Monthly Archives: November 2011

Ladies, We Just Don’t Know The Whole Story

There is great wisdom in thinking before speaking, for following a thought through before opening one’s mouth.  We’ve all been both transgressors and victims of careless (or at least less than thoughtful) questions or comments.  And I am willing to bet that the vast majority of our awkward and hurtful exchanges could have been avoided if a little more consideration had been paid upfront.

Specifically, I want to address wounds inflicted among women.  And more specifically, when women inquire of other women about their desire, or lack there of, for children.  It’s usually done innocently enough: “So, when are you guys going to start makin’ some babies?!” or “Why no kids yet? You know there’s no such thing as the ‘right’ time!”  Right.  Or how about when we bring up each other’s sex lives when we ask, “So, are you guys trying right now?  You gotta try a lot!”  Keep Trying. Or when we put our foot a little further in our mouth when we do get a reply, but misinterpret it as an invitation to dig a little deeper:  “Well, don’t worry- it’ll happen when it’s suppose.  And you know what they say, stressing about it makes it even harder to conceive!” Thanks for the tip.

Ladies, please hear me.  There are times and places and relationships in which these conversations are more than appropriate.  What I’m referring to is when an intimate family choice is discussed flippantly and casually, as if it were commonplace and open to the public.  I know we don’t mean to offend and certainly don’t set out to hurt each other, but inevitably, without proper care we end up face to face with a woman who is:

In an unhealthy marriage and praying to God she doesn’t get pregnant right now

Struggling with infertility and all the shame and insecurity that comes with it

Trying really hard to be supportive and content and full of faith in light of her husband’s infertility

Recovering from miscarriage #3 and really wants to hit you right now (please do not say anything remotely like, “it just wasn’t the right time” or “it’ll work the next time” or “it’s probably for the best”)

Content and at-home in her decision not to have children, but who still has a hard time communicating that choice without feeling judged or condescended to (“Oh, you’ll change your mind eventually!”)

18 months into “trying” and getting nowhere, who has spent hundreds of dollars on pregnancy tests and ovulation kits, and is praying that this month will be the month that the stupid stick produces a plus sign for once!

Still reeling from postpartum depression & sleep deprivation like no other and if another person jokingly asks when she’s ready for Baby #2 she might just implode on the spot.

The list of potential scenarios could go on and on.  I do not mean to make anyone fearful to ask a question or have a meaningful conversation with someone.  I am simply suggesting that when discussing issues of family planning to consider the nature of your relationship with the woman, choose your words carefully, and be mindful of your context.  Maybe a dinner party or waiting in line for the bathroom is not the best time to discuss the most successful positions for conceiving.  Or maybe what is easy for you to talk about regardless of the time or place, is not as easy for others.  Be discerning.  Express interest, love and concern with as much propriety as you can muster.  And when those times come when we are on the receiving end of a well-intended word that feels more like a blow to the uterus, let’s agree right here and now to find a gracious way to say as much to one another.  Let’s acknowledge that we rarely know the whole story and ignorance is no excuse for recklessness.  Let’s love one another carefully.

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Don’t Judge!

It’s taken me a long time to be content in not being great at everything.  Somewhere along the way I bought into a horrible lie that success looked like effortlessly excelling in every possible category.  And everyday I would come up short in my own expectations.  Shouldn’t I be able to lead innovative, challenging staff meetings by day, (complete with compelling illustrations and visually interesting presentations)  and be home just in time to whip up a meal out of Bon Appetit, sew a costume for my 3 yr old, order the most thoughtful birthday gift ever for my mother, bathe my 1 yr old, and fluff the couch pillows all before my community life group arrives at 7pm?

After Papa John’s provides dinner and the trip to Target solves the costume crisis, after foregoing bath time for a night and apologizing for the state of my house when our guests arrive, defeated Me would start in on a vicious cycle of faux problem solving to ensure success the next time around.  If I managed my time better, if I planned my meals further out, if I had a cleaning schedule, if I had an administrative assistant, if I created better rhythms- then surely I could do it all.  Surely.

I can’t pinpoint a moment when the revelation came, or perhaps I should say began.  Maybe it was during a 3am feeding a few months ago.  Maybe it was after staring at an overflowing email inbox or the dozen post-it notes that litter my office desk.  Maybe it was while sitting on a pew in a worship service.  But probably not.  It probably began with hearing honest stories of others. Those whom I always presumed were juggling life with great joy and grace and without stress or tears.  The idol of “effortless excellence in all things” began to crack.  Praise God.

One of my dearest friends is also a working mom.  She’s brilliant in her field, which is pretty demanding and time consuming. Simultaneously, she is raising 2 boys (hopefully one for each of my girls 40 yrs from now!) which we all know is a mammoth calling in and of itself.  She & I share a saying.  It’s always delivered with a bit of humor and a lot of sass.  And it’s always received with smile.  It usually comes at the end of a confession of sorts and it goes something like this, “my house looks like I’ve been robbed. Don’t judge.” Or “Why yes, I am still in my pajamas.  Don’t judge.”  Or “I can’t make it tonight, I’ve got a work function.  Don’t judge.”  It’s our way of asking for grace from each other.  It’s our way of acknowledging that we can’t do it all, at least not all of time. And it’s a great reminder that no one, the Lord especially, is expecting us to.

If I Had a Blog…

In recent weeks, after being inspired by the brilliant bloggers that surround me, I found myself often thinking, “If I had a blog, I’d write a post about ___!”  And ___ would inevitably be whatever soapbox I was on in that moment.  I had great reasons for not starting a blog.  Everyone has a blog.  I’d be 6-8 years late to the blogging party.  Blogs are dying by the droves as of late.  Lots of people start blogs with great gusto only to abandon them & their audiences 3 months into the journey.  Spare time is M.I.A. for T. Rouse in this particular season of life.  Yet none of these reasons (read: excuses) were sufficient in refuting the nagging urge to speak to anyone who wants to listen to what little I know and how much I’m learning about ministry, leadership, family, friendship, and whatever other randomness enters my life on any given day!

So, here’s the deal:

I am the Executive Pastor at Renovatus: a church for people under renovation, as we like to say.  One of my primary responsibilities at the church is leading our staff.  As such, I am often times a sounding board for them and at least daily a head will pop in my office and say, “Do you have any thoughts on blahblahblah?” to which I almost always reply with great enthusiasm, “I have thoughts about everything!  All of the time!”  Thus, blogging seems like a good outlet for some of these thoughts.

And while I don’t presume my life to be that “different” than most, I am a working mom in full-time ministry.  I am married to an actor & producer who also is the best stay-at-home dad you’ll ever meet.  So, I think it’s fair to say that our family dynamic is a bit nontraditional.  And by nontraditional, I mean amazing.  Marriage and parenting, no matter what the dynamic, are always thought-provoking, amen?!

I get to live and work and play with some of the most beautiful people on the planet, all of whom teach me a lot about what it means to be human.

And in all my spare time (time that will be intentionally carved out and created- not randomly found or stumbled into) I will choose to spend some of it sharing my story and never-ending thoughts with you!