Thursday, December 30, 2010

I Choose Wholeness

One of my Facebook friends posted the following status recently: Psychologists say we judge and condemn others according to our own weaknesses. We project our weaknesses onto them.

I thought about responding with a snide comment. For you see, this is the woman who—along with her husband—convinced a pastor that I was manipulative and controlling and therefore should be replaced. They made their case by accusing me of saying things I hadn’t said.

We don’t have to look far to know that the psychologists are right. We see pastors rail against homosexuals, only to be exposed as a closeted gay. Politicians fight prostitution, only to be outed as regular consumers of the working girls.

Girls are great at making mean and ugly accusations against one another. My husband often says, “Boys are dumb, girls are mean.” True. We’re jealous, self-conscious, insecure, and snide. Although I believe that’s what we are deep down inside, we have the power to be our best selves, not our weakest selves.

A few women in my life have been a bit grumpy about the fact that I’ve pulled away from them. Instead of asking why I’ve made that choice, they’ve done just what the psychologists have suggested they would do—they’ve assumed things about me. These assumptions might just say more about who they are, than who I am.

To the family member who told me I don’t “accept people for who they are”—I wish you could accept me as I am. To the cousin who believes I was “in the belly of the whale”—you were wrong. Your words did, however, reveal SOME truth. I wish you’d listen to what I’ve learned (and it’s not what you think). To the woman who accused me of being jealous of her, the woman who told me God shut the door of opportunity to do the right thing, the lady who told me I’m unforgiving, and the mom who accused my kids of doing something they didn’t do; I wish I could help you understand. I’m sorry you chose to bulldoze over our friendship.

I choose to be positive. I choose to be around women who seek to close wounds rather than rip them open over and over again. I choose to walk away from the accuser, and into the arms of the healer.

I choose to make 2011 the year of wholeness.

Monday, December 6, 2010


A few days ago a friend posted the following as his status update on Facebook; “People’s performance usually reflects the expectations of those they respect. – John Maxwell”

That quote stuck with me and got me to thinking about all the labels we put on people. I’m certainly guilty of labeling people, which is shameful since I know how it feels to be unfairly classified. Unless it details a calorie and ingredient breakdown, a label is rarely a good thing.

Then at church on Sunday Dale taught about the danger of labeling people. So, I thought I’d blog some of my thoughts on the topic.

One Sunday morning when Dallas was about four years old I went to pick him up from his class at church and the teacher met me at the door. “Dallas was very bad today.” She looked down at my son who was now standing at her side. “Tell your mommy how bad you were today.”

I wanted to punch that woman! You can tell me he misbehaved, you can tell me he was a bigger challenge than he normally was, but do NOT call my child “bad”. From that moment on, Dallas was “that kid” at church. You know the one—the child that all the Sunday school teachers warn the other leaders about. “Oh, Dallas is going to be in your class next year—he’s a handful.” My son was labeled.

The truth was, Dallas loved his teachers at church and he wanted to please them. Their expectations, however, were low. My son respected these people and his performance reflected their expectations.

Several years ago I sat across a tiny table at a Starbucks from a woman I loved and respected very much. I’d requested the meeting with Rhonda as our relationship was broken and I desired healing and wholeness. For the better part of an hour she spewed her accusations and venom at me. “You’re weak. You’re jealous. You’re not that good a friend.” Her reasons were flimsy at best, but the bottom line was – she’d labeled me and she refused to see me as anything other than the person she decided I was.

During Dale’s message on Sunday he held up signs with words written in big black letters—labels we put on people. Democrat. Liberal. Republican. Pro-choice. Pro-life. Homosexual. We practically stamp words on the forehead of people the very moment we meet them. Let’s try something new; let’s see people as God sees them—a target of HIS love and HIS grace.

Back at that Starbucks after Rhonda stamped me with all her labels I said, “If you saw me in that way, why didn’t you say something? I mean, I was your friend.” That’s when she said, “You were never that good a friend.” I replied, “I’m more—I’m a part of the family of God.” She said, “You just want to play the victim, and I won’t yield to your victim mentality.”

Isn’t it interesting how some Christians pick and choose what part of the scriptures they want to embrace? To their way of thinking it’s okay to use the Bible as a sword to stab and condemn others. But if you’re a Christian, you should also be willing to use the scriptures to sharpen you.

Desiring to be seen as a child of God does NOT make me a victim wannabe! I allowed myself to be influenced by the labels put on me by others. I did that because I loved and respected them and I trusted their friendship. I wrote this last week, and I’ll say it again, shame on me!

I AM a child of God and a target of His grace. THAT is the label I deserve. And by the way, that's the label my son deserves!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My "Dangerous Path"

For today's Wild Ride Wednesday, I want to remind myself, and you, that it's okay to ask "why?"

“Randall used to say when you turn 50 you’re closer to the final curtain than the overture. But I think there’s still time to learn whatever it is I’m supposed to learn.” - Dinah Grayson, The Dixie Swim Club

Dinah Grayson is the character I’m playing in the upcoming Second Space production, The Dixie Swim Club. I myself am closer to 50 than to 40, and like Dinah, I believe there’s still time for me to learn. But first, I need to learn to BELIEVE the things I’ve already LEARNED! Why is that so hard to do?

It’s been several years now since a pastor told me I was on a “dangerous path”. One day Pastor H’s assistant, Pastor B, called me at home. He said, “Liz, you’re on a dangerous path, and I believe if you don’t get off you’ll end up in a bad place.” He and his wife were very dear friends and I had no reason to doubt he had my best interest at heart.

And what was this “dangerous path” I was on? Was I breaking a commandment—stealing, cheating, or lying? Nope, I had done something worse; I dared to ask “why?”

Pastor B told me (effectively) that I should never question pastors, as God Himself put the spiritual leaders in authority over me. Um…isn’t that exactly how priests justified abusing and taking advantage of kids?

You see, Pastor H fired me and then refused to tell me why. He removed me from the ministry I helped start and wouldn’t tell me what led to that decision. He kept saying, “I’m in charge, and you can’t put me in a box.” I’d poured my heart, talent, and time into building the ministry, and now I was arbitrarily being removed. Adding insult to injury, I was being reprimanded for asking “why?”

Pastor B gave three examples of my disrespect for Godly authority. He credited me with saying something about a pastor that another member of my family had said. In fact, I reminded him, I had DEFENDED the pastor. “Oh yeah”, he said. “Well…” he went on. “You challenged the children’s pastor after he chastised Drew.”

What? How did he know that? Yes, Tom and I were very disturbed about an encounter between the children’s pastor and our second son Drew. We confronted the leader, but never ever spoke to anyone else about it. Two weeks after the incident, the pastor took time out of his family vacation to call us—he was crying. He told me he’d been going through a tough time and he took it out on our son. He asked Tom and I to forgive him—which we did—and the incident was over. Apparently, however, he had asked for Pastor B’s advice before he called us, but never told him about his contrite phone call. Now the encounter was being used against me! Unbelievable.

The third “proof” of my dangerous-path-traveling was my daring to question my firing. I was just supposed to be quiet and accept Pastor H’s decision regardless of how my life was being affected.

It would be many weeks before Tom and I were finally allowed to sit with Pastor H to hear him explain his decision. He accused me of saying things I didn’t say and thinking things I never thought. When I stood up for myself, he called me a liar.

It is ALWAYS okay to ask “why?” I learned that truth when I was a child, and I gave permission to my own kids to do the same. But I’m not sure I really believed it until now that I’m almost 50. It’s my life and it’s okay to ask why!

You are allowed, by the way, to answer a “why” question with, “because I said so”, or “because I’m in charge”. That answer might not sit well with me, but you have the right to say anything you want.

Accusing me of saying something I never said is not cool. I have no idea what motivated Pastor H and Pastor B to do what they did. What I DO know, is that I spent way too many years doubting myself and believing their lies about me. Shame on me!

I bought a license plate frame that says, “I’ve got an opinion, and I’m not afraid to use it.” I am a smart, talented, and good person. I’ve worked hard to build a reputation as a hard working, respectful person, and I have an opinion. I never asked anyone to agree with me.

When the decisions and choices of other people affect my life, I have the right to ask “why”. So do you! Lesson learned.