Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Month: September 2015 (page 1 of 2)

Hope from the Sidelines

Part of our reintegration process includes our family’s adaptation to the life of jr. high football. After spending many years away from coaching, JJ has been reunited with his first love, Todd, (who has been coaching here from the time before JJ began in 2003) and his favorite game. The daily practices and weekly games mean JJ puts in long days, which translates in my own experience of sole parenting for the bulk of the week. Needless to say, I’ve been watching for any signs of fatigue or frustration that I can capitalize on before he signs up for another year. Because I’m thoughtful and considerate and thinking of everyone’s best interests, of course.

So on Tuesday, following quite a debacle of a 7th grade jr. high game, we hosted the 3 coaches for pizza and films. I finally got an ear to their conversations. The outcome of the game was so frustrating it was nearly comical to the men in my kitchen. They watched the key points of the film and began talking strategy.

Unfortunately for the younger of the teams, they haven’t had a lot of wins this year. I heard the conversation begin to change focus on what would keep these boys continuing to come out for football in the future. The coaches verbalized a hope that the boys wouldn’t give up on the game, despite the losses.

At that point, I knew I was loosing a battle for the 3-5 p.m. time slot in August through October. I’m doomed to become a football widow forever and ever, amen.

None of the men in my living room eating pizza and laughing at big hits of the night could necessarily see it, but I did. I could sense the presence of hope living in these jocks.

I asked JJ later, just to confirm my theory, why they wanted kids to keep coming out for the team, even if perhaps the boys aren’t that good. Why even worry about those on the bench? Why the big push to keep a love of the game? (I may have been asking with a slight devil’s advocate prerogative.)

IMG_2427Of course, the coaches love the game of football. Of course, they have some allegiance to their alma mater. Of course they want to see a better program at the higher level. And of course they enjoy the kids and want them to have an experience that makes them better players and instills a passion for the game. Of course. By definition, that’s what coaches do.

If you dig around in the hearts of coaches – at least, the three in my living room – I believe there’s something bigger at play. (I believe there always is.) Something that keeps them on the field at all hours and in extreme temperatures. Something that makes it worth enduring parental phone calls and school politics. Something that keeps them from wives and children during prime hours of the day. And let me tell you from experience, it’s not the money.

I have a hunch that these men want to create a positive football experience for all these kids because deep down they know these kids aren’t done yet. The kids haven’t reached the fullest expression of their potential – both on and off the field.  The coaches know there’s more inside each kid. The eight games of 7th grade football cannot be the barometer of which these boys forecast their lives. 

And where does such hope come from? How do we reach the understanding that no one is finished at 13?  For at least one of the coaches, I believe it comes from understanding God is never done with us. It comes paired with an experience that God hasn’t given up despite some lackluster performances. And no matter the score, God wants us to continue showing up and getting better.

God’s not done with you, so please, please, young guy, don’t be done with you. Don’t measure your worth on this one experience. Give yourself the gift of another chance. And another. And another.

So we, in this house, will give you the gift of a guy who believes you’re worth it. He believes that every player has something to offer, not just on the field but to the world. And not just today but tomorrow as well. I guess, as a family, we’re just as invested in this thing called Hope.

Go Rams.

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What a toilet teaches

Yesterday, I never loved my husband more while I simultaneously  conjoined his name with words which were less than nice. I was scrubbing showers and toilets. That I don’t use.

I was nominated to clean our rental house following weeks (months!) of renovations. Drywall dust and mud everywhere. And do you know where handymen throw away their wrappers and trash while they’re working? Right there on the floor, where they are. They kept that confined to… the entire house.

After a small snafu with the vacuum and then the carpet cleaner I attempted to rent but cancelled, I mentioned to him that perhaps we could inform the new renters that if they rented the cleaner we would deduct it off the rent. My sister-in-law had come along to help touch up paint and she remarked about how much work we put into making the house move-in ready; her landlord was quick to let holes in the wall suffice and she had to do her own carpet cleaning.

But my good-hearted husband objected, from the comfort of his own couch. This is how we would want to be treated, Michele. Sigh.

So I spent the afternoon dumping and refilling buckets of soapy water as I scrubbed down the entire bathroom – which, notably, has both a tub AND a shower. The afternoon ticked by as several people stopped to look at the place. I heard their situations and took their applications. I recited the same schpeel about rent, what work we had done to the place, and lease agreements.

I returned to my scrubbing, considering the potential renters. One of them had a salary very similar to what we’re used to. To be honest, she probably made a tad more. I realized the differences between us and our renters were pretty small. How we each ended up on the opposite side of a rental agreement had less to do with what we did and more to do with the lives we were born into many years ago.

JJ was right. (Don’t tell him I said that.) Not just in the Golden Rule of it all or the ideal of being a good person. I internalized – and, as I always do, spiritualized – the act of scrubbing someone’s floor. This wasn’t just about “being a good landlord.”

All of a sudden I wanted to see the person who would soon be living in these quarters as a person. Not potential rent. Not in a lease agreement kind of way. Of course, those things exist. But the act of scrubbing a toilet that I neither soiled nor would sit upon became a tangible way of understanding this whole Kingdom of God thing.

It’s easy to be a servant on the mission trip. We’re quick to sign up on the form to bring in cookies or rock babies or join the program that volunteers at the shelter. Those things are wonderful and needed and you should sign up. But programs and activities weren’t the end goal of Jesus’ reorientation to servanthood.

Becoming someone who lives with “a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people”(see more) means more than checking a box on a sign up sheet and donating money. (Although, those things are nice. Do them.) We practice living that out in our down-to-earth lives.

For me, yesterday, it was cleaning a toilet.

I’m not out to revolutionize the way landlords offer housing. I know better. (And I’ve seen the way renters have left places…) And please don’t believe me to be pat-patting myself on the back for this one. I mopped 4 more rooms after considering all of this and I still didn’t like it. I didn’t want to clean the house. I didn’t “get to” serve in this way. And there’s a chance, upwards of 95%, that the future renters will neither notice nor care about the hours of hard work that went into making the home ready.

All of that is okay.

No one said the road to discipleship is easy and filled with fanfare.

The reward isn’t in being thanked or even acknowledged. The gift came in the form of humility, something in which I’m always in need of an extra dose. Realizing that I’m no better nor worse than another human being is a gift. Putting it into practice is often a challenge.

So I started with a toilet.

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Fellow Wanderers

No matter where I go, I constantly look for people I know.

While in Nashville with friends, we decided on boot scootin’ barbecue for lunch and partway through the meal an announcement came over the loudspeaker, “welcome to the Wingfield Society family reunion!” I stood up from my table and said, “these are my people! I’ll be right back.” I went to the balcony, introduced myself as a Wingfield and eventually conversed with my great Aunt.

This, among other incidences (like at the Portland airport) reinforce my small-town conditioned belief that I can always find someone I know. I’m constantly looking, even in the silliest places – like on vacation or in a mall in a different city. When I talk to new people, I seven-degrees us, trying to find mutual people from our paths.

Image by Christy Clements Beach, used with permission.

Image by Christy Clements Beach, used with permission.

Knowing this about me, then, you’ll understand that upon opening the pages of Sarah Bessey’s new book, Out of Sorts, my heart felt at home. I had found My People. Though I’ve met Sarah only once, in an awe-struck teenager sort of way, I am now connected to over 200 people across several continents on this journey to sort through our faith as we know it. We’re highlighting favorite passages and “yes, me too!”-ing it into the wee hours on Facebook.

If you’ve been following along on this bloggy ride for a little while, you know I write about my faith often, and even more frequently, what it means for my life. As I’ve changed vocations and locations, I have noticed significant shifts in what I believe to be true, right and good. Most significantly, I read the Bible differently than I did 10 years ago. This is a welcome change, one that I hope you embrace in your own life.  As Sarah says, if our theology doesn’t shift or change over our lifetimes, I have to wonder if we were paying attention. 

This book has been a welcome, even timely oasis, one that welcomes sorting through what we’ve accumulated throughout our life experiences, discarding what isn’t needed and even re-purposing that which is but doesn’t seem to work in the same way.  Often times we sort in solitude. We lie in wait with our questions, wondering if our uncertainties make us crazy or, even, not a Christian. The temptation is to hide silently in our suffering as the things which previously held up our faith shatter on the ground around us.

Instead, we need to move toward the rubble.  Sarah writes, “the fear to engage with our evolution only worsens the pain.” The I-cannot-question-that Holy Grail is exactly the thing that needs to be picked up and moved around or we’ll never know what it can withstand. Jesus likened his words to the strong, steady foundation of a house, not the delicate etchings of a glass window. Those kind of things decorate, but you cannot build a house – or a faith – with them.

I’ve said before, three of the most powerful words we can use with someone is, “yes, me too.” It helps chase away the crazy – or, at least, normalizes it. There is just something to finding a friendly face, even a familiar one, as you trudge through challenges.

You can be 430 miles away from home, but when you hear over a loudspeaker that others with your heritage, your namesake, have arrived in the same place at the very same time, be reminded: you’re not lost. Just wandering.

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