Thursday, January 27, 2011

Been Writing

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I have posted this before while I was trying to figure out a direction for my book idea. It feels so weird to hear myself say (or write) "my book". (Going after a dream, only the next few years will tell if I succeed.) But I've been working hard on tweaking it and doing so has helped me fine tune my goal and see it more clearly. 
So, here is a possible prologue or intro for the book 'Recovering Church Lady'. Most of you know that I am a believer so be warned, my faith is the emphasis of this writing.    ......................

I never watched Saturday Night Live, the home of a popular fictional character called The Church Lady. I see the old reruns of the show now and think it is hilarious and very entertaining. But why didn’t I ever see this comical spoof of an uptight, smug, holier-than-thou elderly church lady?

My only answer can be that I did not watch the Church Lady sketches because……….

Well, because I was a church lady!

I know! Ironic isn’t it? I wasn’t elderly, but I was afraid of anything that looked at or portrayed the church in a negative way. I knew that the church lady sketches were making fun of “my people” and that was totally unacceptable.

I was a busy mom and even busier churchwoman who was involved in multiple church committees and jobs of all kinds. You name a department of the local church and I either organized it or was a  “pillar” of it. My life was centered around the local church with very little “worldly” interaction.

So I declared this TV show  off limits in my home. Besides that, it came on past my bedtime!

I look at her now. Enid Strict is full of self-righteousness and judgment. She feels it is her job or mission to point out sin in other people’s lives. She sits behind her desk in her round collared purple church suit with pursed lips and wagging finger and calls down damnation on anyone who breaks the rules she lives by.

She makes me laugh, but she also makes me very sad. Sad, because I know her. Sad because I recognize the fear that motivates her.

The Church Lady had a little dance she did on her show called the “Superior Dance”, but she did not feel superior, she felt afraid. In her mind God was an extremely difficult and unreachable being who set up a series of unreachable standards that were requirements for entry into Heaven. The idea of a friendship with God here on earth was not even considered. Life was all about getting the points piled up by doing good here, so that we will be issued a ticket that said, “Well done, you may enter your reward.”

I too, have spent many years working for God. More than a few of those committees and Bible studies I was involved in had little to do with my friendship with God. They were expectations put on me by myself and by others. Wouldn’t God love me more if I did more for Him? Is that such an unreasonable motivation?

The truth is that God loved me long before I was introduced to Him. He thought I was amazing before I was a senior pastor’s wife who spent ridiculous numbers of hours on the phone getting the women’s ministry event organized. God delighted in me without taking into account all the wonderful work I did for Him.

But why? Why in the world would the great Creator of all things care about me just as much before I shivered at six o’clock every morning for two years praying in the church sanctuary? Didn’t He love me at least a LITTLE bit more when He saw that sacrifice?

You can be sure that the church lady in us believes that I made some pretty big points on those mornings. Every minute spent on my knees or pacing and praying was definitely adding up in His big book of good deeds. What about missionaries? They give up the comforts of a civilized society and move to remote, dirty places to tell strangers about God. Surely missionaries will be hearing some extra hearty welcoming praise as they enter Heaven!

I am no longer a “church lady”. The striving to be holy and pure is gone. The fight to appear perfect so that I don’t become a “stumbling block” to others is over. My mission to live by the rules to gain the love of God is done. To continue would be the same as the poor little hamster who runs with all his might on his spinning wheel, getting nowhere.

I am loved, accepted and delighted in by God. He is not waiting until I get it right. He is not looking at me with hope in His eyes for what the future-me will become. God is pleased with me today, now, in all my ordinariness and goofiness!

Is there some “church lady” in you? I will be exploring this whole question and letting you in on my journey to being a Recovering Church Lady.


  1. Hi there, I'm visiting from Java's blog-hop.

    Great writing - and yes, as an ex-pastor, boy can I relate! (There's a very long story there...)

  2. Progress, not perfection is my motto! I'm a firm believer God's love is unconditional and we are here to experience lifes lessons. It's what we learn along the way that counts.

    I've enjoyed your post.

    Marnie xo

  3. Brenda, I really enjoyed reading this - I'm in the don't-know camp when it comes to religion - but I'd always want to think that God, wherever, whatever that is or might be, would be loving and accepting, rather than ticking off a credit list.
    I also know I've been more than a little sanctimonious in my life, so a timely reminder about that too.
    Thank you for making me think.

  4. Wonderful writing. I have always been a believer, but didn't always "live out my faith". First, congratulations on living out your faith. My stepmom's mother was one of those "church ladies". At her funeral they called her "the heart" of their church. But, I always felt "judged" by her. I always knew that there was a way to live out your faith, but do it in a way that doesn't alienate other people. Right now, well, forever after, I'm married to a non-christian. With me getting back into my faith more, he is becoming "scared and intimidated" by the changes. But, I told him that I would still be the same person he fell in love with. . .I'll just be reading the Bible more. I hope that I can become the Christian that I'm meant to be while still being "me". Good Luck with your book! BTW, followed you over from the Over 40 Blog hop. Look forward to reading your posts.

  5. Thanx for the great and thoughtful comments friends!Everyone has heard the phrase "God is love". But to grasp the truth in it is so hard for us. To accept unconditional love is simply foreign to us.
    He loves us. period.

  6. As one of God's beloved creatures, I tend not to get too worried about this. Just living in my "dogginess" day by day, eating, sleeping, playing or listening. (Of course, having a good master really helps!)

  7. Besides being 'love' I am convinced that He has a terrific sense of humor, too.

  8. I'm ready to read that book, girl!!!

    So where do you stand with it? Are you struggling? Are you writing? What's going on?


Hi Thanks for reading! Please leave a comment even if it has nothing to do with the specific blog, it's great to know that you are writing stuff that real live people actually read, ya know?