‘Truth-Telling in Community’ Testimony

Returning to in-person Church, work, and life-in-general fills my heart with joy. To be physically present together after so long apart brings warmth, relief, and gratitude.

And yet, returning to in-person church, work…life in general…it is so gosh darn hard. For many of us, there is so much uncertainty, ambiguity, and frustration. I don’t know about you, but I find myself full of questions and unknowns. Do I feel safe going back to in-person work? Will virtual options remain accessible to me? How do I navigate the varieties of physical contact comfort levels with friends, families, and loved ones? Will we ever reach a time where health and science won’t be politicized? Am I, and those I love, going to be okay?

For me, these past few weeks have been full of these questions and ambiguities, causing me stress and anxiety. And when I learned that the theme at my church this week, Urban Village Church, Chicago, was going to be about ‘truth telling’ and ‘living in community’ from Colossians 3:9-15, I knew that I was being provided an opportunity to reflect on these questions in prayer and in a reflective way that I hadn’t before. I’m excited to share some of the things that God has revealed to me in this time of prayer.

First, disclaimer, what I’m about to say completely takes Colossians 3:9 out of context. But the words at the start of verse nine, “Do not lie to one another” (3:9), stuck out to me during my prayer time this week. It connected with my experiences and convicted me to admit when I’m exhausted and worn out, to both myself and others, in this time of return to in-person life. If I don’t truth-tell with myself, and also with others, I am going to burn out.

Along with truth-telling, I need to communicate my boundaries and needs. For example, what are the safety policies of the place I’m going? Are there policies? Am I comfortable with that? What alterations can I take to feel safe? Hugs, handshakes, and high fives…consent conversations are as vital now as ever before. Care and tend to myself and my needs so that I can care and tend to the needs of others. Communication communication communication. Communication is the secret sauce to truth-telling in community.

And in this communication, I need to recognize that we are all figuring this out together in real-time. We are going to make mistakes. So grace for ourselves and others is key. And what does that look like? Colossians 3:12-13 helped me to think about grace as clothing ourselves with “compassion…kindness, humility, meekness, patience…and forgiv[ing] one another.”

But, when in doubt, I ask myself: “am I loving myself and others as I navigate this situation?” God is love, as verse 14 reminds us. So, as we navigate truth telling in community, if we operate out of love, God will be present with us.
If you take anything away from my reflection today, I hope it’s the greatest lesson I’ve learned in my prayer preparation this week: ‘When in doubt, love yourself and love others.’


Book Review of ‘The Plague’by Albert Camus


What sounds like a good book to read during the resurgence of a global pandemic? How about a book detailing the ravages of the plague in the 1940’s?

But in all seriousness, this was an incredible book with insights and wisdoms terribly relevant today:

“When a war breaks out, people say: ‘It’s too stupid; it can’t last long.’ But though a war may well be ‘too stupid,’ that doesn’t prevent its lasting. Stupidity has a knack of getting its way; as we should see if we were not always so much wrapped up in ourselves. In this respect our townsfolk were like everybody else, wrapped up in themselves; in other words they were humanists: they disbelieved in pestilences. A pestilence isn’t a thing made to man’s measure; therefore we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogy of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away. But it doesn’t always pass away and, from one bad dream to another, it is men who pass away, and the humanists first of all, because they haven’t taken their precautions. Our townsfolk were not more to blame than others; they forgot to be modest, that was all, and thought that everything still was possible for them; which presupposed that pestilences were impossible. They went on doing business, arranged for journeys, and formed views. How should they have given a thought to anything like plague, which rules out any future, cancels journeys, silences the exchange of views. They fancied them selves free, and no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences” (Albert Camus 37).

Book Review of ‘The Interior Castle’ by St. Teresa of Avila


This book has been a balm, guide, challenge, and spiritual enrichment over the past month. I highly recommend it as a guide in time of devotion, prayer, and spiritual reflection!

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“When we turn away from our small selves and toward God, both our understanding and our will become more sublime and more inclined to embrace all that is good. We would do ourselves great disservice if we never endeavored to rise above the mud of our personalized misery….If we are perpetually stuck in our own acre of tribulation, our stream will never flow free from the more of fear and faintheartedness” (47).

“Guard yourselves, my friends, against matters beyond your control” (50).

“Failing to deal with a problem out of fear of yielding to a negative temptation may be in itself yielding to a negative temptation” (52).

“Remember: all you have to do as you begin to cultivate the practice of prayer is to prepare yourself with sincere effort and intent to bring your will into harmony with the will of God” (61).

“Perfection isn’t about consolation, it’s about loving. We are rewarded by doing whatever we do with righteousness and love” (81).

“Remember: if you want to make progress in the path path and ascend to the places you have longed for, the important thing is not to think much but to love much, and so to do whatever best awakens your love” (91).

“I think that His majesty wishes we would do whatever it takes to understand ourselves. We need to quit blaming the soul for problems caused by a weak imagination, human nature, and the spirit of evil” (95).

“On the spiritual path, the Beloved asks only two things of us: that we love him and that we love each other…. if we do these perfectly, we are doing his well and so we will be united with him” (140).

“No matter how spiritual a soul may be, it’s not wise to reject corporeal forms. Meditating on the holiness of humanness is not unholy” (221).

“The more we understand about God‘s communion with creatures, the more we will praise his greatness. We should cultivate reverence for souls in whom our Beloved seems to take such delight. Each of us has a soul, but we forget to value it. We don’t remember that we are creatures made in the image of God. We don’t understand the great secrets hidden inside of us” (259-260).

“Remember: good works are a sign of God‘s blessing” (288).

“Even if our deeds are small, they will be made great through the greatness of our love for God” (295).

‘It Still Squirms’ by Candace Holmes


This breakout collection of poems is a must read! Candace utilizes the medium of poetry to explore the ways in which we attempt to process the world/experiences around us (and often fail).

The poems are presented with material lists connected with the content, creating an experience akin to meandering a museum of art pieces. This is a truly novel presentation method that impacts the overall reading of each poem, if you choose to engage.

Check out this introspective, witty, and relevant collection of poems today!

It Still Squirms, by Candace Holmes