I'm just a wife and mother who earnestly desires to grow in my faith and it's demonstration. DISCLAIMER! I have absolutely no problem with women in the clergy. As a matter of fact, I have several female pastors who I consider friends. In my home, the pastor is a male so the pronouns I use to refer to a pastor tend to be male. This is not a statement of any kind. Just a reflection of my every day life!

Archive for August, 2010

Sometimes, my children do things I don’t like. Shocked? You shouldn’t be. Yes, I’m a Pastor’s wife, yes they are Pastor’s kids. But they do occasionally screw up. Unfortunately, this time, the thing I didn’t like was something that was convicting for me. While texting with one of my daughters, she caught on that I was a little frustrated. She surmised, rightly so, that the frustration had to do with a communication glitch between hubby and I. She proceeded to tell me that I might get further with him in expressing my feelings and needs if I didn’t sound like I was complaining. Truth be told, that seems to be my default tone of voice when I’m frustrated. I apologized for getting her caught, however accidentally, in my frustration and ended the conversation.

But the Holy Spirit wouldn’t leave it alone. I kept mulling over the concept of “complaining” all last night, all morning and into the afternoon today. And I didn’t like it where the Holy Spirit took me. Or what it felt like to face the truth about myself. It’s rough to have one of your children lead you to the place where you have to confront things about yourself that need to be fixed! Here’s the epiphany I had (simple as it is!) – there is nothing wrong with expressing my needs and feelings as long as I do it with a loving, peacemaking attitude!! Ouch!! Wish I could say I found a magic pill to fix the problem. Truth is, I’ll be seeking some scripture to memorize and meditate on to deal with this.

In spite of the fact that this was a slightly uncomfortable situation, there is a part of me that is thrilled that my daughter was strong enough to speak to me when I needed a loving slap upside the head. She managed to do it without being harsh and I honestly did not feel personally attacked by her statement. A little hurt, yes. But mostly guilty! I thanked her for having the courage to speak up and let her know that the Holy Spirit took her words and dealt with me pretty intensely today. Her response was, as I expected, understated. But it does my heart good to know that she’s learning the importance of attitude and tone of voice. Even if she did learn part of the lesson through my mistake!!

Do you ever find yourself struggling to know what to say to someone who is going through a dark time? I’m living that right now. A woman I have gotten to know through various performing arts groups has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. They caught the cancerous lump early – Praise God! – but there is a chance some lymph nodes are affected and the cells surrounding the cancerous tissue shows signs that lead doctors to believe that she may get cancer again when she beats this (and she’s convinced she’s going to beat it!). I’m currently doing a theater production with her (providing her health holds up!) and her son and daughter. So what do I say to a family that has been hit by this whirlwind?

I know one thing I will not say. I will not quote Romans 8:28 to any of them! Before you brand me a kook, hear me out. When I was 18, I found out my dad was a drug addict. Still. I thought he had taken care of that when I was younger. His “drugs of choice” were painkillers. The easiest way for him to get his fix was cough syrup with codeine. Long story short, there are limits as to how much of that stuff you can by in a 48 hour time period and pharmacies track those purchases. Dad went back to one pharmacy too soon and got busted. At 18, engaged, getting ready to start my second year of college, it felt like someone had pulled the rug out from under my feet. I went to college – a Christian Liberal Arts institution by the way – and my life continued to get shaken up. Some “friends” just stopped talking to me after telling me that my dad could have just stopped if his faith had been more sincere. Some people who I thought were mere acquaintances became deep, abiding friends as they hurt with me and for me. Others, with the very best of intentions, drove me crazy quoting Romans 8:28: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.

Do I believe that verse is true? Absolutely!! Do I think it’s appropriate to share it with those who are hurting? Depends. Truthfully, I would avoid it for quite some time.

First of all, I think we misapply this verse when we say that scripture is talking about one specific person’s specific pain (I may COMPLETELY misguided in my opinion but hear me out!). The verse refers to “them that love God” not “the one who loves God.” Is it possible that this verse is talking about the overall scheme of things? That everything that happens to the body will serve to draw people to faith and bring God glory?

Secondly, let’s say you share that verse with a friend whose mother is gravely ill. Let’s say the friend’s mother succumbs to her illness and dies. Are you trying to tell your friend that he/she should see this as a good thing? Or is it possible that information was gleaned during her treatment that will allow for better treatment and maybe even a cure someday? Maybe someone watched this family struggle and has grown in their faith because of how this family handled their suffering. It doesn’t make the loss of her mother “good” but it does allow the family to find some comfort in the good that came out of such a dark time.

I believe that too many Christians – very well-meaning, I’m sure – throw this verse out as a “spiritual” way of saying “Everything’s going to be okay.” There is no happily-ever-after in this life. If there was, why would we ever want anything more! Bad things will happen to those who follow Jesus. Godly women will miscarry. Loving, praying mothers will watch their sick children die. Men of God will watch their wives abandon the home in search of “fulfillment”.

I believe that Romans 8:28 is meant to be a reminder of a statement made in the very first sentence of a book that has become well-known in Christian circles: It is not about you. We may never know why we suffer certain things in this life time and God does not owe us an answer for any of it. The truth of Romans 8:28 does not change even if we feel like what’s happening to us is not good at all! God will do good things in and through the church and he will do it even when we suffer. We cannot see how our little piece of history fits in the scheme of eternity and it’s arrogance to even attempt to do so.

I’m reminded of a poem my mother loves, entitled “The Weaver.” I apologize to the author for not including his/her name as I was unable to find it:

My life is but a weaving
Between my Lord and me;
I cannot chose the colors
He worketh steadily.

Oftimes He weaves with sorrow,
And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
And I the underside.

Not till the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reasons why

The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver’s skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern he has planned.

He knows, He loves, He cares,
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives His very best to those
Who leave the choice with Him.

So what do you say when you don’t know what to say? How about being truthful? Tell the person that you don’t know what to say but that you are there for whatever they need – a shoulder to cry on, a hot meal, a time of prayer . . . whatever. A hurting friend doesn’t need pat answers or well-worn cliches. They simply need a friend.

I’ve had a fascinating experience in the last few weeks. Nothing profound, really. Just something that proves some things I’ve read to be very true. In an earlier post, I mentioned the CHAIRS acrostic. I’ve been living the reality of just how much men LOVE that relational thing -the shoulder-to-shoulder bonding time.

Just before we went on our vacation earlier this summer, I asked hubby if he would be willing to show me some exercises I could do using his weights. Mind you, I was looking for some simple tips that I could then put into practice on my own – since my track record for exercising alone is soo stellar (hope you caught that sarcasm)! He took my simple request and put together a three-day-a-week workout routine for the two of us to do together. Mind you, the weight bench he has is set up to be used if you don’t have a spotter. It has all sorts of safety mechanisms in place that allow you to work out alone if you so choose. Hubby wouldn’t have it! When we got back from vacation, we got to work.

To me the workout nights are a means to an end. Believe me, I don’t enjoy the sweating and achy muscles that go along with it! If you want to know for sure if your husband loves you for who you are or for what you look like, work out with him. If he can still find you attractive after a work out, it’s the real thing. My husband, on the other hand, is postively energized by the fact that we work out together. He’s never let us miss a night – and believe me, there have been a couple of times that I would have blown off the exercise if it wasn’t for him telling me it was time to work out! – and he confided to me the other day that he can’t think of anyone he’d rather work out with than me.

Mind you, I’m not athletic. I was a performing arts geek in high school – band, choir, drama – and he was a year-round athlete. I bring no competitive or athletic skill to our workout time. The weights I lift are laughably small compared to what he’s able to do. So why does he enjoy our time together so much? The answer, provided by him, is simple. He’s doing it with me. We’re sharing time together doing something that is much more his “thing” than mine and it thrills him. The workouts never take terribly long. And, as I said, I’m sticking in there because there I’ve seen some glimpses of an improved physique. But I do love the fact that something as simple as working out with the man makes my husband feel great!

He drove this point home in another way just this past weekend. He’s playing on a softball team that is participating in two concurrent softball leagues. They had a double header this weekend with the co-ed league they are in. Hubby must have asked me five or six times if I was going to his games. I finally asked him why it was such a big deal if I was there or not. He’d be in the dugout, I’d be on the bleachers . . . I didn’t get it. His answer was a little surprising – “I’ll know you’re there and it will mean a lot to me. Besides (insert boyish grin) – I kind of like showing off for my girl.” (Did I mention he’s a really GOOD softball player? Might have something to do with the fact that he played baseball in college!) Can you guess where I was Sunday afternoon and evening? That’s right – sitting in the bleachers, cheering on my hubby! Were there things I could have done with that time that I might have enjoyed more? Probably. Would it have been a more efficient use of my time to stay home and do laundry or scrubbing my kitchen counters? Some might say so. But it was worth it to me to sit on those bleachers watching him play a game he really enjoys just because I knew it would let him know that he matters to me more than any other human being.

Loving others – truly meeting their needs – is never easy and rarely convenient. Will you look for opportunities to meet the needs of those around you in a way that means something to them rather than meeting their needs in a way that would mean something to you?

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