The dictionary defines an elder as someone older or higher in rank. In that case, we are all an elder to someone and someone is always an elder to us. I was in my late 30's when it occurred to me that I am now an elder to teens and twenty-somethings. To be honest, I wasn't too happy about it. I think it's easier to eat of the buffet of wisdom than to serve it properly to others. It got me thinking of things I had not thought of in a long time. I was so ignorant in my 20's and I have lots of rejection slips to prove it. Today I'll mention one of them.
Not everyone has an honest mother, father, or even friend in their life who will say the hard things like, "You talk too much and dominate conversations. Please chill out because you are driving people crazy." Yeah...not everyone has one of those iron sharpening iron people in their life. There will be times when we need to lovingly approach a person. We can't assume people are doing things just to make our lives aggravating and then proceed to tell everyone. It's really not all about us.
The margarita and how church fanatics sold me down the river
When I about twenty years old I was asked to teach an aerobics class at a local church. I enjoyed the ladies and everyone was very friendly. I enjoyed the Bible readings and prayers at the end of class. At the time, I was not attending a church. I would go out with my "friends" to the Mexican place and have drinks. One day in class I mentioned that I had a margarita over the weekend as we were chatting before class. I wasn't married with kids so that's about all I had to say about what I'd done. It was my contribution! About a week later, I get a call from the head over the aerobics, super nice lady inviting me to come visit at her house. I was so, so excited!! She wants to be my friend! She likes me! WOW! This is so amazing! She doesn't want anything from me other than to just visit - with ME! Thank you Lord for bringing me to these people!
I remember driving to her house and gawking at how big the homes were with their bible named roads. I thought that was so neat that such a nice Christian lady lived in a neighborhood where the streets were paved with Bible heroes. It must be great to be a Christian wife, mother, and leader of the aerobics department at church. And so, after we sat down she complained about her husband a little but I just figured she liked me so much she could easily share that, right? And then, at the end of this long friendly overture, she brought up the (drum roll please) MARGARITA! I was dumbfounded and stunned. The color drained from my face as all I could hear after that was, "This was a joke. She doesn't like you. She is just relaying the message from the ladies in the class. The ladies in the class don't care about you, in fact they are too chicken to even tell you this so they asked her. Super Christian lady, aerobics leader, in the fancy house, probably resents having to waste her busy time on the likes of you and your drinking and partying ways. How dare you mention that in a church? Are you crazy? Everyone *knows* this religion doesn't allow drinking!?!"
I left the house feeling so very small. I stopped teaching the class not long after that and have never gone back to that church. Church lady never called or invited me to her house again. There was no one in my life to say, "I love you. We love you. Keep teaching our class even though you have a margarita." I wasn't even mad at them, I was just so hurt because once again, I had broken one of those unspoken and unwritten rules. The rule is "Be sure to follow the rules we don't tell you about." I realized that to be with them, I had to be *like* them and I wasn't.
Today God warmly reminds me of a truth articulated here:
..even in the midst of rejection, you know you are valuable. You are worth what was given for you. God gave Jesus for you, and you are worth that much to him.
Friendships for Grown-Ups by Lisa Whelchel
Please know that your witness is more powerful than you think. Never count yourself and the love you have to give as a small, insignificant thing. Love everyone and if you need to guide someone pray to do it lovingly and then invite them to your house - again and again. Prove they are more to you than a call to the principal's office.