Updated: Dec 12, 2019
Yesterday, I told a friend of mine that I never thought that this would be my place in life. Before your mind cues the violin strings, let me explain.
Like many millennials, I grew up watching Full House, Gullah Gullah Island, 7th Heaven, Zenon the Zequel, Sister Sister, etc. All of the shows that I really loved were centered around the theme of family. Those television shows formed my expectations for my adult life.
Having a car by 16.
Finding the love of my life in high school.
Getting married after college.
Perfect (well, semi perfect) kids.
The applause of the studio audience.
Friends that are always there for you.
The resolve of issues within 40 minutes aka the end of the episode unless it was a season finale).
I just expected my life to be full of rainbows, glitter, gum drops without valleys and mud puddles of suffering. Life hasn't measured up to my expectations, and I'm becoming okay with it. I've learned some much needed lessons that I have no problem sharing.
There are three types of suffering that I want to briefly discuss: Financial suffering, Relationship suffering and Suffering from Internal Conflict.
Suffering is frowned upon in society, especially in church. If you’re a church member and you’re suffering, you’re deemed as not enough. If you can’t pay your tithes or you’re unable to participate in seed offerings, you’re just worthless. It’s already embarrassing that you can’t be in the $100 seed offering line, but then when the leaders beat you down from the pulpit… it just makes it worse.
It’s like wait, don’t I have more value than the record of my giving?
Wait, now I’m “less” anointed because I can’t give? Shouldn’t it be the opposite?
Let’s examine a few scriptures:
Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case and will exact life for life.
Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.
1 John 3:17
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
I think all of these scriptures are self-explanatory. God has an ear for our suffering. Period.
Life isn’t always fair. Even though you work, you can’t always depend on a check. Ask the victims of the government shut down or work for a timeshare company – trust me, no check is guaranteed. Being rich does not define you. Being poor does not define you. Jesus never had an issue with wealth, he had an issue with greed. The richest people in the world don't measure their possessions. Don't allow the enemy to make you insecure. Your Father is rich and he has more than enough for you.
In an attempt to be a good Christian and a great church member, I’ve always been a financial giver. Can I be honest, for years, I paid my tithes and offerings to please my Pastor – not because I was honoring God. You do know that you may encounter situations where honoring your Pastor and honoring God will not be the same thing, right? I know I just opened a can of worms. Breathe.
I thought if I over honored my leader, I would be blessed. If my leader is blessed, then I’m blessed, right? Let's look at the scripture below.
1 Peter 5: 1-4
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
I’ve seen and experienced many situations that resulted in me losing respect for the office of the Pastor. I've seen Pastor's be manipulative, emotionally unstable, compulsive, and tyrannical. In retrospect, I think God allowed that on purpose. He allowed me to led by wolves so that I can keep my eyes on the GOOD SHEPHERD (John 10).
I love the church. We need the institution of the church. However, my disdain for Pastor's tainted my love of Jesus' bride (the church). The Lord restored it by giving me compassion. He made me intercede for Pastor's. God allowed me to see their heart, and all of it wasn't bad. If you have a story of church hurt, I know that you think you're the protagonist. I won't dispute that. However, I will say that it's unfair to place any Pastor in the same seat as God. I expected my Pastor's to always get it right. I expected them to know when they were wrong. I expected them to apologize. I expected them to know that God placed inside me. I expected them to see what I saw. I even expected them to know how to love me and lead me. Those expectations were unrealistic. Pastors are not divine. They are sheep. They are anointed to lead. They are flawed - just like you and I. They still deserve forgiveness and restoration, even if their sin seems inexcusable.
Are you ready for a pivot? I'm always surrounded by Pastors, and I love them. Sometimes, their ways are questionable. Sometimes, their emotions need to be tamed and their perspective needs to be shifted. But, I love them. Actually, I love everything about them. The heart of an authentic Pastor is a heart of gold. I learned how to love without measure from a Pastor. I even learned how to demonstrate mercy from a Pastor. Contrary to popular belief, Pastors have a substantial role in the ecclesia. I couldn't function as a prophet without them. The church couldn't function without them. When a Pastor enters the world of Dr. Dee Evans, I hope they feel appreciated and loved. I know what it's like to be under-appreciated and overworked, especially in church leadership. It sucks. But I had to be overlooked to get here. Yes, I suffered, but it made me. That doesn't mean that I have the right to inflict pain upon a Pastor to ultimately make them suffer. Matter of fact, I'm commanded to do the opposite.
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
The lens of our suffering can cause us to lose respect for men and women of God. Ultimately, God doesn’t want our hearts to be hardened against the ones that he has anointed to led us. That's why he is the healer of our soul's diseases. He heals. We reconcile. Then we do it all over again for the glory of God. Secondly, you can be the first in the tithe line, the first to sow a seed, be the most obedient parishioner, and STILL suffer. Nevertheless, God will provide, heal, and restore you. Sometimes, he’ll even use people to do it. You know, like your Pastor.
Many individuals suffer in relationships because they are impatient. When your patience is tested, it’s not something that you should be frustrated with. Patience produces strength and maturity. 9 times out of 10, if you’re impatient, you’re prideful. Whether the relationship is platonic or romantic, to be happy (in love), you have to be humble. I’m not saying that you should endure abuse with a smile, but I am saying that many people suffer because they don’t want to let anyone (including their significant other) who hurt them go unpunished. OUCH.
When you carry the burden of vengeance, you become disillusioned. You don’t teach sinners a lesson. You are a student. Learn the lesson. Additionally, punishment isn’t the only thing that can teach a person a lesson, mercy and compassion are lessons too. I've been on an apology tour all year. I've apologized for things and situations that I knew weren't my fault, but that wasn't the point. I don't need to be "right" to be secure. Guess what, YOU don't have to be right to be secure. Love first, be understood later.
Love is a growing pain, but it's necessary for your growth.
Suffering from Internal Conflict
As a woman, I have this internal battle.
Am I too old?
Is it too late?
Did I put up with that too long?
Why did that have to happen to me?
Am I too smart?
Did I say too much?
Was I too harsh?
Do they understand where I’m coming from?
Especially in communal settings, it’s difficult for me to engage with people that don’t actually like or that misunderstand me. I’m still teaching my facial expressions to use their inside voice. When things don't make sense, I prefer to remove myself and let the confused people sort it out amongst themselves. God has been dealing with me about being loved by my tribe. If you don't have a tribe, ask God for one, and be prepared to be challenged. In order to receive love from the people that God placed in my life to love me, I had let some walls down. That was excruciating, but it helped me win the war in my mind. Being open and honest kills assumption and promotes effective communication. In other words, I would rather you suffer in your mind from the truth than suffer in your mind based off of an assumption.
If you worry about how people perceive you all the time, you'd be in a mental institution. Release that. Religion tried to make me think petting snakes was necessary to be “cool”. Nah.
Being used by everyone but God isn’t a badge of honor that you should seek to wear. You are not anointed to wear yourself thin with being there for everyone else but not for yourself.
God doesn't need you to be tired, he needs you to be rested. So settle the internal conflict in your mind by healing and resolving some absolutes.
You’re not just needed – you’re loved.
It’s all going to be okay.
The truth about suffering is that it's all going to be okay. Okay?