Holding Back

May 25th, 2011

Have you heard the song, “No Grave Can Keep Me Down”? Actually, I hadn’t until I heard All Things Considered on NPR. Here is the link, if you want to hear about Claude Ely and his influence on Rock and Roll.

But sometimes being held back can be a good thing.

Here is what holds me back: I just want us all to get along. I want us to be like the Church in Acts, praying and living in one accord. But there is always someone who is negative or who lashes out at innocent people. And as a pastor spouse and deacon, I can be an easy target.

A couple of years ago, a woman at our church told me how much she enjoyed the Creationist theme park in Kentucky. Wouldn’t I love to go? Having recently convicted myself about honesty, I said, “No.” To which she replied, “Why? You don’t believe in evolution, do you? And you do believe in the Bible, don’t you?”

Actually yes, I do believe in evolution. I was a zoology and chemistry major in college. And no, I am not a literalist; but yes, I do believe the Bible, but maybe not “in” the Bible, at least in the same way she does.

Naturally, I didn’t want to offend her and start parsing distinctions that she wouldn’t buy. So I simply said, “No, the theme park is just not something that interests me.” With that, she looked at me like I was un-American, whereby I seized her hesitation and changed the subject. On the whole, I felt like a coward, but one who was at least not un-Christian in her eyes.

In a choice between standing up for my beliefs and putting a relationship at risk, I chose the relationship. Am I happy about what I said? No, I felt like a coward, but at least it didn’t escalate and civility prevailed. I’m not especially proud of my response, but over the years I learned that not all confrontations are worth having.

So I held back. But at a price. Was it worth it? Yes.

There will always be things that hold us back for better and for worse, but nothing can separate us from the love of God, neither life nor death...and you know the rest.

God’s love endures forever.

Grace, Kathy

Kathy is an editor at Abingdon Press, a Deacon in The United Methodist Church, and a clergy spouse.

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