Saturday, February 25, 2006


Last week I had a meeting I needed to go to at our church. My pastor's wife asked me a month or so ago to be a part of a group of women that would meet together to pray, listen, and discern the direction God wanted to take women's ministry at our church. I agreed, and she set up a time for all of us to get together. Well, I was feeling terrible that night and my kids weren't well either. I knew that to go to the meeting would require me to engage and all I really wanted to do was sleep. Know that feeling? It's not laziness, it's just your body crying out for REST. So, I called her and asked to be released from my commitment for that night. Her response? "Absolutely, stay home and rest. I'm not into guilt." WOW! Now maybe that seems insignificant to you, but it's been a long it's been since I've gotten that gracious of a response. It was almost beyond belief for me.

I can't tell you the number of times the response has been different. In my recent past, I've asked to be released from certain obligations or even said "No" on the front end of being asked, and that hasn't been so well received. Here is a sampling of those responses (and they're ALL true): Well, I certainly expected more from the "pastor's wife"--you're supposed to be the example! If you don't do this (job at church) people are going to talk bad about you. (hmmm--now there's a reason to do something?!)) But, Meredith, you've already said you would. You made a commitment. Or the worst one of all--nothing. Just absolute silence into which I've always read incredible disappointment. YUCK!

A lot of these responses have come from those in ministry positions in the church (though not all) and so maybe this gives you some understanding of why I don't really miss John being in a pastoral role at this time in our lives, and why this particular response was so unexpected. Am I hurt and wounded? Yes, absolutely. I know that and I am working through a lot of that hurt right now. Letting God meet me in my brokenness. But there was something amazing about Sallie's response last week. There wasn't any guilt, condemnation, shame, disappointment or control attached to it. There was a lot of GRACE, and truthfully, it felt wonderful!

I've thought about her gracious response a lot over the last week or so. John and I were even talking about it over breakfast this morning. He (John) challenged me to let that be my response to those around me. There are a few situations in my life right now where I don't really feel like extending grace. For whatever reason, I don't really feel that some folks deserve it. And you know what? None of us do. But God gives it freely to all and it is wonderful to receive. Can I let people off my "hook" and quit trying to be their "conscience"? I'm going to give it a shot. Maybe, just maybe, I can bless someone with a response like I got last week.

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