Cultivate: Choosing Love & Humility Over Rightness, or When Resurrection is Our Story
I could say that my silence here has been because I’ve been “busy.” And that would be true, at least partially. Busy covers a multitude of realities, doesn’t it?
But if I want to be honest about the past few weeks of my life, I have to tell you that I am in the midst of a tumultuous season, a time that has felt emotionally raw, frightening.
My church is in a moment of uncertainty, when questions over doctrine feel bigger than anything else, when people who love each other deeply fall passionately on opposite sides of the issue at hand, and learning to talk about it out loud feels painful and impossible at times. There have been a lot of tears at my kitchen table this week, a lot of conversations about the gospel and how to read scripture. In short, we’re living in a moment in our church that has been lived in many times before in other communities, both now and throughout the past 2,000 years. What we must decide is how we will choose to wrestle through these questions, whether we will choose to engage with one another or leave one another.
Stability matters. And, just as I reflected in my book, it is always the harder choice.
And, in the midst of loving my church community, I have been placed as an elder in this congregation, for such a time as this. I believe that. I have to. All I can do is pray for mercy and make decisions with humility. All I can do is beg God to take my offering and bring forth something beautiful.
I’m also an elder who is eight months pregnant, carrying a pregnancy that has been anything but certain. Since December I have held tightly to a challenging prenatal diagnosis, one that may or may not be accurate. I have settled into the pattern of weekly non-stress tests, to see if this is the week my baby may be in distress, if this is the week we are rushed to the hospital to deliver a baby my body is not yet ready to deliver.
And each week, I have been sent home to my little boys with the instructions to rest. I drink water and try to help with homework from my spot on the couch.
These two tender things must be walked through before I can really write to you about them. They are two living organisms: my church and my baby. Both must be tended, cultivated, allowed to grow into the sunshine, even if I don’t know what will come of them.
And what else can I write about? This is the season of my life right now. Uncertainty, yes. But also responsibility. And deep belief in God’s goodness. And hope, that whatever this season of growth and tenderness and prayer brings, Jesus resurrected will be my courage, my compassion, my wisdom.
In the past two weeks I have had some of the hardest conversations of my life with people in my church community, people I love.
And you know what else? In the past two weeks I have had meals delivered to my home. My kids have been picked up and taken to the park because I needed to rest. My church community has fed them ice cream and read them stories. My church community has mopped my floor while I napped or fed my kids chicken nuggets while I talked through difficult issues on the phone in another room.
I sat on the pew this past Sunday and cried as a dear friend and pastor shared his process in this uncertain time, and asked us to enter into a conversation that is not easy. “Healthy families have to learn to have hard conversations,” he said.
And I know that’s true. You know what else I know?
Our doctrine doesn’t make us a church. What makes us a church is how we love the pregnant lady who needs to stay on the couch. What makes us a church is how we mop each other’s floors and take each other’s kids to the park. What makes us a church is how we learn to see one another as God’s beloveds, and speak kindness to one another even when our passion is loud and fiery. What makes us a church is how we choose love and humility over rightness.
Yes, I wouldn’t have chosen either of these uncertainties. But cultivating something beautiful always demands pain. Isn’t that the way this world has always been? The seed is planted whole into the earth, but it must split open before the sprout can push its way from the darkness and into the bright sun.