring.

Truthfully it’s a somewhat difficult award to accept because it’s an acknowledgement of my actions, for which I didn’t want or expect to be acknowledged.  It’s wonderful to have people say that they actually see what I’m doing and are touched by what I do, but it’s never been my intention to achieve recognition.  I’m never aiming for doing great things.  I’m never aiming for recognition.  I’m aiming to be Christ in this world (and I fail at this often) by helping others, by listening and being present, by commiserating and crying and hugging and laughing.  I’m aiming to be a servant and a giver, to walk humbly and gently in this world.

When I was a kid we would frequently have potlucks at church and my pastor would always be the last one to go through the line.  Rodger would chat and hang out near the food table while smiling, laughing, and talking as we filed along, and he made sure everyone else was fed before he would load up his plate.  Without complaint he would pile on the undesirables of the potluck table and eat with a genuine smile on his face and joy in his heart.  It was in Rodger’s little action thirty-something years ago that I began to understand that doing great things weren’t necessary or needed in this world.

We have enough people aiming for great things.  Why don’t we start aiming for the attainable?  We need more people digging into the day-to-day dirtiness of life, helping other people when they’re at their lowest, at their middle-est, at their highest.  We need people who are willing to walk through the muck and mire of life with other people.  We need people who are okay with never doing ‘great things’ or achieving recognition.  We need people like Christ.

Through God’s grace and strength, may you do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.¹

much love. sheth.


1. Turns out that John Wesley did not say this, which is why I didn’t quote him.  You can read more here or here.

Truth: Knowing Nothing

This morning – at 4:23 am – I finished a paper for one of my classes.  Granted, there are three weeks left in the semester and it’s not due until May 17th, but I wanted to get it out of the way (I’m moving into the season of just writing papers as quickly and as fiercely as possible).  What amazed me about this paper was that I managed to write eleven pages and create a church handout on a twelve-word prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

My paper isn’t all that impressive when I look at the stack of books that I used as research – books about the prayer from an Easter Orthodox priest, a Quaker, two Evangelicals, a Catholic priest, two mainline protestant theologians, a Benedictine monk, and one anonymous English text from the 14th century.  All of these writers and their works focused directly to this twelve-word prayer and I didn’t use nearly all of the books that I could have.

What fascinates me about all of this is that the amount of information I can use is all centered on God.  I have two seminary libraries with hundreds of thousands of books on their shelves, as well as the University of Texas libraries down the street with just as many, if not more books available to me.  And these books are all about or related to God.

Yet, as much as has been written about God, there is still so much more that is unknown.  It’s unfathomable that we admit we know even a portion of who God is…what God is…how God is.  While God is surprisingly simple, God is also completely complex to the point of non-understanding and un-understanding.


We often use the little phrase ‘both/and’ at seminary for a variety of things related to God – God is both simple and complex; God is both known and unknown; God is both present and distant; God is both in the room and around the room.

While I think I have a pretty firm grasp on this Jesus Prayer thing, but really, I have only managed to merely glimpse the tip of the iceberg from a thousand miles away.  The same can be said about my knowledge of God – and that’s where today’s truth resides – as much as I think I have a firm grasp on God and a steady knowledge of the Divine, I really don’t have much of a clue about any of it.  I both know and don’t know.  I both understand and am clueless.

I think a lot of people choose to step away from seminary (and from God) in these moments because they can’t fully know and this leads to frustration and a turning away from it all.  At the end of the day most of us have to just throw up our hands and admit that a large part of what we’re learning about is handled with a healthy dose of faith.  As much as I can talk about atonement theory, the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, or Pneumatology, I really don’t have a clue about most of it and largely have to leave it to faith.

I thank God that my faith (as miniscule as it is) is greater than my doubts, and I pray that this is the case for others as well.  I pray that God can guide us to knowing and unknowing and not-knowing, and that we can rest assured in the places where we stand.  I pray that God will continue to give us places to learn, opportunities to grow, and chances to slough off falsehoods.  And I pray that some day…some day we will fully know and understand.

much love. sheth.

Truth: Alcohol.

I was 9 or 10 years old when I first tasted an alcoholic beverage: a sip of my parents’ red wine at the Black Angus Steakhouse.  It’s bitterness was not pleasing to my uncultured taste buds.  The next time I drank an alcoholic beverage was in the summer before my junior year of high school (I can no longer drink Coors).  After those wild nights I drank occasionally during my senior year when my older friends were home from college.  I went to college and spent a good portion of my first semester with Jack Daniels and Coke.

My inability to control alcohol – and myself – ruined my undergrad work and left me on academic probation (it’s really hard to dig out of a 1.7 GPA).  Alcohol’s inhibition-relaxing properties led me into questionable circumstances and poor choices.  Alcohol wreaked havoc on my body and I’ve spent countless hours on bathroom floors and wasted days afterwards recovering.


Yes, I still drink, though I’m more responsible with it.  A glass of red wine with some steak?  Yes, please.  A cocktail with friends on Friday night?  I’m in.  A margarita and a chimichanga?  Sign me up.  Beer and BBQ?  Save me a seat.  Don’t get me wrong, I still make errors in judgment and am far from having a clean record of sobriety.  While I’m not an alcoholic, I know all too well the pain and misery that it can cause.  Truthfully, alcohol scares me.

It scares me because it’s held many family members in its grasp and caused untold amounts of pain and grief, and I know it can easily do the same for me.  It scares me because as a child I heard my dad spend too many hours helping people sober up in our kitchen late at night.

It scares me because of my addictive personality – if I like something, I’m going to keep doing it, no matter how good or bad it is for me – and alcohol can take me quickly.  It scares me because I have friends who can’t conquer alcohol, and all I can do is sit back and wait for them to hit rock bottom before I can do anything.

I’m not opposed to alcohol.  I’m opposed to letting it rule one’s life.  I’m opposed to using it as a crutch.  I’m opposed to using it as a game.  I’m opposed to needing it.

As easy as it is to open up a bottle, it’s just as easy to lose control and have it run you over.  I get it, I know it, I’ve seen it.  Our lives are meant for so much more than what a beverage can give us.  We have so much more courage than what we may think we gain with a glass or two.  We are much better people than who we perceive we are when we’re drunk.  We’re so much more than what alcohol makes us think we are.

May God give us mercy when we over-do and may we learn from our mistakes.  May God give us clarity to see when we have a problem and the courage to conquer it.  May God give us strength as we love those in the clutches of alcoholism.

much love. sheth.


If you think you need help, talk to a trusted friend, co-worker, pastor, or family member.  If that’s too much, check out Alcoholics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, or Women For Sobriety to see how they can help you find a meeting nearby.

If someone you know or someone you love is struggling with alcohol, there are resources out there for you, too.  Check out Al Anon or for more guidance.

Truth: Miles and Miles

I went for a walk yesterday with Chelsea May, and we managed to cover a little over two miles as we meandered through the University of Texas’ campus. Our internal odometers, though, suggested that we had traveled much, much further.

This is something I have experienced many times in my wandering about in nature. When I’m out hiking or hunting, I assume that I’ve just conquered at least a dozen or so miles and feel accomplished until I map out my route and see that my perceived number was way off. It’s a humbling moment because I think I’ve gone so far but I have yet to put up any real numbers. It can be depressing and frustrating (especially when my legs are aching), but it can also be an opportunity to realize how much further I could have gone, and can go in the future.

I was recently ruminating with a classmate about how I had wasted the last twenty years, wandering through life and not making any real progress or movement forward. Honestly it can be a little discouraging to be surrounded by people much younger than I who have done so much more with their lives and have a set trajectory for their futures. They have had a plan since high school and have been working diligently toward their goals.

I can vividly remember discussing my dreams of being a youth pastor with a woman at my church as I clearly articulated my desire to help people, guide teens, and share God’s love with the world. While I had these plans, I also had setbacks: minor indiscretions leading toward lifetime commitments; taking advice from poor counsel; listening to the don’t and shouldn’t; taking the safe and easy path because it was safe and easy. As I reflect on my life and the 39 years I’ve experienced, I think I’ve put in a lot of time. I’ve accomplished a lot but don’t have a lot to show for it. I’ve think I’ve put in a lot of miles, but haven’t traveled very far.

The good thing is that my perception is off. Just like my venture through the UT campus, my journey through life has not been as long and toilsome as I think it is. No doubt I’ve put in some miles in my life: I’ve been places, seen things, done a lot, and survived it all. But the best part of it is that I’m not done.

I’m not done.

I still have a journey ahead of me. I still have things to accomplish. I still have a vocation calling me and I can still heed that call. Those rabbit trails in my life were not setbacks or failures – they were experiences that gave me a greater understanding of the world, of life, and of God’s undying, unconditional love.

May we travel far, may we experience much, and may we diligently follow the course set before us as best we can. And when we venture off course, may we lean on the knowledge of God’s sovereignty to bring us back.

much love. sheth.

Truth: Social Media

I am not a good user of Facebook.  I don’t often update my photos, and when I do I usually delete the old photo.  I don’t change my status – lately it’s just been links to my blog.  I rarely ‘like’ someone’s posts and I even more rarely comment on them.  I don’t send friend requests, I don’t click on ads, I don’t follow social media stars, and I rarely join groups.  I am the poster-child for poor social media presence.

My lack of use is partially because I don’t really care to do any of it, and part of it is because I don’t see the point in it – especially with commenting.  I am amazed at the number of people who choose to comment on Facebook posts and it intrigues me when a comment is made on a post that has zero connection to the commenter.  When I’m scrolling through Facebook I may see a picture and think, Ha! That is true! or Well, that’s completely false.  Rarely do I stop, pull up my keyboard, and go to town on the various points as to why it’s a lie or why it made me laugh.

A few months back a friend of mine posted about how he was feeling diminished as a person and people still treated him horribly even though he has just as many rights as the next individual.  Because it’s just a thing I do, I wanted to uplift and encourage him, so I offered words of hope and reminded him that he is valued and cherished.

As with most Facebook postings, someone commented on my comment and said that my words weren’t necessary because our mutual friend already knew these things.  This person went on to say that it was a larger issue and work needed to be done to fix the problems that perpetuate people’s thinking about race, culture, and ethnicity.  They tried to engage me several times to discuss their points and why I was incorrect.

I just wanted to be nice to my friend.

While I wanted to offer some encouragement, both me and my comment were both mowed down by calls against systemic racism and perpetual injustices.  While yes, we do need to stand up against these things, I know that I wasn’t wrong in my initial comment.  My friend needed to be reminded of who he is and that he is valued.


There are a few things I’m taking away from this situation:

  1. I need to recognize and acknowledge that some people are going to want to argue, no matter what. They’re always going to be holding up the banners against injustice, against tyranny, against systemic issues, no matter the context or discussion.  We need those people in this world and I need to help those people use their skills in real-life communications.
  2. I have a valuable part in this work. While I am not the up-front talker, I can be the behind-the-scenes person who supports others and I’m just as valuable as they are.  I don’t have to march, protest, or argue all the time – especially if it’s not what I’m good at.  But I should do what I can to help people who are good at those things.
  3. Words of encouragement are always – always – helpful and necessary.

It’s easy to get on social media to call out wrongs and argue away at the issues.  It’s much more difficult to hold our tongues and scroll on by.  I think it would benefit us all if we did the latter, and I think it would be even better if we chose to have those discussions in person.  May God give us patience with one another, may we know when to speak up, and above all else, may we always love and encourage one another.

much love. sheth.

Truth: Not Enough.

This past week I spent a few days at the Mount Carmel Retreat Center in Dallas, partially for my Spirituality class and partially for personal reasons.  The truth is I’ve been struggling with feeling like I’m not ‘enough’ – not good enough, smart enough, lovable or loving enough, wise enough, holy enough, worthy enough, generous enough.  My feelings of ‘not-good-enough’ have kept me at arm’s length from God, from my family and friends, from my schoolwork and relationships because if I’m not ‘enough’ then what’s the point in continuing on with them?

I felt I had to be faultless and flawless before I could go to God, and I had to be the most Christian of Christians in order to maintain the relationship.  I had to be the absolute and ideal son for my parents.  I had to be the unequivocal and unmatchable boyfriend.  I had to be the matchless and impeccable friend.

I’ve burned more than my fair share of bridges because of this feeling of not being enough.  I’ve ended relationships, dropped out of courses, cut off friendships, and tip-toed around God because I didn’t think I was enough.  While I’ve wanted to be married, have close friendships, and a close walk with God, I’ve turned tail and ran because I didn’t think I was able to reach these self-perceived expectations of being ‘enough’.

As I spent these past few days in the silence of the monastery I came to the realization that I am, honestly, not good enough. And I’ll never be good enough.  I’m never going to be the perfect son, boyfriend, or friend.  I’m never going to be the best student, pastor, or Christian.  I’m never going to be the most giving, generous, and kind person.

My not enough is, in fact, enough.

In my journal, I scribbled down this letter to myself:

Seriously, Sheth, God loves you.  You!  Not the impostor, not the poseur, not the image you try to maintain.  God loves you in your broken, faulty, sinful, unkempt, messiness.  God sees through the falsehood (and hopes you will, too) and knows that that Sheth is the true Sheth.  You don’t have to be perfect to receive God’s love.  You don’t have to have everything in order and your life looking pretty.  You don’t have to be enough for God to love you completely.  God loves you, Sheth.

I know it’s difficult to fathom…it’s hard to comprehend…and frankly a little terrifying.  But it’s the truth.  You’ve had moments when you felt it and knew this truth, but you ran away from it because it’s so beyond your knowledge and understanding.  But somehow you can just know it, believe it, and revel in it’s goodness.

Sure, it’s terrifying on one hand to know that God loves you – God who created all, who can destroy all, who is everywhere, every time, always – God loves you.  That’s scary.

But on the other hand it’s comforting to know that God loves you – you…a bit on this earth, a mere blip on the timeline…as small and insignificant as you are, Sheth, God loves you…you!  You!  God knows you and loves you!

Moments will come (probably tomorrow) when you don’t feel loved, when you don’t feel lovable, when you don’t feel like you’re enough for any of it.  Nonetheless, God loves you still.  No matter what you do or how you act or where you go, God will not stop loving you.

Sheth…I hope you can understand this…I mean, truly in your heart of hearts understand this: God loves you.

I’m not enough – and I never will be enough – and that’s okay.  I don’t need to be enough for God to love me.  I don’t need to be enough for my family to love me.  I don’t need to be enough for my girlfriend, my friends, or my professors to love me.  All I need to be is me – the real me, the true me, the not-enough Sheth who will relish the love and affection that is poured on me.

May we know that God loves who we are, where we are, and desires to be with us.  And may we realize each day that our not-enough is enough.

much love. sheth.