Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Santa Brought Forgiveness and Mercy

I wrote a post about getting angry at my preacher, and I ended up taking it down until he and I worked it out because my intention was never to be polarizing and that's what was happening. With that said, I'm putting it back up right before I post this one. I have edited out some of the more unkind things I said, but I thnk it serves a purpose too so I'm posting it.

It wasn't written as a "he said she said" type of thing. I write one side of the story, my side, that's all I'll ever write. I don't try to be fair and balanced most of the time, because this is about my feelings, memories, and perspective. Occasionally, I'll say things like "in his/her defense" but usually, this blog is about me.

I also don't write things to get people on my team! I don't mind disagreeing politically or personally. I don't expect everyone to agree with my views or opinions, I'm not trying to indoctrinate anyone, or persuade anyone. I've admitted that I will even write things that may not be flattering, about myself and that anyone in my circle is vulnerable. I don't do things like put people's last names and and I didn't write what church I go to when I was complaining about my preacher, those are details that no one needs and they neither make or break what I'm saying.

So, with that said, I did say some unkind things about my preacher and how angry I was. I made assumptions about his logic and reasoning, and I was wrong. It's another one of those times when I lost my cool, blurted out something, and ultimately apologized. (I have been forgiven and we have moved on.)

The funny thing about this predicament is that I make a lot of mistakes. I feel like I'm apologizing to someone for something stupid I've done pretty regularly. It usually doesn't take me too long to realize that I've done something I shouldn't and I'm more than willing to admit that and apologize. I know a lot of people who think they never do anything wrong, and I'm kind of the opposite of that. (Here comes the funny part) The thing I forget is that other people make mistakes too. So wow, other people make mistakes too! I also learned that I'm not the only person who is willing to apologize when a mistake is made. I'm so used to being the one apologizing that being on the receiving end threw me for a loop!

So, I approached out minister on Monday and told him why I was so mad. I spent a solid 10-15 minutes telling him all the reasons I was angry, hurt, and disappointed. I spent a lot of time praying about this interaction before it happened, because I knew it could go in any direction and I knew my approach could dictate that direction. A friend gave me some great advice before I spoke to him and I remembered it!
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:2-3 (NIV) I also recognized how mad I was and didn't want to stomp in his office and fly off the handle, screaming and throwing things is even less attractive at the church office than at home, ha! I kept a cool level head, but I wanted to be sure to emphasize my frustrations.

He listened, quietly, taking it all in and really considering it before responding. (geeze, I wish I had THAT ability!) Anyway, when he did speak, he was so humble and genuinely apologetic. He admitted that his comment had been a mistake and he wanted us to work together to repair the damage with Hadley.

We talked quite a bit longer and realized our lives had crossed paths before. We took the time to get to know each other and he's a good guy, and I'm not as scary as he anticipated. We decided that the best way to get Hadley past her hurt would be to give her a chance to get to know him as someone other than "the big mean man who lied about Santa." What we decided was that we should have dinner together sometime and later in the conversation he mentioned that his wife was out of town so I said, "why don't you just come over tonight?" He politely accepted and that was that, he was sitting beside Hadley at our dinner table last night.

I told him that I never want to be the person who is a discouragement and that I have a huge respect for what he's doing. My intention was never to be confrontational or problematic and I really want to be an encouragement but with that said, I have to put my daughters first. My first obligation is to raise good christian daughters. Steve told me that my approach wasn't discouraging and he appreciated my desire to address it. I had explained that I am incapable of holding it in, I knew if I didn't address it it would build up inside of me until I couldn't stand it anymore, and I have enough respect for him and appreciation for my church family that I wasn't willing to let that happen.

So yes, my first blog was a little harsh, and maybe I should have tempered myself a little better but before anyone judges who I am now, they should know who I was a few years ago. If this had been five or six years ago I probably would have stomped up to the pulpit mid sermon or I would have left angry and never gone back to the church again. So no, I'm not perfect-I never will be, but I'm trying to get better! I care enough about people to fix it, and I don't always approach things in the best way, but I approach them in the best way I can.

Hadley made her feelings very clear when I told her Steve was coming for dinner, she wasn't happy. She agreed to be on her best behavior anyway and have an open mind and heart. By the end of the night, she wanted to know when Mr. Steve could come back or when we could go to his house!

I told Steve, when I left yesterday, that as far as I was concerned this whole thing was over. I said my part, he listened, we both apologized and it's done. This is not something that will come back, it's done. We even hugged when I left and Hadley (and Lydia) were sad to see him leave after dinner last night!

I'm sorry this happened (for many reasons!), and I'm sorry that my honesty and bluntness upset some people, but I'm not sorry that an opportunity presented itself to both learn and teach about forgivness, humility, and mercy. I'm also not sorry that I got a chance to know Steve and he got a chance to know me or that Hadley and Lydia made a new friend.

So, we still believe in Santa in this house and for valentines day he brought forgiveness and mercy, all around!


  1. I can see how it would be polarizing but the fact is, and I know your good southern girl mind had a hand in this, HE WAS WRONG. Yes, he is only a man who works for God but still he is a leader and someone who MUST temper his words with reason and sensitivity. His thoughtlessness on that topic at the pulpit did more harm than he can possibly imagine, and I am sure not just with your child. I wonder how many other parents had the same torturous experience Sunday evening with their kids but didn't say anything to him..He is responsible for the well being of his ENTIRE flock..especially kids. (this is Ali, BTW)

  2. Well, I know you pretty well... and I want to thank you for reminding us all that it's ok to disagree with a minister. Someone we are taught to respect and look up to. They are human too, and even though they are bringing God's message, sometimes the human opens his mouth and sticks in his foot. I have heard my Mom question the preacher on the the way out of church. It's ok to ask questions, the bible is the gospel, not the sermon. I would have been upset in your shoes, but don't know that I would ever have confronted the preacher. So I would have been explaining and smoothing over the situation in my home. Even when I didn't agree, so thank you for the reminder!