brigitte kathleen

rediscovering my heart


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An Open Letter to Jon Acuff and #StartEXP Participants

Dear STARTers,

Where do I even begin? First of all, Jon Acuff, thank you for the courage you’ve shown over the past few months, taking on this experiment and getting us involved in something great! So many great relationships have been born. So many inside jokes, so many hashtags… It’s  been a whirlwind three months of constant phone charging, and fear punching.  Jon, because of what you started, I went to Nashville for the first time (and saw some naked statues). Jon, because of your powerful words of encouragement, I wrote a Time Magazine article that described what I pictured my life being like in a way I never thought before. Jon, because of your dream, I made 200 new friends. And though we are very different, there’s an incredible amount of magic going on in that #StartSingles group that no one can really explain. Jon, thank you for involving your 2,000+ new friends on this journey you began. It’s been a joy to see it transform, grow, and morph it something no one expected.

Now, for all you #STARTers. I’ve never seen a more tenacious, determined, faithful, dedicated, loyal, supportive group of people in my entire life. And I don’t mean just the ones who post the most, or ninja-like the most, or were a part of FrankenSTART. I mean everyone. To see how each person contributed was truly amazing. I’ll be 100% honest, at the beginning of the second round, I went on a trip out of the country, and I had a hard time getting back into the swing of things when I returned. I lost touch of the main group and spent most of my time in the #StartSingles group, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t pop my head in every now and again to see what kinds of great things were being brewed up in there.  Thank you for being a constant shining light.

But now what? Yesterday, the #StartEXP as we once knew it came to an end. I see there’s a new group called “Dreamers and Builders,” and bravo for taking the initiative to keep the community alive. But… I want you to start thinking about life in terms of chapters, or seasons. The best example I can think of off the top of my head is Jon’s exit from the Dave Ramsey group. We don’t know the reason, and Jon doesn’t owe us one, but it’s obvious that his season there was over. Just like the season for the #StartEXP is now over, and has transformed.

But here’s what I want to challenge you with.

I don’t think Jon’s intent was for us to become dependent on him or this community for a feeling of purpose or contribution. I think community is really important, but I’ve noticed how some of us react when something changes- like yesterday, or like when Jon announced his resignation. People seem to get easily flustered. But you know what, guys? Jon is not the source of your power. Jon was simply someone who gave you the keys to unlock what you already had! If Jon completely disappeared from this, you would still go on being brilliant, and creative, and powerful.

I’m not saying the season for change starts now, but I want you think about what happens next. In Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud, he talks about how in order for things to change and become new, some things need to end. This is very similar to the idea of death and resurrection. Eventually, death will come to everything we know as #StartEXP, and it’ll be in our hands to move forward embracing the resurrection of something new and exciting. For Christians, I believe that is where we’ll see the Holy Spirit’s action start up again. When we allow death to bring in resurrection, we are offering an opportunity for new birth. If you don’t believe in the Holy Spirit, think about it in this way- a gardener must prune back roses in a bush that might be beautiful, but not necessarily buds that help the entire plant reach is fullest, brightest, and most beautiful potential.

Change is usually difficult. And some of us are not ready for that change to happen to the #StartEXP yet. But I can tell you that change is coming, and eventually we’ll have to embrace the pain of death so that we can allow our brilliance, our creativity, and our mind power bring to life something new and exciting.

Jon is just a guy who had an idea. All of us had our own ideas also, or we wouldn’t have replied to the tweet/post/every other social media medium out there that Jon uses. Jon is not the one supporting you. Even your fellow #STARTers aren’t supporting you. You are using your own mind, your own ideas, your own ideation to create and discover. Don’t let go of that. Don’t forget about the magic you had before you met Jon.

I have the utmost respect for all of you, and I’m excited to see what awesome things you continue to do.

Love,

Brigitte K. Leininger

#STARTAlum

P.S. #allthethings

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If Jesus Didn’t Think Peter was an Idiot, You’re Probably in the Clear, too.

I’m writing to you from the midst of this journey, so don’t be surprised if I come back with a rebuttal or “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I was right!” in a couple of weeks. Right now, my life is in a season of change. Everything in my life can be boiled down to seasons: Seasons of good, seasons of bad. Seasons of life, seasons of death. Seasons of growth, seasons of transformation, or seasons that are completely stagnant.
Many of my more recent seasons have been seasons of waiting. I’ve basically been living an Advent life for the last six years- constantly waiting and preparing for what happens next, and I think I’ve finally reached the time when the “what comes next” is actually coming next! It’s not coming without a price, though. With any and every season change comes the inevitable death of the season before it. When we change from Winter to Spring, the cold and the snow die with the come of the warm and the sun. When the Autumn comes, with it comes a death of the life that the Summer brought us in new life through the creation that has bloomed. The death is necessary because it brings to us a birth of something new (which might be confusing because Winter actually kills things, but the winter is born- a time for snow, holidays…. you get it, right?). Change is almost always painful because we are being forced to let go of something that we’ve become so familiar with, but change brings joy because we’re able to look at a birth of possibilities as we move into the future.

I’ll be honest with you- I’m ready for the change that I know is coming, even though I don’t know what it is. In the last 12 months, I’ve finished and turned in a Master’s thesis, graduated from grad school, have looked endlessly for jobs, moved into a three-bedroom house by myself, ended a very special and close friendship, sparked almost a hundred new friendships, traveled overseas, experienced the death of a grandpa, had another grandpa go through open heart surgery, experienced a number of personal trials within my family, traveled all over the country, and spent a week in Germany. This year has been non-stop emotional instability. It’s been exhausting, at at times, seemingly impossible.

My current situation could be the end of this time that feels like it has little-to-no foundation. It could be the beginning of something huge. And on the other hand, it could be all for nothing. I’m in the middle of a very turbulent hiring process for a job I never thought I’d get right out of grad school. I’m so excited for it, but every other day, there is a new development that changes how the process is playing out. I’ve waited and waited…. and waited some more. Last night, I came to the conclusion that God is doing one of two things: Telling me to move on or press on. It’s amazing how the message for those two VERY different messages can be so similar. And what do I do now? How do I know which message God is trying to send me? At what point do I need to trust myself to make a decision that’s worthy of the faithfulness God has shown me? As much as people like to preach “Let go, and let God,” the material and tangible decision is ultimately left in our hands. As much as my Type-A, control freak loves having that control, the faithful servant who wants to chase God’s will is terrified.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to hang out with some senior high students which was so much fun. I invited them to ask me any questions they wanted to ask me about anything. So, after we got the superhero questions out of the way (my favorite being: Batman: Hero, or Superhero?), one of the boys began asking me questions about the bible. He asked me pretty basic “What’s your favorite ________?” questions, which were fun to answer because who really takes the time to think about that stuff, especially in Seminary when you’re having information shoved down your throat faster than you can swallow? But the one that caught me off guard the most was, “Who’s you’re favorite disciple or apostle?” This was a question I’d honestly never thought about. My go-to would have been “Mary Magdalene, obviously,” for the ‘girl factor,’ but I actually sat and thought about it. And I eventually decided on choosing Peter.

Good ol’ Peter. He get’s a bad rap, you know? He’s our overzealous, outspoken, try-to-hard, knucklehead. I, for the record, think he’s incredibly charming. He’s the most like me of anyone in the Bible. When I think of my current season of change and wanting to allow God to guide me through it, and the internal battle between Type-A and Faithful Servant, Peter’s attempt at water-walking is where I land in an attempt to illustrate it.
Matthew 14:22-33 is where I find my humanity buried in the mess of laws, grace, stories, allegories, and poetry of the Bible. Peter, being the hot-shot he is, begs Jesus to call him out onto the water with him, to which Jesus kindly obliges. Peter thinks he’s got it, and I can only imagine this scene- Peter’s walking on the water, thinking, “Oh, for crying out loud… I’m walking on water! …….. OH, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, I’M WALKING ON WATER!!” When he takes his focus off of Jesus who is there to help him with this feat he’s decided to jump into- when he decides to depend on his own strength, it’s over for him. Yet, Jesus doesn’t call him out and tell him to go back because there’s no hope. Jesus doesn’t tell him to get back into the boat where he can play it safe. Jesus simply confronts Peter’s  lack of faith, reaches out his hand, and continues to accompany Peter on his watery journey.

Peter’s “season change” was his transition of faith in what Jesus could do with and for him. But it didn’t come without becoming overwhelmed. It didn’t come without struggle. It didn’t come without what could have been a very literal death. And Jesus had two options: He could have stood there and said, “You fool…. I didn’t tell you to get out of the boat. Go back or die…. *mumble* idiot *mumble*” Or he could have taken option B- He stood there, accepting Peter’s zealous decision to hop on out of the boat and he he started to sink, reach his hand out and not let him be overwhelmed by the waves. Changing seasons come with hard decisions. Hard decisions are sometimes followed with remorse. When we start to regret or be remorseful about the decisions we make during times of change, we lose focus on the hand that Jesus is extending to us. When we focus on anything other than the hope of something bigger, we get swallowed up in the waves so much easier. It takes strength to get out of the boat, but it takes perseverance to keep going.

Earlier, I said that the two messages I could be getting from God right now are , “Move on!” or “Press on!” And when it comes down to it, whatever we do, we’re pressing on through whatever season we’re in at the moment. Ultimately, giving up is never going to be an option, because giving up means you’ve let the waves overcome you. Giving up means you’ve forgotten about the hand that’s reaching out to you saying, “Why don’t you trust me?” You don’t need to give up. You need to see his hand keeping you from the waves and urging you to press on.