Tolerance? Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson GQ Interview

20 Dec

I don’t read GQ.  OK, I looked at it once when I was teenager.  I was in the doctor’s office and Johnny Depp was on the cover   I may have ripped out some pictures of Johnny Depp and shoved them on my purse, but since then, my life has been GQ free.

I also don’t watch “Duck Dynasty.”  Partly because I got rid of cable, but even before that I didn’t watch the show.  Honestly, I don’t get the fascination with a bunch of backwoods hunters who are millionaires.  My friends tell me they’re Christians, therefore it’s a great show.  The local Bible bookstores AND Walmart carry “Duck Dynasty” merchandise, so I suppose the show has bridged the great gap between the sacred and the secular.

That is, until that GQ interview.  You know the one I’m talking about–the one where Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the family, spoke out against homosexuality and made some ignorant comments on the Civil Rights era.  Now Robertson has been suspended from A&E, the network which broadcasts “Duck Dynasty,” because the A&E execs are outraged by Robertson’s view.  

Really?!  The family prays at the end of every episode and speak at Christian conferences.  Is A&E and the rest of the world really so shocked that evangelical Christians don’t support homosexuality?!  I don’t want the show and I’m not surprised; I don’t understand why anyone else is.

What does shock me is the way Robertson expressed himself.

According to this CNN article, Robertson used some pretty crude language to describe homosexual relationships.  I am appalled at his language, but perhaps that’s why people like him, perhaps they like his frankness…until Robertson says something they don’t agree with.  Then he’s a “racist redneck homophobe.”

I have learned that everyone won’t agree with me…and I’m [mostly] OK with that. But how dare Robertson express a belief that goes against popular culture’s view of what’s “right.”  Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion as long as he or she goes along with the majority view.  Oh, we say we value diversity and individual beliefs, but we don’t.

Instead of wondering whether or not Robertson may have been misquoted or if his words were taken out of context (though it appears they haven’t been), many are ready to tar and feather him while screaming for equality!  As a former journalist, I know I would always look for the best quotes from interviews to tell the story of my interviewee.  However, I am a stickler for context and dislike sensationalism.  As a public figure, Robertson should keep a closer reign on his tongue.

But Robertson has every right to say what he did.

If we really value free speech and want to preach tolerance, then we need to agree to disagree with others.  I have friends who support gay marriage and friends who don’t.  I have friends who think I’m a fanatical Christian, others who think I’m a nice girl, and others who share my beliefs.  Even among my church family, we have different views on theology, politics, and relationships. But I don’t just stop being friends or talking to people with whom I disagree.  If I did, I wouldn’t have left with which to talk.

I am offended by Phil Robertson comments, not just because some what he said was ridiculously ignorant (yeah, I’m sure the blacks loved Jim Crow laws.)  Note my sarcasm.)  But does a man who calls himself a Christian, a reflector of Christ, need to actually name private parts to make a point?  Does his foolish talk really have to affect what others will think of me as a Christian?  This is what I find the most disturbing because I am nothing like Phil Robertson.  It hurts me that other Christians have to deal with someone who put his foot in his mouth.  We will find the grace to forgive him because that’s what Christians do–make mistakes and are forgiven.  Though some mistakes (or sins) have consequences, like Robertson’s suspension from A&E.  His suspension probably has little to do with his tone and more about his comments regarding homosexuality.

I won’t be tuning in to “Duck Dynasty” any time soon, especially now that Robertson has been suspended and many are questioning the future of the show.  I won’t buy their merchandise or sign a petition to try to get A&E to reverse their suspension of Robertson. Yet Phil Robertson has a right to say what he wants, though I don’t like his tone.  So do what I did, change the channel and watch something else.  Don’t preach “tolerance” and then condemn someone because you disagree with his or her beliefs because seems rather intolerant, don’t you think?  But you have every right to be offended.

The Choice Mary Made

12 Dec

Did Mary have a choice?  It’s a question we were batting around at Bible study last night as we discussed chapters 3-4 of Liz Curtis Higgs latest book, The Women of Christmas.  One of the ladies in my study—an older lady from England—passionately stated, “We are discussing this as though Mary had a choice.  The angel told her that she would bear a son and she accepted it.  What matters is how she accepted it.”  As the Bible study leader (and usually the youngest woman in the room), it delights me when one of the ladies in my group surprises me with stunning insight.  This was one of those moments.  We continued our discussion, but the words of this woman stayed with me far into the evening.  I am still pondering it.

What matters is how Mary accepted it.

Let’s take a quick look at Mary’s angelic encounter.  Luke 1: 26-28 (NIV) records the event:

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be calledthe Son of God.  Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.  For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

Mary only asks one question: How will this be since I am a virgin?  She doesn’t say, “Why me?!” or “Are you kidding me?  Where’s the hidden camera?”  Only one question is recorded—how?  In The Women of Christmas,   Liz Curtis Higgs draws out this point considering that perhaps Mary’s youth made her less cynical, more hopeful, and more wide-eyed with wonder.  In this case, Mary let her words be few, while her cousin Zechariah the priest needed a sign when Gabriel appeared to him in the temple and told him that his barren wife, Elizabeth, would also bear a son. Zechariah was struck mute (and perhaps deaf) by the angel until the birth of the baby who would one day be called John the Baptist.  I suppose that was definitely a sign, but probably not the one Zechariah was hoping for.  (I try not to judge Zechariah too harshly because I’m not sure how I would react to an angelic visitor, especially since God hadn’t delivered a word to His people in 400 year silence between the Old and New Testament writings.)

I don’t know if Mary could have said no or what would have happened if she did say no.  This is one of those situations where I’m not sure how free will and God’s will intertwine.  God created Mary, so He undoubtedly already knew how she would react to Gabriel’s proclamation that she would be the virgin to bear the long-awaited Messiah.

But what if she had said no?  Could Mary have said, “No, you’ve got the wrong girl”?  Would there have been a Moses-like moment where God said that He created her womb, like He created Moses’ mouth?  If she had tried to flee, would God have brought her back with a Jonah and the big fish sort of event?  Could Mary have wrestled with an angel like Jacob? 

If Mary had said no, what would that mean for us?  Who would’ve carried the long-awaited Messiah?  Would we still be waiting for the God Man to break humanity’s curse? 

Of course, that’s if she could say no.  What choice did she have?  And here’s where the Word hits me in the heart because while it seemed that Mary was the girl chosen for the task, she did have a choice in how she would handle her situation.  She could’ve despaired about what Joseph might do, what her parents might think, and what the other women in Nazareth might say about her as they gossiped around the town well.  Undoubtedly, being human, Mary  may have had all these questions and concerns.  Her response though—a question and the acceptance that she was the Lord’s servant—is probably not the same reaction I would have.

I would think about what everyone would think of me my perfect plans for my good life had been ruined.  This isn’t what I want God and I don’t know why You would ask me to do this, to go through this, to live with this.    I can’t do this, God.  You’ve got the wrong girl.

Notice Gabriel’s words in Luke 1:27.  In the NLT version, Gabriel says, “For nothing is impossible with God.” He didn’t say nothing is impossible for God; he says with God.  God could do it all by Himself, but He chooses to do it with us, even in spite of ourselves.

With God, the impossible is possible for me.  For you.  For Mary.  For Elizabeth.

Perhaps I could take a cue from Mary, only a young teenager at this point in the story.  Instead of bemoaning my life’s circumstances, perhaps I could say, “How, God, will we do this together?” and “OK, God, I am Your servant.” I imagine that would make all the difference in how I react to various circumstances that come my way.

Often times we don’t get to choose what diseases befall us, what those closest to us will do to cause us pain, or how the world will beat us up.  But we can choose how we react, knowing and trusting nothing escapes God’s loving attention.  When baby Jesus was finally born and presented in the temple, Mary was told her blessing was a double-edged sword.  Her heart would be pierced, just as her Son would be pierced for our transgressions.  My sins and yours.  The world’s greatest gift also came with huge responsibility, pain, and suffering.

The choice, dear friends, is how we react, what we do with what God has given us—the good and the bad.  May we have the courage, like Mary, to say, “I am the Lord’s servant.”

The Gifts We Keep

6 Dec

Today I broke down and bought “A Charlie Brown Christmas” on DVD.  It seems ludicrous to spend $10 on a cartoon that only 25 minutes long.  But it’s not just about the cartoon; it is about reviving vivid childhood memories that flood over me while watching Charlie Brown and his sad little tree.

When I was a little girl, my father made me two VHS tapes chock full of classic Christmas cartoons and movies featuring Garfield, Yogi Bear, Buttons and Rusty, Charlie Brown, the Grinch, Rudolph, Frosty, and more.  All the good ones were present (and a few not-as-good ones, but I was a kid and didn’t care).  I think about my father, VCR remote in hand, making these tapes for me—his little girl—and I am deeply moved.  These VHS tapes are long gone, yet this year I would give hundreds of dollars just to hold one in my fickle hands, play it on my antiquated VCR, and watch with delight as Christmas came alive for my young mind.  I wish I understood then what those tapes would mean to me 25 years later.

Back then it was OK to have nativity displays and talk about Jesus coming to save us all, which is probably why I like “A Charlie Brown Christmas” the most.  Who can forget when Linus takes center stage and recites the Christmas story?  It’s one of the most beautiful, iconic moments as blanket-carrying, thoughtful Linus shares the KJV version Luke 2:8-14.  The musical score, Lucy’s psychology booth, and of course, Charlie Brown’s pathetic Christmas tree add to the beauty of this cartoon.  For me, it’s more than that.

While “Charlie Brown” and “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” are my absolute favorites, I like them all because my father introduced them to me through those videos I watched year after year.  The video collection itself was an endeavor.  To capture commercial-free cartoons, VHS recording meant the viewer would have to stop recording as soon as commercials hit and start recording right before the show came back on to avoid commercial interruption.  Dad must have sat there and watched over eight hours of child’s programming because the commercials were carefully edited out.  Occasionally, Dad missed a few seconds here and there, so toy commercials from the mid-80’s would break into the narrative.  (What little girl didn’t want Voltron?)   

I think about my Dad sitting there, maybe when I beckoned him to play with me or when my mother asked him to take out the trash.  “No,” he argued.  “I’ve got to record this show.”  I probably I walked away disappointed and my mom probably rolled her eyes.  A grown man watching Christmas cartoons—what nonsense!  It was love for his daughter than kept him there enduring “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (and perhaps a little childhood nostalgia of his own.)

 If I still had these tapes—if they hadn’t been broken with age or angrily trashed before my parents’ divorce—I would watch them once again.  Over and over.  I would laugh at Yogi Bear and cry with Rudolph (those other reindeer were mean).  I would wonder at the mechanics of Claymation and get up to dance with the Peanuts gang as Schroeder rocked out on his mini baby grand.  And I would remember, appreciate, and thank God for the gift of these videos.

So I bought “A Charlie Brown Christmas” today, not so I could forget the real meaning of Christmas in a silly, dated cartoon, but so I can remember what Christmas really means to me—a heavenly earthly Father’s love for his beloved child made real in my earthly father’s love for me.

Santa, Elf on a Shelf, and Missing the Point

3 Dec

Because this overindulgent Elf on a Shelf picture says it all…and it’s funny.

When I was a kid, there was no Elf on a Shelf and the threat of “you’d better behave or Santa won’t bring you anything” was rarely used in my house.  But there was a little game my father and I used to play called “put the crazy 70′s elves in silly places and laugh our heads off.”  Yes, we owned several of those freaky little elves with the vacant smiles (like these).  The elves would appear in various places during the holiday season–on the toilet, hanging on door frames, ripped apart by our Yorkshire terrier (I don’t think that one was planned), and so on.  Certainly we didn’t have the creativity that parents are now using these days with Elf on a Shelf and yet it was enough.  A few years ago, I even though of purchasing a couple of those wacky old elves on eBay for nostalgic purposes, but alas, nostalgia isn’t cheap. (And neither is Elf on a Shelf, almost $30 for a plastic elf and a book?!  Seriously?!)

Maybe it’s because I’m not a parent, but Elf on a Shelf bothers me and not just because you can buy a skirt to accessorize the elf and turn “him” into a “her.”  (I’ve been informed there are now female elves.  Whew!) I’m not even sure how to feel about Santa Claus anymore.   It may sound unholy, but as a kid I was much more excited about getting presents from Santa Claus than the birth of baby Jesus.  I mean, I was glad to hear about His birth and liked wearing a pretty dress at Christmas.  I was taught about the importance of Jesus year after year; it’s just that the presents (like Barbies and My Little Ponies and video games) given in honor of His birthday were more exciting.  Christmas meant a lot of things, but mostly, I’d get stuff.  A lot of stuff.  And have a week off from school.

As an adult, I still get excited about Christmas.  I mean, I’ve got holiday shopping sprees, big church productions, light displays, cookie exchanges, and heartfelt movies about the true meaning of Christmas (which is usually involve meeting Mr. Right or being with family).  I pause to ask myself, is this what the holiday season is *really* about?  I mean, we all remember the Christ child.  Some of us even make a semi-annual pilgrimage to church on Christmas Eve or put up a little nativity scene among all the other inflateables and what not in the front yard’s December light extravaganza.

But what does any of this have to do with the Savior of the world being born?

Scholars don’t even think He was born in December!  It is far more likely Jesus entered the world in the spring time.  The stable was most likely glorified hole in the wall (no, seriously, like a cave) and the wise men didn’t show up until at least a year or two after Jesus’ birth by which time the holy family was living in a house.  Recently, I heard on the radio that Jewish custom always made room for visitors, so it’s more than likely the inn keeper could have made room for Mary and Joseph at the inn.  I mean, who puts a teenager in labor in the barn?  The commentator said perhaps news of the out of wedlock pregnancy went ahead of the young couple and while there may have been room for others at the inn, Mary and Joseph were simply not welcome. (Incidentally,  the song “Just a Girl” by Brandon Heath puts an interesting spin on what may have been the innkeeper’s inner monologue and seems to support this theory.)  Like I’ve said before (read The Awestruck Apathy of Christmas), the real event was sweaty, painful, and dirty…yet miraculous, even scandalous.  Perhaps it was easier for Mary and Joseph to stay in Bethlehem with baby Jesus because their families simply didn’t understand God’s plan (I mean, they traveled to Bethlehem to the census, but we don’t know why they stayed there.)  The Bible doesn’t tell us how either family reacted, only that Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist believed Mary’s story.

It’s not that I’m against “Happy Birthday, Jesus” merchandise or photos with Santa or even Elf on a Shelf.  I like my church’s Christmas musical and appreciate a good cookie exchange.  I just wonder, like I do every year, if we’re shoving Jesus out of the our inns as well.  Sure, we  give Him a place out back in the stable.  We’ll say we’re keep the “Christ” in “Christ-mas” and refuse to say “Happy Holidays,” just “Merry Christmas,” but are we really seeking Him?  Are we setting out on journeys like the wise men who followed that star for a year or more, even when the sandstorms whirl around us in the desert, even when we feel like we can’t go on, even when it seems like we’ll never get there (wherever “there” is)?

(This version of “Star of Wonder” by JJ Heller is one of my favorites.  One day I’ll work up the courage to sing it in church!)

I don’t want to miss the point anymore.  I can do all the things I’m “supposed” to do–go to church, buy a present for a needy kid, drop money in the Salvation Army kettle, and say it’s all about Jesus.  I can also live my life on autopilot–say all the right church things, do all the right Christian things, and go through all the motions.  None of that gets me back to a dirty, stinky manger in the small town of Bethlehem.  On the night God came down, all of Heaven watched the sight, but people barely noticed.  Only the lowliest of shepherds paid honor to the King of the Universe.

And I don’t want to get excited about Jesus’ birth because it’s Christmas; I want to be excited about the reality of what He did every single day of my life!  God wrapped himself in human flesh to save you, me, and everyone else!  Can you think of a greater story?  I can’t even imagine it!  Then we, humankind, actually kill God-in-human-flesh and it’s all part of His plan to save humanity from the curse we brought upon ourselves.  Admittedly, I’d go for a happier tale with rainbows and glitter (lots of glitter).  Not being kept hostage to death, Jesus miraculously rises from the dead and then ascends to His Father promising to return.  So, we wait.  Again.  It seems that life is an eternal advent, doesn’t it?

In the meantime, we play hide-and-seek with elf dolls and watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”   We sing songs about an elderly gent who is always watching us and has a sleigh of flying reindeer.  I could say that we should get rid of everything that isn’t about Jesus and His birth, but I’m not even sure Jesus would say that.  It’s interesting we have so much fanfare around an event that went unnoticed by so many.

I wouldn’t trade those elf hiding days with my father for anything or dressing up as a shepherd for the children’s Christmas play (even though I wanted to be an angel) or even my belief in Santa Claus because it led me here.  It came with candlelight services, “O Holy Nights,” live nativities, and the reading of the Bible, yet it was so much more.  It gave way to Easter celebrations in which Christmas paled in comparison.   Even then, I was pretty excited to get candy and wear a pretty dress, but I understood there was something far greater going on.

In the backdrop of holiday madness, there is something far greater going on.  As so many bumper stickers used to say, “Wise men (and women) still seek Him.”  Every day, wholeheartedly, they chase after Him and seek to know Him more.  Isn’t that the true meaning of Emmanuel–God With Us–to be with Him?  While you’re looking for that silly little elf, don’t forget to dust off your grandmother’s nativity and seek what or rather Who truly matters.

Let’s talk about it…how have you missed the point?  What traditions do you like to keep alive in your family?  What are you doing to remember Jesus’s birth as a holy event?  How are you seeking after Him today?

Photo Essay: Chincoteague and Assateague in 12 Shots

15 Nov

It’s hard to summarize my favorite relaxation spot, Chincoteague Island, VA in less than a several hundred photographs.  But because I know you don’t want to sit through an entire slideshow, I’ve chosen 12 (I tried to only pick 10) of my favorite photos from my trip last month to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and Assateague National Seashore.  These aren’t necessarily my best shots, yet they have captured my heart for various reasons.  I hope to show you more of my photographs in the coming weeks, but we know how I’ve been about blogging as of late… (Note: Click on the picture to view the image in a bigger format!)

Where/What is it?:  A view of Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (CNWR) just after sunrise.

Why I Like It:  It’s the golden hour and it’s CNWR.  Need I say more?  It’s been my laptop’s wallpaper for a weeks.

Where/What is it?:  Mature Blue Heron, CNWR

Why I Like It:  The heron is just starting to take off or land (I can’t recall) and it looks like it is dancing with the wind.

Where/What is it?:  Assateague Pony on the Maryland side of Assateague (though they’re actually horses, but are called ponies due to their small stature.)

Why I Like It:  BFF Sarah and I just happened upon a group of five mares wandering along the edge of the beach campgrounds.  Before Sarah got out of the car, I had a moment to be with these wild creatures.  Plus, I got the iconic pony on the beach shots I was hoping for.  They’re  not running along the ocean’s edge, but this was still pretty special.  I dare say it was a holy moment given to me by God.

Where/What is it?:  Assateague Pony on the Maryland side of Assateague National Seashore (though they’re actually horses, but are called ponies due to their small stature.)

Why I Like It:  This mare was part of the group of five I mentioned above, but she seemed to take a special interest in going eyeball to eyeball with me.  There we were observing one another and I believe a little bit of respect and awe passed between us in the calm warmth of the day.  I have some more great shot of this girl!

Where/What is it?: A tree & a Sika deer (an Oriental elk introduced to the island by settlers), CNWR

Why I Like It:  Since I broke my foot, I haven’t had much practice with my Canon T3i so I didn’t yet understand all my settings, which is how I missed the Sika deer for the tree.  This picture would be perfect if the deer was in focus, but alas, she’s not.  Still, the photo is sort of artistic and makes me laugh.

Where/What is it?: Osprey, CNWR

Why I Like It:  This is one of my very favorite photo subjects!  After years of trying, I was FINALLY able to photograph a bird of prey and only on my second day at CNWR.  The funny part is that I was photographing a yet-to-be-identified bird on the logs below and I looked up into the tree and saw the osprey.  This is one of those pictures where my DSLR upgrade from the Canon XTi to the 3Ti makes a huge difference in the quality of the photograph.

Where/What is it?: Assateague National Seashore (ANS), Maryland side

Why I Like It:  It’s a  pretty underwater shot near where Sarah and I like to eat lunch in Assateague.  The shoreline was devastated and the area that used to be a grassy picnic area is now a sandy beach area.

Where/What is it?: Beach at sunrise, ANS (Virginia side)

Why I Like It:  Sarah and I got up very early to watch the sun rise on the beach and it was a beautiful experience.  I hadn’t planned on walking on the beach because I was being cautious about my healing foot, but I made it and this photo is the result.  I took a picture of the only other person on the beach.  I hope he doesn’t mind.

 Where/What is it?: Great Egret, CNWR

Why I Like It:  I had a chance to observe this bird for a while and got some pretty shots.  This is my favorite out of the whole set.

 Where/What is it?: Cormorant, CNWR

Why I Like It: These diving birds crack me up.  I love how this little guy just waddled out of the water.  I have better shots of cormorants, but this one makes me chuckle.

Where/What is it?: Delmarva Peninsula Squirrel (Endangered), CMWR

Why I Like It: Who doesn’t love squirrels?  And these particular squirrels are endangered, but this little fella was busy hiding nuts for the long winter ahead.  To me, it seems that these squirrels have extra fluffy tails.

Where/What is it?: Down by the docks in Chincoteague Island, VA (city)

Why I Like It: I enjoy watching the sun set down by the docks and here’s a little spot Sarah and I discovered last year.  This year crabbing signs have been added.

AND ONE MORE BONUS SHOT….

Where/What is it?: Down by the docks in Chincoteague Island, VA (city)

Why I Like It: White waiting for the sun to set, I couldn’t help but write a message in the sand.  I can just imagine a grizzly fisherman coming across it, can’t you?

Love in the Time of Vomit

17 Sep

Yesterday I had the chance to spend some time with my long-time friend, Beth.  We reconnected after a God-given encounter at my church.  It was reunion that has led to deeper ministry opportunities for both of us, which is why I cannot call this a “chance encounter.”  It was truly a God-appointed meeting.

I walked into Beth’s house and found toys scattered about, her two of her three kids enthusiastically bouncing about, and a baking project that was started, but not finished on the kitchen counter.  “We were going to make you caramel apple brownies,” said Beth with a playful giggle.  She shrugged her shoulders as if to say, “This is my life, every bit of it…and I love it. Welcome to Mommyhood!”

Mommyhood seems tough.  I am fully convinced stay-at-home mom’s are warriors.

As the kids warmed up to me, Beth and I began talking about what we’ve been doing since we last talk, really talked.  She had three kids (a couple born with challenging medical conditions), wrote a book, and a few Bible studies.  And I graduated from seminary, got sick, walked away from church, came back to church, and am involved in full-time volunteer ministry.  We talked about some of the heartaches spelling out “adult” words to protect innocent little ears.  We shared from our hearts, the way only two old friends can do.  There’s something in my soul said, “Where were you?  I needed to have this conversation.  Today.  With you.”

Beth explained how mommyhood has changed her and made her a much less selfish person as we watch her son jump from a chair into a pile of pillows.  “There’s no point in having new furniture with small children,” she told me as she instructed her son to use a sofa cushion to create a softer, safer landing spot.  “Boys are just going to jump off things, so I try to find ways to make it safer.” And jump he did.

She learned about mothering early in her marriage to my dear friend, Chris.  Inheriting a daughter from a previous marriage, Chris and Beth had visitation with “Emily” every other weekend.  During one meeting, Emily’s mom said that Emily wasn’t feeling well and sure enough, Emily soon vomited all over herself and started crying.  Beth tried to comfort Emily without getting puke on her expensive leather jacket.  Realizing how ridiculous she was being, Beth threw her leather jacket in the back of the car, gathered the crying, pukey girl in her arms, and comforted her getting vomit all over herself in the process. 

The story struck me, not only because I hate vomit, but because that’s what ministry is like.  Oh, we think of all the great things that will happen, the souls that will be saved, the Bible studies we’ll lead, the conference speakers we’ll get.  At the end of the day, ministry is standing in the church parking lot until 11 PM with a crying woman who doesn’t know if her husband loves her or praying with a distraught church member in the middle of Wal-mart.  Sometimes ministry is getting the vomit of someone else’s life all over you because they need a comforting hug of encouragement.

As I’m writing, I can’t help but think of Jesus, who came to earth to clean up the vomitous mess we made.  Hanging on a cross for my sin—my vomit—so that I could go free.  What love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God!  What love, indeed! 

I wonder what God thinks when we jump off chairs onto pillows—does He make the landing safer for us?  When our big brother steals our stuffed unicorn, does He hold us when we cry?  Does He laugh when we toddle around the room trying to dance to a Newsboys song?  Does God, our Father, treasure us as much as Beth treasures her precious children?  I believe so. 

Adventures in Mommyhood are as much a lesson in cleaning up kid vomit as they are in ministering to our children (or our friends’ children), to those around us, and a startling revelation in how our Perfect Father deals with His very imperfect children.  Because He first loved us, we can extravagantly love others, mess and all.  In fact, it’s those who are crying, covered in sickness that most need our comfort, even if it means throwing our leather jacket of ministry expectations in the trunk of our “rescue vehicle”.  Let’s take a lesson from the One who put aside His glory to be born as a baby so He could take our sickening vomit away forever. 

Pride and Perfectionism

26 Aug

I joke about being the queen of typos and editing errors.  But underneath my self-depreciating humor, I hate myself for making simple mistakes—on math tests in elementary school (is it any wonder why I hate math?),  in the college newspaper when I was editor, on papers I handed in at seminary, and on this blog post.  For some reason, I stare until I’m cross-eyed but a little typo or grammatical error also escapes by vigilant efforts.

I HATE MAKING MISTAKES!!!  Especially stupid ones that could’ve been easily prevented if I JUST PAID MORE ATTENTION. 

If I just worked harder.

If I wasn’t so…me.

To err is human or so the oft-quoted cliché says, but I want to be super-human, or at least the best version of myself.  Unfortunately, the best version of me is still prone to errors, faults, cracks, and bumps.  Truly, to err is human because humanity is in this fallen state.

While all these mistakes seen like a funny, frazzled part of my personality, I wonder if I’ll ever stop hitting my head against the wall for doing what is simply human.  Why can I forgive the shortcomings of others and yet beat myself black and blue? 

Somehow I believed the lie that I SHOULD be perfect, that I won’t make mistakes, that I can do it myself. And when I don’t measure up (and I will never measure up), I am a failure, a waste of space, useless, and I curse the day I was born.  I wonder if the world would be better off without someone who makes so many mistakes, who has so many faults. 

Notice the focus is on me, myself and uh, me.  There’s no room for grace.  Mercy has no place on my throne because my life and my performance reflects who I am, not Whose I am.  Oh, I can pretty it up with some spiritual lingo about how I want to give God my best.  But it’s not really God who I am worried about, I know He’ll forgive me.  I’m worried about what other people will think about my stupid mistakes.  I am more concerned about you seeing my faults and cracks. 

When you see my faulted humanity, I feel naked, weak, and exposed.  I feel less than you and I feel afraid that you will really see me and reject me.  One more mistake and you may lose faith in me, walk away from me, or give up on me.

So I’d rather throw white-out on those errors.  Maybe you’ll see a bump of what was supposed to  be there, but that’s between God and me.  Besides, you have bumps of your own.  You know you do.  I’ll hide my bumps and you keep those skeletons in your closet…and we’ll be just fine.

We’ll be just fine.

Except we’re not fine, are we?  We’re wearing masks and living lies.  I’m not saying that we have to out every single mistake we make.  I simply wonder what life would look like if we were a little more honest.  Weakness and humility throws pride to the floor because through our weakness and failures, God gets the glory.  There are so many situations when He worked in spite of my mistakes, but because of my submission to Him.

Like Paul, I want to start boasting about my failures, my shortcomings, and errors.  I want to stop screaming, “REWRITE!” whenever my life takes a plot-twist I dislike. I want to allow God to use all these things, even the bumps, to bring Him more glory.

Perfectionism is a pretty way of saying “prideful.”  And I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being full of myself.  It allows very little room for God to work.  This isn’t going to be an easy process, but at the end of me is where God starts.   

Let God start here and now.  Uncover my bumps.  Use my mistakes.  Make Your glory known.

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