Thursday, August 23, 2012

Change

I don't like change.  That's easy to figure out if you're around me much.  It sounds kind of harmless.  However, I am certain that my aversion to change has caused me to sin and has damaged my family at times.

I know that I don't like change.  I get anxious when it's sprung on me.  I get anxious when I know it's coming.  It doesn't seem to matter.

I'm not the kind of person who re-arranges her furniture often.  That's because I'm a bit of a perfectionist.  When it gets in the perfect arrangement or spot, then there's no point messing it up.  The only time I re-arrange furniture is when it's not RIGHT. 

However, as I was painting the tiny entryway at my home last night, I stopped.  I realized it's almost 5 years exactly since I moved into this house.  At first I thought, "Geez!  It's taken you 5 years to change this wall; you really don't like change."  Honestly, I've wanted to paint that wall for years.  It's the motivation and follow through part that tripped me up.

But I started thinking about how many things I HAVE changed in that house in the last five years.  Compared to August 2007, we have a different sofa, different living room chairs, a cabinet where a desk used to be, different living room curtains, different dining room curtains, different master bedroom curtains, different curtains in the kids' rooms, a nursery instead of a guest room, different kids' bathroom color, and different master bedroom bedding.  (The addition of two NEW PEOPLE is undoubtedly the biggest change, but that's a different story.)

What I've deduced is that I don't like changing the stuff I have, I like getting NEW stuff.

It would be more cost effective to change the placement of the things I have.  But that doesn't do it for me.  Whatever it is inside me that wants NEW stuff, wants NEW stuff.  I don't want antiques.  I don't want scuffed and scratched hand-me-downs, even if they are shabby chic.  I don't want to move the table from the bedroom to the living room; I want a new one.

I'm starting to think this reveals more about me than just my home decor, maybe more about me than I want to realize.  I like living in NEW communities, with shiny, NEW grocery stores, and shiny, NEW schools, and shiny, NEW cars, and shiny, NEW shopping centers.

...And people like me are the reason there are old, ugly, abandoned communities, grocery stores, schools, and shopping centers...

Lectures--Part Two



I'm a fan of actress Meg Ryan.  I'm not sure why I feel like I relate to her, but I do.  I'm an absolute sucker for Sleepless in Seattle, and I kinda like You've Got Mail, too.  In the latter, Ryan's character is non-confrontational, and she has a hard time responding to criticism in the moment.  She then spends time crafting the perfect response in her head--well after the opportunity has passed.

I know a lot of people are like that; I certainly am.  Call me out in the moment, and I'll stand there with hives all over my neck looking like an idiot who cannot make an argument.  That night in bed, I'll craft the perfect response in my head.

I found myself crafting that perfect response in my head a few weeks ago.  (This is the story behind the "Lectures" post.)  Someone approached and lectured my mom.  There are several problems with this.  1)  Everyone knows my mom is not going to fight back; it's an easy pick for a bully.  2)  The lecture was not about my mom; it was about me.

And both of those things made me angry.  Someone really had an issue with me, and I'm an easy target for an attack myself.  But my mom's an even easier one.  My mom protection mode went in reverse.  Instead of being indignant that someone went after my kid, I was indignant that someone went after my mom.

Of course, if I'd just read the Bible and know my place in the church and my family, then the whole issue could've been avoided.  But you know I'm a pastor with a Master's degree, people like me don't read the Bible...

(Maybe I should stop now and pray, "Create in me a pure heart...")

My husband found the whole situation hilarious.  He urged me to put on a halter top and short shorts, grab a margarita and a copy of Fifty Shades of Gray, and leave him to watch the kids--all in view of my critic.  That would've helped.

One of my aunts said this critic and my husband and I should engage in a Biblical conversation of sorts.  Well, I could've stayed out of that all together.  This critic thinks she knows the Bible, and my husband actually does know the Bible.  The fireworks would've been fun to watch, though.

Then, there was the moment it was time for this crowd to say a prayer.  I thought as the ordained minister in the bunch, I might have the honor of praying for them.  But she was there, and that just wouldn't do.

I wanted to confront her.  I wanted to return the favor and give her a lecture, or maybe a sermon.  I've delivered a couple of those this summer; I'm on a roll.  The lecture/sermon in my head started like this, "The last time I read the Bible, it said that if you have an issue with someone, then you go to them.  NOT THEIR MOM!  If you've got an issue with me, then you are supposed to come to me."

I prayed for clarity over whether or not I should speak up.  I literally tossed and turned for two nights thinking about it.  Should I overcome my conflict avoidance and approach her?  But I didn't.  I learned long ago that lectures are ineffective, and that arguing with some people is pointless. 

Sometimes you just take it...hopefully with less sarcasm than me.  Sometimes you rest in what you know to be true, whether others recognize that truth or not. 

Lectures

Sorry I've been absent here.  I'm co-authoring another blog for a few weeks; check it out:  http://angieandbeth.wordpress.com/   Between that and meetings and preaching and talking with my family (where all four of us often talk at once), I haven't had many more words.  The 4-year-old is quite advanced with his vocabulary; the baby is a full year ahead of where she's "supposed" to be verbally.  It's never quiet in the Frame house.  The four-year-old was interrupting us recently.  Dad said, "Buddy, wait a minute, we're talking." 
He said, "Talking's no fun." 
I said, "Then why do you do it all the time?!"  Yes, that is the pot calling the kettle black.


I remember an exercise I did in undergrad, when we prospective teachers listed different techniques or manners of teaching.  Then we listed how much prep time each technique required.  Then we identified which techniques were most effective for communicating information that sticks.  Lectures take the most prep time and are the least effective, yet countless teachers, managers, and trainers still rely on this teaching style. 

I distinctly remember tuning out lectures when I was a teenager.  I didn't want to hear it.  It's not that I thought the information was wrong; I didn't care if it was right or wrong; I didn't want the lecture!  I try to keep this in mind as I interact with students at church.  What they learn on a mission trip, or from what a peer says in small group, or from working alongside me doing church ministry will stick with them, change them, and be way more effective than any lecture I deliver--whether a sermon to a group or a one-on-one pastoral conversation.

I also keep this in mind when talking with an adult who wants to help out in student ministry.  When I hear phrases like, "I'm good at speaking truth into their lives," alarms go off.  When I hear, "I made so many mistakes as a teenager, and I've learned so much that I can share with them, " alarms go off.  And I hear those phrases, particularly that second one, A LOT!  How many well-intentioned adults have bored teenagers to tears and pushed them to tune out and put up defenses by trying to share all they learned from their mistakes as teenagers?  It happens everyday! 

What I want to do, and what I want other adults involved in our student ministry to do, is to live WITH, to talk WITH, to serve WITH, to worship WITH our teenagers.  I'm not interested in our students being talked TO and lectured TO any more than they already are.

I was reminded of all this recently when someone decided to lecture my mom.  I may write about that soon, too.  The lecture was ineffective, to say the least.  And I fought through my desire to return the favor and to deliver a lecture of my own.  I was up at night writing and editing this lecture in my head.  I never delivered it.  In part, because I'm a chicken who hates conflict.  But mostly, because my lecture would've been no more effective than the one my mom received.  Instead, I chose to live WITH this other person, and I intentionally tried to speak volumes with my actions instead of my mouth.  I have no idea if it worked or not.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Here Goes Nothing

This is probably a good time to mention that my blog is not affiliated with my church; these words are all mine.

There’s been a lot on my mind the last couple of weeks, and if I don’t get out some feelings and ideas on paper, then I have several more sleepless nights ahead of me.
So, here goes issue #1—The Chick-fil-A Controversy
Well, kinda.  We were so wrapped up in steam engines, Ferris wheels, carousels, dinosaurs, driving, dinosaurs, driving, and more dinosaurs, and more driving on vacation with our family that we missed the Chick-fil-A uproar.
Days later, as I saw more and more Facebook attention, I finally asked my husband to look it up and see what it was about.  But, honestly, the news story, the facts, the quotes, the interview doesn’t matter much to me.  You can call me na├»ve and uninformed if you want; really, that’s okay.
What does matter to me is the way I’ve watched friends, family, and fellow Christ followers react.  And this keeps me up at night.  There will always be issues—cultural, moral, value issues for Christ followers to wrestle with and take stands on and converse about.  Where I am, where I have come, is to a place where the issues matter, but where our behaviors, our hearts, our words, and our attitudes matter more.
There’s a whole lot I don’t have figured out.  The issues of homosexuality, homosexuality and the church, civil unions, gay marriage—I don’t pretend to have those figured out.  Many of you have it figured out; it’s black and white and easy to you.
But have you talked with the mother of a teenager who has just come out?  Have you heard her fears over what her child’s future looks like, especially in this hick town in the south? (Disclaimer, I generally love this hick town in the south.)  Have you heard her say she always expected this day was coming, but hadn’t given voice to that in these 16 years?
Have you talked with a teenager who has been keeping her thoughts and feelings secret for years?  Have you heard her fear that the father who has adored her every day of her life will have nothing to do with her once he finds out?  Have you lived with that kind of anxiety?
Have you talked with a competent, intelligent, professional man who is humiliated, belittled, and dehumanized by conversations about whether or not it’s safe to let him direct cars where to park in a church parking lot because he may be gay, or he may not; he’s trying to figure that out in a Christian community?
No, you haven’t.  Because those three people above wouldn’t have those conversations with you.
I've been honored to have those conversations.  I've been honored that those secrets, fears, and hurts have be shared with me.  They were shared with me, because those people knew that no matter where I stood on the issues, I would love them as the children of God He created in His image.  They knew that I would stand with them and walk with them through the questions, the doubts, and the hate that was headed their way.
If flocking to Chick-fil-A (couldn’t help the pun) makes you feel like you’re taking a stand, or if kissing someone of the same gender at Chick-fil-A makes you feel like you’re taking a stand, then fine.
What makes me feel like I’m taking a stand is sitting down, shutting up, and listening.
I may one day learn that I should’ve made decisions on the issues instead of living in the gray area. 
But I rest on a few truths:  God created each of us, as his child, in his image.  God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.