I am going to ramble on for a few minutes but at the end – I’ll circle back around to Bo’s and you’ll understand what I am babbling about (well you might).
Sometimes my Dad really makes me aggravated. Years ago, I would call him in an anxiety driven panic, unload my issue and wait for step by step directions on how to fix it (or him or her or them…rarely me). Dad, being a rescuing shepherd type, would put on his “S” cape, and save my day. He would outline the heart of the problem, my contribution to it, and tell me how to “fix”. Sometimes, he would say “I’ll handle it” and then I would breathe a sigh of relief that now all the nasty business was his to deal with. And rightly so. He was THE Dad and he was also THE Pastor. Both titles qualify him for cleaning up nasty messes.
I can’t give you a specific date when things started changing (he probably could), but I can tell you that he started making my brothers and I really frustrated. The man in the cape disappeared and left silence in his place. NOT good. I recall a few phone conversations where I would call him detailing all the nuances of the current mishap and then would sit in shocked silence when he had NOTHING to say in return. Nothing. Nada. Grrrrrrr. I wanted to drive to his house, grab his face between his hands like when I was a little girl and DEMAND that he speak up. Several phone calls ended after a one sided conversation. I would then sit contemplating the situation with several accusations on my tongue. Number One: If I knew how to handle it, I wouldn’t have called him in the first place so this is a big waste of time letting me sit and stew on a problem I don’t know how to solve and in the meantime things are going to he** in a handbasket. (If he can say “crap” on his blog….yes he was quoting a book – still though….:). Number Two: It actually wasn’t MY job to fix it. Usually I was bringing him “into the know” about situations with other people that NEEDED to be addressed NOW. For crying out loud, this is what Pastor’s DO! Solving people conflicts are totally in their job descriptions! Number Three: Maybe he was sick of it all and just didn’t care anymore? Maybe he checked out and now the rest of us had to step up to the plate to handle it. Number Four: If that was the case, maybe I WAS the right person for the job! Clearly I was more passionate and motivated to solve it than he so I’d just have to find someone else to plan out the steps of “healing” with me so I could go do my best to FIX IT!
And why is it that I needed everything “fixed” in the first place? Many many reasons. Maybe I was afraid. Maybe I was embarrassed because I thought someone else’s behavior was somehow going to give the rest of us a bad name (or me)? Maybe I didn’t want them to have to face the consequences that would be coming down the pike. Maybe I didn’t want to face the consequences WITH them. Usually bad choices spill over on everybody else and I gotta admit – not a big fan of your mess in my lap. Maybe I didn’t want “the family” or the “church family” image “tarnished” making us all look like we were a bunch of idiots for continually having to deal with THESE problems that were clearly BENEATH where we “should” be. Maybe….maybe sometimes I didn’t mind the drama at someone else’s expense. Their failures drew attention to all the things that I did “right” to AVOID that end result. Little bit of puffing up going on…condescension…patronization…raised eyebrows and told you so’s intended to draw attention to MY superior intelligence and righteous choices.
I can’t say what motivated Dad specifically to start standing down nor can I speak to his intentions in each situations but I will list what I have gotten out of watching him.
1. Dad doesn’t have much to say when he knows I am not in a place to listen.
2. Dad doesn’t assume he can solve problems anymore and he doesn’t take ownership of them. He leaves that to the Holy Spirit. He would defend that problem solving is most definitely NOT in his job description.
3. Dad is okay with not solving problems.
4. Dad is not stressing that problems exist. He expects it. He prays. He waits.
5. Dad is not stressing that any of us are stressing.
6. Dad doesn’t believe he has all the right answers so he finds it prudent to direct others straight to Father if they REALLY want the “right” answer.
7. Dad isn’t real caught up in “rightness”. He is okay being on a journey with God and is allowing God to straighten things out in his life as Father prioritizes…and the rest of it….part of the human condition and being worked out one moment at a time by falling more deeply in love with Father.
8. (Sorry about my numbers – I am OCD – seriously can’t quit – I totally wouldn’t be able to talk without counting -ask anybody) Dad would rather I quit asking him to solve problems that I am only wanting to CONTROL and hopes I will dive into deeper discussions with Father and work on deeper issues in my heart as opposed to trying to fix external things that really aren’t my concern. Ironic thing is…the trouble brewing in my own soul may have been way worse than the emergency I was blowing the horn on. Ouch.
In the last couple of years…I have been breaking. All the pieces held together by what I thought was some serious fleshly super glue were bustin’ loose. I knew Dad was onto something and in my gut…I knew it would be the direction I too, was destined for. Designed for really.
I have to recognize that my feeble attempts to fix things are rooted in my “Christian Insurance Plan”. Here is how it works. I have an agenda in mind. I know exactly what I want as an end result. I am a driver and a Type A Choleric personality. I KNOW what I want. I discuss it with the Lord. Discussions go something like this. “Father – here is the situation that needs to be fixed. I know what I can do to contribute to the fixing. I will do that. Letter of the law. I will hold up my end. Now on your end, I just trust you to keep your word and do all the fixing when I honor you by doing the “right” thing.”
Situation plays out one of two ways.
A) It worked. I pat myself for a job well done. I have been rewarded for good and faithful service. I did what I should have and God rewarded and blessed my efforts exceedingly and abundantly.
B) It didn’t. Now we have a problem. I have a brief stretch of schizophrenia ranging from wondering how I failed – what I did wrong – what I didn’t understand – the shame of the failures that now I see clearly (because who can really do ANYTHING to the letter of the law in the first place?) – to accusing God of playing unfair. I DID what I committed to and He didn’t. If I did the wrong thing – made the wrong choice – it’s because HE DIDN’T TELL ME when I asked! Then I don’t trust. I say things like “Well this is just great because now I have this really big decision to make and I have no idea what to choose and if I choose wrong, than you are going to rain fire and brimstone down on my head and make me eat the consequences of a bad choice. HOW FAIR IS THAT? I ASKED YOU! If you don’t answer – than how fair is it that you punish me for picking wrong? This is seriously like flipping a coin! How am I supposed to know which way to go?
And by the way, I am pretending to be really spiritual all the while and just really “loving Jesus” when I am playing this game. Truth is – I don’t think I much care what His agenda is. I care what mine is. Our conversations are about how I am going to get MY agenda met and I expect God to play on my terms as I describe them. Being real obedient on the outside, really seems to seal the deal too because to my way of thinking – it’s a balanced system. I do what you want then you do what I want. All very fair.
And why am I telling you all this? Because I am sick of self. I am tired of these games. I am weary to death of trying to manipulate God. I am broken and bruised. And I feel deep within that I AM finally on the path to healing. I’ll never get there. “There” doesn’t exist on this side of heaven. But I am not the woman I was. Laying down my pride and speaking the truth about what really lies beneath is one step in the process of learning to trust God with it all. For many months now I have been putting this junk behind me and getting healed from it and I feel as though I see everything in life differently as a result.
So back to “Bo’s Cafe”….
I read a blog article about Bo’s Cafe on Wayne Jacobsen’s site. Remember, Wayne is the author of my favorite book “He Loves Me”. The article talked about the new book Windblown Media had released last week. They also published The Shack. I told Dad about it and he went out and bought it over the weekend. I loved reading his copy today because we like to share highlights. If you borrow our copy, Dad highlighted in pink and I in yellow.
As I read Bo’s Cafe, there were several moments when I saw my Dad as “Andy” in this fictional story. In the story, Steven is a young cutting edge business exec who has life by the tail from outward appearance. Inside, things are falling apart and he is about to lose his wife and daughter because the broken things inside him are beating up all those around him – most especially those he loves most. Andy is an old family friend who steps in to love Steven and to humbly mentor him. Andy is wise, real, humble, and discerning. He doesn’t believe in “soft” love – telling someone what they want to hear. He says it like it is – but still he loves. Steven gets introduced to a community of folks who have decided to live in relationship with one another – being vulnerable – being loved – loving – being humble. A community where all can share who they are and what they have done without risk of being rejected. A community of grace.
Several years ago our church was renamed Grace Family Fellowship. With that renaming came a vision. A vision that is growing – a church without walls. When I read Bo’s Cafe, I recognized the same thing that Dad commented on. We are on a journey and we are not alone. More and more people are wanting to go this road. We are tired and burned by religious trappings and we hunger for the real thing. We are trying to return to what Jesus wanted for us. To Love the Lord thy God with all our hearts – and to love one another. The greatest commandment that somehow we have seemingly sorted to the end of the 600ish OT laws.
I loved this book and recommend you go get it. You can find it at any leading bookstore or just order it online. You can also visit Bo’s Cafe website where the conversations down at the Cafe are continuing…in blog form…how fun is that?
If there is a Bo’s Cafe in my area, I am there. I hope it will start looking more and more like Grace Family Fellowship.