Thy Will Be Done

If you know me, I don’t think you would deny that I can be a bit of a “willful” person. I do not like being told what to do. And goodness do I have some fiery opinions. I will try to keep the “Christianese” to a minimum, but there are certain phrases that while foreign or uncomfortable that truly capture what I am about to write about. So as a disclaimer I won’t shy away from that language

To live an authentic “Christian-life” that is alive and contagious, you have to come to terms with surrendering your will to God. What makes a phrase like “surrendering your will to God” so lofty and confusing is because…. well honestly, how often is a statement like that unpacked. Goodness, I know I cannot unpack it in a single blog post. But you are here already so let me try the best I can.

God has a Will and desire for the world. Like all of creation. The pebbles, the oceans, the mountains, the little chipmunks, and humans (individually and collectively). Also, something weird… sometimes people capitalize the word “Will”. Like God’s Will just got done starring in the Fresh Prince of Bel-air. I tend to be one of those people. I like to look the English language in the face and blow a raspberry in its immediate direction.

Emily Dickinson understood the power of turning words like “Will” into pro-nouns. To me, God’s Will is alive. It has a personality, it has a direction, it knows love, it knows hurt and brokenness and it breathes out life into creation. What does God’s Will want? It wants all of the world to surrender its pride and its selfish desires. It wants every human to run, to sprint, to roll, to drive, to swim with tears streaming into the open arms of God. God’s Will wants humanity to be its truest and fullest self. And the matter of the fact is that God’s Will is not misguided like our own, like my own. It has a vision that can see a picture written throughout history and time that my mind could never comprehend.

So for argument’s sake lets play out this scenario: At some point in life you decided that you want your will to match God’s Will. You even went to the extent to ask God verbally or quietly to use you how ever God desires. This is not a far-fetched scenario. Most professing Christians or even former Christians have been led to prayer a prayer just like this. I have no idea how many pastors and leaders have been completely honest about what a surrendering of will to God’s Will means. So stick with me, I am about to piss some people off.

Submitting to God’s Will is the single most painful and dangerous and fear-ridden decision you will ever make.

But God, is it good.

When you surrender like that, the pain will be searing, Dear Jesus it will hurt. People will still try to abuse you, they will try to manipulate you, they will try to crush you. You will constantly be put in situations that scare you so deeply that you will feel so small, so vulnerable that you will not be sure if you can press on. Every single one of your fears will be brought to the surface. They will be laid out, they will be examined, they will be poked and they will rage. And you most likely fail and concede more times than you can count. And when you think you have no more to give, and think you just cannot do this anymore, God’s Will ask for just a little more.

That pain, though, it will change your heart. It will change how you see people it will change how you see the world. It will strengthen you to climb heights that you thought were insurmountable your entire life. It will fill you with a fierce fire and a power that no human, no circumstance, no loss and no struggle can quiet.

And every dangerous situation God’s Will brings you into will make you more alive than you ever thought you could be. Life will taste sweeter than you ever believed it would. Relationships will be truer and greater than the world is prepared for.

Every time you have recoiled in fear will be brought forth. You won’t just survive your fears. By God’s Will and strength you will thrive midst fears you never thought you could endure. Thrive. Your fears will rise up and love will smash them down.

God’s Will has dominion. And God will not stop until your fears, your iniquities, your hurts, and your pain all submit to God’s Will. God will ask more of you than you think you can handle. But God’s Will knows you more intimately than you will ever know yourself. God will ask you to bend, but will never break you.

Submitting or surrendering to God’s Will is not a one time thing. Maybe you are willful like me and your plans are found in imperfect thoughts. And you will tell God “no”, but I hate to tell you, it probably won’t go down with God saying “aight, you do you”. I cannot tell you how many declarations I have made about what I won’t do and how every single time God has blown a raspberry in my immediate direction.

So you know I have lived out what I am talking about and am still living it out here are two examples of how God has dealt with my stubbornness.

At some point in college I said verbally, well more than a few times that I will move WHEREVER God leads me, but I WILL NOT live in Texas. Lol. Before y’all get upset. I’m not just some Texas hater. I didn’t even really have bad feelings towards TX, it just was not something I would consider….

So… in 2014 God put me in a car and sent me to my first vocational ministry position. In Texas. Goodness were those years difficult. They also changed me at my core. I do not live in Texas any more but I love the people there and that state like I never thought I could. My time in Texas taught me more about who I am in God’s eyes than maybe any other season in my life.

My second example. I have had this friend named Allison for nearly 16 years now. It was one of those frustrating situations you see where everyone wanted to tell us what we should be. I promise you. Her and I both on many occasions growing up said. I will never date him/her. Side note she is just as willful as me if not more. I believe her when she says she won’t do something.

Would you believe what God’s Will did. October 21st, 2017. I married Allison on a magnificent Fall day in Southern New Jersey. And on that day a mass of people saw that God’s Will will do what it wills. I am married now to the most amazing woman, I could not imagine a life without her by my side.

I just need you to know that it is all worth it. The pain, the disappointment, the anger, the abuse, the failures. In this world these things will persist. But God’s Will is a fierce and unstoppable force that will conquer every last ounce of influence that does not make you your fullest self.

God will ask for more when you think you have no more to give. And if you do not have more to give.

God will supply it.

I wrote a poem earlier, it isn’t great, but also I have not written a poem in years it feels like, so I figured I would share it. Just remember, it all doesn’t just “get better”. Christ makes your reality unimaginably good. So good, the thought of it is making me shudder in my seat. That goodness, that all-encompassing passionate love that your heart craves so desperately. That is what waits in God’s Will.

Much Love

BGTF

Here is that poem:

I never knew about

The devilish Mischief

I would endure

when you asked and

I begged yes

Ten years ago

I never knew

My fears would

Be examined

Be extracted

My whole self

Put under a microscope,

My chest peeled back

My heart pounding

Open for surgery

With my eyes

Wide-open

Just when I believe

I can take no more

You see it fit

To dig a little

Deeper; You prod

Harder

Some how your hand gets swifter

Your incisions more precise

Through tears

The scar tissue

The bloody mess

I cannot take more

And still you press

More

I offered myself

Over to You

So long ago

When I said, yes

I didnt realize

I could no longer say no

That you wouldnt

Stop chasing

When I run

That when my word

Was bond

Your promises

Could come alive

Still my fear rages on

And your answer:

“Just a little more”

Your will be done

You will press harder still

My will is surrendered

My will be yours

I will endure

 

Can we DTR?

Oh hey, DTR means “define the relationship” in case you did not know.

I never actually know who reads these things I write. When I freelance or ghost-write, I don’t think on too much about my ongoing relationship with those readers. It is primarily a one and done experience. But, with all of you beautiful people, I want to know you. I mean come on, when I actually am on here I tend to pour myself out a bit too much. So it shouldn’t be asking too much that we become best friends, right?

Well, okay maybe we do not have to be best friends, but I want my writing to be a lot more than a stop-off once every couple of months. The truth, though, is that this responsibility rests on me. Consistency and communication are the keys to any relationship flourishing, but here we stand at the brink of a fallout because I have been holding my words within. Will you forgive me? Will you give me a another chance? Because I think God might want to do something pretty cool through our relationship, even if it is just you reading what I am sending out into the internet. I want you to know that I think you are super special and are full to the brim with amazing gifts and talents that can change the world. And if the world is too big, know that you have every bit of potential in you to change someone’s world. Just know that my distance hasn’t been because anything you have done; that is all on me. You may not believe me, but this whole being human gets the best of me some days. Well, most days.

I’ll take your continued silent reading as confirmation that you forgave me and we can dive right in.

Let’s talk about accountability today. Yikes, a word that no one seems to want to utter into the vast emptiness of shame and guilt. Take a moment to think about how prevalent the idea of “you do you, I do me” is throughout our culture. Forget our culture, think about it in your own life. Tell me right now that you never wished some one (your parents probably) would back off and let you do things your way. I highly doubt you can tell me that you have never felt that way, even if you didn’t ask the other person to back off.

I am just going to come out and say that every person, every Christian I know struggles to have a healthy relationship with the concept of accountability. And therein struggles to have healthy intimate relationships with humans and with God. I have seen it in ministry, in family, in friendships. A hesitancy to fully engage with accountability because at the core they do not want to be seen as judgemental or even deeper they do not want to be held accountable themselves.

Let’s take a step back and define accountability so that we are all on the same page. What I mean by accountability is the active commitment to hold other people to a standard of living. The tricky part is that true accountability is rooted in mutual commitment between both parties. It is rooted in community. It is messy and sticky. It requires mutual vulnerability and intimacy. True accountability is supposed to exist in every single genuine relationship between individuals, but true accountability should also exist in between communities of people. We are dancing on the edge of something called the “Beloved Community” and how I perceive true social justice, but let’s pull in our focus this time around and just talk about accountability within individual relationships and with God.

I would bet money that you are incredibly ready to be there to support a friend or loved one. But I wonder how ready you are to embrace and receive the same type of presence you are offering? The clarification that needs to be stated is that accountability is NOT just asking questions and listening. Remember, I said it is active. That means accountability exists on the basis that we are able to actively speak into others’ lives and receive the voices of others.

Can accountability be misused and abused? Of course. It has throughout history. But the other end of the spectrum of avoiding accountability all together is nothing more than selfish self-preservation.

A few things that I want to point out:

Our choice to keep others accountable, but not to embrace returned accountability is self-seeking and hollow. You are better to not offer accountability at all. Mutual submission to vulnerability and honesty is how intimacy and growth flourishes.

The point of accountability is not to squeeze people into an image you have created for them. The point is not to make someone feel bad about their actions or lack there of. The point is to love someone so deeply that you refuse to let them settle for anything less than the God-given potential residing in them.

To the same point, you receiving accountability is not about you being corrected or shamed. Shut those hang ups down. Allow yourself to be held accountable so that you can thrive and become the world-changer God has made you to be. It is about you growing into the beautiful and mature creation you are meant to be.

Accountability isn’t meant to be offered or asked for flippantly. It is time-consuming and energy-consuming. Most people only ever offer and receive it from their spouse. Which is something, but our lives are meant to be roots spreading into the world. Like dominos, affect one person next to you and watch the world shift all around.

Be all in. In your relationships. In your love for yourself. You are meant for so much more than you might have convinced yourself. I can see in you the Image of God. That is no small thing. That is everything. Allow yourself to be helped. You might think you are protecting yourself, but you are hurting yourself and those you love.

Remember, true accountability exists midst intimate and intentional community. It is necessary, there is no convincing me otherwise. If you are having trouble finding intimate and intentional community to grow within, write me. Lets talk.

And in true form of accountability. I ask that you all engage with me and keep me accountable. My job is to write and sustain our relationship. Do not hesitate to let me know that I am slacking. I love you too much to continue down that road.

Much Love

BGTF

 

 

10 Things I am Tired of Hearing

The list below is comprised of one-liners able-bodied people say to me daily. Frankly, I am tired of them, not because they are insensitive, but because you people have zero creativity.

  1. Asking me, “How fast does that thing go?”
  2. Upon seeing my scooter, “I need one of those!”
  3. Seeing me with a soda or water in my hand, “Hey, don’t drink and drive!”
  4. Asking, “Do you have a license for that thing?!”
  5. Walking up to me and patting my shoulder, “You are just being lazy, huh?”
  6. Looking at my scooter like it’s a piece of meat, “How much did that run you? Bet insurance paid for it right?”
  7. Walking up next to me, “Hey wanna race?”
  8. Pointing to their broken/injured extremity “Look, I am crippled too!”
  9. Running their hand over the front of my scooter “Wow she sure is a beauty! That is the Cadillac of scooters!”
  10. Leaning on my scooter like a wall or empty chair while it is in use. No words necessary

Since most of you are thinking, “Oh wow! I am sorry, how could they ever say these things?!” Chances are you have thought or said them yourself. So here are my snarky retorts so we don’t have to discuss it any further.

  1. “Fast enough to really hurt when I run over your toes”
  2. “Save your money, weirdo strangers will point at you and tell you they need one.
  3. “I am sorry I am too drunk to understand gibberish”
  4. “Yes and I got it from your mother”
  5. “I am sorry I missed what you said, I was napping on this extremely expensive medical device created for individuals with disabilities”
  6. “If you have to ask you cannot afford it. Trust me. And no insurance didn’t cover it, but I do accept charitable donations”
  7. “Sure! I love competition, better yet I like whooping wimps. Also I play dirty.”
  8. “Oh wow! Have you received your Oscar yet for impersonating someone with a disability? I hear it’s the quickest way to win actor/actress of the year”
  9. “It’s the Ferrari, Don’t get it twisted.”
  10. Next time this happens I will be abruptly moving the scooter out-of-the-way, and hoping you put a lot of weight into where you were once standing.

And just for good measure, do not forget to rub our shoulders and tell us that we have inspired you in some way even though we have never met. We love that.

Sarcasm is my love language by the way. Until next time lovely readers.

Much Love

BGTF

 

 

Newest Publication!

I know I should write on here way more often. My lovely followers normally get to see and read a side of me that no one else does. But I have been writing, just more so for other organizations, but I have not forgotten my first love which is this website!

I wanted to share the link to my latest article, written for ReThink Church:

Automatic Doors, Automatic Hearts

http://www.rethinkchurch.org/articles/basic-needs/automatic-doors-automatic-hearts

 

Much Love

BGTF

Running

I’ve been running for a really long time. Almost four years it seems. I know, running is a silly word choice for someone who uses a motorized scooter. But we can run too! I am not even sure if this post will make it onto the internet. Here I am, though, typing anyway and seeing what comes of it.

No tea, no writing music, I’m in bed and not in a creative space. I am just tired of excuses. My thoughts were cluttered and super difficult to pin down so I decided to de-clutter my physical room as a symbolic exercise to declutter my mind. I know, super New-Age. But it seems to have worked.

So much has happened in the last 12 months. I started my first serious dating relationship. I quit seminary. I started working as a researcher for disability rights. I went back to counseling. I made a commitment to be all in on writing and speaking. I created and launched a Non-profit Disability Ministry. I began speaking at conferences and events about disability and inclusion. I started making videos. I found a home church. I met my biggest fear face to face and broke my ankle. I went to rehab. I moved back to New Jersey. I fought hard for four months to recover and get back to Nashville. I clawed my way, with help, out of the darkest pit of my life. I fell deeply in love with my partner, and someday wife. I moved back to Nashville. I launched my first video to get a decent amount of views (12k). And now here I am in mid-November hesitating where to motivate my legs to take me next.

While I have seen so much progression in my own life over the last year I am also painfully aware of the intense division that has consumed what seems like everyone in our country. But I don’t believe for a second that 2016 created all this discord and division. I believe whole heartedly it gave a voice to what was already lurking quietly in the background of our hearts. It was already there, now it has been clearly uncovered.

Maybe this is why I have been so afraid to post and write words for others to read. I DO NOT want to be another voice adding to the calamity and corresponding grace-less, unloving, polarized bickering that is controlling our hearts. Call it what you want. The truth is that our country is not one built on Jesus. It is built on the self-consumed, self-loving, self-seeking, self-indulging, self-proclaiming, self-preserving, self-deluded, selfish wants of our selves. Not one of us is free from that truth.

Harsh. Ouch.

And if you read what I just wrote and say to yourself “that’s so right! If only those (liberals/conservatives) saw how selfish they were!”

Then you literally missed the point of what I just wrote. I have never ever written a blog that pointed any direction but towards myself. I hope you can read these words in your own voice and take a beat from your overwhelmed emotions to consider this.

There will be no unity when the self is lifted above others. If we claim that it is not “the self” we advocate for, but those who look and sound and share views like us. I promise there is no difference to be had.

And the reason I have not written in four years with the conviction and depth and power that has always been in me is because I myself am self-seeking. self-preserving and selfish.

I am the man who took his talents and buried them away. Because surely, if I cannot lose any of what I have then I can keep it unharmed, unbroken and what I consider whole. I can show my Master that I have protected his gift from seeing the light of day. There is no weathering to be found. It has not been stolen or abused. It is the same as the day that He LENT it to me.

I cannot speak this next part to those who have not vocalized that they are a member of the Body of Christ. But I will write it so everyone can read it.

Our job. As the Bride of Christ. HAS NEVER been to use what has been given us for our own protection, preservation or provision. Those things. Those are God’s. Your job, our job is to be all in with every gift we have to offer.

We no longer bring our offerings to the altar to be burned before God. We take our offerings, our gifts, our talents and we hand them out freely to the Other. We share. No matter how much we are afraid it will hurt. We take scars and bruises along the way. And we give out what we have BEEN GIVEN freely.

Then we stand next to those we have shared our hearts with, we put our arms around them and we point to the Heavens and explain. “This is the God who gives and takes away. This is the Lord who so freely gives in abundance that we need not want, instead we are spurred on to give.”

We no longer burn offerings. No. We are the gifts God has poured out in abundance.

Turn your eyes, Oh Child of God, turn your eyes outward. Look at those who are not you. Those who are calling out in fear and in pain. Look to your hands. Look at your feet. Why are you not already running to those who are not you. Why are you not bringing them God’s gifts. The Spirit’s Gifts of love, patience, kindness, self-control, forgiveness and so on?

Will you stand in the gap? Will you show those in the world that there is a love greater than the self can ever muster? Run to them Dear Ones.

Much Love

BGTF

On Disability and Inclusion in the Church

What follows is an edited transcript from a short session I ran at the recent “TASH conference” in Nashville:

As I said at the beginning of this panel, my name is Matt Curcio. The capital letter “C” church has been a part of my life since I was about eleven years old. I have worked in churches, volunteered with ministries, gone to seminary and surrounded myself with Christian fellowship.

While I have been active in many different churches over the years, I have more often than not felt like I was on the outside looking in. But then again y’all are aware that there are still many obstacles and barriers to inclusion, which is why we are gathered here today.

One of the questions I pondered when writing this all down is, what exactly would it look like to be meaningfully included in a faith community?

I want to start with what it does not look like. It doesn’t look like people avoiding eye contact. It doesn’t look like being forgotten about or minimized to just the state of my physical body.

Not being meaningfully included is like the scene in Mark 2. Many of you here know the story of the paralyzed man who was lowered through a roof to meet Jesus.

Something I didn’t realize until recently is that it wasn’t steps blocking the man from meeting Jesus and being a part of something world changing. In fact, scripture clearly states it was a crowd blocking him. A crowd of people, unaware and uninterested blocking this man from a potential that was unimaginable.

For me to feel accepted and welcomed and desired is when a few of those people in that crowd become a community. They stop standing in the way and work with me to get into that house to see what all the commotion is about.

To be meaningfully included means ultimately for others to see my potential when I only see my brokenness. It is to have my name asked and to have my story heard. To be meaningfully included is to be treated like a human.

While for me there are still many instances where stairs are a major obstacle to me being meaningfully included, to me the complacent and disinterested attitudes are the biggest barriers.

It is a rare occasion wherein programs, lessons and buildings are planned with disabilities in mind. Stages are even more rarely designed with the thought that someone with a disability would ever lead or speak on it.

In fact even when I was ministering to students, it was an afterthought to me! I’d plan the lesson, write the illustration and map out the activity just to realize I didn’t even take into consideration my own limitations. How backwards is that? I don’t think that is what Paul meant by being everything to everyone.

But, its not all bad, because if there wasn’t hope I probably wouldn’t be up here speaking. I have been meaningfully included. One instance was so powerful it is still shaking up my life even though it occurred over two years ago

I was working at a church in San Antonio doing full time college ministry. I knew my wheelhouse. College kids were easy. They liked video games, coffee and long talks about Jesus. No problem, I excel at all those things. But there was a Youth Director at this church that became a fast friend. We’d grill and watch every sport under the sun. It wasn’t long, maybe a few weeks after my arrival that he began inviting me to come spend time with him and the middle schoolers.

I was sick to my stomach when he first invited me. I smiled and in my most gracious voice declined. On the inside I was screaming “Dude are you out of your mind? Me, with a bunch of wild middle schoolers, running around being hyper and active and fun? You DO realize I use a scooter right? I don’t play sports, I can’t do this, I can’t do that. This is a disaster waiting to happen.”

The Youth Director then proceeded to invite me every single week for the next month. He promised food and fellowship. Finally after a month of invitations I caved in to his persistence. Nerves a wreck, I showed up and ate hot dogs and talked about Maundy Thursday with ten eighth grade boys.

I thought I would just have to make it through those two hours and then never have to hear his offer again once I explained how I’m not a fit to work with youth.

If y’all could have seen his smug grin when he watched me fall in love with working with those kids. Two years later I’m obviously no longer at that church, but I still get weekly texts from the many high school and middle schoolers. I had no idea that potential was in me.

I had no idea that there was a gifting and strength to my story that could connect to kids that I had grown up unable to connect with.

Side note: Kids, no matter the age, love sitting in rollie chairs and holding onto the back of scooters like a train. Extra side note: get a parent’s permission and have the kids sign a waiver before you do something like that.

But a faith community saw it in me when I didn’t see it. And in this scenario once I got inside the house and saw what the crowd was staring at, it changed my world.

What I want to leave you with today is just a few pieces of advice:

  1. Invitation is at the heart of faith communities, do not be afraid to invite those with disabilities to serve, and to share their strengths. Which of course means you need to invite them into your life so that you may get to see their potential yourself.
  2. This is off topic, but I feel like it needs to be shared. Disability is draining. It consumes energy, health and finances, goodness is it expensive to be disabled. I will be the first to say that I do not want to be seen as a charity case, but those I trust, who know me authentically and intimately and not just as someone to be served. I am grateful to share my struggles and needs with them. It is not easy to support and invest in someone with a disability. But the best things in life are never easy. Get to know people’s needs, but first get to know them.
  3. Finally, become a community. Lay down the simplicity of being a crowd. Make your plans with an array of abilities in mind. If you work with youth, you already know not EVERY kid likes dodgeball. If you are preaching, hopefully it’s not news to you that it doesn’t take having a disability or learning difference to lose focus on what is being said. Every obstacle has an accommodation. And

Maybe accommodations shouldn’t be an overwhelming word, maybe it shouldn’t be such a dirty word.

But an opportunity to let your creativity run wild, to try something new (I know new can be scary), but what if by accommodating for a few you give way to something more potent, and more world changing than ever before?
Thank you.

Much Love

BGTF