Words for my kids

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July 2015

I have been struck lately at how quickly time is moving, especially with regards to my kids growing up. We sent our oldest off to college this year, the second is not far behind, and then there’s Jesse, who is already trying to wrap his brain around what it will be like to be the last kid standing when it’s only him and no siblings in the house. All this pondering leaves me with about every feeling there is to feel. How do I navigate being a mom to my oldest, who knows everything now that she’s in college (I remember vaguely the time when I knew everything; it was nice); my middle child who knows almost everything (and likes to point out helpful tips to guide me in my parenting mistakes); and my youngest who can’t decide whether to ninja chop me or hug me (depending on the mood and the day)?

 

It’s hard; it’s emotional; and I’d like to think I’m doing it right….but the truth is, I’m fairly certain that a lot of times I’m not. I remember like a foggy, distant dream those days when my littles thought I could do no wrong. We laughed together, cried together, snuggled together and I could see it in their eyes when they looked at me: simple love, freely given and received. I was their world; and hopefully I remembered to soak it in.

 

Because then the day comes, and I can’t even really pinpoint the exact day that it happened. All I know is that it happened. They realized that I am flawed, that I make mistakes. Their world expands so far beyond me and as much as I want to grab onto them and make them stay right where they are, I realize that I cannot. They are so much bigger than me, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. (I guess)

 

So in light of this revelation I want my kids, Chloe, Grace, and Jesse to know some things. As they move beyond me, but hopefully never too far out of grasp I want them to know:

 

  1. I love you. Plain and simple. No matter what. This is not conditional. It’s just the way it is. It’s sewn into the fabric of who I am. I cannot not love you.

 

  1. I’m sorry. I have and will make mistakes when it comes to how I interact with you and make decisions on your behalf. Sometimes those decisions are fueled by my own selfish desires and I am wrong. Some of those wrongs I will figure out and try to make right; some of those wrongs I will be totally oblivious to. Please handle my mistakes with grace and refer back to number 1.

 

  1. If I could wish one character trait for you, it would be kindness. Be kind to each other, be kind to those around you. Be kind to those that are like you. Be kind to those who are not like you. Notice those who need a little more kindness in their lives and share it. There is a shortage of kindness in this world. I want you to be kind.

 

  1. If you understand one thing about me, I want you to know that I love Jesus. I want this to define my life. I hope that it does.

 

  1. I am proud of you. Chloe, I love how easily you are entertained, your heart for justice, and your passion for creating. You create beauty and it’s immensely cool. Grace, I love your fierceness. You’re not afraid of anything. You will always push the envelope and this will be incredibly tough but sometimes, incredibly wonderful. You seriously can do anything you put your mind to. Jesse, I love your creative mind and tender heartedness that sneaks out in the most unlikely places. You are all kinds of mushy wrapped in all kinds of tough. I am proud of you.

 

Time moves quickly. Soon (too soon) all of my kids will be out of the house and I will be old. In the meantime I want to embrace the good and the bad; the messy and the ease; the successes and the failures and be thankful. God blessed me as a mama. I know that to be true.  And I am incredibly thankful. I hope I always remain thankful, even when it’s hard. I hope that when my kids look at me they will see: simple love, freely given and received. And I hope they soak it in.

 

 

 

 

I Want To Be An Upstander

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First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

 

– Pastor Martin Niemoller

 

 

Earlier this week I had the honor of visiting the Holocaust Museum in Skokie, Illinois on a field trip with my daughter’s class. I walked away incredibly sad, incredibly disturbed, and incredibly inspired. As we moved through the museum, we entered into stories of heartbreak and devastation as well as stories of strength and courage and hope.

At the close of the tour we were able to meet a man by the name of Ernst, a Holocaust survivor. He shared his story of being one of the lucky ones who escaped Nazi Germany. He vividly remembers the day he was put on a train at the age of 10 with one small suitcase in his hand. As the train pulled away, he glimpsed his parents through the window… this was the last time he ever saw them. As I listened to his story, I couldn’t help but correlate that 10-year-old boy with my 11-year-old boy, and tears streamed down my face.

 

He was the lucky one…..

 

His boyhood memories in Germany as one who was not allowed to play in public parks because he would “contaminate” the purer race; one who according to the loudest voice was “inferior;” one who watched as his place of worship was burned to the ground while firefighters stood nearby doing nothing; one who had to accept the reality that his parents were either victims of mass shootings or death camps.

 

He was the lucky one.

 

As we filed out of the auditorium where Ernst spoke, I went up to shake his hand and in that moment I was so overcome with emotion, I had to hug him. I don’t know if that was allowed, but I hugged him, and in that hug I hope he felt the truth that it wasn’t fair, it wasn’t right, and he was loved.

It’s hard to spend time in a space like this and not walk away feeling heavy. It’s a physical reaction to the atrocities before you. And I think it is appropriate to feel heavy. We should feel the devastation. We should feel the loss. We should feel the pain of what was allowed to happen in our history.

The thing that really stuck with me however, was the bigger story and purpose behind the museum. Throughout the displays we would hear again and again about the work of volunteers, about the man who worked to ferry victims out of Germany, about the woman who hid a Jew, about the helping hands along the way who stood up, who showed kindness, who made a difference. In the sea of evil, there was good. In the midst of devastation there were the voices of those who refused to be silent.

They had a name for people like this. It was “upstanders.” This term coined in direct contrast to the term “bystander,” denotes the one who refuses to stand by and do nothing while injustice reigns; they will stand up to injustice. An upstander will not be silent. One of the videos we watched showed the progression of a new term, born out of the Holocaust, which was genocide. Never before had we needed this word, but as time moved away from the Holocaust, where we promised we would never forget, we began to see the need for this word arise again, in Serbia, in Rwanda, in Syria.

One young woman, a survivor of the Rwandan genocides, poignantly stated that the worst was not the violence or the killing; the worst offense was the silence. The worst atrocity is the silence. If it does not affect our personal selves, we conveniently push it aside, make excuses, turn away. We stand by and allow it to happen.

I walked away from that museum with a clarifying thought: I WANT TO BE AN UPSTANDER!!!

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Kim and I taking our chaperone duties very seriously.

I want to be an upstander…

 

I do not want to remain silent as certain people are marginalized, victimized, and presented as less-than. I do not want to remain silent under the guise of morality or passive acceptance. I do not want to remain silent as we systematically decide who has value and who does not. How long before I am on the wrong side of that equation?

 

I want to be an upstander…

 

And I believe that if I am a follower of Christ, I should be rushing to the front of the line to be an upstander. So why does it often seem as if we are not?

As I read through my Facebook feeds, I am often overcome by sadness. Sometimes I just have to walk away, because I just don’t think we get it. The things we decide are worthy of our indignation; the vicious attacks we volley toward our fellow humanity; the high moral ground we take at the expense of a flesh and blood, hurting, broken life, and in the name of Christ. It just makes me sad. When the Christian community fosters fear and hatred, we are not displaying the freedom and wholeness of the gospel. When the Christian community witnesses inequality, discrimination, and violence and then either turns its head in nonchalance or expresses some notion that the victim deserves it….we are not understanding the heart of Jesus.

Jesus was an upstander. He did not simply stand by and watch the suffering of those around him in order to advance his own comfort and feel good about himself. He spoke up, He entered in, He embodied the love of God and sacrificed himself to bring healing and hope.

If we are truly concerned for the broken, and truly believe in the power of the resurrection, then why are we more upset about the words of Jen Hatmaker (that demonstrate love and kindness and entering into the messiness) than we are about the victims of human slavery rampant in our world and yes even in our own country? I don’t understand how we can be so clear about the rules of salvation (with nary a single doubt) but suddenly fuzzy on the idea of who to show love and kindness and respect to?

I get that it’s not easy. I get that it’s scary to enter into difficult conversations that foster inclusion and community with the other. But if we continue to allow injustices, when we give small allowances for what is deemed acceptable treatment for someone we don’t understand or have much use for, how long before we strip away the humanity of another? Or ourselves?

I want to look at those around me full in the face. I want to recognize the black, white, male, female, rich, poor, gay, straight, Muslim, Jew, Syrian (and the list goes on) and see their humanity and their worth. I want to see their value as one made and loved by God and I want to treat them as such. I want to stand up and take notice when humanity is being stripped away. And I want to say loudly that it is not right.

I know this doesn’t answer all the hard questions. That doesn’t happen all at once, if ever. But we at least need to be allowed to ask the questions. We need to enter into conversations motivated by love and restoration rather than fear and silence. We need to look beyond our own comforts to the brokenness and needs of others. We need to wade into the messiness of injustice and refuse to be silent.

I want to be an upstander. And I hope you do to.

Women in Leadership

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We are in the midst of a series at church entitled “We Are Family” which highlights the core values of our church. Things like justice and inclusivity and a Christocentric hermeneutic are fundamental to the way we do church. This last week, Pastor Nate spoke about our beliefs regarding women in leadership and ministry. For obvious reasons, this has become an issue that is increasingly important to me. As a female, in a male-dominated field, it is incredibly hopeful to me to be a part of a congregation that supports and encourages my leadership role; because in the world of religiosity and even culture at large, this is not the norm.

I was particularly struck by the empathy displayed by Nate in his message. You see as the grapevine flows, it came to my attention that some have left our church as a result of my role as “pastor.” Nate made the comment that if it were him, he would be incredibly hurt by this. Now it’s not as if I’m not hurt. Every time I get negative responses to my roles in ministry, I take pause. But the reality is, I was not surprised. Not for a moment. Because this is the reality that we have so easily perpetuated and encouraged: women don’t have the right; they don’t have the ability; who does she think she is?

I’ve experienced the caustic side of this conversation as I’ve had fingers wagged in my face; been called a radical feminist; told I don’t have the right; that my problem is pride; that I’m sinning; that I’m the cause of some perceived downfall of the church. I’ve walked away from these encounters hurt and angry and sucking back tears. And I’ve walked away truly perplexed, because I honestly don’t get it.

Here’s the thing. Obviously, if you want to make a biblical case for the submission of women you can do it. It’s been done. Several times. These texts of terror that seemingly put women in their rightful place for many years I simply avoided…..until I didn’t, because I wasn’t afraid of them anymore. Because you see, it’s also true that if you want to make a biblical case for the equality and leadership of women, you can do that as well. Hmmm. How. About. That?

A strong biblical case for both sides? What do we do with that? I think this is where our understanding of the gospel comes into our viewpoint. This is where we begin to look at texts that are confusing and not as clear as we’d like to think they are, through the lens of Christ and the resurrection. And it’s through this lens that we begin to ask different questions:

-If Scripture seemingly supports different viewpoints, why wouldn’t we sway to the side of justice? The side of equality?

-How does Jesus view and even include women in the narrative of the gospel?

-Was Paul kidding when he wrote “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

-If our world is broken and hurting (and we can clearly see that it is), why would we bench half our population to bring the good news of healing and restoration?

-Are we holding onto a biblical principle, or merely holding onto power and privilege?

-Is it really worth so much animosity? I mean, If I am wrong (and I really don’t believe that I am) the gospel is still being taught. Is it worth all the anger?

 

Is it really worth so much animosity? I come back to this often. Our patriarchal view of women has led us to an acceptance of a lesser view of women. And even when some don’t really, whole-heartedly agree with it, (women can be CEO’s, run successful businesses, can even be President, but they can’t lead in a church??????)  we kind of just gloss over it as just the way things are. It’s because of this accepted norm that I find myself very understanding of another’s viewpoint. I may not agree, but I will respect your stance and believe that you are still a follower of Christ doing your best to figure out what that looks like in your life. The problem is, if you fall on the other side, the egalitarian side that views women as equal, you don’t often receive the same respect, the same benefit of the doubt. Instead you’re demonized and belittled. I think this hurts me the most. I fully expect to disagree with others theologically. Religious disagreements are as old as religion itself. But I would hope that even in our disagreements, you would still treat me as a follower of Christ, doing my best to figure out what that looks like in my life.

I will say this, because I have an incessant need to end on a positive note. I do believe the church is turning a corner on this issue. I think more people are affirming and encouraging on the issue of women than are not. For every 2 people that call me heretic, there are 20 people who come alongside me with love and grace. (I totally made that statistic up!) Unfortunately, the negative voices are often the louder voices. But as is often the case, the loudest voice is not always the right voice.

 

Graduating and Theological Musings

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It’s official. The last paper has been turned in. The grades have been posted. I take a deep sigh of relief, secure in knowing that I have finally completed my graduate degree.

(insert applause) In case you were wondering, yes, that does make me smarter- incredibly, incredibly smarter…

The last 2 ½ years in many ways have flown by, but as I look back at the beginning of my journey, I’m amazed at how God has grown me during this process. I think it’s fitting that the last class I took was a theology class, History of Christian Thought. It’s quite amazing to look back over the course of Christian history and see how we have changed and evolved as a religion, as a church.

As part of this class, I read a book by Phyllis Tickle entitled The Great Emergence. Tickle is an incredibly bright, thoughtful, and grace-filled theologian. She passed away this last year, but her influence was deeply felt in the world of theology. In her book, Tickle puts forth the idea that approximately every five hundred years, the church has a giant rummage sale so to speak. Within this “rummage sale” the church undergoes a massive shift. It shakes off the shackles of its current power and authority and rises from the ashes as an entirely transformed, yet not completely new entity. Tickle believes that we are currently in the midst of such a rummage sale…the Great Emergence.

It’s an interesting premise. Think about it… Five hundred years ago takes us to the reformation period from which we have drawn much of our theological basis. It was this time period that challenged the exclusivity of the Word and the incredibly corrupt power of the church and its hierarchy. Born out of this period was a push for literacy, the accessibility of the Word, and the idea that Scripture alone is our authority.

We go back 500 years from there and we find ourselves at the Great Schism. An argument over the source of the Holy Spirit among other things led to an official split between the Roman Catholic church in the West and the Orthodox church in the East. Five hundred years before this was the fall of the Roman Empire; and you can take it further back into Hebrew history to the Babylonian captivity and earlier to the end of the period of judges. But I digress…

The thing about a major shift is that it brings with it all kinds of questions that are often not so easily answered. One such question is the question of authority. If the reformation period puts forth that Scripture alone is our authority and we are in a period of transformation, what then becomes our authority? I mean to question the authority of Scripture, is to question God himself, right?? The problem that arises, and that continues to arise, is not so much in the authority of Scripture, rather in how it is interpreted. You give five people a Scripture passage and you can come out with five different interpretations…hello denominations. So who decides? The reality of our church history, is that certain interpretations of Scripture have been used to manipulate, coerce, demean, and control. I do think we often experience shifts in the church because of this abuse of power.

No matter the catalyst for change, it still remains a frightening endeavor. It can be scary for so many who fear change is born from emotion and lack of foundation. But I would push back on that fear. The church has been experiencing change since its infancy. Often times, when we are in the midst of change, it feels so extreme because it feels as if some viewpoints have always been. The benefit of looking back over the last 2000 years is that we are able to put things into perspective. We see through the long lens of history and understand that change is a fact, it’s often necessary, and it does not mean the church is dying. Often it means just the opposite. It still doesn’t change the fact that it can be frightening as we recognize changing viewpoints. As we move forward and acknowledge changes within Christianity I think we need to recognize that Scripture is not being thrown by the wayside as irrelevant and unauthoritative; rather it is being approached differently.

Just as the printing press propelled the ideals of Luther to the masses, we now have access to so much more information. Science tells us so much more about the world and its origins and how it works; textual criticism highlights some discrepancies in the interpretation of the Holy Word; technology brings closer the reality of brokenness in the world around us. In light of what we know, we naturally approach the words of Scripture differently. Tickle notes in her writing, a return to the importance of narrative and a very Judeo-holistic approach to our understanding of God and scripture. What I think this does, is move us beyond our finite, linear way of thinking, into a more nuanced, holistic way of thinking. The thought process we often build our faith on, tells us we must accept and prove all things literally in order to understand the gospel message and the power of God. A changing viewpoint accepts the narrative as truth, not for logic or argument’s sake, rather for the beauty of the truth revealed by the narrative itself. This is not to say that it’s not true; that’s really not the point. It’s saying that the true meaning of the narrative is about something much larger and restorative then a proof. The true meaning is the revelation of the gospel message of good news and the hope that God is making all things new, which then become the basis for our understanding of who God is and what his kingdom is doing.

Unfortunately for some, this is too dangerous in unchartered waters and the response is to vehemently stick our head in the sand and refuse to acknowledge the truth of life itself. But for those moving into a new shift of change, there is a vibrancy of faith and renewed understanding of “gospel” as we seek to live out the kingdom of God among us: on earth as it is in heaven.

I know this can sound a little “hippie” to some so we return to the question of our authority. I think the overarching authority is grounded in our understanding of Jesus Christ. We understand the scriptures in light of the living Word, Jesus Christ. We respond to the work of the Holy Spirit in light of the work of the cross and the resurrection, that all things are made new. We live out the authority of community as we recognize the humanity of those around us as those made in the image of God, and loved and known by the life and ministry of Christ. And we remember the promise that the church is built upon the rock that is Jesus. It will be sustained; and it will prevail.

The Political Platform of Jesus

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I get the immense privilege of preaching this weekend. We’re in the midst of a sermon series on the Lion and the Lamb (and the Donkey and the Elephant). Yes, we are doing a political series. Who does that? It’s so much easier to remain politically correct and mum on the issues of politics; but we at State Street Community Church have never been known for doing the easy thing.

I don’t consider myself very political and I have always wanted to be more so. I am probably more politically engaged in this election than ever before (and what an election to try to be knowledgeable). My oldest daughter became very politically aware last year during the primaries due to an engaging Government class (taught by her grandfather) and the fact that she gets to vote for the first time in this election. Her growing interest compelled me to be more engaged. I even voted in the primaries, which is a first for me. So here we are zooming towards the elections and it seems that not only our country but our church members could not be more polarized. It seems everyone is fighting to be the loudest, to gain the power, to be right; and it occurs to me that we are fighting for power in the wrong kingdom. Somewhere along the way we have bought into the belief that if we are able to propel the right political party or ideals, then Christianity will win. What we fail to realize is that Christianity has already won. It won the day Jesus became the living Word that dwelt among us. It won the day Jesus beat death and made all things new.

So where does that leave us politically?

Someone asked me if I’d be endorsing a candidate this weekend during my sermon. Umm…. Ha… No… However much I love the idea of raising my arms in victory, screaming a candidate’s name and running up the center aisle, it’s probably not a good idea. I don’t believe the pulpit is the place to endorse a candidate. I believe the pulpit is the place to endorse the political platform of Jesus. And at the heart of the platform of Jesus, is justice.

Justice…We like to throw that word around in conjunction with our political beliefs. And it’s a loaded word. What justice means to one, may not be what it means to another. So what does it mean to God? Unfortunately, I think too often we equate justice to punishment, an eye for an eye. Our justice is wrapped up in retribution and becomes very inward focused as we fight for what we feel we are due.

I think God looks at justice differently. There are several words that equate to justice in the Scriptures. There is mishpat; there is shalom; there is righteousness. Mishpat in the Old Testament seems to be connected to the character of God and how we reflect that character in our identity as people of God. When we see this word in the Old Testament, it’s usually connected with caring for the poor, the widow, and the orphan. God expects this from the people that wear his name. In shalom we have the idea of peace and justice. This type of justice is witnessed through community. We see this in the laws God established for his people early on. We see this in the Acts community who shared everything and no one was in need. And these were never seen as acts of charity; this was community living with equal standing. We also see the word righteousness. This simply defines justice as what is right. It is the idea of recognizing what is wrong in this world and making it right. The beauty of this kind of justice is that it tends to focus outward on the other. It is at its core about healing, about restoration.

So in light of this increasingly tense political season, I think it’s important to remember which kingdom we are fighting for. Are we fighting to be the loudest voice? Are we fighting to hold the most power to ensure our comfortable way of life? Or are we seeking to be a voice of justice. In the wise words of the prophet Amos in the face of hypocrisy and power struggle, “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Let justice roll down like healing waters that seek to restore and heal. Let what is right and good be the predominant voice of change.

 

simply Christ

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My new favorite book is Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. When I read it, I at times feel as if I’m reading from different chapters of my life. That is always a scary thing because it means something is going to challenge me, possibly stretch me, and I am more than likely going to have to come to terms with some aspect of myself that I don’t particularly like. I didn’t even make it past the introduction before tears began welling up in my eyes. It was then that I decided I would not zoom through this book and come out on the other side with a few nice thoughts and quotable phrases. I was going to take my time and really reflect on what was being offered. Now I’m not terribly far into the book, only a few chapters, but already it’s sparking reflection and many “a-ha” moments. You see at the heart of this book is discovering a simpler way of life that is in tune with the current of Christ. It’s recognizing and leaning into sacred moments in each day instead of frantically running through life with a checklist in one hand and score card in the other.

 

I have always been a (ahem) motivated individual. And this personality type only intensified as I got older. I don’t want to just do well in class, I want an A. I don’t just want an A, I want a better A than the guy next to me. If you tell me as a professor, that you don’t give A’s, I’m going to prove you wrong. I want you to know that I am smart. And this is just academics. Being smart is not enough. I have to be competent as well. I need you to know that I can handle whatever is thrown at me and handle it well. This of course is not enough. I need you to know that I am a good mom. Of course I can drive; of course I can volunteer; of course I can provide snacks for the team. And I can cook and bake and organize activities and teach valuable life lessons to each of my children on a regular basis. And I will do all of these things while looking fabulous and maintaining a keen sense of humor.

 

The problem with this type of mentality and lifestyle, is that eventually you just can’t. You just can’t. You turn around one day and wonder where the fun, easy-going girl went and why did she leave behind this hyper-intense control freak? And even when you at first begin to recognize this, something inside you pushes you onward, deeper into the frenzy.

 

Why?

 

Shauna talks in her book about how we feel as if the frenzied life uses us up, but in reality we use it. We use the noise and the busy-ness to drown out the feelings of inadequacy, the sense of emptiness. Because deep down that’s how we feel: empty, inadequate, just not enough. We buy into the idea, whether real or perceived, that if we’re not smart enough, pretty enough, responsible enough, motherly enough, or whatever enough that we will be judged. I may be off here, but I feel this is particularly an issue for women. I don’t see many men who worry about what the other dads will think if he doesn’t volunteer for the class party. Not to say that men don’t experience their own unique challenges; but I do think it’s different for many women. Women are simultaneously judged for being too smart or not smart enough; for not being sexy or for being too sexy. Being a woman in a “man’s” profession, I feel that tension. If a male pastor delivers a sub-par message or bad advice, it’s excused away with a “bad day” or “well you know what he meant.” If a woman pastor doesn’t deliver, it’s blamed on her gender. That’s a lot of pressure. I’m not so sure I want to be the voice for my entire gender. But let’s just add that to the list of things that I’m not enough at.

 

All this to say, it is so easy to get caught up in a never-ending cycle of producing and delivering and earning, and somewhere along the way we forget. We forget about grace. We forget about redemption. We forget to participate in kingdom living that recognizes our identity as those made in the image of God, and our worth in Christ as those who are changed because of the resurrection. My worth is not found in my doing. I can never earn the love of God (or others for that matter). I am, from the outset and at this very moment, so incredibly adored by God. I need to rest in this and define myself by this. I need to stop trying to prove my worth, so that I can embrace the sacred reality of kingdom living, living as a person of the resurrection.  I need to breathe in the grace of Christ that is sewn into the fabric of my day. Inhale; exhale. No more frantic; no more judgment. Simply Christ. This then becomes a way of life. Focusing on one person and hearing their story with no distractions. Choosing a conversation, a leisurely walk, or a silly joke over the desire to perfect every last detail. Recognizing the grace of Christ in the very air that we breathe. And I don’t have to try so hard because I actually believe that I am enough, because He is enough.

 

 

A Girl Gets to be a Pastor???

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A girl gets to be a pastor? This is a question I see in the eyes of those whom I encounter when they ask me what I am up to these days or what it is that I do. More often than not when realization dawns on those around me that I am a pastor, I receive a questioning, almost confused look. A female pastor? Just what is that supposed to look like? What does a day in the life of a female pastor even look like?????

Now I can’t speak for all female pastors, but for me, it goes a little something like this:

Wake up. Take the kids to school. Go to work (which consists of various tasks anywhere from meeting with people, event planning, scheduling, reading, writing, listening, deep, deep thinking  :), and even some cleaning).  Pick up the kids from school. Eat dinner. Go to bed. And in between those things figure out soccer schedules, homework, grad school, and a little time for Netflix. In all actuality, it doesn’t sound so very different from 7 weeks ago, before I held the title, “Pastor.” So have things really changed?

In the eyes of many around me, they have changed immeasurably. And the change presents itself differently depending on whom you encounter:

In the mind of some, I now apparently have all the right answers. I am a pastor now, so that means I have that special inside wisdom. Did I mention that I am holier than regular folk, laypeople if you will? So it would seem.

In the mind of some, I am an oxymoron (not to be confused with moron thank you very much).  A pastor??? AND a woman????? Well, that is surely not the norm, so I’m going to distance myself from you a little, because women are not supposed to be pastors and it’s all just a little weird…. I was actually asked recently, “So what are we supposed to call your husband?” Umm…..Joel???

In the mind of some (even those who have known me for a long time) there is uncertainty. I can relate to you as a teacher; I can relate to you as a mom; but I’m not sure how to relate to you as a pastor. So I’ll just smile and not really get you.

And the truth is, even for me the words “I am a pastor” sound weird rolling off my tongue. I’m 45 years old and am beginning a new season of life and if you had told me 10 years ago that this is where I would be, I would not have believed you. Yet here I am.

Have things really changed? No. In some respects, no. I’m still me. The same wife, the same mom, the same friend. I laugh too loud; I am often oblivious; I am flawed and still in awe of the grace of Jesus Christ.

Have things really changed? Yes. In so many ways yes. In my wildest dreams I would not have imagined being a pastor. I went to Bible college and never believed pastor was something I could be. Girls aren’t pastors; it was never on my radar. But God surprised me as my life began to take turns I did not expect. I was embraced in a community of a church that I love and given the immense and beautiful opportunity to lead there. I was stretched in my theology as I once again found myself in a classroom soaking up the word of God and hungry to think and grow and be challenged in my understanding of God and his kingdom. I was poured into and encouraged by my husband, my church leadership, and dear friends and family who believed in me before I could even comprehend that I needed to be believed in.

Have things really changed? Yes. A girl gets to be a pastor. And we don’t have to try to be creative and use other words like “director” or “coordinator.” And we don’t have to relegate a woman to only children or women’s areas of the church. A girl gets to be a pastor.  I dare hope that this increasingly becomes a statement rather than a question. I dare hope that we embrace our sisters in the faith as co-laborers and leaders. I dare hope that a girl, enamored by the grace of Christ, can think without question, “A girl gets to be a pastor.”

Absolutely she does!