Saturday, September 25, 2010

Where They Are

I've heard many people say that God "meets you where you are." He's not angry or punishing us for not being able to do everything the way he knows is best. Nor is he throwing out expectations and standards; he expects us to grow and mature. But God recognizes our abilities and weaknesses at any given spot in our journey and he guides us through them. He patiently disciples us and helps us grow, and as we mature, we start living more as he desires us to live.

It hit me the other day that this is an excellent model for me as a parent, and it's something I've forgotten quite a bit lately, if I'm being honest. I've realized how often I refuse to meet my children where they are. As the adult, with my adult logic and rules and plans, I end up frustrated because my children are simply not on the same level. And it is so easy to become harsh and punitive when, rather than meeting my children where they are, I expect them to be where I am! But I was reminded that this is not how God treats me.

So I have been re-evaluating my parenting and reminding myself that my children are in completely different places developmentally than I am. They have their own abilities and weaknesses. I need to understand what they are and are not capable of at any given age/stage and meet them where they are. Of course this doesn't mean tossing out rules and standards of behavior; that would be permissive, and that's not how God treats me either. ;-) It means coming alongside them and patiently discipling them, guiding and teaching them, and helping them grow and mature.

I want the fruit of the spirit to be evident in my parenting-- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I am reminded of God's patience, kindness, and gentleness to me, and I want to show the same to my children. It seems that in meeting my children where they are, there is a greater likelihood for grace, patience, and understanding to characterize my relationship with them.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


"At first, everything was going great. I was happy, my needs were being met, and everything was going smoothly. I couldn't have asked for more! But lately, things haven't been going so well. I don't feel like my needs are being met anymore, things aren't going the way I want them to go, and I have to admit, I've been mighty tempted to look elsewhere. I'm just sure someone else can meet my needs better. I know I made a commitment, but now I'm thinking that maybe it's time to give up on this and walk away."

If someone said this regarding their marriage, they would probably be encouraged to work things out. Every marriage goes through rough times occasionally, and these times are opportunities for growth. The couple could talk through things honestly, figure out what isn't working, and work together to move in a healthier direction.

Over the past couple of years, I've come to realize how many similarities there are between committing to a marriage and committing to a church community.

When you're trying to find the right church community, you do look around. But eventually, you are hopefully able to settle into a place that feels right. You're on board with the church's vision, you're getting involved and building relationships, and you're growing closer to God. But communities, just like marriages, go through hard times occasionally, and you may begin to feel less happy with the situation. Maybe you don't feel that your needs are being met anymore, or maybe you don't like how things are going. At that point, it can be tempting to walk away.

But should you walk away?

Now, I know the analogy breaks down. Sometimes, even when you've made a commitment to a church, things in the church change so drastically that it really is best to move on, or you've tried your hardest to make changes and it just isn't happening. I'm not talking about situations like that, though. I'm talking about the general hard times, the times where you don't feel like your needs are being met or you don't like how something is going.

Personally, I feel that if I've made a commitment to a church community, I am with them through thick and thin, and I'm not going anywhere unless I've done everything I can to make it work. Of course, that doesn't mean concerns should be ignored. Just as you would in a marriage, I think it's vital to talk it out within the community and be honest about what's working and what isn't, and then move forward together to try to get to a healthier place for everyone. This obviously implies that the community is honest enough to talk about things that aren't working and that the community is open to change if needed.

What do you think? Have you ever found a church that you feel you could commit to through thick and thin? Or are you still looking? If you're still searching for the right fit, I hope you find it. And once you find it, I hope you will commit to it and do everything you can to make it work. And I hope that within the church as a whole, we can move away from the consumer mindset that asks, "What can the church do for me?" and instead move toward a mindset that asks, "How can I contribute positively to this community?"

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I have noticed that the times I feel most connected to God are also the times I feel most connected to other people.

Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another... I have heard this scripture used many times to explain why it is so important for people to go to church. And while I agree that this verse can mean that, I'm not sure that's really the heart of what is being said.

Let's be honest. A person could easily attend church without ever really meeting with any other believers. Sure, they're all in the same room, singing the same songs, listening to the same sermon. But the real question is, are they meeting with each other? Are they connecting, are they conversing, are they sharing their lives, are they encouraging each other and being encouraged?

I think I feel more connected to God when I am more connected to people because God made us this way. We are made to need connection with others, to desire and pursue relationship and community. And that connection, the meeting together that happens within community, that is what should not be neglected.

Does that happen within the confines of the church walls on Sunday morning? Well, sure, it can, and I hope it does. But it happens elsewhere too, whenever we are connecting with each other and pursuing authentic relationships. There is no doubt that a relationship with God is important, but honest relationships with other believers are also vital. Let's be sure we do not neglect one while pursuing the other; they go hand in hand.

Monday, September 6, 2010


I'm settled in on the couch with the laptop and a goal: I will write. I don't know what I will write, but I will write. Not writing regularly is taking its toll on me; I know very well that I process things better and am able to make connections between things when I write, yet I have hardly written a word in months.

I've been in a weird place in my life, not exactly a dark spot, but a quiet one. There has been no flurry of new ideas or new realizations, no burning desire to write passionately about topics that matter to me, no interest in sharing much of myself with the internet world.

In some ways it has been a dark spot, though. I go through seasons of feeling very connected, both to other people and to God, and then I go through seasons of feeling rather disconnected. I have felt alone lately; not often lonely, but alone. Alone with my thoughts and my feelings and my struggles.

Eventually these seasons of quiet introspection give way to seasons of connection, understanding, discovery, growth, and change. The quiet times in between seem to be necessary for me to process the last season of growth and prepare for the next.

So that's where I am now.