Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Journey Together

A few years ago, when Zach was finalizing his decision to become a Pastor in the United Methodist Church, and going through the steps to make that decision a reality, we had lunch with a, at the time, dear friend.  It was during this lunch that I was told by this friend that I was not cut out to be a Pastor's wife.  I was told that I could very likely hinder my husband's ministry unless I chose to change who I was.  This conversation, which was less a conversation and more an attack (in my honest opinion), left me feeling many things.  Anger, indignation, betrayal, and, most of all, insecurity.  It was the last thing I needed to hear at this point in our lives.  We had already accepted a job at a new church, in a new town, things were already in motion, there was no going back now.

I returned home from that lunch and promptly cried buckets of tears.  Zach and I discussed, at length, whether or not we thought this friend was correct in his assessment of me.  My dear husband reassured me repeatedly that I would not hinder his career in anyway, which, I'll admit, I only half believed.  I didn't choose this life.  I married a man who was going to school for business.  When we got married we both only worked part time at the church, helping with the youth.  There was a time when Zach worked full-time in sales, both of us thinking that this was his future.  I never would have thought that God would call him into full time ministry.

Since that afternoon three years ago, I have met many Pastor spouses.  Each one has taught me that there is no one way to live this life.  Each one is different in personality, in gifts, in weaknesses.  Each one has a different opinion of their role in the church and in the ministry of their pastor spouse.  I've been told by more experienced spouses that I have permission to choose my own path.  True, not everyone in the church we are sent to will like me, not everyone will agree with my chosen path, regardless of what it is.  You simply can not please everyone all of the time.

Still, with this knowledge and with these great mentors in my own life, the insecurity persists.  I have not been able to rid myself of the voice of that friend, hearing it in the back of my mind each and every day.  There have been moments, times of despair and uncertainty, that I lament "I am not cut out for this life!"  I cry out to God,"How could Zach be so obviously called to ministry, to being a Pastor, and I am not called to go with him?!"  These moments occur more often than I would like to admit.

However, last week I was able to go to the Annual Conference of the New Mexico United Methodist Churches.  This was my first time at Conference and I quite enjoyed it, despite the long business sessions.  There was a special speaker at Conference, Pastor Jorge Acevedo, who said quite a few things that was life giving to me.  One such thing was, "Comparison is not of the devil, it is the devil."  I would imagine that all of us are guilty of comparing ourselves with others.  It doesn't usually lead to anything good.  Pastor Acevedo had many good things to say, particularly at the Ordination Service.  I found myself getting inspired, inspired to do ministry.  Inspired to do ministry with my husband, excited and emotional, thinking of the day when he will finally be ordained.  Then, like a light turning on, sitting in that service, it occurred to me.  I am called to this life.  Sure, my calling looks nothing like Zach's, and it looks nothing like the spouses of other Pastor's, but it's a calling all the same.  I know I help Zach do ministry when I am at home with the kids feeling useless.  I help when he can go where he needs to go, do what he needs to do, and he knows that I have things handled at home.  I help when I support him unconditionally, when he knows I am willing to go with him wherever his ministry takes him.  I must stand firm in the faith that God has called all of us, in some fashion, and I must not be tempted to compare my calling with others.  I also must remember that as we continue along our paths, the view will change but the destination is unwavering.

I can not promise that I will not have moments of insecurity, of doubt, of worry, moments where I compare myself with someone else.  I can not promise that everyone will like me or agree with my choices.  I can only continue on the best that I know how, hand in hand with my husband, in the full and comforting embrace of our Father, enveloped in the unending and unwavering grace that is offered to us all.

May I please offer a plea to all my church going friends, laity and clergy both, to stop comparing, but to love one another, encourage and uphold the calling in one another, even if it looks different that what we expect or desire?  Thank you for reading.  It means more to me than you know.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

You do You

I have a confession to make.  I am addicted to podcasts.  Guys, it's serious.  I don't know why I waited so long, but I fell for them and fell hard. I don't watch tv hardly at all anymore and my time on social media sites have decreased considerably. I listen to a variety of podcasts, mostly true crime (don't judge), and a few comedy.  One I really enjoy and put on when I need a laugh is called the Dollop.  It's an American History podcast that takes a story or a person from history, both distant and not too distant, and breaks it down into a laughter filled hour or so.  I wouldn't recommend this podcast if you are thin skinned or if you can't handle listening to views that may not necessarily match up to your own or are sensitive to bad language.  I love it though and I've learned quite a bit.

One great thing about listening to podcasts is I can put in my earbuds, turn on an episode, and get things done.  I've found I'm much more productive.  Today was a day that I needed to both laugh and get stuff done so I turned on The Dollop and got busy.  Interestingly enough, one of the topics spoke to something that has been on my heart lately.

So the topic was a silly one, titled Straw Hat Riot (episode 129 for you Rubes), and basically it spoke about a time that people were so concerned that men not wear their straw hats passed a specified date, that they would literally take and destroy said hat if one was caught wearing it.  It became a real issue, people were arrested and injured because of a hat. One of the hosts of the podcasts (and I paraphrase because language) said, "Why do people care what other people are doing so much?"

That's what's been laying on my heart lately.  Why do people care what other people do so much?  Maybe I've mellowed with age, or maybe I've encountered enough people who are different than what I grew up with, or maybe it's life experiences, who knows, but honestly folks, I don't care very much what other people choose to do if it doesn't harm anyone.  For instance, how many posts have you seen regarding fashion and you just can't wrap your mind around why someone would choose to wear it?  Or, perhaps you can't stand a certain celebrity, and cant fathom why someone would look up to them.  How many times have you glanced at the comments of that cute puppy video you shared and saw commentors who somehow found something negative to say about it.  Even those recipe videos some of us love (guilty) will have comments along the lines of "Why would anyone eat this" or "wow, this cake is really ugly, who would want it?"

Whatever it is, so many people feel the need to take a stance on the silliest of issues, becoming keyboard warriors against anyone who would dare be different.  I'm here to tell you, I DON'T CARE!  I don't care what you wear, how much makeup you wear, how your hair is done, what shows, music, books you like.  I don't care if you prefer a certain type of vehicle or type of pet, if you can't stand a certain type of food or hobby.  I don't care if you are a Baptist or a Methodist, if you prefer one type of worship music over another.  I don't feel the need to turn everyone I meet into Mikel clones, who believe in the exact same way I do.  Let me enjoy the things I enjoy, and I'll be glad to return the favor.

Try as you might, you will not find anyone who agrees one hundred percent with you in any given topic, be it politics, religion, current events, how you raise your family, or how you live your life.  That's OK.  I've learned so much from people who think differently than me.  There is so much negativity in this world, why add to it?  Why bring misery to yourself and others over insignificant things?  Why, when there are so many real issues going on today that are much more deserving of our concern and attention?

Friends, there is so much darkness in our lives, in our world, why can't we all choose to stop finding issue with our neighbors, stop adding to the negativity, and instead bring much needed light and love into our lives and into the lives of those we encounter, even if it's just with strangers on the internet.  It's okay to have differing ideas about things.  It's okay to not like everything we see.  However, ask yourself, would this negative thought benefit anyone else?  Is it worth my time to comment about something I don't like or think is silly?  Are my negative comments online or in person the witness I want to give?

May your days be filled with goodness and may we all be the light in a world filled with darkness.