So small…

I went out to a Halloween party several weeks ago. I was dressed like Nicolas Cage from National Treasure, but that’s a story for another day.

At one point we landed at a bar that was packed with people. I was standing next to a bunch of friends at the bar, and behind me was a group of people sitting at tables. It was so tight that a waitress could barely squeeze through. Although I wasn’t the cause of her issue I caught myself saying to the waitress, “I’m so sorry.”

The week prior I had hung out with some of my girlfriends. One friend was telling us that her daughter mentioned that mommy says sorry too much. We made a vow at that hang out to catch ourselves when we were saying sorry for things we didn’t need to. Ever since that vow I have started noticing how small I made myself over the last few years.

We were part of a church where (for some reason) we never talked about anything related to politics. No, I’m not talking about who to vote for, or saying crazy things from the pulpit. I’m talking about blatantly obvious inequalities that people who care about loving others should give some thought to. If you never question your own privilege, and if you never learn to have empathy for others – can you ever really grow as a person? I don’t think you can.

Del was a pastor at a church for a little while. We had a congregant who posted something horrific on social media. It was both inaccurate and inappropriate. Del did what he thought was right and gently corrected the person. That person then proceeded to leave the church. I thought we were somehow keeping ourselves safe by making sure we never upset those around us. If I just stay quiet enough, if I hold in my own truth, I won’t bother others and then I can keep myself safe. It’s a tactic that probably worked for some point in my life.

I gave birth in 2020. Yes, it was a pandemic. Yes, it was a very difficult time for many people. But do you know how many people from our church staff checked on us? It was exactly zero. I had stayed so quiet to keep people around, and no one came anyways.

In 2021 I started getting our tax information together. The day I was doing our taxes I also drove into town and saw a line of homeless people waiting to get food. I pulled up online how much money we had donated to our church over the years. It was a lot. Then I asked myself a very important question. Stephanie, what are you doing to feed people in need? And I answered to myself, “nothing.”

For almost a decade I stayed complacent and gave money to support a building of people. I stayed quiet when I should have spoken up because I thought it would help me build relationships.

I was wrong.

I am working on no longer staying small when I can use my voice to speak up. Science matters. People of color matter. Women are important. We need to support the LGBTQIA+ community. And the model of churches in the United States is not serving people with the greatest need.

We stopped tithing that amount of money. Instead we started giving to others. Organizations that feed people. Missionaries that are doing great work. Places that support the arts. Friends and family in need. And good people we know who are building a new church.

Saying I’m sorry for things that don’t need an apology is a habit I’m trying to break. But I am sorry that I stayed small for so long. Sorry to people that needed a voice. I apologize for supporting organizations that were detrimental to many. I will do the work to be better. But mostly – I’m sorry to myself for not being the truest version of who I am. I am starting to voice my own needs and boundaries.

Staying small stops now.

On the meek will inherit the earth…

I lived the first 25 years of my life as blunt instrument hitting whatever I needed to hammer down. Now, my hard edges have been smoothed by the steadfast love of a good husband.

I asked my husband last week how I come to across to other people, and he said “You seem meek, but kind.”

Do you ever think back on the person you use to be and miss her? Sometimes I think of a few of my former traits, and long for the girl who is no longer there. That girl is confident, loud, and self-assured in all that she does. I often say in passing to my friends that I am mean and I am blunt. But when I think back on the last few years, I can recall very few interactions where I was intentionally cruel or unnecessarily blunt.

Through a first bad marriage, and thankfully, a second incredible marriage I have become a different person.

Saturday morning I was working out at the gym thinking of my lack of confidence. I immediately felt bad for becoming less confident over the years. Aren’t we suppose to become more confident? Then, I realized that I really like who I am. And somehow I have lost the need for other people to agree with whatever I believe.

As I was leaving the gym on the verge of tears a Bible verse came into my ears, “For the meek will inherit the earth.”

I wanted to make sure I understood the verse, so I spent a bit of yesterday digging in.

That verse is one of the eight Beatitudes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The Beatitudes are remarkable because in them Jesus gives credence to traits that we do not often value in society such as: poor in spirit, mercy, peacemaking, and meekness.

What does it mean to be “meek”?

“…“meek” is from the Greek term praus. It does not suggest weakness; rather, it denotes strength brought under control. The ancient Greeks employed the term to describe a wild horse tamed to the bridle.”

The last five years of my life have been profoundly better because of my husband. He has given me two things I never knew before: kindness and grace. A good marriage honors Christ because it echoes Christ’s sacrifice for us so that we can live grace-filled lives. Del’s kindness has rubbed off on me. I lived the first 25 years of my life as blunt instrument hitting whatever I needed to hammer down. Now, my hard edges have been smoothed by the steadfast love of a good husband.

Grace has helped me submit to what God calls me to do. I give grace when I do not feel like it, and I reach for kindness when I want to scream.

The meek are those whom are strong – but have submitted to will of God. We have let go of many of our own desires because we understand that what Christ calls us to do is more important. I do not always need to be right, because instead – I am called to be kind. I do not always need to talk, because God asks me to listen to those that need it. I am meek. I submit to His control.

What does it mean to “inherit the earth”?

For most of the history of the earth land was fought over. The blood of millions of people was spilled for land God created for us to thrive in. Brute force in the form of swords, guns, and bombs are how the earth was settled and conquered.

Brute force is the direct opposite of meekness. Brute force imposes power over another person to do what you want. Brute force does not submit to Christ.

Contrary to practice, those that will inherit the garden are not those that take it but are those that have submitted.

I am meek, for I have submitted. I have lost a bit of my own selfishness to gain something superior; God’s will in my life. With that will, my fellow meek believers and I will inherit the earth.