Tag Archives: minister

The Truth Hurts, but Silence Kills

In seventh grade, there were two boys in my class who were bigger and taller than me.  I was the tallest kid in my elementary school, so this phenomenon was new.  I was friends with them and even flirted occasionally.  Well, I didn’t know too much about flirting, but I tried.  One day the bell rang and I was slow to gather my things.  The teacher left and I was alone with the guys.  I don’t know how it started, but they ended up chasing me around the room (fun and a little exciting) and grabbing my butt (um, NOT fun).  Shocked and a little frightened, I scooted outside fast.  This happened repeatedly and their actions escalated until I made sure I was never alone.  What started as an innocent flirtation turned terribly frightening. 

What did the teacher or my parents do about it?  The answer is:  nothing.  They did nothing because they never knew.  I didn’t tell anyone. 


My family and church taught me to be sweet and kind, to overlook offenses, forgive, and do all I could to make each day a good day.  Good lessons when they aren’t taken to the extreme.  The extreme is what caused a lot of hurt and pain in my life.  The extreme kept me silent when I should scream and it led to all sorts of dysfunction.  Today I’m grasping at the truth, trying to absorb it, but unlearning is hard to do.

Sadly, the story above repeated itself many times.  I blamed myself for flirting and accused myself of leading the offenders on.  I thought I couldn’t complain when someone crossed the line because before it happened, I laughed with them and seemed easy-going.  Of course, I had no idea laughing or being friendly and easy-going gave anyone permission to paw at me, but I still decided it was my fault.  Plus, I was sure they didn’t really have bad motives.  They would never really hurt me.  I needed to get over it and be quiet or I would create trouble. 

The truth is, their actions DID really hurt me.  They crossed the line.  They did something inappropriate and unacceptable.  And I reinforced their behavior by keeping quiet.  Rather than speak up, I insulated myself.  I gained weight.  I gave mixed messages to men, leaving them wondering who I was or what I wanted.  The truth is, I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted.  I was too busy trying to figure out what everyone else wanted and thought.

God is teaching me who I am in Him and I’m a slow learner.  Who I am, what I think, and what I want IS important.  I’m learning that it’s okay to express myself to others, even before I know who they are, what they think, and what they want.  I don’t have to adjust myself to fit in.  It’s too exhausting to live that way. 

I don’t want to come across as too godly and ostracize myself from one group.  I don’t want to come across as too worldly and offend another group.  I don’t want to be too flashy in the way I dress, but I don’t want to dress too conservatively.  I don’t want to be too opinionated for a woman.  I don’t want men to think I’m unable to hold my own in a conversation at work.  I don’t want anyone to think I’m arrogant about my education.  I don’t want anyone to think I’m uneducated.  And the list goes on and on…  It’s ridiculous and impossible to balance. 

How about if I just figure out who I am and be that person?  How about if I learn how to be okay with myself and let others feel what they want to feel about me? 

The problem is that the truth hurts sometimes.  It can be painful to know you aren’t included in a group because you’re different from them.  It can be painful to let someone know you think differently than they do.  Differences of opinion often lead to anger and resentment.  Speaking up and telling things that are difficult can make you seem like a trouble-maker. 

But keeping silent often leads to something that kills our souls. 

Grocery shopping about a year ago, I smiled in a friendly way to two men in my path.  To them, that apparently meant an invitation to harass me.  They followed me down several aisles, making catcalls and loudly expressing themselves.  They got closer and closer, more and more bold.  I wanted to run, but something rose up inside me and I decided I was not going to let them get away with their offensive behavior.  I stopped very suddenly and they were so close they ran into me.  Stunned, they backed up as I turned to face them.  All I said was, “Excuse me!” with a look that left no doubt about how I felt.  As they sputtered apologies, I turned and walked away.  I didn’t see them again.

As I grow to understand more of who God has called me to be, I grow in boldness.  I am a Christian, a minister, anointed by God to lead others in worship and to administer the sacraments of the church.  I’m not called to celibacy, but I am (as every Christian) called to purity, which means my sexuality is reserved for the man I will marry someday.  That means no one may touch me inappropriately or say degrading things to me.  If they do, I have every right and responsibility to correct them.  There is nothing unladylike about it.  It also means I will boldly speak the truth of God’s word when I speak or teach or preach or write on my blog. 

As challenging as this post was for me to write, I hope my sharing will help someone else stop excusing the inexcusable.  I hope this post will help someone start loving the person God made them to be.  I hope someone will speak up, say the hard things, and allow God to work out the details.

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under Spiritual Life

Out of Debt, Part Two

 

There are two little “altars” on top of my dresser.  I’ve never made an altar before; I’m a little paranoid of turning into some kind of a weirdo.  One altar is a pile of cut up credit cards.  The other is a small pile of loose change – pennies, nickels, and dimes.  I believe in the power of our words and thanking God in advance for what He’s going to do.  At least once day I look at them and thank God for His provision and healing.  I have been doing this since November.   

 Back in November, my church licensed me as a congregational minister.  I felt a tremendous sense of awe over the covenant I was about to make.  As much as I wanted it to happen, I was pretty freaked out about it too.  It is a marriage of sorts – not one that prevents me from marrying a man (whew!), but a declaration to the world that I am a minister of the Gospel and there is no going back.  I bound my life in covenant to God to be a representative of The Church for the rest of my life.  I did not want to have anything weighing on my conscience while I said those vows, so I went through a time of deep soul-searching and prayer in the weeks that led up to the ceremony.  

 In that time, God revealed a weakness I’ve been aware of but thought I had conquered.  I almost always have a plan, evaluating the circumstances and the resources available and deciding the best course of action.  I often do this without realizing it.  I can typically adjust the plan, if necessary, because not only is there a Plan A, but there’s also a Plan B and Plan C.  If you want to see my anxiety rise, throw a kink in the plan when I didn’t think I needed to come up with a Plan B.  This ability to plan has gotten me through many difficult situations, but I have found that God doesn’t have a big need for all my plans.  While my ideas of where things should end up might (sometimes) be in keeping with His, our ways of getting there are often very different.  For a number of years He has been challenging me to let go of my plan and trust Him.  I’ve often described the feeling as if I’m stepping off a high cliff with no safety net other than God’s word that He will catch me.  I like my safety nets.

 God convicted me prior to my licensing that I had a safety net and was not trusting in Him completely.  My safety net was my credit cards.  I knew living on credit was wrong, and I was embarrassed to let anyone know I sometimes bought groceries, clothes, and gifts on them.  I saw no way out.  I thought without them I’d be unable to survive.  The credit card balances were not pretty, but I believed God would make a way to wipe out the debt for me.  Of course, I had my own ideas about how He could do that:  book deal, rich husband, generous donor who God told to help me…  It was something I prayed about often.  The plan, by the way, did not include me paying them off myself.  

 One morning as I was getting ready for work, I found myself again praying for God to somehow relieve me of this credit card debt.  I reminded Him that much of it had been incurred when I was in seminary and my income was unstable and puny, if I had any at all.  I reminded Him that I was giving my life in service to Him.  I was right in the middle of my most convincing speech about how God should take care of this debt when He stopped me in my tracks.  

 

“Why should I pay off your credit cards when you continue to use them?”

 

There was complete silence on my end.   

 

Over the next 24 hours, I was able to process this statement and realize God wanted my full trust.  He wanted me to leave my financial future in His hands.  My “safety net” was not a real safety net anyway.  It was a deadly trap that was robbing my future.  (This all seems so clear now, but to my great embarrassment this concept eluded me for years.) 

 

The next morning before I left for work, I did what I’d previously thought impossible.  Like I wrote in the earlier post, I cut up the cards and headed for the trash can.  Right as I was about to dump them, something stopped me.  I’ve cut up other credit cards before, but I’ve always gotten more.  What was going to make this time different?   

 

I went to my bedroom and piled up the pieces on my dresser – a memorial, an altar, to remember so I never go that way again.  There was also a small pile of change on my dresser.  I left it there – like a ying to the yang of my debt.  The pile of coins is a reminder that it’s just money.  God owns everything and to Him this debt is like those pennies are to me.  He is able to do anything.   

Since that day, God has been doing a miracle in my finances.  God did lay it on the hearts of some people to help me, which gave me a great jump start. I have a plan to pay off the debt in a reasonable amount of time.  One card is completely gone.  One card is half of what it was two months ago.  God even provided me with a second job that allows me to use my particular skill set and work from home when it’s convenient for me.   

  

As I thanked God for His provision, I kept finding myself calling out to Jehovah Rapha, the God Who Heals.  At first this surprised me, but soon I realized the financial issues I’m facing are the result of an inner turmoil.  They are the result of pain I’ve carried with me.  By claiming my healing, I do not only believe for the financial debt to be paid, but for the emotional debt to be paid as well.   

 

God is my Provider and my Healer.  I can testify that He is healing the broken places inside of me.  That step seemed so impossible, but has caused the sun to finally shine in a place in my life where so much darkness had been.  If you come to my house, you will find a small pile of cut up credit cards sitting on top of my dresser.  It will be there until the day all the debt is gone.  

12 Comments

Filed under Spiritual Life