The MuLu Connection occurred again yesterday. I know, it sounds like a Swahili train station or something. But instead, it's what Mu and I call our time together. (The term doesn't make sense unless you knew beforehand my nickname, "Lu" and how her name came to be "Mu").
Over coffee and quiche, we covered the "issues" of life we were dealing with, and reviewed our obstacles of the week. It's like the Oval Office -meets-coffee shop, or the War Room where the generals meet. She and I mean business about getting to the truth of the matter- whether that's something heavy, like Why Does God Allow Suffering?"(after this past Sunday's service where a cancer survivor and current sufferer shared her powerful testimony.It opened up a lot of theological complexities and concerns) or Why Do our Teenage Sons Drive us Crazy? The Good, the bad, and the Ugly. We like to deal with it all. But we also laugh a lot, and loudly.
She has the most amazing knack of confronting me pointedly and lovingly without getting me offended and up in arms. I almost relish what targeted insight she will deliver to me next. She's direct, kind, and honest. I hope this is the way I can challenge and encourage women with hard truths, illuminating insights into God's Word, and hilarious highlights from my past that grant an ounce of perspective that might grant someone a reprieve from pain.
I am known as the confronting type in my family. I don't think my extended family members relish my approach or perspective. Perhaps I do get militant in my stance or maybe pound the pulpit, so to speak. I'm not sure exactly how I come across to various family members- except that I am often seen as a radical, a crusader for the lost, and a contentious bull dog. I know how I want to come across: as someone who will not back away from the ugly truth, as someone who doesn't want to pretend or play games, as someone who learned the long hard way to stand up for truth even if you stand alone. There's quite a tension between what I'm aiming for and what certain family members think I actually accomplish.
Just to let you know how badly I need a PR team helping me with looking "good" in my extended family's eyes, here's a snippet of something that happened a week or so ago.
I called my parent's house to reply to my mom. (She leaves me lots of messages, tying to cajole me into calling her so that we can chat about this and that, and how I should be taking ball room dance lessons from Dad because I do need to learn grace, and why don't I go back to wearing contact lenses because I look better without glasses, she'll say). I usually try to call back when I've eaten and am relaxed, and remember that my mother IS a saint who gave birth to five children and lived to talk about it. (So what if she wants to talk about so many other things as well!)
I held the phone, waiting for someone to answer. My Dad picked up.
"Hi, Dad. It's Lu. Can I talk to Mom?" I said nicely.
"She's on the war path, Mil," I heard my father say as he handed the phone to my mom.
Really, help me out here. Was that a militant thing I said?! I just asked to speak to Mom! But my directness is a bit of a problem with my family. For some reason, though, it's often the thing that other people enjoy about me. (Someone please tell my parents this!)
I've met with confused people, people who have lost sight of some basic truths or who have gotten confused in their theology. (Who isn't?!) While I am no expert in exegesis and hermeneutics, I do have a discerning, questioning mind that once was more of a curse to me than it was a help. In those years, long ago, what I SAW and what I detected just didn't get dealt with because it didn't get spoken. Authority figures- Spiritual authority figures- were always right, and you were wrong to question. In those olden' days, to question or to consider that someone might not have all the answers would be akin to sins of doubt or defiance.
What good was discernment and an active, healthy mind that perceived something "amiss" yet had to ignore it all in the name of "faith"? And now that we have enormous personalities on the scene, in the Christian realm, many still stumble about,wondering if popularity or notoriety is a good indicator that we should listen to them, hook ,line, and sinker?
Oh dear, I'm stirring up trouble again. I'm on the war path. But let me tell you, I spent way too many years on the "Lost" path of confusion and fear.And part of the reason I was on the dark path was that I was not allowed to say what I thought, use discernment and ACT on it, confront, or reject something if it resonated with impure motives, bits of Scriptural truth mixed in with a lump sum theology that could not work for all things at all times. I love to share Scripture verses, but I also get concerned lest something I share be taken out of context, misapplied, or seen as a be-all to end-all. Even a testimony can inspire - and yet do damage, if someone misunderstands your point, your key Scripture reference.
"Mu, in the Old Testament, there was a prophet, who walked around with his buttocks exposed as a sign to the people of pending judgment. (Micah 1:8) Does that mean we should take that one verse and apply it as a specific directive for our life today? " I asked her. Then we laughed hysterically, picturing that. Naked prophets, the need for dance lessons, trying teenage sons- we'll tackle it all.
Cause we're on the war path. Watch out.