I won’t go into too much detail here, because I don’t want to give cause for a misinterpretation of events; but this little incident was too good not to share. Stay tuned for one tiny peek at an unplanned and unexpected but very welcome Redemptive Moment. 🙂
I WAS FIRED.
I was fired. Yep – not from my present job, but the job I had before. It’s been nearly 8 years since I went through very rough waters with a former employer, both sides feeling justified in a growing distrust and mutual dissatisfaction, and a painful ordeal that was only survived with some grace because of a gracious mediator who walked us through the transition that would ultimately lead to me training my own replacement.
This was a life-altering experience for me – not just because it was so devastating to not be believed, not be trusted, and feel I had NO earthly way to rectify the opinions of others, but mainly because this was a small family owned business, and these were people I had known for YEARS before working there, had gone to CHURCH with them, had what I thought was a loving relationship with them and their kids outside any workplace association. Yet in the months when everything unraveled and in the subsequent mutual parting of ways, everything in our friendship and association also vanished.
MEMORY IS A TRICKY THING.
From what I understand – and please, I’m not a scientist, so let’s just chalk this up to being a bit of an internet and news junkie – our brains RE-remember every time we visit a “memory,” and HOW we perceive is fluid, always changing – almost as if the memories themselves are living things – and yet our CONVICTIONS about what we remember are equally as strong in the 10th telling (which for some people will be much more varied from the first telling than others) even if the content (unbeknownst to us) may differ in significant ways.
Perhaps that’s a good argument for keeping a journal – provided we can be trusted to recount events honestly to ourselves, which sometimes may be a big “if.” 🙂
As for me? Here? I remember more the emotions, the hurt, the suspicion, or the anger – even the fury – sometimes directed at me. I remember returning some of the same. Present emotions often register as shame, regret, sorrow, that wishful longing that things had been different, that I had DONE things differently.
A BROKEN WINDSHIELD TO HEAL.
By happenstance, my car recently suffered (another) windshield injury. I looked up a repair shop online, not fully registering the location of the address, and mistakenly assessing it to be closer to my job for a quick lunch visit. In fact, this shop was several miles away, in the neighborhood of my previous place of employment. And I arrived to learn my windshield was non-repairable – I would have to reschedule for another visit to have the whole thing replaced. So by happenstance *ahem* I found myself with some time to kill before going back to work, AND within just a couple blocks of this place which attaches to so many significant negative (but growth-inducing) emotions.
So I decided to drop in for a visit.
And I found that the son has since bought the business from his parents, the wife (daughter-in-law) now manages the main office and the books, and though the mom no longer works there, the dad still weaves in and around the office, cheerfully advertising, don’t you know, that the KFC founder didn’t really get his business feet under him till he was 80 years old, so there!
I found that the gal who had replaced me was years gone, and the gal I had replaced more years before was now working there again. I found that the business had weathered the economic downturn seemingly well, and that the gracious mediator I had hoped to revisit had resigned just a few months before to pursue more missions-minded work in another city. How fitting. 🙂
There was shock expressed over how much weight I’ve lost (they all knew me at my unhealthiest), there was curiosity about the house I’ve recently purchased, my now living near my sister so many miles away from my current job, and the nearly 8 years I’ve now been with the same employer. We visited about changes in our church experiences, changes in our country, and in short how the years mature us .. if we let them. 🙂
There were smiles, even a few hugs, and they let me wander out back until I found the 80+ year old dad lifting his face to soak up a little sun behind the shop, enjoying a quiet smoke break, standing just exactly as I remember him .. I got to visit with him for a few minutes, and … was that “relief” spreading over his face? To learn that I was now in such a good place, healthy and happy and well cared for …. I left well-wishes for everyone, and asked the dad to take a love greeting to his wife, my former boss, too.
Then another round of hugs and affirmations for the healing time can minister, and we all marveled once again at how .. Paths can cross and sever, but God is still God of us all, and – for those who will humbly yield to it – his grace is greater than what we allow to divide ….
I think I will never again feel as much GRATITUDE as I did that day for a badly timed rock bouncing on the freeway on my commute to work. 😉 Miracles can spring forth from the most unlikely of places, don’t you know.
And just for the record, I don’t believe in “happenstance.” 😉
I deserve to not be inconvenienced.
If you are driving too slowly, I deserve the right of way – you should pull over, or better yet, get off the road because nobody who drives too slowly should be allowed to continue to renew their license.
If you are taking too long to tell your story, whether in person or on the phone, I deserve to not only walk away from or hang up on you, but to do so without any negative feeling from you in response.
On the other hand, if you become distracted while I am telling you one of my all-important but protracted stories, I have a right to become angry and indignant and to express to you all the ways in which your lack of attention has hurt me deeply.
If your incompetence is causing me extra work, nevermind that I am in the “service” industry, I deserve to point out your failings, loudly and in front of others if possible, so as to make it clear that I have been wildly wronged and should in no way be held responsible for my own suffering productivity.
If you post something to social media with which I disagree, I deserve the top billing in the newsfeed to castigate you and express with vehemence my strict opposition, even if I’m expressing myself in the most extreme terms and verbiage which might cause me regret if I were to re-visit the topic when I might be more sober-minded.
If I suddenly feel I do not wish to keep our previously confirmed plans, I deserve – whatever my reasons – the freedom and authority to completely bail on you to do my own thing, or failing that option, to simply arrive as late as possible so I can be sure to maximize every minute of my own time with no respect to yours.
If you run a restaurant for which there are many patrons, no matter how excellent your food, I deserve to be bumped ahead of as many of the people in front of me as possible, and I deserve to be waited on by not just any waiter, but by the owner who has arrived on property just in time to receive me properly.
Similarly, if I am running late for the start of my movie, I deserve priority access to the ticket counter – so I can squeeze in ahead of the other dozen people who had the forethought to arrive on time for their shows – before the end of the previews.
If I have been forced to occupy a middle seat on our plane, I deserve your deference to trade places so that you are the uncomfortable one and not me, or else I will penalize you for the duration of our flight with squirming, bouncing, bumping, and even loud, bad-breathy conversation which will cause you to wish you had acquiesced and just given me the aisle seat in the first place.
Need I go on?
I haven’t quite gotten back into the groove of blogging, as you can see – Most of my updates are in short bursts via Twitter, because it’s much like “bullet pointing” and I like the challenge of forcing my thoughts into a SUCCINCT format – being an otherwise naturally VERBOSE person … *coughcough*
So I will share a couple of my latest tweets, again, here, but with a LITTLE bit of commentary attached:
- Ur spouse is not ur be all & end all; u SHARE life, u BUILD life together. Nurture ur own gifts/interests so u HAVE something 2share!
- Better the couple who MISS each other from time2time than the couple who is bored with – or worse, loathe each other. Hv strong friendships.
- Each spouse shd hv their own friends, but they must “keep the foxes out of the vineyard.” Agree on boundaries w/others “outside” &KEEP them.
It is so tempting to view your “significant other” as the WHOLE of your existence – we want to get lost in the other person, we want to set our lives in orbit around them, and love songs since forever have praised these passions as though they are the hallmark of true love. I do actually beg to differ – in fact, I suspect the ferocity of my emotion might just mean I’m making you the object of my obsession, of my “worship,” putting you in the place of expecting you to meet all my emotional needs, etc. These expectations unchecked will DESTROY the very person meant to be Beloved!
In the blaze of any given moment, these depths of emotion can be INTOXICATING, oh I know! When you love the other person SO intensely that you want to feel every fiber of their being wrapped up in your own; like there is no way you can physically be close enough, so you press into each other, you want to spend every waking minute with each other – to the falling away of all other life responsibilities and interests and tasks, etc. May I humbly suggest – there is a point at which you can make the other person almost like your drug-of-choice; you want to feel those emotions all the time .. to the despising of all other kinds of “emotions” or life pursuits.
Sometimes distance will separate, sometimes life responsibilities will require your focus, sometimes your Beloved WILL “fail” to “meet your needs” and you will fail to meet his/hers. None of these things need derail the confidence of love’s genuineness. Recent circumstances in my world have caused me to revisit this truth – If we are each about our own “business” – if we are each being faithful with God’s calling on our lives, in any given moment, it is not inconceivable that we will have seasons where we are kept from being with each other as we would like. This need not be a death knell to the relationship – MISSING one another, LONGING for one another – it’s an opportunity to reevaluate whether our affections and expectations have gotten jostled out of balance, and to ask myself “Am I seeking more to be ‘served’ than to ‘serve’? to BE ‘loved’ more than to ‘love’?”
“But he’s not meeting my emotional needs! He doesn’t love me anymore! He doesn’t love me enough! IF he loved me, he’d … [fill in the blank] …”
Oh, sweetheart, if you feel greater NEED to be loved, that’s often when you most need to reach out and SHOW love. Call a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Sign up to sing with the church worship team this month. Work in the nursery. Pick up a project you’ve been neglecting for the past few months. Ask your Beloved how you can encourage and help him/her, see if there is something you can do to meet HIS/HER “emotional need” and do so without the expectation of reciprocation.
And when you feel heartsick over missing him, remind yourself – It truly IS better to be missing one another, because you haven’t been able to spend the time with one another that you wish, than to otherwise resent one another for being too [emotionally] demanding, or to be bored with one another because you don’t each have your own life tasks and friendships to SHARE with one another when you come together once again.
.. and I’ll be a fly on my own wall. ❤
Two Unrelated Topics??
Well, a conversation with a friend about “speaking in tongues” has naturally progressed into a discussion on biblical masculinity and femininity because of “headship” and “submission” ~ I did not predict this course! haha! (if you’re interested, check out 1 corinthians 11-14, romans 12, jude 1, 1 timothy 2-3, 1 peter 3, genesis 2-3, ephesians 4-5 ~ all of which are making appearance in this discussion. see if you can spot the connections in these two topics?)
aka #ilovethedeependofthepool ♥
Here’s a link to ALL of the above texts in one spot for your convenience 😉
I LOVE HOW SCRIPTURE says of Mary (mother of Jesus), and the miraculous that had entered her life, that “she treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” I have far more often been the “wear your heart on your sleeve” type gal. But I truly *aspire* to be more like Mary both in the above, and in her prayer concerning the Word of God, “I am the Lord’s servant; may it be to me as you have said.” ♥ ♥ ♥
(see the Gospel of Luke, chapters 1-2)
or a Foolish approach to a (nevertheless) Genuine desire to serve Christ?
I have learned of a family (2 parents, 4 children all under age of 10) “raising support” for a so-called 6-week missions trip to Africa to the tune of $30,000…a trip during which they MIGHT be helping this ministry to do some construction, and they MIGHT be teaching vacation Bible school to some local children, that is IF they are allowed in, and if not, well – this ministry would just enjoy the family’s company as they visit, so would you please make your checks payable to Family-Dad/Husband by such and such date….
WHAT?? I do not see anything of the Spirit of God in this! – NO calling, NO clear direction, NO confidence that the Lord has prepared the way for the declaration of his word, NO “transparency” as far as the ethics of raising that kind of sum, NOT EVEN a way to have spiritual oversight for the trip? such as would be required to raise money through AT LEAST a sending church?, and an up-front resignation to the fact this may just be a 6-week vacation, basically, for their family of six, and so, would y’all be so kind as to fund it for them?? I will be so bold as to cry: Fraud and veritable Embezzlement in the name of Christ!! (My boldness comes, too, in part for knowing some of the family dynamic, here….)
I find this intolerable!! (and an OFFENSE to my heart, for Christ’s sake!)
So, I hope I have advised my friend wisely – I have directed him to follow the pattern set forth in Matthew 18:15-20 – Approach your “brother” whom you believe to be in sin, openly (humbly) asking questions so you are able to DISCERN if this is just foolishness or willful selfishness; offer either confrontation of sin, or wisdom to correct the folly, and if your “brother” remains unteachable and unsubmissive to the Spirit of Christ, involve a mediator – In this case, I suggested my friend seek the input, then, of your family’s elder in your church, perhaps ask some more questions to gain additional discernment, and approach your “brother” again with the elder present. If your “brother” still remains unteachable and unsubmissive to the Spirit of Christ, be prepared, because this may need to be brought publicly before the whole church – especially if your “brother” has sent this “support” letter to other members w/o the Leadership’s knowledge/approval/support, and is therefore potentially sinning against (stealing from!) the whole Body.
Oh, God help us, we are ALL of us foolish at times. Sure enough! And I hope, by GRACE, that if I were so publicly zealous in my folly (before God, I am sure I have been, at times!) that I would be approached lovingly and carefully by a brother/sister in Christ to at least seek out my motivation, discern my heart, and offer counsel if not correction. And if I were so “foolish” to SIN blatantly in this way, I would hope for Christ’s sake! that someone would intervene that I might not bring such shame to the cause of Christ.
But still? And failing all other intervention? I pray that God, by his GRACE, would nevertheless cover ALL of our own foolishness and sinfulness with the blood of Christ and STILL bring about some good for his Glory, that we might nevertheless say with the Apostle Paul – imprisoned and bad-mouthed by other “preachers” of the Gospel, and exactly in a situation when we might expect him to “defend” himself and rebuke the nay-sayers/abusers – in Philippians 1:12-21 ~
They Can’t Imprison the Message
12-14 I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered. All the soldiers here, and everyone else, too, found out that I’m in jail because of this Messiah. That piqued their curiosity, and now they’ve learned all about him. Not only that, but most of the followers of Jesus here have become far more sure of themselves in the faith than ever, speaking out fearlessly about God, about the Messiah.
15-17 It’s true that some here preach Christ because with me out of the way, they think they’ll step right into the spotlight. But the others do it with the best heart in the world. One group is motivated by pure love, knowing that I am here defending the Message, wanting to help. The others, now that I’m out of the picture, are merely greedy, hoping to get something out of it for themselves. Their motives are bad. They see me as their competition, and so the worse it goes for me, the better—they think—for them.
18-21 So how am I to respond? I’ve decided that I really don’t care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on!
And I’m going to keep that celebration going because I know how it’s going to turn out. Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done. I can hardly wait to continue on my course. I don’t expect to be embarrassed in the least. On the contrary, everything happening to me in this jail only serves to make Christ more accurately known, regardless of whether I live or die. They didn’t shut me up; they gave me a pulpit! Alive, I’m Christ’s messenger; dead, I’m his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can’t lose.
Glory to God! and Help us all, in JESUS’ name….
some recent reflections:
@Grace2Grow: The real maturing of the Christian doesn’t occur in seminaries as if by mere intellectual education ~ it occurs by living w/in the community of a flawed but redeemed church Body, loving &patiently forbearing, &laying down ur life for another.
@Grace2Grow: GOSPEL life isn’t mere rigorous doctrinal study; rather, it’s COMMUNION w/God, worshipping in Spirit &Truth, necessarily communing w/others who r also united w/God by his Spirit, together growing 2loathe what God loathes, love what he loves, & live as he lives.
@Grace2Grow: We hv 2long cultivated a sloppy acceptance of “truth” as that which is handed to us as tasty, sugary morsels prepared by others. We cannot now expect to have the necessary capacity to examine and test and discern having so long left these thoughtful disciplines to atrophy. And how can we then complain if we discover we have been deceived?
@Grace2Grow: GOSPEL life isn’t merely loving one another as Christ has loved us, though that might arguably be the fullest expression of it. The TRUTH that undergirds it is the very GOSPEL work of Jesus, itself. Had he not pursued us when we were yet his enemies, &died as a ransom 4our souls 2reconcile us 2God, &were we 2remain ignorant of &cut off from this ROOT, there could be no FRUITFUL Love.
…One of the books I am currently reading is E.Metaxas’s biography of BONHOEFFER. It is … touching me DEEPLY. I’ve always admired Bonhoeffer from afar, but now find him as admirable a man as I have never known, and one whose story is very fit for our own time. The above reflections spring from some of the real-life lessons he learned and would teach on. This book captures well these themes, and works them out in a way that I feel is having a very formative effect on the trajectory of my own life. If you can manage the time, I highly recommend the read ~ you may find it easier to tackle in “audiobook” format. 😉
Life has been very abusive of late. The last several weeks, perhaps made worse in part because of the holidays, I have been “magnifying” fear instead of “magnifying the Lord” by faith.
Still, God was gracious to intervene – in this case with the patient and persevering counsel of a couple godly friends who kept pointing me back to truth. Here are some of their encouragements:
- Sometimes surrounding yourself with endless preaching and reading of “Christian” books and even devouring Scripture ~ this can be so much self-righteous beating your head against a brick wall! [Not to diminish the Word! This was said for my sake, because I tend to go overboard on all that “doing” ~ Yes, the Word is the SWORD, but I am more apt to wield it as a battering ram – perhaps especially on myself – rather than letting the LORD wield it as a scalpel, applied with grace-filled anesthetic ;).]
- You really need to be singing Praise and Worship! ~ like when Israel would call on the Musicians before going into battle, and the LORD wins the victory. It invites the presence of God into your experience and necessarily puts you in a place to “fix your eyes on Christ.”
- If there are no physical explanations, as yet, have you considered the possibility that you’re under “attack” spiritually? and/or making yourself sick because you’re not fighting the fight of FAITH?
- If you’re so full of self-preservation and frustration/anger, how can you expect to lovingly pray as you ought? Selfishness and selflessness cannot live together in the same space!
- You need to REST. You need to KEEP the Sabbath ~ that means rest IN it. It takes *humility* to stop and even just sleep ~ it means you’re not always in control, and God likes to remind you of that so you trust HIM completely.
- Stop trying to “figure everything out!” You aren’t meant to; that’s why we are to be LED by the Spirit! And how can you HEAR him if every quiet space in your life is filled up with DOING?
- You are MORE than a conqueror in Christ! Like Ali, when he would win a major fight, and he’d go home with the prize money, and Mrs. Ali would say Thank you! and put the money in the bank? SHE was MORE than a conqueror! ~ Ali fought the fight, but SHE got the spoils of his victory!
These are all still percolating. 🙂