Photo1Confession: There are people that I purposefully hold at arms length. Okay- maybe more like football fields’ length.  Ummm…. Marathon’s length? Continents’ length? Let’s just say I steer as far away physically (or, at least as far away emotionally) as I can. They are quite literally Marginalized in my life. I push them as far from the center of my life as I can. I’m not proud of it. I’m working hard to overcome this tendency- but I have a long way to go.

It’s easy to point out and find the marginalized in our culture and the world…….The orphan, the single or single parent (especially in the church), the leper,(Yes, they still exist and are evidence that the marginalization of people is not new,) the AIDS patient (and orphan) the enslaved, the sex-trade worker, the addict, the homeless, the mentally ill, the impoverished.… the list could go on infinitum. (Links are to organizations or information on these marginalized groups.)

If you looked through my repertoire of helping…. you’d probably never guess what a marginalizing jerk I can be. I support most of the causes above in one way or another. I’ve walked besides friends with AIDS, am currently helping with the Stuck Tour locally, I help those in the throes of adopting in any way I can, we’ve  helped support a child in Tanzania through a great organization for years. I do what I can to help the homeless, we love to help the impoverished through Kiva, I worked for years as a pastoral counselor helping those struggling emotionally, and do what I can politically to help end poverty. I’ve spent over 20 years working with and for a non-profit that helps build families and the world by supporting mothers….

Still.. I marginalize. I’m guilty.

The list of the marginalized in my life is a little different from the culture’s marginalized.  Lately- I’ve been wondering…..and feeling convicted about- those I personally marginalize. Those I steer away from. Those that cause me to be less Good Samaritan and more Pharisee like.

Who are they if not limited to those listed above? (Cause- let’s face it-the things I listed above are still pretty minimal when it comes to helping the culturally marginalized…they don’t exactly take spot in the center of my life’s pages.)

They are- (pretty much) those I assume won’t like me, be open to knowing me or who intimidate me because of our differences. 

  • Physical differences….. Honestly? Really incredibly beautiful people intimidate me. I tend to protect myself from the insecurity I feel when I’m around them by isolating myself from them. (Dear friends- you are beautiful-  yes- intimidatingly, so. But, I love you anyway. I’ve learned to.)
  • Emotional and personality differences….I just don’t “get” certain emotional and personality types…. they are hard to connect with- I tend to isolate from them rather than have to do the work of connecting…
  • Spiritual belief differences… The truth: I love my Muslim neighbors (I live in a very culturally diverse neighborhood) from afar and with minimal but friendly contact. Because, I’m pretty much afraid they already hate me—-1) Because our last name is Jewish. (There has been neighborhood kid “stuff” that backs that fear a bit.) and we’re Christian… We’re kind of the almost hat-trick of what the media says they dislike. I also kind of feel like I must look like a prostitute to them with my blazing burgundy hair uncovered, and my body-too-conscious clothes. After our mailbox was mutilated by the mail truck- we considered requesting that they deliver to our neighbor for us… but my husband once quipped that our mail from “Jews for Jesus” might not go over so well….just keepin it real- people.) I also feel WAY under dressed when my beautifully- Sari- wrapped neighbors walk by….justsayin. Diverse.
  • Stylistic differences….In a world of extreme rocky- road styles.. I’m pretty much vanilla ice cream. I pretty much assume people with extreme piercings etc will find e too bland to bother with. (Okay and they kind of scare  me a bit… alright? )
  • Preference Differences….These may be lame- but I’ll confess them anyway- I don’t “get” gaming. I don’t “get” Crossfit people.(I had to google what it was thought it was a church ting… not so much.) I don’t “get” roller coaster lovers (I refuse to pay money to be scared to death or made to vomit.) I don’t “get” rabid sports fans. I don’t “get” extreme political activists or the politically obsessed.
  • Financial differences….Okay- so honestly? The poor? I get. Kind of. The rich? Not so much. Which is weird- because in the big scope of things- there are people who could look at our income and in comparison to theirs- see us as BOTH of those. Rich. Poor. Yay- we’re both! Hint: that’s probably true of you as well. Unless you’re Oprah. Then, everyone’s poor. Oprah- honey- if you’re reading this? Call me. You will want to have me on a show. You will (someday -hopefully soon-when it’s published) want to choose my book “A Mile in Her Shoes”  as a book club choice. It could bring the world of women together. Justsayin-  I have issues with the rich. (and a lot of other people and things- we know this.) Basically? I judge them. I judge their cars. (Such a waste of money.) I judge their clothes. (Again, a waste- and so stink in beautiful that I’m jealous.) I judge their in-home help. (Because again- I’m jealous and could really use some help with housework cause -duh I’m in a neck brace, for like… ever.) Pretty much I judge them because I’m jealous and or because I think “I’d use that money so much better.” With all the judgy-judgy and jealous temptations? I pretty much avoid “the rich.”  Whom ever they are. (And that clinches the fact that Oprah won’t call. oopsy.) Okay- another confession- I actually do know some “rich” people… not Oprah rich- but rich. And they also intimidate me because I feel like they judge me…I’m just a SAHM after all…

Weird list of marginalized people, I know. Trust me- this is just the beginning…. I also marginalize academics, (I never finished college….hello insecurity.) those with dementia, senility (kind of related by their polar opposition.) and pageant/ dance/soccer/extreme hippy crunchy/ or rabidly controlling or rabidly permissive parent type people.

Told you before. I can be a real- jerk.

Here’s the thing… (Now that I’ve offended or alienated pretty much everyone….) When I look around? I notice that people in general tend to kind of run in packs….. packs of people like them. Like sticks with like. SAHM’s with SAHM’s. Inked with inked. Academic with academic…..rich with rich… etc…We live millions of kinds of intricately segregated lives. Some forms of segregation are just more obvious than others.

So- I’ve decided to desegregate. No- I’m not starting a busing campaign- I wouldn’t even know where to start- and I have a hard enough time parking my car- I’d be deadly with a bus. Instead- I’m inviting the marginalized of all kinds into my life. The culturally marginalized. The socially marginalized and those I personally marginalize. I started this journey a few years ago- and I’ll tell you something-  I’ve met and grown to love some of the most incredible people since.

People who challenge me. People who change me for the better. People who accept me when I thought they’d judge. People who are so much more than I ever would have thought.

People I want to be in right smack dab in the middle of my story… inked into the pages of my life and heart- no longer relegated to the margins where they are tolerated from afar.

I’m looking forward to using some of my margins and the marginalized and turning  the tie and relationships into art…. join me?

  • What about you? Who are the marginalized in your life? Why?
  • What do you think would happen if you changed that? How could you?
  • What do you think would happen if we all did?

Dear Lord- You know my heart from the inside out. You know how I isolate myself from people….you know who I marginalize. Please help me to Love YOU and love the people you’ve created- just as they are- the similar to me and the vastly different. Help me to set aside my prejudices, fears, intimidations, jealousies insecurities and all the things that make me want to push some people as far  into the margins of my life as I can. Write a new story  on the pages of my life. One filled with love and diversity and respect. One that looks more like yours and less like mine. I love you lord, amen. 

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:36-40

“35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  Matthew 25:35-40

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8

PS: Yes- I’m also intimidated by the artistically gifted- which, from the pic- you can see- I am not:P

To sum up this series….

Let’s make some margin time in our lives- so we can be flexible and connect when opportunities arise.

Let’s make the marginally important- marginal- let’s keep main thing the main thing and let the lesser things go.

Finally- Let’s not marginalize people…. let’s love them. That’s what Jesus did.  From hookers, to tax collectors, fishermen to doctors…..all of them. All of us.

Photo1I never got in trouble for what I doodled in the margins…. it was always what I scrawled in the middle of the page that caused the problem. No, I wasn’t writing scathing book reports or running an underground newspaper in elementary school. I didn’t blow the cover off the faux meat lunch room cover-up or create a tabloid laden with pre-pubescent gossip….

I was boring. (Still am.) I just plain had illegible handwriting. (Still do.) No matter how hard I tried- it always looked like I’d doodled my homework. Let’s just say- I loved Scan-tron tests…. I could almost always fill in the little ovals in a way that could be read by the machine…. almost.

Yesterday, we talked about the art that can happen when we allow some doodle time in the pages of our lives. Today,we’re talking about the marginal. What happens when the margins take over the page.

My primary life goals are to- 1) love and honor God and 2) love others.

The truth is- my calendar and to-do lists rarely reflect this.

Here’s a sample:

6:30- wake up

6:31- do what all women who’ve had 3 children and the bladder to show for it- do.

6:33- glare at the coffee pot while contemplating mainlining coffee grounds just. this. once.

7:00- start the wake up process of a child who hates mornings.

7:10- begin making the threats that will eventually force him to both get up and get dressed. (Threats may or may not include and are not limited to: Nude school attendance, starvation, ice water dumpage, video game grounding.. you get the idea..)

7:15- discuss the physics of soggy cereal being a natural cause and effect of dawdling. I.E. your own fault.

7:25- nag about homework placement. (“Is it IN the folder, or shoved into the backpack? Is it complete? Don’t forget to turn it in…”)

7:30- explain that shoes are: WHERE THEY ALWAYS ARE. and yes- socks are part of the dress code. I SAID So.

7:32- begin the carpool countdown.

7:39- push- shove and generally throw the child out the door toward the SUV of the  neighbor/angel who drives him to school each day….

Kind of hard to find the whole… “Love God- and others” priority there.

I suppose you COULD make a case for the whispered prayers of “God, please help me not kill this kid.” being an honest connection with God. You could also say that getting a child launched out the door- clothed, fed, prepared and threatened into his day is a form of loving care….. maybe.

If my day became less hectic and more focused- you could even chalk that first 69 minutes up to- just being a mom….

The truth is- it rarely does.

There is always “stuff” to do. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, preparing, shopping, errands, appointments, carpool….

Chances are- if I’m not actively doing something- I’m guiltily thinking about the things I should be doing….(Like all that stuff I “Pinned” on Pinterest..)

At the end of my day- I find myself wondering if I really accomplished anything that matters.

Of course- the “stuff” of mothering matters. Naked children at school would be bad. (less laundry- but bad.) Feral children are generally frowned upon in even the most un-polite society.

But still. I wonder- is all this STUFF necessary?

I’ll be honest- I know it isn’t.

(well- clothes, food- safely maintained surroundings…. are… ) But- does EVERYTHING really have to be done PERFECTLY? Does EVERYTHING have to be Pinterest or photo shoot ready?

I’ve decided- it doesn’t.

If I spend less time on the “stuff” of mothering (and living)  I can do more of the HEART of what I want to invest my life in….. loving God and others.

The only way for there to be a margin of time  in my life is to stop scribbling all over the page of my days with never ending to do lists written in a striving for perfection.

I have to leran to let the marginally important become marginal in my life.

New rules:

1) Clean enough- is clean enough.

2) Good enough is good enough.

3) Start with the most important then add the lesser.

4) Do less- focus more.

5) Say “No.” Not “I can’t.”

Why? because:

1) Clean enough IS clean enough.  I refuse to spend my life cleaning. God has a bigger plan for all of us than that. (if you struggle with that- I encourage you to check out http://www.flylady.net ) A free way to find that balance of home maintenance and spending all your time cleaning….

2) Everything doesn’t have to be home made or perfect. Sometimes it’s okay to-buy the cupcakes for the class. Sign up to bring pop instead of a dish to pass. (Gatherings are about people- not a Food Network challenge…) Save that hour to pray. Read. Make a phone call. Meet a friend. Soak yourself in something encouraging you can pour into others…Don’t use it to clean the windows.

3) No really. I mean it. I need to force myself to start with connecting with God and people FIRST. Work can always be done later. Homework can wait until we’ve had a chance to talk- have a snack- be together. Time with God can begin before the coffee is finished…..I can get up a few minutes early to make it possible to have caffeinated devotional time. I can make the phone call early in the day before it becomes too crowded to really connect.

4) Somethings just don’t have to be done. I don’t have to sign up for every volunteer position. I don’t have to always cook a 3 course meal. Confession: I have lived at this house for 12 years. The windows have never actually been “washed.” We can still see out of them. (I do however constantly clean finger and nose prints off of them….- otherwise we wouldn’t be able to see out. Which could be a form of insulation- I suppose- but I’m not willing to try it. I have standards.)

5) When I say “No.” I’m afraid people will think I’m mean. (They may.) However- when I say: “I can’t” because- it feels like a lie. I mean…If I really tried… I usually COULD. (I can change schedule conflicts, I can rearrange my life- I can live with or treat the pain caused by….)  ( I have serious neck issues- I’m currently in a neck brace until at least June…certain things cause me physical pain- I can say NO- and not suffer it- or say yes… and hurt myself. It’s a choice I have to make.) Saying “No.” Isn’t mean. It simply doesn’t leave room for people to try and problem solve how you “can” instead of how you “can’t”.

Sidenote: when asking someone to do something- I think it’s better to ask if they will- vs. whether they can….. we need to allow each other to say “no” too. 

It’s time to get some margin into our lives.

It’s time to let the marginal take it’s rightful place….. to focus on the most important- and get that done, first.

Dear Lord- I confess- I often scribble all over my days. My to do list looks like one of my elementary homework assignments. If I try to read it- the point is lost. Illegible. I completely forget about margin because I’m so busy filing the entire page with the less important. Help me to be wise- to honor and love you and others first- help me to let the marginally important take it’s rightful place…. and help me to focus on the most important. Loving you- and loving others. Amen

How about you? Do you focus on the marginally important? How do you make time for margin in your life? What have you let go of? How do you save time?

Tomorrow we’ll complete the series- “Margins- Marginal and the Marginalized”….by talking about the Marginalized……..making room in our lives for those we are tempted to keep at arm’s length.

As soon as the words flew out of my mouth- I wished they were attached to a cord so I could pull them back in like a rogue kite.

No such luck. Instead, they flew out and attacked like one of those battle kites in “The Kite Runner.”  It probably would have been less bloody had the words been tipped with broken glass or needles. Instead they dripped with criticism. Poison that can wreck relationships.

Were the words harsh? No. Just the normal Mom stuff. (And wife stuff, and friend stuff-and leadership stuff….I am guilty of giving unsolicited advice-way more often than I care to admit.) Was I wrong? No. The problem is…… I gave advice that wasn’t asked for. Otherwise known as: criticism.

I meant well. I was TRYING To help. Except, I didn’t. I  hurt someone I care about. And I probably hurt the relationship. Not my goal.

The thing is: I know better. Because I’ve been on both sides of this fence.

When someone offers me advice that I haven’t asked for- I hear an underlying criticism. “You should think about changing your hair color”  sounds like:”I don’t like that hair color- this one would be better.”  “You’d look thinner if you wore_____” sounds like: “You look fat. ” Maybe you should try leading like this….” Sounds a lot like: “You’re a terrible leader.”  Criticism.

Helpful. Maybe. Sometimes. Right? Maybe, so. It can also damage relationships. Someone who’s always offering unsolicited advice (criticism) is probably not the person youre going to turn to when you feel vulnerable and need input.

After recently being both guilty of and victim to “advice.” I wondered:  What would happen if I stopped giving unsolicited advice ?

Honestly-  the idea makes me feel the beginnings of a panic attack. My mind reels:

“But, I’m a mom. I know things. I’m even (sometimes) right. If I ignore things, people won’t change.The world would be better if people did things my way…..and did I mention- I’m right?”

Some part of me feels like I’m the advisor to the universe. Like I have a responsibility to share the wealth of my knowledge.

If I am- why does it so often go ignored at best, often unappreciated  and sometimes, cause hurt?

Maybe the rest of the world feels like unsolicited advice is criticism, too.

So what can we do when we see something we’d really like to “advise” on?

1) Pray it- don’t say it. Pray if there’s something you see in someone you love that may need to be addressed. It’s amazing the opportunities God can create- and how God can help us change our opinions about our role as “advisors to the universe.”

2) Listen when advice is asked for. Answer the question- don’t look for a way to squeeze in your own agenda. (When someone asks for advice about a pair of jeans- it’s not the time to advise them about their hair… I call that:  pork-fat advising. Like the government, only more personal. Build trust by sticking to the advice asked for.)

3) Prioritize relationships over rightness. Ask yourself: Is this person doing this the RIGHT way (aka: mine) worth potentially losing the relationship for? Will saying this this help build relational trust- or crush it? Choose your response based on whether it’s worth losing trust to confront an issue. (Sometimes, it is.)

  • Do you experience unsolicited advice? How do you handle it? 
  • Do you often give unsolicited advice? How is it received? 
  • Is there a particular person- group of people who’s advice really rankles your cankles? (Yes- I just said that… it rhymed. This needed a rhyme. Are you criticizing me in your mind? Whatever.:P) 

Dear Lord- help me to pick and choose when to give advice and when to be quiet. I know that unsolicited advice feels like criticism… even when I’m just trying to be: helpful. Help me to prioritize relationship over rightness, help me to listen and help me to pray. I love you lord- amen. 

I’m learning:

When I pick and choose when to “advise” in my relationships- I find people more apt to respond and listen. Maybe unsolicited advice is like yelling- the more you do it the less is heard.

Engage- to connect with commitment

I remember the the heat of a summer’s day sun radiating from the primer black paint of my boyfriends 1961 Ford Galaxie as I hopped up on the hood to prepare for the “surprise” he had for me. Even parked under the tree in front of his parent’s house- that car was h-o-t. I briefly wondered whether you could get third degree burns from the hood of a parked car.

The truth is:  I didn’t care. Because, I loved him. And… I more than kind of suspected what the “surprise” was. We’d been talking about taking the next step in our relationship for a while… and well… maybe we’d even gone shopping a few times and “happened” to look at some pretty rings….

Just about the time I couldn’t stand it any longer… (the anticipation, not the butt- burn.) he pulled a 9″ tall precious moments teddy bear from behind his back. Not what I was expecting.

But- before disappointment could set in, he told me to turn over the little heart shaped “tag” that was around the bears neck.

Taped to it was a tiny ruby and diamond heart ring.

He got down on one knee. Tears filled my eyes.

I said (more…)

I white knuckled the rails as I stepped onto the wooden, wobbly bridge. I looked down. It’s elevation of 18 inches felt more like 18 feet. “Don’t fall. Don’t fall.” I chanted with each tenuous step.

The chains that held the bridge groaned as I made my way across. Tiny beads of sweat formed on my 10 year old forehead. The pressure was caused by more than the wobbling under my feet. We were midway through an epic game of follow the leader, and I was: THE LEADER.

Normally, the bridge was a perfunctory part of the game. We had to be careful, but it was easy enough to cross.  Today, it was different. The bridge was broken. The chains that had once held the bridge taut, were stretched and one side was broken. We were taking wobble to a whole new level.

Fortunately, I was one of the smallest and lightest in the class… I tiptoed and crept my way across the bridge. Slowly. But I made it….

I jumped to the sturdy and stable balance beam that was our next obstacle. “No problem. I’m in gymnastics, I can handle this.” I danced my way across the beam. Dipping one foot and then the other as low as I could, to show off my mad beam skills.

It wasn’t until I was at the top of the final climbing tower that I looked behind me.

There was no one there.

Somewhere between the bridge and the beam, everyone else had given up. I was leading no one.

Technically, I’d won the game. But, there was no one to celebrate with. I felt like I’d lost.

I made it too hard, and I finished alone.

In real life. leading isn’t a game to win. Leading involves looking around and making sure someone is following. If no one is following, it’s time to evaluate….

  • Am I making it too hard? (By setting expectations at a level that can’t be achieved.)
  • Am I working so hard to show off my mad “skills” that I make the places I lead look too hard for others? (Hello, martyr-mom line one.)
  • Am I going places no one wants to follow? (It may be a cause, a calling or a personal conviction that has crept into your leadership…. it could be a new passion has been born in your heart and it may be time to evaluate your current position of leadership.. Lead where your heart is.)

I’ve been guilty of all the above. I’ve played the martyr role in leadership…. not asking for help and being angry that others don’t step up. I’ve tried to “do it all” because “I’m the only one who can.”

I’ve spent hours trying to be a perfect leader, only to find I come across as intimidating. When really I’m as imperfect as anyone.. (if not more so.)

I’ve let my passions overlap and confused my leadership roles….

How bout you? When is the last time you looked behind you to see if anyone is following?

Maybe today is the day.

Lead well- by looking around and inside.

Dear Lord- you are our leader, help us lead as you did with love and humility, without unreal expectations, without competitive drives that distract from the goal.  Make us followers of you and leaders of others. Whether at home, at work or in ministry…..I love you Lord, and thank you for the hour of leading. Amen.

Exodus 15:12-14

New International Version (NIV)

 12 “You stretch out your right hand,
and the earth swallows your enemies.
13 In your unfailing love you will lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
to your holy dwelling.

 

Want to talk more about leading and connecting across distances? I’m on http://www.castlerockradio.com today with Dr Liz Selzer and Amanda Dreher – you can listen @ 1:00 Eastern or download and listen when you can! Christina Linnell is on with us- the interview and show was great!

 

 

She tripped walking to the stage. The red and yellow fisher price record player was just big enough to make her already awkward steps, even more so.

Not a great start.

Still, she smiled. She turned the knob to wind the player. “tick tick tick” “raaaaaatchet” and then placing it as near the microphone as possible, she put on the plastic disc that was her “back up band.”

The music box tinkled out ” Jack and Jill” and her tiny, first grade voice joined in. She sang with the clinker notes and tiny voice you would expect. Then, smiling like an Idol finalist, she bowed and walked off stage to the applause of her school.

There may have been snickers. There may have been laughs. But, she never heard them. For that moment, she was a star. She’d performed in front of her whole school, and could see her parents smiling at the back of the gym.

That was all that mattered.

I know it did, because “she” was me. I remember being so excited to sing. I remember practicing so much my hand hurt from winding that record player. I remember feeling afraid to walk out on that stage and I remember a moment that I considered running off the stage right before I started that record.

Today, I’m yet again stepping out. I feel about as prepared as I was on that day in first grade. My tools feel just about as clunky, outdated and immature as that fisher price record player. I feel nervous, excited and unsure what to expect.

As I sit on a plane, flying to Denver to meet with staff @MOPS International, to better understand the structure and function of each one’s role so I can better serve as a Board member, I remember that first grader.

if she could do that, I can do this. So, I will.

“tick tick tick” “raaaaatchet.” That’s the sound of me winding up the skill set I have preparing to use them in a new setting. A Board member.

Dear Lord, I love you and thank you for calling me to serve MOPS International as a Board member. please prepare me and fill me- in your name I pray- amen

I sat in a be-ribboned garden chair, conflicted. “Does he know what he’s getting into?  How can he do this? Will it last? Does he really know her?  Does he know what I know about her?” The wedding march played in accompaniment as my thoughts ran on like a third grader’s sentences.

I watched him at the sun-bathed altar. His eyes were so full of love. There was a smile of delight on his face. He glowed. Honestly?  I wondered whether he was naive or just stupid. But, I love him. So, I smiled. The sun beamed. INstead of bathing the scene in beauty, it’s light just brought my conflicted feelings into sharper contrast.

A tear escaped my eye as she walked past me. It wasn’t a tear of joy.

She tripped on the runner.

She stumbled.

She fell.

She tried to catch herself on the pew. She didn’t. Her knee landed just off the runner in the grass, it stained her gown. “Is she drunk?” I wondered as she kept lurching towards the altar. As she walked past me, I noticed her train was torn. The gown wasn’t flattering.  In fact, the fit was awful.  Besides, should she even be wearing white? Who is she trying to fool? She didn’t fool me.

I sighed and tried not to roll my eyes. I dabbed at them with tissue and hoped the other guests would think I was touched. But I noticed whispers. Maybe I wasn’t the only one doubting the wisdom of this choice.

He could do so much better.

She’s not good enough for him. I know things about her. Bad things. Things that should make him (like me) reject her.

The list flew through my mind like leaves in the wind:

  • She’s got a history, you now- with men.
  • She’s a user, an abuser.
  • She’s controlling.
  • She’s manipulative.
  • She’s judgmental.
  • She’s sloppy.
  • She’s naive.
  • She’s vindictive.
  • She’s pompous.
  • She’s simplistic.
  • She’s too pie in the sky.
  • She thinks she knows everything.
  • She argues over nothing.
  • She holds nothing sacred.
  • She’s narrow minded.
  • She’s too permissive.
  • She’s self righteous.
  • She’s just not right.

The list went on and on. So did the ceremony and my torrent of thoughts:

“I can’t accept this. I refuse to have anything to do with someone like her. I just don’t have anything in common with her. Maybe, if she listened to me and changed some of her opinions… and ways….we could work this out…But, I doubt she’d see things my way.” 

I didn’t hear a word of the ceremony.

Then, suddenly, it was over. It was too late. They were joined. United. One. I sighed.

“I love HIM. But, what do I do with HER?”.

I waited in the receiving line, wishing I was anywhere else. I don’t “do” faking it well. “Congratulations” and “Welcome”  were the furthest things from my heart and mind. I wanted to shake some sense into her.. not shake her hand kiss her cheek and welcome her to the family.

As I got closer to them, my heart beat faster. “What can I say that isn’t a lie?” I wanted to scream at him, shake him and tell him what a mistake he’d made. “It’s not too late- this can be annulled or something, can’t it? RUN!” I settled on telling him the truth..  at least he couldn’t say he didn’t know. And I could live with a clean conscience.

At least, that’s what I’d planned. Until I stood face to face with him.

I looked into his eyes.  I saw the truth.

He knew it all, worse yet- it was all true.

He also knew what I felt. He knew before I ever stepped into that receiving line.

He knew it all. And He loved her, anyway. And he loved me too. Regardless.

As we stood toe to toe, and I looked into his eyes and saw his love for her, I knew that if I rejected her.. I’d break his heart.

How could I?  When he’d already accepted Me?

I wrapped my arms around them both. I held them. I cried.

She’s still all those things….. But, I love her. Because I love Him.

Even if I disagree, even if I think he’s naive.

I refuse to break his heart. I won’t reject her.

She, is the church.  She, is me. She is All of us. 

And he loves us. As we are.

Dear Lord.. Thank you for loving your bride, messy, clumsy and sin-filled and conflicted as she is.  I pray that you’d help us to be beautiful in your sight and in the sight of those around us….help me to set aside my judgements and struggles with the disagreements I hold so tightly– bind our hearts and lives.. make us one… and let us love, whether that means helping to keep each other from sin or to clean up and heal the wounds our sins cause.. Lord make your beautiful bride.. fill our hearts so full of love there is no room for hate….in Jesus name- amen.

There is a lot of angst about the “church” in our world… both inside the christian culture and outside…I’ve had my own share. I think I have the spiritual gift of criticism…. hello?  It’s not a gift.  As I sat in my devotions this morning.. this is the picture and truth that came to mind… I can’t hate the bride he loves, without breaking his heart.

“just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:25-27

“Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”

9 Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” 10 At this I fell at his feet to worship him. Revelation 19:7-10

This week is a celebration of unity across christendom. Started by Rachel H Evans A “Rally to restore unity”  Something I  think could change the world… if we stopped sniping at each other, and started accepting respecting and  *gasp* even appreciating our differences…. the world may just see the love of Christ through us…

And because unity should bring us to action… Rachel’s raising funds for Charity water-— who would argue  with clean water to save lives?