Friday, December 9, 2016


I am going to tell you a sad story.

When my oldest was a toddler and I was pregnant with baby number two, Steve and I attended a very large, wealthy church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Steve was a student at UT, and I was a stay-at-home mom. We were very poor, and we lived in ancient, white cinder-block married-student housing that has since been bulldozed.

Steve and I were not like the other people who attended that church, the doctors and lawyers and politicians and university professors. We were misfits, but we attended that church anyway because the teaching from the pulpit was excellent.

We were misfits, but we attended that church anyway because, although our pokey Cavalier station wagon stood out like a sore thumb among the Mercedes and BMWs and Jaguars in the church parking lot, we knew we were part of the body of Christ and that we had significant things in common with these other church members whose lives were so different from our own.

I had an appointment for a prenatal checkup and I needed a babysitter for my toddler. I called one of the moms in my Sunday school class and asked if she could recommend someone. This mom gave me the name of a teenager who attended the church and suggested I call her.

The recommended teen would not babysit my toddler because she did not know me personally (understandable, in these dark times). So, I asked her if she could recommend someone else. She did. I called the next person. This teen would not babysit anyone in campus married housing - she didn't think it was safe. But she recommended someone else, and I called the next number. The same thing happened.

Because I have a perverse streak, I persevered...through over 20 "No, I'm sorry, I can't help you"-s. I talked to teenagers and to their parents. I called other mothers and solicited them for help. The answer was always, "No. I can't/won't help you." I eventually gave up. I never did find a babysitter.

These were all fellow Christians, fellow members of the same church that I attended faithfully. None of them - not one - was willing to help me. That experience broke my heart. I ended the afternoon in tears.

When you experience that level of rejection from the very people who have verbally committed to be in covenantal relationship with you, the brokenness you experience is more than skin deep. You don't "just get over it." Yes, we continued to attend that church, but I no longer felt like I had very much of significance in common with the other people there. I had originally assumed we shared a gospel connection, that these people loved me in spite of my circumstances. The afternoon of 20+ No-s taught me something different.

In his article 12 Reasons Millennials are OVER Church, Sam Eaton writes, "Millennials crave relationship, to have someone walking beside them through the muck...We’re looking for mentors who are authentically invested in our lives and our future. If we don’t have real people who actually care about us, why not just listen to a sermon from the couch (with the ecstasy of donuts and sweatpants)?"

I am not a millennial - too old - but Eaton's words resonate with me.

When the very people I trust to care about and for me are dismissive of my concerns or needs, when they betray or belittle me, when they respond to my hurts with "just get over it" or "it's not my problem - deal with it yourself," something breaks deep inside of me.

Christ is sufficient to meet all my needs, including my need for meaningful relationship.

Yes, He is. I know this, because He has been faithful when others have not. He has been near when others have been distant. He has been attentive when others have been dismissive. He has been tender when others have been unkind. He has been selfless when others have been self-absorbed. He has been fearless when others have been cowards.

Christ is sufficient.

But, shame on the one who claims the name of Christ and willfully refuses to love as Christ loves.

God, help me to love like Christ. When I am weary, help me to be faithful. When I am busy or inconvenienced, help me to be available. When I am unsympathetic, give me a heart of compassion. When I am afraid, give me courage.

When I am reluctant to love others, help me to see in them opportunities to love Jesus, the One who has loved me so very well.

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