There are umteen types of salads these days but if it refers to the standard Tossed Salad, I know how to apply it to me.
Jesus got my attention at a very early age. One of my earliest and fondest memory is of Dad sitting in his armchair reading the Bible out loud. Those evening devotions were usually followed by standing in a tight circle, holding hands, and reciting the Lord’s prayer, a pattern for all prayers. I remember being very short. Surrounded, I was looking up at all their faces, eyes shut, heads bowed. What a precious foundation.
Then we got our first TV and the evenings were full of Lassie, Lucy, and westerns.
We didn’t exactly lose touch with God; the parents were faithful church going born-again baptized Christians. Some of us, maybe all three of us girls, weren’t as excited and devoted as the parents, but hey…what kid is? Once in a while we would try the "I’m sick" routine which usually backfired when Mom gave us "the look." Occasionally she conceded with the admonition that the dishes had better be done by the time church was out. Other times, if we weren’t able to produce puke, we went to church. Those episodes of attempted deception made it all the more difficult to convince her of our sincerity when we really were sick. In such a case, a fever, a rash, and airborne phlegm was helpful if puke couldn’t be produced on command.
Not only did we undergo various stages of duress in our Go To Meetin’ years, we were expected to participate. Sunday School perfect attendance pins, certificates of graduation to the next class, memorization, VBS, camp, youth groups, teaching a younger age group’s Sunday School class, and choir, all solid discipline and contributors to a well rounded Bible education—head knowledge.
I don’t for one second dismiss the value of head knowledge if it is administered accurately by a study of Bible doctrine rather than dogma. That behavioral framework of Christianity was a useful tool after I gave Jesus my full and focused attention on the morning of August 18, 1968. Up to that point I will call my upbringing in the church boot camp. After that date, it made sense. I got it. August 18th, a hot summer Sunday, marks the marriage commitment. I took His name, my spirit bears His mark. Through the obedience of baptism by immersion, His Holy Spirit became my teacher and lighthouse.
Mom and Dad were so hurt that I declared my salvation as an 18 year old when they could clearly remember my first baptism at age 12. Didn’t that one take? If I had experienced a genuine commitment instead of doing what was expected of me at age 12, it would have. Besides, if I were to travel to the Holy Land, I would want to be baptized in the Jordan for the sheer joy of the experience.
All that said, you will not find, no matter how carefully you look, a halo anywhere near my head. I am still, after 37 years, 5 months, 8 days, and counting, a work in progress. Since that moment, my church participation, so well trained and ingrained in my youth, has been one big Tossed Salad, my personal version of Salad Days.
- I have consistently been a willing choir participant and still enjoy it.
- Experience teaching a Sunday School class is peppered with success and failure: peer group good, sixth grade bad.
- In Litchfield, all the mothers plus volunteers took turns in the nursery. I am not suited for the nursery. Trust me.
- Taking turns in leadership roles in the Women’s Missionary Circle would, in my personal experience, fall under the Frustration, not the Stellar Performance column heading.
- Do not ask me to lead VBS again. I will have to hurt you.
- Small groups, the new foundation for growth and ministry, is growing strong.
I think it has taken me all of this 37 years and a total of 8 congregational experiences, 6 of which were between Aug of ’68 and Dec of ’72, to find a happy spot. I think one gift I have identified is encouragement. Dad had it too. I make people smile. A personal ministry has been to make baby blankets. Crochet comes easily to me but is a big deal to new moms who wouldn’t have time for it if they thought of it. That becomes a blessing for me.
The ups, the downs, the bright and the dark, sweet and sour, are tossed and seasoned with salty tears and the many flavors of laughter. They all have contributed to who and what I am.
Bloom where you are planted. Dance when life is tossed.