Skip to main content

Scars

There are two blog postings I’ve been planning to write since last week.  When I sat down with my laptop ten minutes ago, I planned to launch into one of them.  But I just can’t.  The purpose of this blog was for me to process my faith, thoughts, feelings, and actions.  I need to be true to that.  So, what’s really on my mind…
Anyone who works with people has to handle conflict…that means EVERY person in the world.  Some professions make this more likely than others.  I have a friend who works for the state taxation department; she handles lots of angry citizens on the phone.  I have a twin sister who is a teacher.  After only one year of teaching myself, I can attest to the amount of conflict teachers handle.  (I’ve deleted my soap box on this issue down to this:  Most teachers want to teach, to guide, and to help.  They make 1,000 decisions a day.  They will make mistakes.  So do you, and so do your children.  Please keep all of that in mind when you criticize them.)
The pastorate is one of the professions that handles conflict regularly.  We handle conflict amongst ourselves, as co-workers.  As a pastor to students, I handle conflict between myself and parents, myself and teens, myself and volunteer youth workers, conflict between parents and teens, conflict between parents and youth workers, conflict between teens and youth workers, and for heaven’s sakes, there’s plenty of conflict between and amongst teens themselves.
Some of the popular, big-name pastors these days advocate ignoring criticism, which often comes forth during conflict.  I just can’t accept that.  Certainly, there are some criticisms worth ignoring.  For example, a peer during seminary was criticizing a professor’s Biblical interpretation.  The professor responded, “Joey, you and I fundamentally disagree about the nature of God and the Gospel.   There’s no point in us arguing about this.”   Sometimes agreeing to disagree is necessary, and in those cases, ignoring criticism is sometimes warranted.
But sometimes, God speaks to us through criticism.  Sometimes we’re wrong.  Sometimes we miss the mark (one of the meanings of the word, “sin”).  Sometimes we unintentionally hurt someone.  Sometimes there’s truth in the criticism, and it hurts to hear it, but it can call us to repentance and reconciliation.
Oftentimes, the criticism isn’t even the issue at all.  More often than not, when someone is criticizing, they’re acting out a hurt they feel.  Sometimes they’ve been disappointed by me, and they’re retaliating with an issue that’s not really the issue at all.  Sometimes they’ve been hurt or let down by someone else or by God or by the church, and they’re lashing out.  Is it fair?  No.  Does it hurt?  Yes.  Is it an opportunity to be a pastor, to listen, and to guide toward healing?  Yes.
Even when I can keep the above in mind, and even when I’m able to hear the criticism, to listen, and to respond without defensiveness, it still hurts.  I’m learning that I still need to sit, to pray, to talk, and to cry. 
Sometimes the verbal attacks leave scars. 
I think Jesus once showed people his scars to prove that he was real and that he was himself.
I have some scars.  It’s okay.  They make me me.  They make me real.

Comments

  1. Feel free to resume your spot on that soapbox someday. ;-). If you need some examples, let me know.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

A Response to Charlottesville

Visiting our nation’s capital is an easy day trip for us, and how I chose to spend a precious vacation day this week.  I took pride in explaining the buildings and icons of my country to my children.  I am proud to be an American.  

But today, I am not proud.  
Today, I weep.

Four days ago, I saw the beautiful, infamous words “We the People” with my own eyes for the first time.  
Four days later, I am reminded of how far we still have to go to fully live into those words:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

What has happened 63 miles from my home, in Jefferson’s beautifully-domed, colonnaded city, is far from perfect, just, or tranquil.
This is not what our founding fathers wanted for our country, nor is …

A Message to Graduates

I have been a Pastor to Students (The title has changed numerous times; the role remains.) in Powhatan, Virginia for roughly 12 years.  I daresay I've been ministering to teenagers in this community longer than many.

Over the last dozen years, I've gotten lots of cool opportunities to minister to teenagers in this area.   But one had always eluded me--speaking at a baccalaureate service.  My husband had done the honors.  Other great pastors in the area had as well.  Once, I'd offered the closing prayer.  

This week, that changed.  I had the distinct honor to share with the PHS Class of 2016 at their baccalaureate service.  It was a wonderful experience working with great students, parents, and school leaders.  I'm so grateful for the opportunity!!!

A few people missed it and have asked to see what I said, so here it is, ALL of it:

June 1999 I sat in this space for my Baccalaureate service.  Before I was a pastor at PCC, before I moved back to Powhatan to raise my family, …

Disillusionment of Adulthood

Now that I’m in my 30’s, I must confess to disillusionment.  Growing up, I had ideas of what adulthood would be like.  I’m here, and it’s not entirely what I’d imagined.
For starters, I remember growing up amidst all the drama that comes with, well, growing up.  The gossip.  The hurt feelings.  The misunderstandings.  The fights between friends.  The back-stabbing.  And I remember being told that it would get better.  I’m not sure who told me that, but they were clearly wrong.
The drama may look a little different.  The words may sound a little different.  But the anguish of relationships remains.
Adults hurt each other’s feelings—intentionally and unintentionally. Adults nitpick and cause fights over inconsequential issues. Adults gossip. Adults cry, scream, and pitch fits. Adults build relational alliances, competing in “us vs. them” relational war. Adults let issues build and exponentially swell until they explode. Adults rarely identify the actual issue instead of the presenting issue. Adul…