Happy One Year.


Marriage is hard. Pretty pictures and bite-sized highlights might give you a false impression that it only takes sparks and looks: but the gritty reality is work, tears, and sacrifice. It’s a dance, everyday, to compromise and serve. In the depth of this tough humility, there can be great beauty. Real joy requires a fight from our very best.
— J.S.

“3 Reasons a Journey Is Never Better Alone”

Here’s an article I wrote that’s been published on X3Church, called:

3 Reasons a Journey Is Never Better Alone.”

It’s about our need for tough accountability and joy-driven community so we can become the people we were meant to be, and how we live that journey together.

Here’s an excerpt:

“I can do it myself” is one the of the biggest lies we’ve perpetuated today.

It’s easy to get why: because we love independence. We’re threatened by losing our autonomy. The most triumphant modern narrative is, “I’m my own person and I call my own shots.” And certainly there’s great truth in valuing individuality.

But just as much as complete dependence on others is a dangerous trap: so complete independence is a romanticized fairy-tale.

No one is meant to do life alone.
Life alone isn’t life, but merely survival.
Life together is thriving, to truly be alive.

Read the full post here.


Top 20 Posts on my Tumblr of 2015

20) Letting Go or Holding On: The One Friend I Want to Help, But Can’t Anymore

19) We Say Goodbye, One More Time.

18) What The Bible Talks About When It Talks About Women: A Mega-Post on Those Troubling “Anti-Women” Bible Verses

17) Forgetting How To Be, Reclaiming How To Breathe

16) The Scary Horrible Thing About Depression

15) Why Is God So Homicidal In The Old Testament?

14) I Will Disappoint You

13) Wise Love.

12) You Can Do The Thing: And It Starts With This One Phrase

11) The Jesus That I Need

10) Three Lessons I Learned Instantly in My First Week of Marriage (That I’ll Need for Life)

9) A Friendly Reminder: You Are Loved

8) Surviving Suicide: A Testimony

7) To Remain Teachable

6) 11 Thoughts From A “Conservative Christian” About Marriage and Sexuality

5) I Voted “No.”

4) The Problem of Dealing With Racism Without Being Smug & Snarky: And Two Questions That I Ask Every Racist.

3) I Will, Anyway

2) I Refuse to Refuse Anyone

1) Tragedy is not a contest

Top 20 Quotes on my Tumblr of 2015

20) Being a Christian Means and Doesn’t Mean

19) Sometimes Pain Is Just Pain, Not a Lesson

18) I’ve Tried to Turn Away From God So Many Times

17) One of the Worst Things to Do to Someone

16) What Injustice Requires

15) We Don’t Hurry Someone Wearing a Cast

14) When I Doubt God and Doubt Myself

13) When You See Who Jesus Was

12) I Demanded God To Explain Himself

11) I Can’t Love You Less

10) Jesus Loves You, Right Now

9) Eyes To See What God Is Doing

8) The Only Time a Christian Should Be First

7) Two Kinds of Faith: Warriors and Worriers

6) It Might Have Been a Tough Week

5) Your Voice Is Important, Don’t Go Halfway

4) The Heartbreaking Journey of Loving Others

3) I Have Him, But More Importantly …

2) When You Return to God After a Long Time Away

1) You Don’t Owe Anyone an Explanation, But …

A Theology of Loss, Love, and Leaning In

For my chaplaincy, I had to answer the questions:

Where is God in the midst of suffering, loss, illness, tragedy?
Where is God for the patients?
Where is God for you?

Here’s my meager attempt to answer these very huge questions.

In the worst moments of our lives — the cancer, the car accident, the phone call that changes everything — I’m not always sure where God is. Even the most trusting and devout are spouting, “God’s got this” with quivering lips and a shaking voice, with the slight clench of a fist, with feverish bewilderment: because the words fall flat on the cold linoleum of the hospital.

No matter how much theology we know in our three lb. brains, it all goes out the window when the floor opens up and steals us into the abyss of loss, the irreversible before and after, and the world becomes a chaotic, unsafe place of random disaster.

I can’t say where God is.

I can only say with some certainty where God is not.

I don’t believe God is distant and detached from our pain. I don’t believe He’s gloating over us behind a glass cage. I don’t believe He uses pain to teach us a lesson. I don’t believe that trials are part of “God’s amazing plan for your life.”

I don’t believe that God is some stoic, abstract teacher who waits for us to “get it.” Pain is pain, and it hurts, and no amount of theology is going to glamorize a special reason that it happens.

Not every pain has a connect-the-dots theology. When a hurricane misses a city and everyone “praises God,” it’s only condemning the millions of people who are hit by the same storm. When a child dies of preventable diseases or drunk drivers or a genetic anomaly, there’s no curse or blame upon the child. We can’t force such a tragedy into easily quantifiable boxes. To make such a correlation, if anything, is worse than the pain itself.

The truth is that we live in loss every single second, just by the mere fact that our lives won’t turn out the way we want them to. We live within absolute suffering just by losing time on the clock in the inevitable march towards death. The hospital only puts a neon sign around the coffin that awaits us all.

But my Christian faith tells me that this is completely expected. We live on a fallen world where the thread of sin has woven its tendrils into every part of our being, and that something will always be missing. Rather than deny pain, the Christian faces it head-on and acknowledges the tension. From our grief in loss to our hunger for approval to our need for intimacy: we float in this strange limbo of discontent, where nothing is ever quite the way we want it.

At the same time: My faith holds onto the hope that total fulfillment really exists. Our pain is unbearably awful, but it actually points to our desire for a healing of everything that has ever fallen apart. The inverse irony of pain is that when we’re hurting, it conveys a contrast to a very real wholeness. It’s why pain hurts. Pain tells us that something is terribly wrong and we know it ought to be put right. Or as C.S. Lewis said, “Nothing is yet in its true form.” The very reality of suffering points to our need for an ultimate comfort and justice: for God Himself.

This means there is some perfect song on the other side of the door; a light at the end of the tunnel that fills the tunnel; a beauty that doesn’t explain our pain, but is stronger and louder and bigger than all that has happened to us. We know this because we know bad notes, we know the darkness of a tunnel, we know the scars of marred beauty. Christianity says that the only real beauty is the infinitely satisfying perfection of God, who is the only being in existence that fulfills every longing we’ve ever had for truth and beauty and wholeness.

But I believe that Christianity fulfills us not only by perfection, but also by descending. Christianity says that God became one of us, out of solidarity, to suffer with us, not as a mere deity in an abstract palace, but a flesh-dwelling person in a sand-swept desert, so that, though God is so above us, He knows what it’s like to be one of us. The Christian believes in a God who wept and bled and suffered, an infinite God who infinitely compensated for our hurt, thereby cosmically answering for our afflictions and fulfilling the deep need to be heard and known at our very worst.

This must mean that God is just as mad at suffering as we are. God must be grieving with us, too. And in fact, my Christian faith tells me that because God is mad at our pain and still perfect, we’re also allowed to be as mad as He is at the very same things.

Maybe there’s an intellectually satisfying answer why we’re suffering: but what I want is someone who relates instead of debates. This is why we get flustered when someone connects the dots on our tragedies. It’s better they get with me in the trenches.

This means my job is not to solve for the other person’s pain. It’s not to bring diagrams and flowcharts. It’s to sit inside the uncertainty and anxiety of suffering and to shout against the dark, until we have shouted ourselves out. This is when God can begin to show up at all, for at our rock-bottom, He is already there.

Continue reading “A Theology of Loss, Love, and Leaning In”

Top 15 Posts of 2015

Here are the Top 15 Most Viral Posts of 2015 from this blog, ranging from topics such as homosexuality, depression, persecution, finding your “calling,” facing a world of tragedy, and the non-romantic reality of marriage.

Continue reading “Top 15 Posts of 2015”

Featured on the Front Page of WordPress

Drawing by Russell Jackson,

Art by Russell Jackson of Draw the Public

Hey friends, I’m featured on the very front page of WordPress.com!

I was interviewed among several writers & bloggers, and mine is the final one about learning how to rest.


What Are Your Blogging Goals for 2016?

I’m featured on the front page of WordPress!


WordPress.com News

You may not bother with resolutions for the new year, but setting goals for your blog helps you to (re)focus and shape your online home. We asked a diverse mix of bloggers:

What’s the most important goal you have for your site in 2016?

Lisa JakubLisa Jakub

Lisa Jakub, lisajakub.net

My resolution is very simple and not so easy: I want to create work that tells the truth. Writing, for me, is all about connection, and nothing creates connection like open-hearted honesty. It’s about putting letters and spaces together in a way that reaches out and allows all of us to feel less alone. It’s about finding our commonalities and celebrating our individual authenticity. And if we can laugh about it in the process  — even better.

Emily J. Petersen, The Bookshelf of Emily J.

Emily January Petersen, writer and blogger at The Bookshelf of Emily J.Emily January Petersen

My goal for my blog in 2016 is to re-personalize it! I started out by…

View original post 1,257 more words

“4 Ways To Prevent Porn in Your Home”


Here’s an article I wrote that’s been published on X3Church.

It’s called 4 Ways To Prevent Porn In Your Home.

These are the first steps we can take in our homes to recover from porn addiction. Here’s an excerpt:

The very act of taking a first step to prevent porn can lead to momentum, which can lead to total, lasting freedom. Those first steps matter.

If you can do what you ought for a while, it can become what you want for life. Once you’re in the stream of recovery, it builds on itself until you’ve hit a sweet spot of small victories that link to big ones.

It’s the initial smaller victories that require an uncomfortable re-structuring of your habits and your home.

Read the full post here. My book on quitting porn is here.

— J.S.

On Sabbatical.

Hello dear wonderful friends:

After much reflection and prayer, I’ve decided to take a break from social media indefinitely, for at least a chunk of December.

In the last few weeks, I’ve spiraled into a depression and a big panic attack, for which I almost considered going to the hospital (it lasted nearly an hour and I thought maybe it was a heart attack). And at least partially, it has to do with being so unprepared for an increasing amount of hate-mail and harsh comments. Of course, I still absolutely love the online community, and really, it’s my own shortcoming that I let such things affect me so hard.

I’m a little embarrassed to be talking about all this: I know there are so many larger problems in the world, of which I’m trying be part of the solution, and my own issues are hardly a ripple in the pond.

In fact, that could also be why I’m so wounded, because I feel such a deep responsibility to change everything around me, and I get twisted up over how cruel the world can be. It’s like thrashing around in an ocean of burden, and it’s even become a selfish kind of death-grip on control.

Earlier this week, I spoke with a “viral celebrity” over the phone about how he handles both criticism in the spotlight and the burden to change things around him (by no means am I equating myself to him or that I have any kind of spotlight). He said that he still wrestles with insecurity, he still gets hurt by cruel comments, he’s still so careful about what he says in public, even after all his success. And to be truthful, I found that sort of a relief. It’s normal. It’s okay. It’s part of putting yourself out there, of taking a risk to move against the tide. We always live with a little bit of uncertainty, and we don’t go around it: we go right through it.

He also said, “I don’t want you to do this for another year or two. I want you to do this your whole life. And that means finding a way to keep going.”

It means to rest. To surrender the burden of control. To give over to the peace of God, who’s running the ship through this turbulent sea.

I’ll be checking back here occasionally to check messages, but otherwise: I won’t be posting anything new for a while. I’ll be working on a few new projects (like a new book) and recharging the best I can. In the meantime, my blog and books are still available.

May you pray for me as we pray for the world? May you consider fasting with me for some of the time?

And may we be kind to one another, to promote each other to our best, to say life-giving things that we ourselves want to hear, too.

Love you, dear fellow travelers, and thank you.
See you at the other end.
— J.S.