A few months ago I called my credit union with a simple question, and ended up getting routed to the supervisor of fraud detection because after I answered the basic security questions the customer service lady said, “well, we don’t have that Michelle is a male, so I’m going to send you to my supervisor.” I tried to tell her I’m not a male…I just have a deep voice, but she had already sent me on to her supervisor. It was frustrating and a bit humiliating, and it brought back all the comments throughout my life that I’ve heard about my voice.
A few days ago, I made another call to the same credit union. But this time, I had an advocate. A State Farm insurance agent was on the phone with me. So, ‘Mark from State Farm’ made the call, and when the customer service person answered, he said very quickly, “This is Mark from State Farm, and I have Michelle on the phone with me…” Without a hesitation, I was given the information I was looking for.
This is the importance of advocacy–or at least one of them. I realize that advocacy is more than just this, but I think it is at least this: Someone in a position of authority or privilege making the call while someone else is on the line and making sure they get the help they need.
This experience on the phone made me ask myself who would benefit from me ‘being on the line’ with them. It was another confirmation that as an educated white person, my voice on the line is REALLY important. There may be someone else who is frustrated, discouraged, and humiliated from trying to get through the system, or trying to get answers, or whatever. And I can do all kinds of good by staying on the line with them, making the call, and making sure they get heard.
I’m not very good at this advocacy thing, I have to admit. But now I’ve got another way to think about it. Hopefully I can keep looking for ways of staying on the line.
In pondering the sermon for this Sunday, I discovered that I actually had two sermons. This is the one that won’t get preached.
Text: Matthew 5:13-16
In the movie Lion King, Simba is born into greatness. A descendant of the king, he is told from a young age that he will one day rule over the pride land. He doesn’t do anything to deserve this honor. It’s just who he is. It’s his identity—not because of who HE is, but because of who his father is. And Simba is raised to be confident and comfortable in this calling. He can sing and dance with his friends, saying, “I just can’t wait to be king,” because his calling is clear to him.
But then he starts listening to other voices. After a serious accident, Simba listens to his uncle who tells him he has failed at life and must run away. And Simba does. He runs away and loses sight of who he was born to be…he loses sight of his calling.
Continue reading The 2nd sermon: “Remember who you are”
My congregation is doing a 6-week sermon/study series based on the book by John Ortberg, If you Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat. I’ve been familiar with this book for quite some time, but I don’t think I’ve read it. The book is based on the story of Peter walking on water, and the basic premise is that to really experience the fullness of what it means to follow the call of Jesus, we need to step beyond the safety and security of what they know and walk directly into the storm.
So this first week we were invited to ponder what boat we are in that maybe Jesus is calling us out of. Ortberg says, “Your boat is whatever represents safety and security to you apart from God himself. Your boat is whatever you are tempted to put your trust in, especially when life gets a little stormy. Your boat is whatever keeps you so comfortable that you don’t want to give it up even if it’s keeping you from joining Jesus on the waves. Your boat is whatever pulls you away from the high adventure of extreme discipleship” (p. 17).
As I was pondering this for myself, I began to wonder…what if the church (structured religious institution) is my boat? What if I’m missing out on something bigger because all I can see is what I’m doing now…which is good and important and genuinely matters. But is there somewhere beyond this to which I am being called? Continue reading The Boat…