. It only got worse when I went off to college. No sex, drugs, or alcohol here, I was into heavier stuff--conservative politics. I canvassed neighborhoods, dabbled in referendums, constructed signage, and explored the political process via intercollegiate student government.
But the highs of youthful experimentation quickly led to the need for bigger and bigger hits, and while many of my friends headed off to Washington to pursue successful careers, I found myself bottoming out and becoming more and more apolitical. Today it’s really hard for me to get excited and invested in the process. Yet ironically--and probably dangerously--I’ve never been more directly affected by the actual outcome. Unlike in my reckless youth, today I’m a member of the workforce, wade through government bureaucracy on a daily basis, and have children who will inherit the choices we make.
Now more than ever, government is not an abstraction. And despite my best efforts at disaffection, it simply won’t go away.
So while I may not be manning the picket lines anymore, I’m realizing that I can’t be neutral. And as easy as it was to be a one-issue voter, I’m realizing I've got to become more. So I’ve decided, it’s time to become a ten-issue voter. As in, “The Ten”
Now before you get all squirrelly on me, let me assure you that I’m not a reconstructionist
and I really believe that we’ve got to move past using faith as a political talisman. But instead of simply fighting to keep God’s Law hanging on a wall in an Alabama courtroom, I’ve decided to actually start using it.
So this year I’ll be looking for a candidate who honors God in his private life as well as makes room for him in public discourse. I’ll be looking for a candidate who knows how to rest and doesn’t conduct his campaign like he’s the next messiah. I’ll be looking for a candidate who cares for the elderly, respects their wisdom, and doesn’t pander to the youth vote. I’ll be looking for a candidate that values human life and protects it from destruction whether that means opposing abortion or torture. I’ll be looking for a candidate who is committed to a proper understanding of sexuality both publicly and privately.
I’ll be looking for a candidate who is honest in his use of public funds and other people’s wealth. I’ll be looking for a candidate who doesn’t spin, twist or manipulate the facts about his own record or his opponents. And finally I’ll be looking for a candidate who doesn’t encourage a culture of materialistic envy whether it’s in the name of Occupy Wall Street or capitalism.
And honestly, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll find one.
So what’s a girl to do--especially one already as disillusioned as I am? Part of me still holds out hope that if we demand better choices, we’ll get them. It’s been amazing to watch the historic ground swells from the Tea Party to the Arab Spring to the backlash against SOPA/PIPA
. If there were ever a time for the little guy to be heard, it’s now. And so as we find our voice, we need to use it to hold campaigns, parties, and candidates to a higher standard. It’s our
responsibility to do away with business as usual.
Another part of me tries to remember that despite the sound bytes, Teleprompters, and spectacularly coiffed hair, candidates are people too. People with the same sinful bent that I have; people who have made mistakes; people who will continue make mistakes. It’s simply hypocritical to think otherwise. Especially when we’ve created a context that almost necessitates cover-ups by pulverizing public figures when the truth finally comes out. So instead of a perfect candidate, I’ll happily settle for one who takes responsibility for his own failings, humbly seeks forgiveness, but is resolved to pursue a just society even as he plods along on his own feet of clay.
Even then, sorting through the mess of the next ten months isn’t going to be pretty. And often we’ll disagree who best embodies these values. All we can ask of each other is that we allow ourselves to be guided by something greater than our own fears. All we can ask is that as we vote our consciences, we’ll make sure that they are informed by truth. And ultimately, all we can ask of each other is that we won’t be pragmatic, political, one issue voters.
We’re not kingmakers
after all--only instruments in the hands of One.
I’ve been a political junkie since junior high. I was the geeky one debating the Bosnian conflict and signing up for extemporaneous speaking competitions while my classmates were busy watching Saved by the Bell and collecting
So here's a FABULOUS website
that I stumbled across when a friend posted it on Facebook recently (recently meaning five minutes ago). I was so struck by it that I just had to share. Jackie Brown is a woman who has combined her love of cooking, family, and community into a unique ministry based on freezer meals. Yes, freezer meals. This puts Proverbs 31:15, 20 into
a whole new light. Here's a clip about what she's up to:I am a passionate Christ follower, wife, mother, teacher, homemaker and friend to all who visit my blog. Freezer cooking is my hobby and lifesaver. It allows me to spend more time with my family of six. I love to share my experiences and photos with you as you take time to visit. I’m on a mission to glorify God through my passions-freezer cooking, writing, speaking and teaching.
What caught my attention the most is that Jackie's work
is a tremendous example of seeing the needs around you, knowing your God-given strengths, and finding a way to connect the two in your unique context. This is how is supposed to work people, and to quote the 1980's, "I love it when a plan comes together."
I’m not talking about the newer series post-1970s that’s filled with nasty bits and epic romance – my nine-year-old self was quite content with an amorphous Ned who appeared ever few chapters to escort Nancy to a seasonal BBQ or give her an occasion to wear her new taffeta party dress. And as far as violence, for me it was pretty dicey when Nancy was bound, gagged and left to starve.
No, I’m talking about that classic Nancy Drew that lived somewhere in the magical world post-high school but pre-matrimony. Old enough to drive
and travel independently, but young enough to still need her dad. And, always, regardless of the situation, mature enough to help others with grace and style
I’m not the only one who thinks so either.
In this NY Times piece
, all three women Supreme Court Justices identify Nancy as a formative literary role model. What captured them probably has less to with Nancy’s white middle-class upbringing and more to do with the essence of Nancy herself. As critic Melanie Rehak recognizes, “Nancy was courageous and independent but she never used that independence in an overtly rebellious way. Instead, she used her freedom to have adventures, but they were always in the name of doing good and serving justice.”
And that’s one reason why I’m purposefully directing my daughter to these books. (That and it gives me an excuse to re-read them myself.) I’m not vying for her to be a Supreme Court Justice one day—heaven knows we don’t need the High Court adjudicating whether or not Barbie Fairytopia is in copyright infringement of Disney’s Pixie Hollow—but I do want her to have a robust view of womanhood. I want her to know how to bake a cake for the elderly
neighbor next door and have the guts to chase away the intruder who’s trying to steal said neighbor’s family silver. I want her to be smart and kind, pretty and unpretentious, appropriate and daring. I want her to be forgiving and humble, gracious and accomplished.
All at the same time
I’ve decided that in my next life I want to be reincarnated as Nancy Drew.
Certainly I’m not conferring faith or belief on Nancy. And maybe it’s simply an example of common grace, general revelation, or the two times a day that the stopped clock is right
, but a lot that I learned about womanhood came from having Nancy Drew in one hand and my Bible in the other. And the more I read the latter, the more I’m realizing that true womanhood isn’t an either/or proposition.
More than likely, it’s both/and.
It’s women with a hammer in one hand and a baby in the other. It’s women with the wisdom to defer an angry king and the kindness to minister to the King of Kings. It’s women with strength to lead and the humility to follow. And it’s women with the grace to move in society at the very time that they are turning the world upside down.
I’m from a generation that is quick to throw off anything that we don’t deem significant whether it’s marriage, motherhood, or social propriety. But I’m also from a generation that is perilously divided and grotesquely caricatured by our private definitions of what it means to be a woman.
Perhaps the truth lies somewhere with a powder blue convertible, a twin set, and a pair of pumps. So as for me, don’t be surprised if you peek in the back of my minivan while I’m ferrying my children around town and see an overnight case packed with a change of clothes, pajamas, a toothbrush, and a bathing suit.
Just in case.
And while some might say I want her to be Nancy Drew, others would simply see hints of Proverbs 31. Surprisingly, in my experience, the two conflict less often than you’d think. One presents an image of a gracious woman, sympathetic to the needs of those around her, bravely facing danger with courage, smarts, and determination; and the other presents…. an image of a gracious woman, sympathetic to the needs of those around her, bravely facing danger with courage, smarts,
an unexpected call to bring dinner over to a frazzled mother of three,
invitations to join her family for Sunday lunches,
the grace to overlook my children’s lack of manners at said lunches,
babysitting for much needed date nights,
lunch and shopping on my birthday,
and Christmas presents for my family.
It grew, despite a generation's difference, until gradually I felt safe. Safe enough to open my heart, safe enough to reveal my real needs and expose the parts of me that were worried, scared, and hurting. It grew until I was finally able to say to her, “I don’t know how to trust God sometimes;”
to admit, “I don’t feel so much content in His will, as resigned to it;”
and to ask “How can I pray for the deepest desires of my heart when I don’t have faith that He will give them to me?”
And then to be able to read this, several days later: I have been thinking about what you mentioned about feeling resigned to an outcome we are praying for because of the reality of it and the need involved, etc. And I understand that, and have prayed feeling that at times in the past. I also am seeing how much better it is to pray for our deepest desires with hope and faith. We hold ourselves back, when we see our circumstances, and then pray accordingly. The hard part is, after not seeing change, to continue praying this way. I am at this place too. It is a choice I make daily of how to pray about life altering issues within my family. Sometimes, it seems as if things are continuing a wrong direction that I cannot turn around. But, this is what I see and feel. We are called to go beyond that...to what we know is true....and the many Scriptures flood our minds here to equip us to pray believing.....and for God's will to be done. And we pray for sustaining grace while we wait, in large portions… I believe we pray for the unimaginable things, so we can know what God's will is. Well I have more thoughts on this, but that’s all for now...will write later.
It was just what I needed to hear and it was just who I needed to hear it from. Not from a book or an internet preacher, but from another woman who had walked the same ground I had, faced the same fears, and could offer me honesty and hope. And here’s perhaps the most surprising part--none of it happened “in church.” None of it was organized or scheduled. There was no notebook, Bible study, or special speaker. I don't even know if she had any intention of "ministering" to me or if she was just loving me the best she knew how.
There’s been a lot of conversation
lately about what makes for good women’s ministry. And with my generation so eager for more depth, it'd be hard not to get excited. But if we're not careful, we may end up in exactly the same place that we started. If we're not careful, we'll easily find ourselves replacing one formulaic approach with another. Instead of tea parties, we'll meet at coffee houses, and instead of acrostics and poems, we'll rely on flashy graphics and technology.All the time forgetting that lasting ministry only happens in relationship.
We must remember that the real work of woman to woman ministry is a lot messier, a lot more personal, and a lot more unscheduled than we’d like it to be. It means taking a moment to care, a moment to listen, a moment to feel deeply the questions and doubts of another woman. It means being honest with your own
feelings and admitting that you’ve wrestled with the same thing. And ultimately it means waiting on God and trusting His Providence to build the bridge between two hearts to get to the point where this can happen.
We can schedule all the meetings we like--even those as valuable as a Bible study-- but we can't rely on them to do what only love can.
So maybe, as we move forward, the first step to developing a good women’s ministry for this generation isn't to schedule a meeting at the local coffee house to be transparent with one another; maybe, it's simply inviting another woman into your life and home. Maybe it's doubling a recipe to save some time for a working mom. And maybe it's showing up one day, watching the kids, and doing the laundry so another woman can go grocery shopping without having to use the car-cart
It was a relationship that started only a year ago when we need a room and she offered it to us--strangers coming into town exhausted by an interstate move. It grew through
So, I have a confession to make when it comes to hospitality. Those of you close to me probably already knew this, and it probably irritated you a little. Or a lot, depending on the circumstances.
I’m a bit of a martyr.
A church pot luck? If you ask me to sign-up for two dishes, I sign up for three and end up bringing four--just in case… Dinner at my house? Expect meat, three sides, rolls, several drink options, and dessert(s). And that’s when I’m rushed. Dinner at your house? I’ll show up with something, even if you assured me it wasn’t necessary.
I’ve always rationalized it by saying that I’m preparing for the “just in case.” Just in case, there isn’t enough food, just in case of allergies, just in case something goes wrong. Just in case. And while there’s nothing wrong with expecting the unexpected, I think that what I've really been doing is setting myself up to be the hero. If there is a lack of food, I’ll come to the rescue with my extra casserole and look down at my shoes very humbly and demurely say, “Oh, I just like to cook.”
And in the end, my “hospitality” can have less to do with others’ needs and more to do with mine. It’s hard for me to let someone else take the reigns. It’s hard to trust that everyone will do their part. It’s hard not to be the messiah.
Maybe you don’t struggle exactly this way. But I’d venture that if you’re human, you still find it difficult to graciously accept hospitality. Like a friend said to me a couple of months ago: “You know, I really appreciate other people helping us out, but I just get tired of being on the receiving end.”
The difficulty for most of us stems from our residual need to prove our worth. Whether we like it or not, we humans keep score—even in our good works—and when we fall behind, or perceive that we’re falling behind, we naturally want to prove our value and our ability to contribute. It’s not that we mind other people being gracious to us as long as we can eventually even the score. Errr,…. I mean “return the favor.” But when we can’t, when we’re not on the giving end, grace can actually begin to feel like a burden.
But what if, like most things, we’ve got it wrong? What if we were never meant to be the hero? What if being a guest was just as much an act of hospitality as being host? Because what if God not only modeled for us how to graciously give but how to graciously receive as well?
Think about it. Whenever God took on human form, you find Him in the most unexpected places. He’s not sitting on a throne, distributing his wealth, or bringing about world peace. No, often the King of the universe has strategically placed Himself in a position to be ministered to. Whether it’s through Abraham and Sarah in a dusty tent alongside the road or through Mary and Martha in the quiet refuge of their Bethany home, our God has made a point to teach us how to accept hospitality.
By humbling Himself to be a guest, He reminded us that receiving grace from another person is as much a part of the gospel as extending it. Perhaps more.
Because the reality is, when it comes to the gospel, none of us bring anything to the table, and none us of are meant to be the hero. The reality is that at that great final feast, at that long-awaited, heavenly wedding reception, we won’t even get to bring a side dish. All we are expected to do is respond to His invitation, wear our best clothes, and celebrate.
So maybe as much as hospitality means extending ourselves, it also means being a gracious guest and letting someone else serve. It means learning to humble ourselves, learning to relinquish our need to control, learning to be honestly grateful, and learning to follow our Host’s example. And it also means realizing that learning it now in this life is simply practice for the next.