So much.

There is so much.

There is so much to say.

There is so much we are seeing. And doing. And hearing.

But I don’t have the words yet.

Please pray for Ferguson. Please pray for St. Louis. Please pray for all people and all opinions and all activists and all our children. And keep praying. There is so much going on. There is so much to do.

Ow

These are not the shoes of a volleyball line judge.

shoes

These are the favorite red preaching shoes of a new pastor who doesn’t know better than to bring a change of clothes or at least a more comfortable pair of shoes to her kid’s volleyball game which is immediately after Sunday fellowship hour because she may get called on by the coach to fill in and help out even though she doesn’t know the rules of volleyball except for what she has watched at the olympics and oh by the way how do you get to be a judge in the olympics because maybe she could one day do that and finally fulfill her childhood dream of being an olympian and would she still get to sing along to the anthem and did you hear Araiana Grande sing the national anthem at the NFL kickoff the other day because she was so great and no one really gives her much credit for being a singer but she’s pretty talented especially now that she’s not using that horrible voice she used on that kids show whatever it was called and hey we haven’t watched that channel in a long time I wonder if we have that channel still and….. oh, what was I talking about? My feet hurt.

#whyistayed

I’d been on other response calls, to car accidents and climbing accidents, death notifications and train derailments, but on my first victim advocate DV call, I was especially nervous. No, nervous isn’t the right word. It sounds odd, but I was excited. I was so just anxious to help. I was so ready to be the big, bold feminist, encouraging a sister in need, inspiring her to see the strength in herself and make a fresh start. I was ready to help her pack her bags, and we were going to do it while singing a Gloria Gaynor song. But when I walked in and actually sat with her, listened to her, held her hand, heard her story, saw her home, saw her face, I lost my nerve. No, maybe I just lost my idealism. I certainly lost my daydream. I still believed no woman deserved to be treated like that, and desperately wanted her to leave, to come home with me, or go anywhere else, but after a few hours of listening and observing and really being present with her and her reality, I could finally see that her situation was unique. I could see her story was unique. I could see her experience was her own and didn’t fit anywhere in my lady-power Gloria Gaynor, Thelma and Louise, no-need-to-stand-by-your-horrible-man plan. 

Over the years, and many, many, too many more of these conversations, I learned that while there are patterns and statistics and trends, each victim’s experience is unique. Each victim’s situation is her own. We can want things to be different, we can provide education and alternative living environments, we can offer financial assistance and day care services, we can provide abuser prevention and intervention programs, we can advocate for changes in policies and laws, and we can fire every public figure violent offender that we can catch on camera, but we cannot tell these women how to live their lives. We can love them and support them and lift them up. We can offer education and job training and therapy. But each woman’s experience is her own. We cannot rob her of that. We cannot demand she leave. We cannot know the complications or implications. We can’t know the specific danger she faces. We cannot judge her for staying. 

So tonight I go to bed praying for the women who are still staying. Praying for their safety and praying for their own unique situations. Praying that they will make the choice that is right for them when the time is right for them. Praying that they will know they are loved by a good and glorious God whatever they chose. Praying that God will remind them that they are created in God’s image and that makes them strong and beautiful and holy. Praying that the rest of us will encourage them, love them and support them, but also respect them no matter what they choose. And tonight I will still wonder and pray for that woman in that house all those years ago, who didn’t leave that night. Who didn’t leave the next time I was called to her home. But who I hope did leave eventually, when she was safe and ready. Who I respect no matter what she chose. And I will pray for all who feel a similar, but totally unique pain.
Lord, in your mercy.

If you are on twitter, follow the conversation of powerful truths being shared at #whyistayed and #whyileft.

 

In which I was schooled…

No school for the kid today, so she took her (HARD EARNED) allowance and headed off, with me, to buy herself something at Target. A man walked up to our car and told us that he and his family were homeless and hungry. I told him that I didn’t have any cash. The kid immediately leaned over and said, “I do!” and gave him ALL HER ALLOWANCE. She didn’t sort through an internal debate over the power dynamics at play. She didn’t ponder what he might use the money for and if that would be good for him. She didn’t even question if he was being honest. And she didn’t just give him the couple of $1 bills she had. She gave him everything. She gave it gladly. Then we went on with our day. And I was in awe.

First Impressions

I generally start my weeks sitting alone in a big ole stone church spending most of the morning telling myself not to go down to the kitchen and raid the stash of Sunday fellowship hour cookies while checking email/facebook/people.com. Then I open up both bible and pandora browsers to start planning next week’s worship service, picking hymns to match a sermon I have yet to even dream up. It is then that I remember I should post this past week’s sermon on the church website, but on Sunday I forgot to write down the edits I made while preaching so that my printed manuscript no longer really reflects what I said. What did I say again? This is when I notice the grumble belly. I know I should have eaten breakfast because it is the most important meal of the day and all healthy people know you have to eat breakfast, but I hate breakfast and most breakfast foods and I know that someone will take me to lunch at Steak and Shake shortly, so if I can avoid those packages of cookies for another hour, I’ll be all set. There are meetings and visits and events happening throughout the week, but mostly I get through each day with a ton of prayer and diet cokes and suddenly it is Saturday night again and I am waiting, waiting, waiting for the kid to go to bed because I’ve got a sermon to finish,okay fine, I still have yet to start. Whatever, it was a busy week of meetings and visits and events, and besides the Spirit moves in my house in last minute spurts, so don’t raise that eyebrow at me (she says to herself). God shows up in my bedroom late, late at night as I type on my falling apart laptop, and again on Sunday morning when things magically come together during the service. The songs somehow fit and children listen to their message and and no one throws tomatoes at me up in the pulpit and no middle schoolers fall off the balcony and God is praised in a very honest and real way and the community worships. I am standing by the door sweating, er, greeting people and chatting so long that the cookies are all gone by the time I get to fellowship hour. NOOOOOOO!!!!!! I go home and take a day to lay on my couch and watch HGTV and West Wing reruns and get at it all again the next week. I’m only five weeks in to this “professional ministry” thing, but so far, it’s pretty great, and real, and full of food. So I think I’ll buy some larger pants and stay a while.

Thanks be to God. Yay!