Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Not about anything in particular

It's easy to identify problems.

It's hard to be part of the answer.

It's easy to say, "Well, I don't know what I want but it isn't THAT."

It's hard to work toward imperfect solutions and then stand by them.

It's easy to tell people how they should do better.

It's hard to figure out how I can do better . . . and then do it.

It's easy to be resigned and cynical.

It's hard to nurture hope.

It's easy to look for quick fixes.

It's hard to persevere through deep change.

It's easy to say, "Well, somebody ought to do something about that."

It's hard to be "somebody."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Missional Marriage

This time last week, we had just gotten home from a retreat near Houston where JTH and I presented the debut weekend of Missional Marriage. I've been working on this for months, thinking of ways to apply the principles of Faithwalking to marriage. It's nice to have the first one behind me.

It seems that couples get tripped up in one of two ways: some are so busy living missionally (or even just living lives of ministry and service) that they neglect their marriages; honestly, sometimes one or both partners may be using missional living as a way of avoiding going home and doing the hard work of being a couple. The other pitfall is the one C and I most often fall into: life together is so good and so appealing that we lose momentum for mission; why can't we just hang out together all the time, you know?

So Missional Marriage is an attempt to help couples navigate that precise point where mission and relationship intersect. We discovered on the retreat that it's hard to even define the variables, even for people who are living them. We also discovered that the point of intersection is unique for each of us. Taking these things into account while trying to hit the needs of each couple was a challenge.

I have to say, I love this work. I was anxious on every level, feeling insecure and inadequate after overcoming the paralysis that sets in when I get scared. On the other hand, I got to learn once again the powerful lesson that the antidote for insecurity is passion. When I focus on the task at hand or, even worse, the reactions of other people, I'm sunk. When I connect to the passion I have for couples and for ministry and for God's redemptive mission in the world, I come alive on a level that is hard to describe.

The best part of the weekend was having C with me, partly because he helps me make that connection when I can't get there by myself. He encourages me, literally, by putting courage into me and also by letting me talk things out so that I can know what I think. We did a lot of our own work, especially on Saturday, refining and restating our own vision for our lives. Thankfully, we didn't have much relationship work to do--what a blessing!

So anyway, that's something I'm working on these days, trying to nurture a dream into reality. Life is good.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tolerating tolerance (or not)

Mowgli and I have been having an ongoing conversation this week about tolerance. First, we tried to define it. In its most basic form, it means (we decided): "Even though I passionately disagree with you, I won't kill you or burn down your house." At first, we thought that was TOO basic until we realized that much of the world isn't even on board with even that much.

At one point, Mowgli asked, "So what does tolerance mean for a follower of Jesus?" and we added a few extras: the follower of Jesus says, "Even though I passionately disagree with you, I will not only refrain from killing you or burning down your house, I will also pray for your wellbeing and serve you with a sacrificial love."

But now, the plot thickens. If I disagree passionately with you out loud and on purpose, am I being intolerant and disrespectful? Even if I am also refraining from killing you and I am serving you in love? If I believe very strongly that you are WRONG and I express that opinion to your face and even oppose you politically, can I still be tolerant?

This is what is being discussed at our house this week.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak

C has done it to me again. I TOLD him I would not be sucked into the Twilight Zone marathon on the SciFi channel. I told him that none of his lures would be effective. I made it very clear that I had things to do and wouldn't be watching old Twilight Zone reruns with him. But then there was the one about the pool champ and then the one about the mannequins and, oh yeah, the one where the girl meets her double in the bus station and everyone thinks she's crazy. My husband is truly diabolical.