I've been feeling cut off from hannah, not because of any wrong on her part but just because of busyness and time not matching... and cut off from Ashley because she's been busy with Kevin for the past few days. And it really doesn't make sense that such a small thing should affect me so much, but *boom* I feel alone and forgotten. I'm so weak sometimes, but that's okay. I am sure they won't hold it against me.
And I went to bed late, then slept until Ben woke me (or so he thought) at two to go to the Renaissance Festival (Ashley had free tickets for us), and because I wasn't really awake I told him that I'd rather not go. Then I woke up for real at four and cried and cried because I was so disappointed, and it made it worse that it was my own damn fault for making asleep decisions. Either RenFest means more to me than I had realized or I'm just full of leftover emotions from other things... Then Ben and I decided to try to make it there, and got LOST on the way despite having been there many times with no problem. We would have had no time, so we decided to go home.
THEN we went to church, and I got very upset with the sermon, so afterward I went up to talk to Pastor John. One of the main points of his sermon was that 'reaching the lost' was our highest calling as humans. I told him that I think that is 80% correct, that sharing our truth with others and helping them find God was a huge part of our main calling, but that our primary purpose is simpler -- just to love. I believe sharing truth is a huge part of love, but it is not all, and it is not the most important thing. I referred to Mark 12:30-31 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." The verb in these commandments, the commandments that replace old testament, is LOVE. And Jesus himself said that there was NO GREATER COMMANDMENT. That should be pretty clear! Love is primary, love is first, love encompasses anything and everything. The Bible also says, "God is Love" -- how then can there be ANYTHING greater than love??? to say so is to say that something is greater than God. 1 John 4:7-8 "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." 1 John 4:16 "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him." LOVE is our calling, our purpose, our reason for life! PJ listened at first, nodding as I spoke of the importance of love, but when I said it was more important than 'reaching the lost' he didn't agree.
He started talking about being 'fruitful' and went on for a bit about how he had seen more people get saved since he gained his new way of looking at the goal of life, and I realized that we have a fundamental difference. I don't love people with the goal of leading them to Jesus, I love them for the sake of the God that made them and the amazing, phenomenal, unique, incredibly valuable spirit that they are. Whether or not they turn to Jesus is NOT MY RESPONSIBILITY. That is THEIR choice -- my responsibility is just to offer as much love as I can, and if they ask, to tell them what I know of how to reconnect with God.
My voice was shaking because I am passionate about this and it is very hard for me to stand up to Pastor John because I respect him so much. But I was okay until he said something about me not growing, because I am not in a home group, and he sees no fruit. He asked if there was anyone that I 'discipled', anyone that would feel utterly lost if I died right now because they would have lost such a force of God in their lives. And thinking of some of you, I said yes, there are. I may not go around evangelizing, but I believe that I DO show the love of God to people and I DO think that they recognize the God in me and see him more clearly for it. And whether or not that is true, I do have some kind of positive effect because I know people would miss me, I know some of you would mourn me, I know a very few of you would feel as if the ground had been ripped from beneath you. I know that because that is how I would feel if I lost you, and I think we have mutual bonds (no bank pun intended). And he said that I hadn't grown much, and I said, "well then you don't know me well because I have grown amazingly in the past few years." and he said, "oh, yes, personally, inner healing, but not winning the lost" -- I thought, WTF, is he seriously not impressed by my growth? but I was thinking that he was dumb not to see it, and it didn't bother me. And then he said that Ben and I have no pastor and no church family (because that is part of the home groups thing, to be a member of the church you must be part of a home group), and I don't think he meant to be mean, to him it's just a term, but I felt incredibly rejected. I love him and see him as a mentor/father figure, and to hear him say that felt like I had been disowned by a father that I loved and admired. It ripped my heart out. I feel like this church IS my family, and I felt like he was saying, "you don't do what we want so you don't belong." Yes, I think home groups are the essence of the church, but I HAVE tried to be part of them, two different groups, and just haven't connected. He didn't ask why, he didn't say, "this is what I think would help you grow the most," he just said bluntly, "you don't connect so you aren't a part of us." He said he was our friend, but not our pastor, because he can only afford to give pastoring to those who connect. And I felt very very judged and rejected. His wife was standing next to him, and I think she wanted to interject, but she is a very shy woman. I didn't dare look at her because I knew her compassion would make me cry. A few tears slid down my face and she got me kleenix, which made me actually start crying, so Ben and I left. I hope she explains to him how I felt in a way he can understand. How can a man so full of love be so callous?
But I am not going to let one judgmental conversation scare me away from a church that is the most loving and multicultural that I have ever visited, or reject all the truth he offers just because he is wrong in one area. He is just human. He has flaws, and I do not trust him like I used to, but I still admire him and think he has a lot of wisdom. Just not in the same areas I do. And I will not let my contrary side keep me from connecting with my home group, which is what I wanted all along, just because he judged me rather than seeking to help. I will do exactly what the fuck I want, what I believe in.
I am hesitant about posting this because I don't want people to think ill of John. He has a lot of good in him, but he's human, and (by his own admission, often) says stupid callous things. I just really really hope that I can manage to forgive him and not feel alienated from the church. I know I need to email him about all this, but I am afraid he will react like my dad and say something to the effect of, "oh, well sorry you were hurt, but you shouldn't have blahblahblah" and Ben pointed out that that is me judging him, but anyway I can't do it right now because it is too fresh and hurts too much.
Ben and I had loooooooooong twisting painful conversation about all of it, but ended up with supporting each other and realizing that we are both on the cusp of major change. He's such an amazing husband, without him I just wouldn't be. And he's growing so much.