Emerge

This spring, my favorite word is EMERGE. It means to become known or visible–from Latin “to come to light.”

In winter the ground is hardened and brown. Trees lose their leaves and stand bare. We long for color in our landscapes. And when the calendar declares it is spring, we do not always have any proof.

Except, beneath the frozen earth, things are stirring. Roots reach and stretch out stiffness, rhizomes multiply, buds swell until, in startling moments,  green emerges. We blink—is the tinge an illusion?

Then comes the tender green of spring. Leaves uncurl. Blossoms burst. Pollen flies. The earth is not dead, but alive. Not entombed, but arisen.

Notice, that emerge comes from what was planted. Most of what emerges is not new. It comes from depth and that which lives through winters. The world is not dead in winter. Spring brings to light what already formed.

We live in a society that equates emergence with youth…emerging talent, emerging scholar, emerging poet. But life emerges from maturity. Do you see? Life emerges from you!

3 Things Wrong With Family Values–No, 4 Things

 

  1. The Definition. There is no real definition of Family Values. Articles, blog posts, and entire books have been devoted to the topic. There may be some core, central values, but they are amended by each individual, rendering a definition useless and discussion heated. The old, “Well, everyone knows what it means,” does not apply. Before entering into a sermon or dialog with others it is wise to find common principles and understanding.
  2. The Politics. When a particular political party lays claim to family values, they are eroding the entire basis for respect. If something is a Value, Moral, or Truth, it is universal in nature applying to the whole of a society, all political parties, all religions, all genders. To claim to be the exclusive followers of Family Values just plain stinks of self-righteousness. “Standing on the street corners to be seen by others,” or wearing a lapel pin do not equal Family Values.
  3. The exclusion. Family Values, as practiced by many, is an attempt to exclude others–those who are in some way different. It is much easier to spend time with those who have similar views–indeed, similar appearances. We can make our inside jokes, poke fun at others, and not allow them into our circle. It is easier to close ourselves in after 6:00 for “family time.” And what happens to the world outside that closed door? It is in darkness, and that darkness may come knocking. Aren’t we called to be light not hidden under a basket–or behind a door?
  4. The Community. Those who practice the exclusivity mentioned above actually undermine nuclear families because engagement in the community is both the groundwork for families and its support. Without community, the family is fragile and easily broken. Except for the knuckleheads who claim to have “built the cabin they were born in,” we recognize the need for community support. The librarian who remembers your favorite mystery series, the pastor who knows your heart and gifts, small study groups, football fans, a neighborhood, our schools are all part of the community.

Why is this important to us now? We have raised our families.

Well, first of all, because women often bear the brunt of expectations and criticism for family values. If we speak out, we are not being “submissive,” If we have a career, we are accused of neglecting family. If we a stay at home, we are seen as being unsupportive. It’s not too late to demonstrate what a true family is–the Family of God. It is not too late to open that door to others who may be different. And seriously, we outlive men most of the time–have you ever seen rows of widowed men in the churches? No, it is row upon row of women. Women who are often lonely, afraid.  Women who somehow lost a spouse–whose children live across a continent–women who are not married. Women who are invited to Thanksgiving but not Christmas “because that is for family.” We are called to be salt–let’s get out of the shaker.

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At Christmastime, we turn our hearts toward a star, a manger, shepherds, a stable, Magi carrying gifts, and the unspeakable joy of the birth of Jesus. We hunker with family and share memories with a tear. We sing carols with gusto and exhort others to put Christ back in Christmas.

This December brought me to meditations on God’s great Gift to us and the many ways He reminds us of His love—not just at Christmastime but throughout the year. Two thoughts surfaced with clarity:

  • The unique personalities of women
  • The unique spiritual gifts given

That doesn’t sound very Christmassy? Read on.

I know loud women and quiet ones. Graceful ones and awkward ones. Shy ones, bold ones. Home schoolers and public school teachers. Comedic women and sober ones. Executives and stay-at-home moms. Single women and those married for decades. One does not negate another but adds to the awe of how uniquely we are created.

There are women who are teachers and leaders and speakers. There are those who serve without acclaim or recognition. There are gifts for solitude like prayer and study and gifts for community like laughter and song. There are those gifted with wealth to share, and those who are a gift of faith whom we call poor (James 2:5). And when each woman treasures and uses her gifts, we see God with us—Immanuel.

But what happens when we do not like the personality we have or the gifts we have been given? Examples come to mind. After a day-long Myers-Briggs workshop, one woman found her personality test results too ordinary and demanded that her results be changed to the rarest personality type. Another woman, an extrovert, tried to skew the test results so that she could be known as an introvert because she perceived that as more intellectual. One woman I know didn’t like the results of a quiz on Facebook, so she took it several times until the results were what she wanted to post. Really? Cheating on personality tests?

We do the same with spiritual gifts, envying others, and thinking our own gifts are drab in comparison, we cast them aside as unimportant.

So some women lurch through life unhappy with who they are, unwilling to face who they are, unwilling to find joy in who they are. And those same women refuse to accept the gifts given to them, preferring to long for something else.

If we really want to put Christ in Christmas, we need to practice gratitude instead of self-loathing, rejection, and envy. We need to see ourselves as intentionally made–intentionally “not like the other.” We need to look at our gifts with wonder and anticipation and use them to encourage others.

The ordinary—it is where we meet Jesus, and that is extraordinary!

 

We call bad one who rejects the fruit he is given for the fruit he is expecting or the fruit he was given last time.  C.S. Lewis, Perelandra