I often ask my husband one of those dreaded questions: “Do you like my outfit?” If he hesitates even slightly, I’ve got all the answer I need. I ask him this, not to torture him, and not because he’s a dictator of my wardrobe. I ask him because he has an opinion, I care about his opinion, and I want to hear his opinion. Well, usually I do. In reality, I want him to always love the outfits I put together and think I look amazing. He’s been sharing his opinion about my wardrobe since we were dating- I haven’t worn khaki or brown since.
Doug has been a part of my life for almost 13 years now. And for almost 13 years he’s also been telling me the truth, even when it’s hard. More often than not I’m not ready to hear it and I don’t receive it well, but because he’s my pastor and, more importantly, he’s my friend, he tells me what I need to hear and then graciously waits until it clicks for me.
For example, when I was 20 years old, I sat with Doug in the Union at OU and lamented to him on behalf of my roommates and really all the girls of RUF at the time. We were tired of the guys not asking any of us out. (Note- this was fresh off of an RUF Conference on Dating, Sex, and Marriage. I’m pretty sure Doug was inundated with conversations like this one right after the conference.) Doug informed me that we didn’t want to be asked out by just anyone. We each had a certain guy in mind and we weren’t interested in just anyone stepping up and doing the asking.
“For instance,” he asked me, “what would you do if Charles asked you out?”
Without hesitation, I said, “I would say no!”
“Why is that?” he asked.
“Because he’s too old!” (He’s almost 8 years older than me.)
“If that’s the truth, then Charles needs to find new friends.”
Oh yeah, Charles is now my husband.
Out of context, or perhaps even in context, Doug’s response may seem harsh. It certainly wasn’t what I wanted to hear at the time. But he was right. And he was right a few months ago, when he told me that my job as a stay-at-home mom often allows me to have a big pity party whenever I want. And he was right when he told me that my fears for my son starting school weren’t really just about letting him go for 8 hours a day- that they were a result of deeper heart issues like control and trust and faith. Those same issues had always been there and would always be there, but I was using Kindergarten and diabetes as excuses for what I was feeling. And he was right when he said that working for City Pres would be hard and good, both for me and my family.
This is not a post intended to praise Doug and his all-seeing eye and his uncanny ability to be right all the time. (Although it might sound a lot like that- Happy early birthday, Doug!) What I’m trying to say is that we all need someone- multiple someones- in our life who will speak the truth to us. And we all need to be praying that God would cultivate in us a greater capacity to receive that truth, to lay down our defenses, and to allow God’s truth through their words to soften us, to change us, and to embolden us to do the same for others.
City Pres is a safe place for the broken, hurting, doubting, cynical, hesitant person to be. May it always be so. And may it always be full of the truth of the gospel, and full of people sharing that beautiful truth with every person who walks into our lives.