(this was taken on Saturday in St. Louis by Lonna Janel, a close friend of our family)
I was very restless last night, for multiple reasons. First, after much agonizing and fretting, I finally selected a paint color for the downstairs family room. After Daddy trimmed the whole room and painted two full walls, I decided I may not be 100 % sold on that shade of blue (I was looking for a muted tone, and this is brighter than I expected). All night I was going through decorating scenarios in my head and trying to figure out if I should keep that color and make your dad happy, or if I should infuriate him by asking him to do the job over. I'll let you know what I decide. HA!
Secondly, I had spent 3 hours selling watermelon at our church's booth at the Bethalto Homecoming, which really translated in to me people watching for 180 minutes. My mind was full of images I saw yesterday, and the endless collage of interesting people kept me awake.
Thirdly, I was thinking about a particular topic to write to you about, and I was trying to formulate my thoughts and words in blog like fashion. I wanted to talk about a subject that isn't necessarily easy, but as ministers children, it's necessary.
At one time or another, your dad as the pastor, or me as the pastor's wife, or you as the pastor's children, may be viewed in a negative light. We may be attacked or talked badly about because of our actions or decisions, or simply because people are people and they can sometimes be unkind. I want to protect you from the hurt of seeing one of your parents be criticized. I want to shelter you from the pain of having a person do or say unflattering things to those that you love. I want to reassure you that your dad and I have thick skin, and that we are able to handle people's expressions of displeasure.
I want to encourage you to not be bothered by negativity either. I want to teach you to be above hatred and dissension. I want to inspire you to give a gentle answer to a harsh comment, so you can squash a quarrel, and find rewarded from Jesus for that response (Proverbs 15:1). My desire is that your reaction to opposition will be filled with grace, forgiveness, and humility. When someone is unintentionally mean, hurtful, or even purposefully hateful to you or to a member of our family, it is an indication of the state of THEIR heart, and not yours. You cannot please someone who is critical, so instead of spending your efforts on that, invest your energy on becoming who God has called you to be and what He has called you to do.
Thick skin. It's a requirement for ministry families, and it's only obtained when we seek to live like Christ. He instructed his disciples to forgive 70 x 7, and the Apostle Paul reminds us that if we truly have the love of Christ in our hearts, we will keep no record of wrong, we will be patient, and we will be kind...regardless of how others treat us..our response needs to be Christ-like. Period.
I pray for your hearts to be guarded, and my ultimate desire is for you to never know hurt or criticism. But, if in our fallen and depraved world, you do witness negativity targeted at our family, know that your Dad and I love each other, we love you, we love Jesus, and Jesus loves us...so we will make it through.
Regardless, our anthem will be 1 Corinthians 15:58 "Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, for you know your labor is not in vain."