At this very moment – in the bowels of a government warehouse someplace – there is an ancient wiretap tape of me and a former boyfriend breaking up over the phone. In the throes of break-up crying – with a short intermission in the middle to go throw up – former BF informed me that our conversation was being taped by guys in a white van outside his house because their church was harboring Salvadorean refugees. “Oh great,” I sniffed. “There goes my Senate confirmation.”
My past has made me a better pastor. But here’s a question: Is it necessary to have an interesting/sordid/irreverent past to be an effective follower of Jesus/pastor?
I love that Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Pastrix has hit #17 on the NY Times Bestsellers list, and I attribute this fabulous news to these truths: 1) she has a great story and 2) she looks like Nadia Bolz-Weber. Her story includes addictions and tattoos and a sailor’s vocabulary. It’s also beautiful and redemptive. And it’s as dramatic as Paul’s story about the road to Damascus – but more relatable.
I wonder about those who’ve grown up sheltered and wholesome in perfect-ish families with no history of depression, addiction, abuse, missteps, or poor choices. What do they do when someone comes to them with a tale of brokenness and imperfection? Is it possible for them to hear those stories without judgement or pity? Can they walk alongside someone if they have absolutely no experience of betrayal or confusion or utter despair?
My own life is fairly tame compared to your average convict/heroin addict/soldier/pickpocket/meth dealer. I have no cool tattoos. I have no stories involving prison. I used to drive a minivan. But the measure of pain in my life and occasional brushes with utter despair have made me a better pastor. You?
PS Please read Pastrix.