On one of our cross-country road trips, we ended up on a red dirt road in nowhere Arizona without a sign in sight. Why would there be a road sign when what we were driving on barely qualified as a road?
For the last 25 years where we live hasn’t been our decision. Our denomination transfers its clergy. They decide when and where. The moving usually takes place in June but which June? This year or next? How long we stay is never a guarantee, never known.
We gave this over to faith that even though the decisions of man are imperfect, God will use it for His good.
We are in our last appointment. Our next move is into retirement. The location has been decided by us, our retirement home purchased and occupied by renters.
I am living in the in-between stages of what is and what is to come. We’re looking at boxes of stuff we’ve moved too many times. We’re remembering people and places, happy and sad. I am trying to choose wisely where I will live mentally and emotionally from now until then.
One place I’ve chosen not to live is in regret. I have plenty. If asked if I’d change anything in my life I’d say yes. There are decisions I’ve made I would readily change if I could. I could use a few “do-overs”. What I can do is decide not to allow space for regret in my life.
Regret is a thief. It steals joy and peace. It hangs heavy like steel gray clouds rumbling full of thunder. When I see storm warnings, I can shift my thoughts to the assurances of God’s grace and forgiveness. I choose to walk in hope.
Wait with hope. Hope now; hope always! Psalm 131:3
Writing on the word prompt: regret with Five-Minute Friday.
“If being ordained meant being set apart from them, then I did not want to be ordained anymore. I wanted to be human. I wanted to spit food and let snot run down my chin. I wanted to confess being as lost and found as anyone else without caring that my underwear showed through my wet clothes.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
There are things most church folks keep hidden. We pretend our marriages are healthy, our children are making the right choices and that we have quiet time with God every day. We pretend to be part of the right political party for our denomination, to read the right books and know the right bands.
Growing up in the church I have pretended a lot. When my husband and I became ordained and entered full-time ministry I kept pretending. I didn’t talk with church members about the books I read, movies we went to or music I liked. When one talked about their favorite praise and worship band, I didn’t reveal that I don’t like the sameness of Christian music.
There’s nothing wrong the fiction books I read or the movies we see and music I listen to. But I was sure some members of our congregation wouldn’t approve so I kept the charade of piety.
My family is loud with stories and opinions but quiet about things that matter.
When my parents’ marriage was falling apart no one told us. At Christmas break they moved us to a new town, leaving the only life we’d known, not telling us why or what was next. They were experts at hiding what we needed most.
When you’re loud and talkative and laugh a lot, people can be easily fooled into thinking you’re an open book. Loudness is the best thing to hide behind.
The words of Barbara Brown Taylor stopped me cold. I read them again and then one more time. Although she was writing about leaving her calling as an Episcopal priest, I know those words because I live them too.
Even when you show parts of yourself, people think the title, pastor, minister, reverend, etc. takes away marital strife, depression, anxiety, or problems of any kind. Conversely, they think you are a biblical encyclopedia and have deep unwavering faith.
We decide a lot about a person based on their title or outward personality. Dr. gives an elevated status of education. Clerk marks them as ordinary. An introvert can seem awkward but behind the titles and outward signs are stories left untold.
Age is bringing an unwrapping for me. An acknowledgment of who I am without apologies. I don’t need to defend my reading choices or taste in music. Like Taylor, “I want to be human”. I want to be seen as the flawed, searching woman I am, clinging to God’s grace every day.
Perhaps more than an unwrapping it’s bringing an understanding and acceptance. I am Gods beloved. Every piece I think I’ve hidden is known to him and still, his love chases after me all the days of my life.
an indoor bathroom
not one but two
hot water at the turn of the tap
grocery shelves lined with 6 kinds of bread
3 kinds of pears
5 kinds of apples
bagged to fill our pantry
Privilege to fail
to win and to lose
Privilege to forgive and be forgiven
Privilege to be loved unconditionally
by a Savior who gave up his
on a cross
All of us
Privileged to be part of his Kingdom.
The back row in church is where the teenagers want to sit. Once their parents let them sit with their friends they hurry to nab a seat in the back row. I remember sitting there trying to hide the notes we were writing to one another behind the hymnal. Today the kids just put their phones on silence and text.
Like attracts like and birds of a feather flock together. We can agree on the truths in those statements. I doubt you’ll find many who don’t care to read in a book club. Why would someone who only eats what they grow care about the latest restaurant opening?
We gather in these clubs and groups to enjoy our common love of that thing – gardening, quilting, music, politics, etc. We know we will find agreement here. We even choose a church based on our common likes.
Finding a place of comfort and agreement is good but not often the place where we’ll have the most growth.
I want the preacher to say something I question. I want him or her to preach on subjects I’m uncomfortable with. Not every week but a lot. I want my thinking and beliefs to be challenged. It’s where growth happens.
Jesus said some uncomfortable things. When he said ‘Let the dead bury the dead’, he sounded uncaring. The Beatitudes still confuse me. Why couldn’t He have been more clear with his stories and words?
Times of uncertainty and disagreement are opportunities to dig deeper and grow more in knowledge. They aren’t meant for us to fold our arms and plant our feet like a stubborn toddler not wanting to be challenged. Although, this is sometimes the pose I strike.
When I was reading the book about a woman choosing to live a year without the internet I kept asking why? In the beginning, I got it. But when that extended to not using a cell phone and complicating life for others around here I disagreed. Yet, I respect her decision. It made me think more about something I wouldn’t have.
I’m opinionated. I’ll often give mine without being asked. But if we don’t agree I won’t be hurt or insulted. Give me a good argument and we’ll both be the better for it. And if you’re right, I’ll get over it 😉
I join with a few weekly link-up’s listed in the sidebar.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1 NIV
The Word was first,
the Word present to God,God present to the Word.The Word was God,in readiness for God from day one.
We are moving toward one of the biggest changes in our lives: retirement. Mental and tangible lists are being made of more and more to-dos. Seventeen months seems a long time but we know the closer it gets the faster it will seem to fly.
Because we’ve lived in a furnished parsonage for 25 years there isn’t a lot of big stuff to consider. But it’s always the little things, isn’t it?
There’s the box of Granny’s dishes that have been in a few garages over the years. Next to those are boxes of our son’s trophies and childhood things. How long do I hold on to things in a box? Things we open with every move and close again knowing we can decide later.
Later is now.
There will be things to let go but I’m starting to see some I’ll have to surrender.
We will not have employees who look to us for leadership. We won’t have men looking to us for hope. There won’t be the endless hugs and hands offering to help before I can ask.
There will be a kind of status and even power that will be given up. The word surrender seems fitting as we’re giving up with an ache in our hearts.
It’s a word that conjures up pictures of a white flag. It’s what you do when you’re defeated when your brother gets you in an arm lock not letting go until you say “I give”. Typically, surrender implies your whole heart isn’t in the letting go. It signals defeat.
Even as we head toward a time we look forward to, there is that piece that clings. Sadly, we often do the same with things we must let go. We cling to the old habits that are killing us: smoking, gossip, pride….. When Jesus is calling us to lay them down. Wave the white flag, open your heart and surrender them all to Him.
This is the only surrender where we win.
A friend penned these words in a short song that is what we are pressing toward. May this song bring comfort and blessing to you.
Liking up with Five-Minute Friday.