A recent article in the NYT, "Learning to Love Criticism," discusses a Fortune.com study of performance reviews, which shows that women are criticized more severely, and in more personal ways, than are men. In other words: it’s not our imagination!
Sunday morning, as I was doing the final edit on my sermon, I flitted briefly to web-based news sources to check in on the world. It's always wise, before the community gathers, to be sure you're not blithely arriving, unaware of some momentous and terrible event.
“You might think,” I told a group of high school students gathered for “Service Day” at our church’s community meal, “that we have to deal a lot with scarcity here. We are trying to feed 250 people a week entirely from donations. But the truth is that our bigger problem is often how to deal with abundance.”
I pointed at the table where we had put donations that came in from a nearby Whole Foods: strawberries just about to rot, packages of guacamole, gallons of milk, cartons of organic yogurt, and dozens of loaves of bread.
If you’ve been fired or forced out, it doesn’t always mean you need to fold up the cloth all together. It’s incredibly painful. We might feel a spiritual rejection that we’ve never experienced. We may have a loss of identity. Betrayal might become wounds that are so deep that we don’t feel like we’ll be able to love a congregation again. We may feel abandoned by God. But sometimes we just need to need to endure the ache, walk through the rejection, and find a place where our gifts can flourish.