Father’s Day Memories

Father’s Day Memories

Tomorrow is Father’s Day and the first day of our beach vacation. Father’s Day is such a special time for our family. It’s bittersweet, as we will be celebrating your 9th year as a dad, but it will also be the 6th Father’s Day without my own dad. It will be a day of remembering. You will honor that time. You will let me remember, listening as I think about Daddy. I will remember strength wrapped in gentleness. I’ll remember junking trips and flea markets. I’ll remember basketball and go-cart racing. I’ll remember the smallness of my hand in his larger one. I’ll remember his eyes, his smile, his laugh, and his arms, outstretched and ever ready to welcome me in. I’ll remember, “Well hey girl” and “I sure do love you.” I’ll remember hugs and kisses goodbye, and looking back in my rear view mirror, seeing him wave until I turned the corner, out of sight. I’ll remember blackberry cobbler and banana pudding, pinto beans and cornbread. I’ll remember uncomplicated faith and unwavering trust in Jesus. I’ll remember pick-up trucks and gospel music, roller-coasters and log-rides. I’ll remember flicking ears and practical jokes. I’ll remember being rescued in the broad daylight, the sound of his feet running to me, shot-gun ready, and knowing in that moment everything would be ok. I’ll remember being rescued in the night, picked up in Raleigh and driven home to the mountains, and knowing in that moment everything would be ok. I’ll remember being by his side as he took his last breath, telling him everything’s going to be ok. I’ll remember courage and humility and integrity and love. Yes, love, always love. It will be a day of remembering Paw for Matthew and Mason. We’ll remember rides in the back of the truck. We’ll remember big breakfasts and J&S. We’ll remember yard sales and auctions. We’ll remember Rascal. We’ll remember sled rides on the trash can lid and trips to the park. We’ll remember, “what a fine boy” and “that’s good sugar.” We’ll remember visits and birthday parties and camping trips. We’ll remember love. Yes, love, always love. After the memories, we’ll return to the present. The kids will take off towards the water with you, and I’ll watch. I’ll watch and I’ll remember. I’ll remember you holding first Matthew, then Mason, their tiny newborn bodies swaddled and smelling so sweet. I’ll remember how both their cries stopped as they heard you talking to them. I’ll remember to tell them it was your voice which first calmed them, which first assured them, which comforted them in the way they have come to expect from their Daddy. I’ll remember those first nights at home. I’ll remember you helping with every single part of it, the feedings, the diaper changes, the pure exhaustion and exhilaration of it all. As I remember Daddy-daughter dances, Y-Guides, and Daddy date nights, I see some of the very traits of my dad in you now with our children. As I watch you play football, basketball, and soccer only to turn around and play hide-and-seek, chase, and Peter Rabbit,. I see you in it, doing this dad-thing with your whole heart. As I see you lead them in devotion and prayer, I see an uncomplicated faith, as pure and simple as my Dad’s. As I listen from the kitchen as you read books and pray and tuck them in, I see strength wrapped in gentleness. As I watch tears form in your eyes when you watch them sleep, peaceful and bigger somehow each time we check in on them, I see love. Yes, love, always love. One day, our children will remember their Daddy, just as I remember mine each Father’s Day. One day they’ll remember “Buddy” and “Girlie.” They’ll remember bowling and Noodles and Company and putt-putt. They’ll remember shows and movies. They’ll remember Pirate Anna and ET. They’ll remember Space Mountain and Seven Dwarfs mine train, digging holes and sand castles on the beach, and Yogi Bear campgrounds. They’ll remember being tossed high into the air and splashing into the pool. They’ll remember hugs and kisses, fist-bumps and high fives. They’ll remember “I love you sweet girl,” and “I love you little buddy.” Yes, they’ll remember your love. Always your love. Happy Father’s Day to the two most important men in my...

The Puffing Up of Complementarian Theology

The Puffing Up of Complementarian Theology

“Pride is a wonderful, terrible thing, a seed that bears two vines, life and death.” The previous quote is not from the Bible. It’s a quote from the beautiful, bittersweet short story, “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst. The line is spoken by Brother, the narrator of the story, who flashes back to a time from his early childhood, a time marked by hope and fear, love and hate, pride and shame. Brother reflects on the war fought within himself; a battle whose catalyst is the birth of a baby brother with special needs. From the moment his baby brother arrives, Brother searches for signs of normalcy. He longs for a playmate and an equal, a built-in forever friend with whom he can wrestle and race. When his baby brother’s disabilities threaten that dream, Brother’s war, fought on the battlefield of his heart, begins. Brother gives his baby brother the nickname Doodle, and we, the reader, venture with him back to a time in a lonely swamp beneath the canopy of a massive tree and watch as Brother pushes Doodle to be normal, to be like him. His shame in having an invalid brother motivates their trips to Old Woman Swamp, where Doodle is content to play in a land of make-believe, a land where everyone flies and families stay together forever. Brother escapes into the sanctuary of Doodle’s world, but is always drawn back to reality by the shame he feels for Doodle. While Doodle benefits from Brother’s lessons and eventually learns to walk, Brother’s pride in having a part in this accomplishment puts forth a new fruit; new goals are made and a harsh push to teach Doodle other “normal” abilities, like swimming and rowing a boat, begins again. “Pride is a wonderful, terrible thing, a seed that bears two vines, life and death.” This wisdom is unfortunately realized too late for our narrator and Doodle, as the story’s heartbreaking conclusion makes this a work with true literary immortality and a timeless theme. Pride is a wonderful, terrible thing. God knows the dangers of pride. The Bible, too, speaks of two different types of vines when it comes to pride. 1. Pride over a job well done and 2. Pride which leads to self-righteousness. God hates the second type of pride because it is a hindrance to seeking Him as explored in Psalm 10:4. Self-righteous pride leaves no room for the type of humility God values and describes in Matthew 5:3 where it assures blessings for those who walk humbly. Like the thematic message in “The Scarlet Ibis” the Bible also talks about the destructive outcomes of pride. Proverbs 16: 18-19 “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.” Pride steals God’s glory. It places undo credit on the individual, forgetting God’s grace and sacrifices for humankind. Complementarian theology is a proud theology . It boasts of male prominence and privilege and preference. It puffs up, but it never edifies. When a complementarian pastor writes a single sermon with multiple points of reference on the importance of the man, the husband, and the father, he is perpetuating a self-righteous, prideful response in the men who hear that message. Recently I witnessed this first-hand while visiting another church. The pastor took the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 and made it about how Jesus fed the 5,000. He focused on the distribution of the bread among the male disciples who then delivered the bread to the male leaders of each family who then distributed it to the women and children. He loosely tied this act to the importance of men as “heads of households” working to provide for their families while women maintained the home and children. What started out as a teaching on the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 by Jesus ended with a message on the esteemed role of men. Instead of unpacking the miracle and revealing the bread’s symbolism for the infinite replenishment of Jesus’ provisions of grace and love and mercy, we were left pondering the connection of an ancient culture’s patriarchal hierarchy to men’s roles and duties today. When sermons speak of spiritual leaders, headship, and pastor husbands, when there is a pointed effort to remind husbands and fathers of their “godly” duties, and when men are applauded for simply being born male, God’s role becomes smaller and smaller; God’s voice becomes fainter and fainter as the puffing up of men pushes God into the margins. Complementarian theology is destructive. God wants his children, sons and daughters, brought near...

Speak

Speak

How can the violation of a woman’s mind, body, and soul result in a 6 month sentence for her rapist? How can 3 felony convictions ultimately result in only 3 months of time served?   What message does this lenient sentence send to young boys, teens, and men about the sacredness of a woman’s ability to have complete control and power over her body and what happens to her body?   While we can’t directly impact the judicial system with our religious teachings, we can impact the way in which we teach men and women to see one another in our churches.   We need to remove the privileged teachings of any theology which advocates male authority over women. Why are more believers not speaking out against teachings which instruct women to position themselves beneath men in the home, church, marriage, and beyond? While the specific case of the Stanford rapist isn’t directly related to religious teachings, we, as believers, have to examine what we are doing to contribute to the culture of privilege which allows for the continued abuse of women nationally and globally. We have to examine the consequences of doctrines which give men authority over women but fail to include a “how to” guide for using said authority appropriately.   We should be advocating for teachings which honor a woman’s freedom in Christ, which empower her gifts, which put her on equal grounds of authority in her home, marriage, and church.    When I think about teaching my daughter to “submit” to male authority, a pit forms in my stomach because I know men are human, fallible beings. I know there is not a single verse or scripture which assures me of a man’s ability to not abuse his power while there are many which warn against the possibility of abuse occurring because God knows the dangers of power and privilege in the hands of imperfect people.   When I think about teaching my son to assert his authority as a man, an even bigger pit forms in my stomach because I am terrified of how wrong that message could unfold in his life.   When I read the words of the woman victimized, my heart hurts for her. I feel moved to add my voice to the many thousands of voices crying out against this injustice.   “Show men how to respect women…” she writes.   Yes let’s do that. Church, let’s show men how to respect women by doing away with patriarchal hierarchy which invites abuse and privilege.    Let’s teach boys and men it’s not about the hem-line but the heart.   Let’s teach boys and men to see girls and women as someone’s daughter, mother, sister, aunt, or grandmother, and because she’s a creation of God, she is part of his family, as well. Let’s teach men respect for women by teaching them about the women in the Bible! Let’s teach them about Jael from Judges and Abigail in 1 Samuel and Ruth and Esther and Deborah and Mary and Martha and Hagar and Dorcas and the dozens of women whose stories go untold from the pulpits and classrooms of our children.   “You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.”   Church, let’s give women their voices back. Let’s invite women to every decision making table in our churches. Let’s show women their voices matter. When we set women free to teach and lead and serve in every arena of church, we are sending the message to the world that women’s voices matter.   “The fact that Brock was an athlete at a private university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class.”   Teaching privilege and entitlement of any kind is dangerous. Racial privilege, social privilege, and gender privilege are all slippery-slopes that we do not want to perpetuate in the Church with messages about male-headship, husband pastors, and spiritual leaders.   We need to do away with archaic cultural models of power and lean in to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Teachings which assure all believers of our complete freedom in Christ. Teachings which honor women. Teachings which call for us to do unto others. Teachings which direct us to love one another as Christ loves us.   “And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought...

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