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11.26.2010

THE GONG SHOW AND JIM JONES

During my 25 year marriage to a pastor there were quite a few uncomfortable moments in church.  People who sit in the pews have, many times, an unrealistic and pedestalish view of the pastor and family.  I always just saw myself as Lynn, barely able to keep myself buttoned up enough to be a pastor's wife, let alone perch on a stool to be admired by the congregants. And, I tried to be me as much as I knew people could handle. One such agony moment in the pastorate is when you resign your church.  You try as much as you know how to get people attached to God and moving with Him in relationship daily, and not linked to you in an unhealthy way as their human savior.  It does happen though, that a few people have a skewed view of you to the point of a weird sort of worship.  It was the last Sunday service in this particular church we had just resigned from and we were being paraded in front of the crowd, bestowed cards and gifts upon, made to eat a potluck carry-in dinner and physically hug every parishioner, including the ones who might have been secretly glad we were leaving.  During the service a woman in the church, a bit younger than me, who had more of a love for me and a need for a relationship than I did for her, sang a song.  It was one of those moments in your life when you wish you could disappear kind of like "I Dream Of Jeannie" could with a fold of her arms and a nod of her head.  She stood on the platform and while nearly breaking down said, "I love you Lynn.  I don't know what I will do without you.  You mean the world to me."  I am squirming in my pew as every eye is now staring at me and my reaction to her emotional breakdown.  Gosh, how do I fake emotion that I don't have for this woman.  "God, please help me think of something horrifically sorrowful or at the very least let me have a pitiful, forlorn look plastered upon my face",  I remember praying in my head.  Before she began to sing she finished her worship of me by saying, "Lynn I dedicate this song to you."  Oh boy, I am in serious trouble now!  I folded my arms and nodded my head as if acknowledging her words, but I was really attempting my "I Dream Of Jeannie" disappearing move.  It didn't work.  She began to sing a song I literally hate, from an artist that is not really on my list of musicians I love, "Friends Are Friends Forever" by Michael W. Smith.  It was bad.  I mean musically it was "Gong Show" bad.  Emotionally it was a train wreck.  Theatrically it was much like a lounge singer - over exaggerations of emotions and interpretation of the song and well, some C rated vocals.  I literally am frozen with thoughts speeding through my mind while trying to maintain a face that shows appreciation, a touch of emotion and love for her.  She breaks down in the song which only adds to the bad singing quality she had going without tears.  When the song finally came to an end, and time began to start ticking again for me, she was bawling.  Standing there she paused, blowing me a kiss before walking off the platform towards me.  She then proceeded to make her way down the main aisle to where I sat on the end of a pew and threw her sobbing body upon me in a ginormous hug while the entire church watched.  Oh, I have always struggled when someone is crying, feeling something deeply, and I cannot muster a tear to match point them.  I couldn't that day.  I took the love route instead patting her and telling her how sweet it was and thanking her for her special gift of song to me.  At another church we served at I taught an adult class.  It was a large class and in it were people mostly in their 20-40's.  There was a couple in my class that hadn't really been a part of any church before and started coming.  For whatever reason they took to me in a way that again made me highly uncomfortable - looking to me more than Christ at times in their lives.  I spent time encouraging them in their faith journeys, stopping at their house and sometimes being bold with what I said in regards to growing up in Christ.  They lost a child during those years - a still born.  It was a devastating experience for them.  Understandably so.  I sat with them on the ash heap, prayed with them, spoke at the funeral.  Things I would have done for anyone - loving them as my brothers and sisters in Christ.  When we resigned that church I was very worried about their spiritual progression once we left.  I drove out to see them one night sharing with them ahead of time (before we had resigned on that coming Sunday to the rest of the church) because I knew how hard it would be for them to hear the resignation while sitting in church a few days later.  Crying sitting in their living room they asked what they were supposed to do now.  Who would know about their lives like I did?  How would they make it spiritually if I left?  Oh boy, talk about feeling like I had done everything humanly possibly wrong with teaching and encouraging them, I wanted to scream, "I am just Lynn.  Regular old Lynn.  Who fights with her husband.  Gives stuff to God then two days later takes it back.  Who needs grace in buckets full daily and falls short of the mark every other minute."  I spent some time going over my own humanity with them and trying to get them up off their knees from bowing before me.  I'm not Jim Jones nor do I like grape Kool-Aid!  God is God and I'm not Him.  I'm just Lynn.

1 comment:

  1. It's the wonderness of Lynn my friend. I felt it the moment I met you. You have an aura if you will that emits wonderness ~ just sucks people right in. After reading how uncomfortable it makes you, I'll try to stay off my knees when you walk in the room and just
    think "I'm not worthy" in my head instead of chanting it. ;) Love you Big L, no, I really love you.

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