“Pastor, how are we to respond? Yet another of our heros has fallen to sexual misconduct or abuse!”
“We are trying to reconcile the man we knew him to be
with his unacceptable behavior we now have become aware of.”
(Today Show, November 29, 2017).
******* TRIGGER WARNING*********
My grandfather (paternal) was a kind man to me. He was gentle, sang, and played the organ, he snuck me hard candies and spoke Norwegian to me. He taught me to love music, woodwork, and cars. He lived a Christian life and spoke of God with regularity. He was like this with all of his grandchildren.
My grandfather (same one) also molested me as a child. He molested other family members, too. Many in the family knew but my brother did not until he was nearly an adult. As he and my father flew home to my grandfather’s funeral, my dad told him my story so that he would not be caught off guard. I also think Dad still held anger that his own father had done that to his little girl and was struggling with going to a funeral to hear all nice things about someone who had broken an innocent child.
The hardest part for my brother was reconciling the grandfather he had experienced with the one I experienced. I remind him regularly that our grandfather’s actions with me that were unacceptable do not undo the good he did. Each act stands alone. His good behavior did not excuse his bad behavior- but neither should his bad behavior erase the good. I remind him that it is ok to remember our grandfather with love and fondness because that is the authentic memory he has. He need not bear my anger, pain, or brokenness, even though I welcome him comforting me and holding me in it as I continue to grow and heal from it.
I am not excusing my grandfather. I am not justifying, supporting, or protecting him. I am a woman who has gone through deep healing and I now see clearly through waters that seemed impossible to move through once. In that clarity I see a broken man who broke others. I also see a man who tried to live right and sometimes failed. I pray that he found forgiveness before death- I pray that he reconciled himself. I myself, have reconciled that I can remember him with love and smiles of the good things that he did for ALL the grandchildren.
There is no sacred place from this kind of trauma. Our news now fills our living rooms with story after story of sexual misconduct and abuse. The more stories we hear, the harder it gets to make sense of the person we thought we knew through media or even personal experience with one who could do such things.
But there is this- when we are ready, when we have caught our breathe- we can turn this over to God. God heals and judges. God comforts and chastens. God is with us- and with them. And God cares and loves until we can once more. I for one, am grateful that in the years of anger and distress that followed when I was unable to forgive or heal, God was with my grandfather just as God was with me. And I thank God for that because it is a difficult struggle to reconcile the harmer and the hero.
I love to be barefoot. If you come to my home, you will find me barefoot. My feet are eternally dirty from walking around without shoes. I feel connected to the earth and just a little more steady in a world that is always putting me off balance.
So my first week as Pastor at Hope, I was putting my office together but had dressed up a bit with it being my first week and all. The thing is, if I have to wear shoes, they better be AWESOME. So, these 4″ stilettos did not work when I climbed chairs to hang pictures and put books on tall shelves. I left the shoes on the floor and wandered barefooted- all around campus. And got caught.
I joked I am the eternally dirty soled and realized it made a great blog post for a pastor- I know I am dirty souled on my own- but in Christ, I am eternally washed clean. This is the story of my journey, living as a washed and redeemed child of God, leading a people with dirty-souls washed clean, too.
This blog will be about my life with Hope, and will include my weekly sermons for those who cannot be with us to worship in person.
Kick off your shoes- own your dirty soul and soles and join us as we walk and celebrate being made new in Christ.
I don’t want to share my first two sermons at Hope. They were horrible. I was still unsettled and unsure, welcomed by my new congregation, but in reality, not knowing them. It is far easier to preach to a people you don’t know and leave. Their regular pastor gets to pick up any pieces you leave behind and field questions that left them unsettled. Not that I ever intended to do that- but it does happen every so often when you supply preach.
But this is different. These are my PEOPLE now. I am here for better and worse. And I want them to still like me after the first month!
They say that if you start with blasé sermons you can only go up from there and apparently I set a pretty low bar for myself. In reality, as much as I don’t want to share them, I will. You get to see what I think are ICK; scattered, unformulated, wandering in the darkness.
The good news is that God is always with us- in the dark and the ick. So, by the power of the Holy Spirit alone, my people still like me- they still want me here. And I am grateful.
Read on, if you dare. And welcome to my barefoot walk.