People supporting Chick-fil-A
Well, support-Chick-fil-A-day has come and gone. It is being reported as a huge success. I view it as a huge missed opportunity.
We talk so much about sacrificial love in the church, but when the biggest moments come to do it — the ones that would make the biggest impact and go the furthest towards healing the wounds between the Christian and LGBT communities — we lose the love talk and lapse into political cliches about free speech.
This reminds me so much of what I wrote in my last post about how men and women are constantly missing opportunities to love each other, and then complaining that their spouse does not really love them.
The whole post is here, but the point is that both say they want to be loved, but actually only want to be loved when it’s convenient for them.
When the man is up late at night on the computer and she asks, “Are you coming to bed?” it’s very easy for him to say, “Nah — I’m doing this thing right now.” She invited him to bed, and he missed the invitation — the opportunity to love her and be loved by her.
She does the same thing, ignoring him in favor of cleaning or laundry or whatever else she has going on.
At Chick-fil-A this week, millions of Christians had a chance to love the LGBT community in a way that mattered hugely to them, and instead many of us said, “No thanks — I’m doing this other thing right now.”
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Below is a snippet from a conversation I am having with a Facebook friend. He asks the excellent question, “Shouldn’t Christians not be allowed to call themselves Christians if they don’t practice everything that’s in the Bible?” My response:
The list of things Christians must believe in order to reasonably be called Christian gets shorter and shorter for me as the years go by. (If you have read the Bible, you are likely thanking your lucky stars that no Christian practices everything in it.) There are always problems of interpretation, of knowing what are commands and what are suggestions, what are binding commitments upon all of us still today, and what are cultural things that were practiced in Biblical times and we are free to dismiss. Then science comes in and complicates it more. For example, if Christians must believe in a 6000 year-old earth, then most Christians I know are not Christians. But among the Christians who DO believe in a 6000 year earth, most of them believe that all Christians must believe this.
Even when it comes to Jesus himself there have always been broadly diverse understandings of his message and the meaning of his death and resurrection.
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In my last post I dealt with the fact that achieving work-family balance is a problem for both men and women. Today I want to deal with specifically how to achieve this balance.
Men and women both begin achieving work-family balance by listening to their spouses.
If you married a person of good will, your spouse is not a bad person and isn’t telling you you are out of balance just to make you feel bad. In fact, your spouse is telling you your work-family balance is off because he/she is feeling bad! Your spouse loves you and wants to have you around. This is a good thing. After all, don’t you want to be wanted? If your spouse is complaining that you are not available to your family, chances are good that in some critical way you’re not. This means that listening, not arguing or defending, is what is called for. What is it that your spouse is seeing in you that you’re not seeing in yourself? If you’re the complaining spouse, be gentle. If you are receiving the complaints, do your best to listen non-defensively. The more open and gentle you can both be, the better. This is difficult work, but it is connecting work — the most important work you do in relationships.
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It is hard to achieve work/family balance
Around 1996 I was flying out the door, in a hurry to get to work, as usual. Work was my great passion, perhaps my greatest passion. I had been a record store clerk for years before I became a pastor, and a groundskeeper before that. It felt so good to be in the ministry, to have a “real job,” at least what felt like a real job to me. So I was hurrying out the door. I remember thinking I was very late for something, although of course now I don’t remember what it was. Suddenly it hit me — the awareness that I had to pee. I was already out the door with my briefcase — but I really had to pee. Wherever I had to be was going to have to wait because peeing could not.
In I rushed, through the door, down the hall, into the bathroom. I did my business and ran back out the door to my car, started it up, and flew off down the road. As always, I loved the quiet of the car — a break from my beautiful but very busy three year-old, one-year old, and infant daughters. This moment, however, did not bring the peace I had come to expect. Instead a crushing, horrifying, awful truth dawned on me. My wife was right.
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Nothing is as difficult, or as necessary, as letting go. At this moment you are burdened by things from your past — damaging words, destructive arguments, hurtful parents and other role models, painful situations. These things build and build in your life, starting in childhood. You put them on the back burner so you can pay attention to other things, but that back burner is getting pretty crowded lately. How much can you ignore? The back burner only holds so much, and soon it is falling all over the floor, spilling out of your life like a wound that won’t stop bleeding.
You’ve tried everything.
- Not thinking about.
- Complaining about it.
- Not worrying about it.
- Hating God for it.
- Not talking about it.
- Keeping busy.
- Telling yourself to grow up, that there’s nothing you can do about it.
But that’s not true. There is something you can do. You can let go. Nothing is as difficult, or as necessary, as letting go. Letting go is not the same thing as not thinking about it, not worrying about it, not talking about it, keeping busy, or telling yourself to grow up. All of those are attempts to minimize or deny the hurt you have been feeling. Letting go acknowledges the hurt and feels it. It sits there in the hurt for a little while, lets it be exactly what it is. If you do not allow your hurt to be what it is, it will come out in ways that are harmful to you and to others. In fact, it is probably already doing that. You must let it be.
Then go beyond that. You acknowledge the hurt and you feel it. Then you forgive it. You forgive the person who hurt you. You forgive the world for not being fair. You forgive whoever or whatever for the hurt you are feeling and this includes forgiving yourself. You determine to be done with it, and you let it go. You can only really do this when you have been through the other steps. As long as you are running from your pain, it will be impossible to let it go. The hurt you are suffering now is at least as much from running as it is from whatever hurt you to begin with.
There is no healthier way to deal with pain than this. You can return to this process again and again with everything that has caused you grief. Letting go never gets old. Letting go never gets easy. Letting go never stops setting you free.
Question: How do you work through the process of letting go?