At twenty-six I got my first ‘real’ job.
Ever the consummate professional, on hearing the words: ‘You’re hired.’ I leapt across the desk to awkwardly bear-hug my (wildly unnerved) new boss.
David and I started east from the slushy Midwest. We parked our U-Haul under a canopy of cherry blossoms, and life felt sunny and full of promise.
I labored hard and long in my new career as a college volleyball coach. It took my best attention and all available energy. Far more than a job to me, this was a calling and a mission.
I wanted so desperately to earn the favor and respect of my peers and athletes. I wanted everyone to be proud and amazed and….proud. But mostly I wanted to win.
And then I had babies. David retired from teaching to stay at home with the boys while I hauled a breast pump through airports and worried about the next victory and big recruit. Both (wins and talent) were so difficult to come by those years, largely because I had the experience and wisdom of a gnat.
I rarely went to any church gatherings beyond Sunday worship.
At first it was because I was ‘really busy’ and wanted to guard time with the family. But, after a while it was because I really ‘didn’t fit’ anywhere. No one seemed to understand or account for my ‘extra special’ situation, and so I pouted around the fringe a bit and then stopped ‘trying’.
Of course I was completely justified.
It was obvious that I was the odd woman out. There were clearly no real places for me to connect. I wasn’t the typical stay-at-home mom who could arrange her schedule around a mid-day Bible study and play-dates; nor did I especially want to – even if I could.
I was disconnected from the church and happy to blame her for my apathy. My problem had deep roots (pride) but were hidden under thorny soil and I was blind to see them at the time.
Seven years of setting myself apart (above?) from the church took a toll. I was knotted up, brittle, and impatient with anyone who couldn’t get to the point in five seconds or less. My skin was thin. I picked fights and was easily wounded.
Looking back, I wouldn’t trade those years for anything.
I was Eve, walking away from Life and into the realm of the dead. The fruit I desired was bitter in the end; my eyes were opened to my nakedness, and stupidity, and shame. I was undone, and this was a very good thing.
Friends, are you involved in any regular communion of the saints beyond Sunday worship? Are you slightly miffed that there is no place for you, and so withhold yourself from the body of Christ? If so, can I tell you what I needed to hear back then?
Do you feel your relational, emotional, and spiritual spaces shrinking? Darkening? Are you snippy, bored, and just fine with your “…to hell with them if they don’t like it…” attitude? You are in spiritual danger. You are walking in the shadow of the dead.
Please know that your situation is not so unique that everyone need alter their own lives to accommodate you. Do you really think you are the only one who feels out-of-place? Are you the only person who doesn’t fit the mold – whatever that is?
And this may sound harsh, but stop the whining. Listen to yourself, already! You’re a Christian you say? Who would know by your tone, and all the muttering?
You have one life; a certain amount of trips around the sun. This particular day has been given to you to make visible the unseen kingdom of God. You’ve been put in this exact place, at this exact time, to embody God’s love to your people.
Finally, what is feeding your soul these days? You’re rooted in what, exactly? Your own strength? Your own wisdom? Your own light? How’s that going for you?
God’s people (his church) are the needed truth, encouragement, and protection for you – don’t despise his means of grace.
The church is far from perfect, but Christ is making her as beautiful as a bride on her wedding day.
The watching world will be rendered speechless when Christ presents his bride flawless and radiant “…without stain or blemish or wrinkle, but holy and blameless…” to God.
Isn’t that the most compelling, irresistible, and incredible thing?
Peace to you, and to the exact people, job, and church God has given you,