Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Round Peg in a Square Hole

Round Peg In A Square Hole
by Rhonda Mitchell

We had formed a circle in the living room and by all appearances we were doing our meeting New Testament style. You know, the proper way.

Our meeting was an "apostolic" meeting. We were hand picked by the Pastor. We were the chosen ones. I felt special.

There my husband and I sat, eager to find out what special talents we had and how we'd be used by God. I can't remember when the yellow flag started waving, but it was after the first meeting or two. We'd make small talk until the Pastor would call everyone over to begin.

The question we were asked to answer were meant to target the unspiritual ones in the group and to raise up the spiritual. A couple began before me and my husband. When it was my turn, I rambled off something as spiritual as I could muster, but in the end I couldn't pull it off. I didn't have nor want spiritual psychobabble. I could see some of the group look at me with patronizing half grins.

It was Mark's turn. It was evident right away that he was the one they had picked. They smiled, shook their heads with approving nods, and said their amen's. When he was finished it was made clear and in no uncertain terms that I was to help him fulfill his calling. God placed me in my husband's life to pray, and that was a very much needed role. Mark was to be the minister.

His giftings were evident. As I write this I read it and see that this could have been a detriment to our relationship.

By the time we left this group of people Mark was asked to leave me at home and come alone. He was a good husband and came to my defense. They still weren't convinced. They really didn't see it working out for me to be on the apostolic team. I could pray but I would not be officially released. I sat there with the feeling of a bad storm in my chest. I felt the rain pummel me and thoughts from my childhood washed in again- You're an accident; you'll never amount to much; you don't fit in. I excused myself to the rest room where I gained my composure. I fought back tears of rejection. I should have represented myself better. But out there in the living room there were other spouses being told the same thing.

This wasn't about being a woman though it probably would have been easier if it had been. It was about who in the eyes of the leadership looked the part. Apparently, I had not sold myself properly.

I've always been a different thinker when it comes to the sacred and secular. I was never convinced that they were two separate entities. When you are in a group of people that draw defining lines between the two it's obvious that things will clash.
I clashed with their idea of how we should do things and how that might look. I even pushed the lines when it came to what ministering to people should look like. As far as I was concerned it could mean skipping Sunday morning service to visit an elderly friend in a nursing home.

I look back on these events and am grateful that I'm not hurt or angry anymore. Maybe it's because I know these people really believed what they were doing was right. Maybe it's because I know that these ugly events were a necessary part of my journey. I did have a couple of opportunities to explain where I was coming from with the back up support of my husband.

Little did we know then that we were like-minded to the Emerging Church in thought and ideas. After finding affirming articles and reading blogs and living in community with some really great people, we've moved beyond this experience and have tried to learn from our mistakes - the mistake of thinking that to be legitimate we have to adhere to a set of religious rules, the mistake of allowing clergy to disqualify me because I didn't have the right verbiage, the mistake of thinking one person is more spiritual than another or that some giftings are elevated above others.

We've learned to bring a voice to this somewhat hidden treasure we call Emerging or Missional church.

This journey we call life was never intended to be so difficult and cumbersome. Let's keep it simple.

I Corinthians 1:17 For Christ didn't send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News-and not with clever speeches and high-sounding ideas, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose it's power.

Rhonda Mitchell lives in Janesville, WI and is married to her best friend. Together they're blessed with 3 wonderful sons. She is in the process of re-thinking church and faith and is learning to be content with having more questions than answers. You can reach her by e-mail at mitchell_rhonda at yahoo dot com or by visiting her blog, Rhonda's Blog.

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