Swallowing the Disappointment Pill

I still can’t believe I am typing these words.  I am not going to climb Kilimanjaro next week.  I should be over the moon that in less than 48 hours I would have been making my way over the Atlantic Ocean heading towards Tanzania.   Not any more.  Last Saturday I was well on my way to completing my final training hike on Grandfather Mountain when I slipped (on a flat and easy part of the trail, to add insult to injury) and sprained my ankle.  Sprained all three ligaments – 6 week recovery time.  Yep.  I did that.  One week out from a trip I have been planning for about a year and training for the last 6 months.  Words do not adequately describe the feelings I have experienced the past 5 days.  Shock.  Embarrassment.  Chagrin.  Discomfort. Heartbreak.  Disappointment.

Everyone has been so kind to me this week.  Thank you for all of the acts of kindness, injections of humor into this infuriating turn of events, prayers, and encouragement.  That has kept me from sinking into a pool of depression or wallowing in self-pity.  It has made swallowing the disappointment pill so much easier.  I am grateful for the reminder that we share life together and with that is the opportunity for others to celebrate our joys as well as join in our laments.  And there is comfort in that.  I think I had forgotten this truth.  Or hadn’t had community to share significant life events with. (As a District Superintendent you are not surrounded  by a community like you are while pastoring a church.)

The bad news – I have trained and dreamed and planned almost everyday for 6 months all for naught.  I have spent a bunch of money preparing for this trip.  My ankle doesn’t feel so good.  My heart is broken over not getting to experience this adventure that I was ready for and that was within my grasp.

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Bum ankle with all of my Kili equipment waiting to be packed in the background.

The good news – My ankle is not broken and will heal.  My trip was insured so I can get reimbursed and reschedule for another day.  I am in the best shape of my life and it looks like I will get to do that all over again next year! I have two weeks of unexpected vacation to figure out what to do with. (Although that is kind of stressful for someone like me who has a hard time unplugging unless I am away doing something fun/cool.)

So when I consider the big picture – I’ll get over it.  And there are far worse things that other people are dealing with.  Hurricane Harvey’s destruction of homes and lives, cancer diagnosis, terminal illness, fear of not being able to make next month’s rent, I could go on.

But that disappointment pill still tastes pretty darn bad.  And we’ve all had to swallow it at one point or another.  I know I will learn some amazing lessons from this experience.  I know I will climb Kili one day.  (I am sorry some of you are going to have to listen to me talk about it again next year!) But I will do it when I’m 100% ready and can enjoy the experience, not worry about every step I take.  I know I will now have some quality time with my husband who was not going to Tanzania with me anyway.

While I lick my wounds and make an alternative vacation plan I will remember the following Psalm.  I’m not quite 100% there but I’m working on it.  I may be elevating and icing my ankle now, but before long I’ll be running and dancing again with my usual joy. Maybe these words will speak to your heart if you, too, are having to swallow a disappointment pill in your own life these days.

I give you all the credit God. You got me out of that mess, you didn’t let my foes gloat.

God, my God, I yelled for help and you put me together.

God, you pulled me out of the grave,  gave me another chance at life

when I was down-and-out.

All you saints! Sing your hearts out to God!  Thank him to his face!

He gets angry once in a while, but across a lifetime there is only love.

The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter.

When things were going great I crowed, “I’ve got it made.

I’m God’s favorite.  He made me king of the mountain.”

Then you looked the other way and I fell to pieces.

I called out to you, God;  I laid my case before you:

“Can you sell me for a profit when I’m dead? Auction me off at a cemetery yard sale?

When I’m ‘dust to dust’ my songs and stories of you won’t sell.

So listen! and be kind!  Help me out of this!”

You did it: you changed wild lament into whirling dance;

You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers.

I’m about to burst with song;  I can’t keep quiet about you.

God, my God,  I can’t thank you enough.

-Psalm 30 (The Message)

Grace and Peace,

Lory Beth

What is going on?

This week has felt a bit surreal.  I keep shaking my head trying to figure out “What is going on?”  Tonight I found myself at an Interfaith prayer vigil held at Temple Emanuel trying to make sense of the events in Charlottesville, VA and the aftermath of rhetoric

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Temple Emanuel Interfaith Prayer Vigil- all of the clergy that showed up last night from multiple faiths and a many different Christian denominations.

swirling around.  What a powerful night to see people standing together calling on love and hope to move us forward.  I will confess that there was a moment this week that I found myself going back to 2012 standing in Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, staring at the exhibits telling the story leading up to the Holocaust, scratching my head wondering how did they get to that moment.  How did we get to this moment? That was a hard day because I was on an Interfaith tour of the Holy Land with Christians, Jews and Muslims.  We were having honest conversation and learning from one another and at times also challenging one another.  I listened as the Jewish guide painfully made obvious all of the moments in time when Christians could

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Our own Jason McKinney leading singing

have stood up to the Nationalism that began to take over their country.  It was to this place that my memory took me, and it was chilling.

What has been on my heart is a new conviction that we have finally reached a place where I can no longer be guarded or silent for fear of those around me reacting negatively about a difference in politics.  This is about so much more.  This is about right and wrong.  This is about ok and not ok.  This is about love and hate.  This is about diversity and white supremacy / racism.  And I will not find myself on the side of wishing that I had said something sooner.

My soul aches for what I see happening.  A weird nod being given towards those in our country that think white people are superior.  Where chanting Nazi phrases and aggressively carrying torches, guns and sticks is an appropriate way to protest taking down Civil War historical statues.  That is not ok.

It’s not ok because I am a Christian who believes in Jesus’ ethic of love.  I may not always agree (and I do not think any statues should just be defaced or ripped down but that local authorities need to handle those decisions), but I respect a variety of opinions and believe that diversity of beliefs and people makes us stronger.  I am ok if a conversation ends with “we are going to have to agree to disagree on this.”  And I will live my life as Jesus prescribed – we are to love one another.  Love is so much more powerful than hate.

So I choose to be a voice advocating for love.  I do not intend for my voice to be incendiary.  I do not intend to sound more divisive or angry or judgemental.  If you hear it that way than I encourage you to listen carefully to your own heart.  I am simply speaking my truth.  More importantly, I am speaking Jesus’ truth.  And I think I speak for the truth that makes this country of ours amazing and beautiful.

As Bishop Ken Carter from the Florida Conference of the UMC encourages, I will use the words white supremacists instead of masking it in code language.  I will hold

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You must love your neighbor as you love yourself

accountable the moral and ethical obligation people in power have regarding taking the high road of how we treat one another.  I will hold myself accountable for seeking out opportunities to have difficult conversations, again not for the purpose to incite but to learn and stretch myself in a culture where race relations are tense.  I invite you to do the same. Let’s start having these critical conversations with one another.

And please remember that the point of it all, is to be faithful to Jesus’ love ethic.  Because what is gong on right now, is not acceptable.  We can do better than this.

Grace and Peace,

Lory Beth

The Balloon Brigade

Each week 2 persons from our staff visit a different downtown business with a few Centenary balloons, a loaf of banana nut bread and a notecard that all of our staff have signed and prayed over.  Why in the world would we do this?  This is the church staff’s way of living into our Vision Statement that calls us to Love our Neighbors.  And let me tell you, it has been an interesting and fun experience for us.  Let me share a few stories so you can imagine the impact of such a small gesture.

A few weeks ago Doug and I took our bread and balloons to Frogman Interactive, a new marketing company that moved in right across from us on 4th Street (also owned by our very own David Caudle!)  We entered into the beautifully redone office space where all of the desks were in the center of the room with shared work space among about 12 employees.  When we entered one person stood up and came over to us but 12 pairs of eyes began peaking over their computers at us, getting more curious as we explained our gifts.  One person even exclaimed “Is that for us?!”  We shared that we were from Centenary UMC and we simply wanted to say hello and offer these gifts as a reminder that we have prayed over them this week and that we are glad to be their neighbor.  By the time we were done explaining ourselves every single one of the employees (all looked like they were under the age of 35) walked over to shake our hands with big smiles on their faces.  What a wonderful moment to bring a moment of joy into the lives of these neighbors.

And then there was the time Stacy and I delivered balloons and bread to Tropical Smoothie further down on 4th Street.  We went at lunchtime and when customers saw what we were doing they asked where we were from and exclaimed “how cool!”.  Smiles everywhere as we walked back out of the door.

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Centenary’s Vision Statement:  Striving to be a vibrant Christian Community, loving God and loving neighbor downtown and throughout the region.

And then when Martha and Jeremy delivered to Tattoo Design Archive they learned that they actually house a museum of beautiful artwork (I assume that can be turned into a tattoo) but were so gracious (with purple hair and tattoo sleeve) in explaining their business that several of us want to go back and take time to go through the museum.

 

Of course not everyone gets excited when we arrive but just about everyone is pleasantly surprised by the unexpected gesture.  Our hope is that very soon, all of those businesses that we have delivered to might join us for an informal gathering of neighbors to just say hello and see how we can be better neighbors to one another.  I don’t know if anyone will come, but we want to try and provide 4th Street with an opportunity to connect with one another.

We think it is important that Centenary find ways to be a spiritual presence in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the downtown rebirth.  In fact we have a unique opportunity to be a spiritual voice and bring the love of Jesus into our surrounding community.  And we won’t do that effectively without going to actually see and meet our neighbors.  And, it’s just flat-out fun to bring smiles to people’s face with a random act of kindness.

If you would like to bake bread for us that would be awesome!  If you would like to help do a delivery let us know!  Our plan is to keep working our way through the list the Chamber of Commerce gave us until we have connected with all of the businesses on 4th and some on 5th and Trade Streets (we may define “downtown” loosely).  And maybe this is a prompting for you to think about who your neighbors are and how you might show a little love.  After all, Jesus said it was part of the greatest commandment.

Grace and Peace,

Lory Beth