Thursday, May 26, 2011

An Unlikely Little Monster

Just after I last posted, I was doing my typical stuff on Facebook – scrolling through the newsfeed, checking on friends, uploading pictures and videos – when something caught my eye: “the lakers are a bunch of homosexuals.”

This was one of many times that one of my friends has used “gay” as an insult. So, I posted my standard response – "Gay is not an insult. I know you can be more creative." I’m not saying I’m spotless in this regard; I grew up in the generation that used “lame” and “retard” as standard insults. But I’ve grown up, matured, and realized that this kind of use of language is harmful and dangerous. I really do want us to be more creative when we are expressing our displeasure with something. 

But it was what followed my remark that bothered me the most. Another friend of my friend wrote, “are we kidding, gay is as big of an insult as there is.”


As you can tell, I’ve deliberated for weeks before responding, but even now, when I went back to my friend’s page and read the posts again, to make sure I was remembering it accurately, my gut responds the same way. Really?!

I like to keep some of my convictions and beliefs to myself in the course of ordinary pastoral ministry. I deeply respect all persons and believe them to be children of God, just like me. I am hesitant to put any stumbling blocks between me and my congregation or anyone else. I really do want to live and let live as we all stumble our way toward God. As the obscure 16th century theologian Rupertus Meldenius said, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and, in all things, charity.”

To appreciate the juxtaposition of life, at the same time I was mulling this over, I found a few other things. One was the It Gets Better Project featured in a commercial. While I am straight, I can understand the loneliness and pain that accompanies most people at some point or another and the reassurance and hope that a community of people who have been there can offer. I have felt the same way as the sisterhood of mothers has surrounded and supported me as I began my own floundering way in this new calling.

And, through Glee, I came to appreciate Lady Gaga. The anthem, “Born This Way” is awesome and helped me articulate what I was wanting to say to the person who thinks “gay” or “homosexual” is an ultimate insult.
I’m beautiful in my way / ‘Cause God makes no mistake
I’m on the right track, baby / I was born this way
Don’t hide yourself in regret / Just love yourself and you’re set
I’m on the right track, baby / I was born this way
I’ve preached on the power of words. I believe our words can participate in the power of the Word of God, which does not return empty, but accomplishes that which God purposes and succeeds in the thing for which God sends it. And yet we use our words to wound with vicious apathy. Why do we use the gift of language to hurt others for who they are? It would be like saying, “That’s so blue-eyed” and meaning it to be an insult.

At the same time, I know God calls us to live redeemed lives. I’m not perfect, but I earnestly believe that I am going on to perfection in love, with God’s help. And I know that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can all be our best, most-redeemed selves. Using our words wisely and offering courageous love is a part of that. So be more creative.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

There's a leaf in my purse...

I realize it’s been more than a month (but only by one day!) since I posted last. I had a lot of wonderful, deep thoughts that I thought about posting, but the time kept slipping through my fingers, across my calendar, and into the past. I was going to write a post called “I hate this story” about the darkness we experience through Lent, but how, even though it hurts in a real and visceral way, it’s ultimately healthy for our spiritual growth. Maybe next year…

Today I am frustrated by my desk. I have so many things that are crying out from my to-do list, helpfully located on a sticky note on my desk in front of my computer. I would love to mark at least one of them out, but so many are waiting for the response of another person or just plain inspiration. And then there are the piles on my desk. Bibles are balancing on curriculum on top of information packets, with a nametag from camp last summer hanging out – and that’s just one pile. My materials for Annual Conference arrived today, so that’s on top, for the moment, of mission trip registrations and VBS training material.

It’s bordering on ridiculous. During staff meeting, I was reminded to turn in all my receipts for April, so when I got back to my desk, I grabbed my purse to start fishing out receipts and figuring out if this was spent for me or for the church. Which is when I found the leaf…

…it was a perfect, brown little leaf. Since it is now spring, I really have no idea how long it has been at the bottom of my purse. Despite its dryness, it was not broken or even cracked. I laughed out loud. How bizarre! Why on earth was there a leaf in my purse?

Thank you, God, for giving me laughter in the midst of the tidal wave of everyday life. When I feel overwhelmed by it all, not sure where to start, you remind me that there is beauty in the simple and ordinary. And I remember how grateful I was to see my youth playing on Sunday night. I thought our evening had been ruined since we were having to go to the back up plan – playing in the gym – rather than going to the awesome Denton Arts & Jazz Festival. I was sure there would be no one there and that we would all be bummed, disappointed.

Instead, I got to see high school guys play basketball with middle school girls, the football player carefully guarding the 5′ 6th grader. Laughter rang out as youth and adults played cards and someone went out. Ping pong balls were batted around. Pizza was offered, although not quite enough, but it all was overlaid by grace. Because we love each other, there is joy. Glory be! Now, on to that to-do list…