I was pretty angry last week. Re-reading my entries I don’t regret them at all, but I decided today I would try to write from a more positive viewpoint. There’s a lot that frustrates me about the world, but there are also parts of the world that make me glad. Good allies give me strength. The word ally has a rich history as word used to describe countries that were on the same side. However, it can also be aw way to describe interpersonal relationships. The easiest definition for me is that an ally has my back. I wanted to draw attention to two of my allies that are making me happy in this post.
Last week my family and I were watching the Olympics. It was the night that Bodie Miller skied in one of his many events. (You may have heard about the part of the night where a reporter repeatedly asked him about the death of his brother until Miller finally broke down and cried.) Before that happened NBC had a clip package all about Miller’s life with his wife and young son. As I am wont to do when I watch television and see something that upsets me I began to rant a little about Miller and the “all American family” image being projected around him. I don’t want to get into all the specifics that made me angry about this because as I said, I want today’s post to be uplifting. If you don’t know about what I’m talking about you can read the details here. My mother had already heard about this so I was really telling my dad. I quoted from the linked article quite a bit to make my points. I expressed my frustration at the way the mother of Miller’s child seemed to have been forgotten in favor of the perfect story package for NBC.
My dad listened carefully as he usually does when I go on about something. I finished what I had to say and we went back to watching the show. The next day I was browsing my Facebook newsfeed which was of course full of people talking about how terrible it was that a reporter pushed Miller to talk about his brother until he cried. (By the way let me just say that as disgusted as I am by the custody battle surrounding Miller and the mother of his baby, I agree that the reporter went WAY too far in her interview.) As I scrolled down the page I came across my dad’s profile. He had posted a link to this article and added “this should make us cry too.”
Which brings me to my first point about good allies. Good allies listen, and use their status as allies to inform others about an issue that is important to you. My dad didn’t have much to say the night before when I was talking about the Miller situation. But, he was obviously listening. I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful it feels when people listen. Sometimes I feel like people must roll their eyes when I start talking about something. “Oh here goes Janelle again. She’s upset about something.” Believe me, I know I can make much ado about nothing. But, it can still be disheartening to think that people are already checked out the moment I open my mouth. But my dad posting the article was him saying he heard me. He heard what I had to say. He heard me not only in that moment, but on into the next day. Which lead him to use his role as my ally to inform others about something that was important to me. It’s a small thing that makes a big impact.
The second example of a great ally came this past Sunday. At church we’ve been doing a study called “One Another” which focuses on the passages in the Bible that direct us to do things unto “one another.” It’s been a great series and you can check them all out for download here. On Sunday Pastor Brad read from Ephesians 5 and the topic of his sermon was submission. (And yes that included the wives submit to your husbands passage) It’s always interesting to watch women in a congregation when this particular topic and these particular verses are brought up. They straighten up in their chairs. Their eyes seem to spark. Some lean forward in their seats. Others turn to their friends and share a “how is this going to go” look. I had a friend tell me after the service when she realized what the topic and text were she thought “Oh no.” I admit I had a quick moment of worry. But I shouldn’t have been worried. Because my pastor and my church are my allies.
I could quote the whole sermon here for you because it was so great, but I won’t. (Trust me, you need to download and listen to it. I’m not going to be able to cover all the great parts.) Pastor Brad spent a lot of time on the idea that submission is personal. He asked us all to set aside our preconceptions about what it means to submit, and what we thought this passage of scripture meant. He reminded us that submission is not a definition you can apply to another person. When he talked about husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church he spelled out what that really meant; death. Christ died for his church. When I talked to several of my friends after church we all became fixated on his next line and how much it blew us away. Pastor Brad, using his own family as an example, said ” I die to my own wants so that Leah has what she needs.”
I’ve known men in my life that believed this. I was raised by a man that believes this. My sister is married to a man that believes this. But this was the first time I’d heard a pastor say something like this from the pulpit on a Sunday morning and it almost made me cry. Allies use their position of power to lift you up. Pastor Brad reminded all of us that what is most radical about Paul’s words were not the ones that talked to the wives, children and slaves. Those people being told to submit was not a radical concept. What was radical was the instruction to those in power; the husbands, parents, and masters. Having an ally use his position of power to lift me up instead of holding me down is freeing. It frees me to submit with a full and thankful heart. Submission becomes easier because I know the leaders in my church are my allies. They love me like Christ loved the church.
These are just two examples of the many allies I am blessed to have in my life. The world around me can be extremely frustrating. But, it gets a little easier to deal with thanks to allies like my dad and Pastor Brad. How about you? Are their allies in your life that came up at just the right moment and gave you strength? Have you ever been that for another person? Share your thoughts in the comments!