Pastor Portia here! My husband was out of town Monday to Wednesday doing important church stuff, so I decided to write you all today so he could have more time to work on this Sunday’s upcoming message.
I absolutely loved last Sunday’s message, CounterCulture: Courageous Faith, a teaching out of the book of Daniel, specifically the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. If you missed this one, I encourage you to listen to the message on the Meadows’ app or on our website. It’s that good.
Pastor Ronnie was teaching on having courageous faith and standing firm in the midst of a culture and circumstances that are not believer-friendly (to put it suuuuuuuper lightly). I want to talk about standing firm, practicing our convictions even when it gets uncomfortable. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s lives were on the line when they lived out their convictions, sending them to the fiery furnace. I’ll bet if there was a whole book on these guys, we would see that they stood firm not just when their lives were on the line, but I would imagine there were moments and opportunities every day for these guys to live out and practice their convictions.
When Pastor Ronnie was preaching, I was reminded of a time when I had two choices: to go with the crowd or practice my convictions. And on this occasion, I actually got it right. So nice of God to not bring to my memory all the times I had failed at this. He’s the best. The truth is, I have failed more times than I would like to admit. Fitting in, being liked, belonging: these are natural human desires. In fact, having a sense of belonging, I would argue, is a necessity for living a healthy, wholehearted life. But it was often an unhealthy need in me.
Back to my story. Once upon a time I was the wife of a Major League Baseball player. It was amazing, but it was also horrible at the same time. Navigating through the intense social culture of the Major League Baseball players’ wives was quite the struggle for the insecure young adult I was at the time. I was surrounded by so many different amazing women, who like myself had been with their husbands from the beginning, while they were dirt-poor battling their way together through the minor league baseball system and had a front-row seat to their husband’s dreams coming true.
These were women that I had been in the trenches of minor-league life with. We slept on air-mattresses, we always kept boxes close by because we could be packing up our tiny shared apartments up at any time, we kept each other company and from losing our minds when our husbands were away on road trips, and we prayed our hearts out each time our husband was pitching or up to bat.
These were the girls I was deeply connected to, but once Ronnie got to the Major Leagues, there were so many other wives I didn’t yet know at all. I found myself being so intimidated by these women who looked like they knew what they were doing. They seemed as if they owned the baseball stadium. They seemed as if they had never seen an air mattress in their lives. Oh, and by the way, they looked like super models (actually several of them were former models).
Here I was wearing my baggy Gap khaki pants that I got for five bucks on clearance, still toting some extra poundage from the last child I had brought into the world. I felt like I didn't belong. I didn’t have the right hair, the right shoes, the designer handbag collection, and my sweet wedding ring really didn’t seem to measure up either. I know you're probably thinking “Who cares?”, and today I feel the same way. But, like I said, at the time I was young and insecure, trying to navigate through a very new territory and having to figure it out on my own, and it seemed as if everyone else around me had it figured out.
As time went on I had more opportunities to get to know more of the wives and I was starting to get the lay of the land: you know, the things you say, the things you don’t say.
So there is a players wives section in any Major League Baseball stadium, a section in the middle of the regular seats. And most games, the players’ wives sit there. But there are also luxury suites. Private luxury suites. Expensive private luxury suites. And some of the "super star" wives owned them. And one game, I got invited to one.
I got an invite to a big dog’s suite! Here was my chance to hangout and actually get to know some of the girls, the wives at the “top”. It was so fun! There was a huge spread of free food, a great view of the field, and workers there to tend to us hand and foot. The girls were all chatting and laughing together. It was awesome.
But then I noticed that the laughter was centered around one topic of conversation. The girls were going in a circle and taking turns complaining about their husband’s ineptness, weird habits, or incompetency around the house or with the kids. It was, for lack of a better phrase, a husband-bashing session.
Something in me ached. I knew that I shouldn’t participate. Although I had made LOTS of mistakes in my past - including in my marriage - one thing that had stuck in my head was that I would never - EVER - misspeak about my husband in public, even if it was for a laugh. It’s just something that the Lord burned in my mind from the start of my marriage. And I was committed to that.
So when my turn came in the circle, my convictions were bubbling to the surface, not because I had a moment of bravery, but because I had decided LONG ago to never engage in that kind of talk.
It’s just like Pastor Ronnie said this past Sunday: most of our decisions as Christians are already made, because we believe in Jesus. We now just have to live those decisions out in everyday life.
God was so gracious to me that day in the player’s wives’ suite. As it came to be my turn, God filled me with courage and I said “Ronnie’s actually REALLY good at helping around the house and with the kids. In fact, he’s a better dad than I am a mom!”
The room fell silent. In an instant, the tone of the room changed, and the subject was changed to something more kind and constructive. It really was a miracle.
Friends, God loves us enough to fill us with courage in those moments, and most of that courage stems from making the decision WAY before the hard moment comes. And the decision is the same for us all: I will honor God in all I say and do, I will follow His will for my life, and I will do my best to love others that He places in my path.
We can do this!
Lots of love,