As another new year comes around, my mind races back to other new years and other times. Recently I was thinking about the life of a pastor and his family and the frustrations, the laughter and the joy that life brings. Three different stories came to mind that illustrate all three scenarios.
One Sunday morning as my husband was greeting the church members after service, one man stopped him and said, “Pastor, you know what is wrong with this church?” Smiling while thinking “I didn’t know anything was wrong – and who asked you,” my husband asked him what he thought was wrong. His response: “You are too organized.”
Continuing to shake hands with the other members, a woman stopped him and said, “Pastor, you know what is wrong with this church?” Now my husband took a deep breath, smiled and said “What is wrong?” Her response: “You are not organized enough”
There was a woman in one of our churches that bounced from church to church throughout the community. She was a little slow mentally and when she came to our church we tried our best to make her feel welcome.
One Sunday my husband told the congregation that we would be out-of-town the following weekend as we were going to visit relatives in North Carolina. He was encouraging everyone to please attend as members often stay home if the pastor is not going to be there.
This woman raised her hand and when my husband asked her what she wanted she asked him: “Is Barbara going with you?” Of course I was going and my husband replied in the affirmative.
The entire congregation tried so hard not to laugh when she said, “Well, if she can’t go with you, I can.”
One morning as my husband and I headed across the parking lot from the parsonage to the church office a car pulled into the driveway and a young woman got out to talk to us. She was looking for the church that was administering the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) nutrition program. We gave her directions to the local church that had the program.
She lingered after we gave her the information and seemed as if she was troubled and wanted to talk. We invited her into the office and she began to share how she was pregnant and wanted to keep the baby but her boyfriend told her it was either him or the baby. If she did not abort the child, he was kicking her out of their apartment and breaking off their relationship. She clearly did not want to abort the child but was unsure if she could raise a child by herself.
We spend time with her discussing her options.
- She could obtain an abortion and keep her home and relationship with her boyfriend.
- She could seek help from others, give birth to the baby and then put it up for adoption.
- She could seek help from others and raise the child herself.
While we tried not to judge her or her boyfriend we naturally advocated for the life of the child. It was clear she really wanted that, but just needed some help in not only making that decision but being able to have resources so she could keep that choice.
I made a list of phone numbers of various resources that would help her including the local Pregnancy Resource Center. We also gave her our phone number and told her we would do anything we could to help her with doctor visits, baby supplies, etc.
After prayer with her, she left saying she did not know what she would do but she would keep in mind our offer of help and the list of resources I had given her.
Weeks, months went by and we never heard from her again. I agonized over whether we had not made it clear enough that we and our church were willing to help her.
Almost 3 years later we had a district meeting at our church. Several other churches in the area were in attendance. A young woman walked up to me with a beautiful little girl in her arms. She asked: “Do you recognize me?”
I did not know who she was. Tears of joy quickly came to my eyes as she identified herself as the young woman who we had counseled and prayed with over the decision of abortion. Although she had never called us back she had gone to the Pregnancy Resource Center. They helped her with doctor visits and baby clothes and gave her the friendship she needed to carry though with the birth of that little girl.
She thanked me that we had taken the time to help her walk through the options she had and offered resources to help her in her choice of life.
So – you add it up. The joys and the laughs far outweigh the frustrations.
The frustrations are gone, but the funny things still bring a laugh, and the joys still make it all seem worthwhile.