Then Comes the Weekend

It’s hard to calculate just how many times it’s happened to me.  It seems like when I find myself needing energy and rejuvenation, the calendar suddenly wakes me up to realize that the weekend is right around the corner.  While there have been plenty of Mondays when I wake up and wonder what happened to the weekend and what exactly I accomplished during it, there have been plenty of Fridays and Saturdays that I have rested.

We all need rest, despite how much energy we think we have.  We all need renewal.  There was an intentionality in God’s design of us and the incorporation of a Sabbath, a rest, into our schedules.  Despite that incorporation and despite a command to keep it, we still seem to find ourselves running on fumes all too often.  Even in the midst of our “rest” we don’t really seem to be able to rest.

Then comes the weekend.  And what do we do?  Do we take advantage of the pace slowing down or do we continue to fire on all cylinders, hoping to take advantage of the time that we have available?

I have often found myself feeling guilty for a day when I did nothing but sit around and relax, spending time with my family.  We may not have done anything significant or earth shattering, but I’ve often marveled at the significance those days have had on my children.  When asked what they enjoyed most about those days, their answers usually have something to do with spending time together.  Those answers are reason enough for me to keep coming back to those days of rest.

So, here we are, on the brink of the weekend.  How will we spend it?  Will we do what we can to make sure that our time is planned out from the moment that we get off of work until the moment that we’re back to the grind on Monday morning?  Will we take the time to rest and relax, to rejuvenate and be restored?

I’m looking forward to finding some rest in the midst of the next 48 hours.  I hope I find it.  If I don’t, it certainly won’t be for lack of trying.

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Open or Closed

Over the last few years, I’ve had a number of things that have caused me to deepen my own faith.  Having grown up in the church with parents who encouraged a strong faith through their own lives, there have been times that I have strayed away, but not too far and not too long.  But how about people who don’t have any faith to speak of and who don’t seem to be very open to the idea?

I’ve always wondered what it was like to go through life without a strong faith, but I never experienced it.  I have friends who consider themselves atheists or agnostics and we get along fine.  While we have differing theological ideas, we’ve found commonalities in other areas.  I haven’t hesitated to share my own faith and they haven’t hesitated to share their disbelief.  I’ve even had them tell me that they respected my faith and the way that I lived my life.  I would consider most of these friends fairly open minded.

How about people who aren’t open?  How do I react to people who have no faith and aren’t open to the idea at all?

We’ve probably all had conversations with someone in our life who entered into that conversation with their mind made up.  Those conversations can be very frustrating, giving us the sense that we’re getting nowhere.  It ends up feeling more like a boxing match than it does a conversation.  How likely are we to want to engage in those conversations again once we’ve had them once?

It’s possible to have convictions and still remain open-minded, isn’t it?  When we have strong convictions, we can remain humble and open, exhibiting a willingness to learn from every situation.  We learn when we have to defend our beliefs and we learn when we hear how others defend their beliefs, but it’s amazing to me how many people don’t really want to learn at all.  They are content to believe what they believe with no willingness to learn or explore other possibilities.

I’ve found it pretty amazing that there are many people who consider themselves to be open minded who are really only open minded to the things that they believe.  On other words, they’ll be open minded as long as they agree, but if they disagree, forget about the open mindedness.

I have a lot of strong convictions, but I’ve done my best to listen to what other people have to say, after all, I never know what I might learn in the process.  While I might not find myself changing my views, it certainly helps me to understand people better and to learn a little bit more about where they’re coming from.

When we find ourselves so closed off to other ideas, I wonder if it’s fear that drives that.  What are we afraid of?  Are we afraid that our word will be rocked if we begin to diverge from our original thoughts and ideas?  The foundations that are the strongest can take the most abuse, they can weather the greatest storms.  How strong are our foundations?

Regardless of where you fall in terms of your faith, I would challenge and encourage you to keep your mind open.  That doesn’t mean that you believe everything that’s presented to you, but it does mean that you give things an educated look.  It doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily change your viewpoint, but you just never know what you might learn along the way.

Success or Significance

There are many ways to measure success and all too often those of us who spend a significant time working in vocational ministry can easily be caught up in success and what defines it.  We can easily find ourselves adopting business practices that measure success in ways that often contradict the ways of God.  I wonder if instead of looking to measure success, we look towards measuring significance.

Success can be elusive and very subjective.  Everyone defines success differently and its measurability seems to be determined by what is most important to whoever defines it.  But how about significance?  Is it more measurable to determine significance than success?  How do we determine whether or not something is significant?

When I worked in the engineering field, I struggled with the significance of what I did.  That’s not to say that engineering work isn’t significant, I just couldn’t find a ton of significance for myself in what I was doing.  I was very successful, I had worked hard for my license, earned a second degree, and was moving up the ladder towards middle management, but I didn’t feel like I was doing anything significant.

After I began working as a minister, although I felt that what I was doing was more significant to me, it seemed that there was a struggle with defining success.  How do you define success?  It always seems to be measurable, and within the church it could often devolve to nothing but counting nickels and noses.  But is that the only way to define success?  How about significance?

Is the idea of significance more universal than success?  What defines significance?

Last month, I watched a news clip about a local weatherman in Detroit who followed a similar path to my own.  He was stepping down from his position as weatherman on the local news after 27 years.  He completed his seminary degree and he was beginning work in a church.  His final farewell is worth watching (click below).

One of the things that he says in this clip is that people have come to a place in the middle of their lives where they ask how to move their lives from success to significance.  What an incredible testimony this guy is to stepping down after such a long time.  My own transition happened after nearly 10 years in the engineering field.

I have a wise friend that once told me to find a job that I loved and I wouldn’t “work” a day in my life.  I’ve never forgotten that and I’ve been trying my best to pursue what I love so that I might find myself feeling like I was doing something more significant.

So, what’s significant to you?  How have you measured success?  Have you seen the difference?  Can you find yourself both successful and significant?

http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/Chuck-Gaidica-announces-stepping-down/-/1719418/24208298/-/hmx1e3z/-/index.html

Ministering For Jesus?

Anyone who has spent any time in the Christian “bubble” has heard of Steven Furtick.  He pastors one of the largest and fastest growing churches in the country and, specifically, in the Charlotte area.  He has been under fire for quite some time for a variety of things that he has done or said.  It seems that there is even one investigative reporter in Charlotte who has it out for Furtick and will do whatever he can to try to “expose” him.

I’m not naïve enough to think that everything written in the public media is actually true, but it always seems that there is an element to truth to every story.  Parts of the story may be based in fact and that’s the thing that has troubled me whenever I have read stories about Furtick.

The fact is that Furtick’s church has many thousands of members and he has sold many thousands of books that he has written.  He doesn’t seem to spare himself any expense at looking good and one of the latest things for which he has come under fire for is the building of a million dollar home.

Furtick claims that the money used for this construction was earned from his book sales.  If that’s the case, should anyone be criticizing him?  He didn’t take a vow of poverty, to the best of my knowledge.  He didn’t decide to give all of his money away.  So, why the controversy?

Well, it seems that the church has not been so forthcoming with all of the financial records.  Is it true?  That probably depends on who you talk to.  His “haters” will say that they haven’t but I would gather that the officials within the church would suggest that they have been forthcoming about the financials.

People have criticized Furtick for creating an empire to himself and creating an almost cult-like environment where he can’t be criticized.  Again, depending on who you talk with, you will get a very different perspective of this.

In situations like this, it’s hard to get the whole story.  I’ve posted a number of links to articles below that you might want to read through to determine your own opinion of the situation.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/zhoag/2014/02/10/what-furticks-millions-the-we-serve-a-lead-pastor-mantra-might-mean/

http://www.wcnc.com/news/iteam/How-Elevation-Church-Pastor-Furtick-produce-spontaneous-baptism-246072001.html

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/north-carolina-pastor-1-7-million-home-gift-god-article-1.1501934

My concern through this whole process is twofold (if not more, but in the interest of keeping things concise, we’ll leave it at two).  First of all, I have a concern for Furtick.  No man is an island nor should any one person, especially in this kind of leadership, be in such unchecked control.  My own denomination operates under a connectional system which builds accountability into pastoral relationships.  This system provides a means by which pastors can be protected from others, but also from themselves.  Power corrupts, it’s been seen over and over again throughout history, and in particular with pastors.  How many of us can recount a pastor who has fallen to some kind of temptation?  Many of these who have fallen had been elevated to near superhero status only to come crashing to the ground when their “kryptonite” was discovered.

The second concern that I have is probably more selfish, it’s for the role and profession of the pastor.  I grew up the son of a pastor who pastored the same small church for nearly 40 years.  He never made lots of money, drove fancy cars, or owned a huge house.  He always lived a humble life with my mom.  There has always been a general sense from many of the pastors who I know and am friends with that the money was not the most important part of the job.  While Furtick might claim a similar sentiment, actions speak louder than words.  Perception is reality and there are a lot of people out there who are wondering about everything that’s going down at Elevation Church.

Like I said, I don’t want to sway anyone’s opinion on Furtick and his behavior, I want people to form an opinion on their own.  The three articles that I posted are hardly the whole story, but I would be very curious to hear from readers as to what their thoughts are regarding Furtick and others like him.  Is this a good thing for the church?  Is it a good thing for other pastors?  What do you think?

Striking Gold

I knew it for years before she died, but since her death and since going through boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff, it has been officially confirmed: my mom saved everything.  No joke.  When I say “everything,” I mean it.  I have report cards from elementary school, newspaper clippings for when I was on the honor roll, drawings that I did in art class while in kindergarten, and a sundry of other mementos from my early life and childhood.

What’s been really funny to me is to see how some of these mementos have acted like mental dominos, triggering memories of other mementos which trigger memories of others and others and others beyond that.  I can get lost in the memories that are conjured up by the smallest of trinkets or even the faintest of smells.

I found a tape of me singing that I knew existed but wasn’t quite sure where.  My mom had played it for me over and over again as I was growing up.  When I found it after looking high and low, I played it for my kids, who were getting quite a kick out of hearing their dad sing songs like “The Monkees” theme song, “Jesus Loves Me,” “The Odd Couple” theme song, and a few others.

It’s simply amazing to me how these things have the power of transporting me to a different time and place.  That seems to be the power of our senses, all five of them, they can take us away to a place and time far away.  With a simple sound or smell or word even, we can find ourselves dreaming about something that happened long ago.

I mentioned to someone the other day that I kept a bottle of my father’s cologne that sits next to my sink in the bathroom.  On occasion, when I’m feeling particularly nostalgic, I will reach down and pick up that bottle, put it up to my nose, close my eyes, and take a deep breath in.  The day that it usually takes me to was a day when my father was in the rehab facility where he eventually died.  I had realized how much of a creature of habit he was when he would get upset with me for not giving him specifics about when I would be arriving to pick him up.

One day, I told him exactly when I would be there and when I got there, I walked into his room to find him dressed nicely with a shirt and tie on.  I searched my memory to try to figure out whether I was forgetting something.  Did we have an appointment with an attorney or someone else that had slipped my mind?  I didn’t think so.  So, I said to him, “Why are you all dressed up, Dad?”  He just looked up at me with a big smile and said, “My son was coming to visit me.”  Cue the lump in my throat.  What a special day it was and that’s the day that my brain conjures up every time that I take a deep breath of his cologne.

It’s ironic that things like homemade tapes and bottles of cologne might be consider “gold.”  Many people might be looking around for the things that have monetary value, but those things pale in comparison to what I’ve found.  These are the things from which memories are made.  There is no price that could be attached to them, their value is priceless.

It certainly makes me think through what it is that I am leaving for my children.  I hope that memories like these are the things that they value above everything else.  When we spend time with those we love, we embed that time into our memories, creating moments that we can call up from our memory banks when we want them or need them.  Those are the gifts to me and I am so grateful to have had them.

A Shrine of Sorts

I’m getting really close to a year since my dad died.  This July is also the 3 year mark from when my mom died.  Today, I’m working towards emptying out their house so that we can get it on the market.  Well, I’ve actually been working on it for almost a year, but it’s been very slow going.

My mom kept everything, and she kept everything in tip top condition.  She kept the boxes in which things came.  All of her collectibles.  All of her gadgets.  She even kept boxes for hair dryers or hair curlers.  She did her best to make sure that everything would last as long as possible.  She did a good job because most of these things outlasted her.

Before my parents moved out of the house where they had lived for nearly 40 years, they had a tag sale and did a pretty good job of downsizing.  Even after that, there was still a good deal of stuff left over, and that’s what I’m trying to get rid of.  But how do you decide what to keep and what to get rid of?  It’s all important, at least in some way, right?

Every time that I have made the drive over to the house, the moment I turn the key on the lock and walk through the front door, it’s as if I’ve taken a step back in time.  I’ve stepped into some kind of time capsule and in that time capsule, time seems to be suspended.  Even though I know that time is passing, I seem to be in a state of suspended animation and when I leave, after hours rifling through stuff, I find that it’s like stepping into a casino, there’s no sense of time and how fast it’s passing.

I walk through that door and I smell my mom.  I look around and it’s almost as if I can picture them both sitting there.  Mom wasn’t even there a year before she died.  In fact, she died about a year after they closed on the house.  In all of her life, she was a homeowner for a grand total of 12 months, barely.  But the furniture is the same as it was at their old house.  The pictures are the same.  Everything looks the same and the only thing that’s missing is them.

There have been times that I’ve fought the urge to call out for them.  It just feels like they should be there.  It doesn’t feel right without them and at the same time, I realize the need to unload this place.  In some ways, it has become a shrine of sorts.  I can drive to the cemetery where mom and dad are buried, but this is a different kind of tomb.  There still remains here a hint of who they are.

And these are some of the reasons that I need to get rid of the place.  Although it was less than a year that Mom was there and a few years that Dad was there, the place is full of memories, and to be frank, most of the memories really suck.  My mom died in this place.  Every time I walk by the place where her hospital bed had stood, it nearly sends shivers up my spine.  It’s brutal.

There comes a point in one’s life where they need to move on.  I heard a line in a movie today, you can’t control where you’ve come from but you can control where you’re going.  I have had no control over what’s happened in the past, but I can control how I respond, react, and deal with it.  Part of that dealing is moving on, not in a way that says I’ve forgotten all of it, but in a way that allows me to move past it, rather than dwelling on it.

Yes, in some ways, this house has become a shrine, a place where I can go to remember my parents.  I can’t have that anymore.  They are gone and I need to remember them with more positive things than this house.  One day, I will look back in relief that I have unloaded this place.  In the meantime, I will savor the smells, the furniture, the pictures, and wait for the day when I won’t have to face it any longer.  What I have of my parents lives on within me, I don’t need a house to remind me of that.  I will be glad to rid myself of some of these unhappy memories and what lives on will be things that can more pleasantly be passed on to my kids.

I’m looking forward to having this behind me, and one day it will be.

To Know and Be Known

I’ve been fascinated over the last few months to hear people share their stories with me and with each other.  There really have been no hard ground rules of what to share or how to share it, so it’s been pretty cool to see what people feel are the most important aspects of their lives to share with everyone.  When I grew up, this idea of sharing stories of what God was doing and had done was called sharing one’s testimony, but I think we need to call it what it is, a story of how God has met them and how their lives have intersected with him.

One of the predominant themes that I have seen is the need for community.  People who were not raised within the church talk about seeing something different in the people around them.  They appreciated many other things, but there seemed to be an overwhelming need for community, for being known.

At the base of who we all are, I think one of the things that we all crave at our core is the need to be known and to know others.  Surficial and shallow relationships can easily be found.  Heck, social media can be a successful way of allowing us to think that we know others and are known by others while never making eye contact or engaging in a face to face conversation.  That’s not to say that social media is wrong, but it acts as a cheap substitute if we fail to realize that relationships need to be built at a much deeper level than this.  If the only relationships that we have are with people who only exist to us on a computer screen, we will begin to see it change us.

A few weeks ago, I had a meeting with a new group that was formed for my support.  My church has been really good about creating a support structure for its pastors.  Each pastor is given a group of three people who will come alongside them to encourage, support, and coach them along.  In the more than six years that I have been with this group of people, I am on my third iteration of this group and we had our first meeting together a few weeks ago.

They let me talk and I wandered all around, in a verbal sense, until the end of our meeting.  At that time, the two who were there began to tell me some of their observations.  I sat there and was stunned but grateful as they both began to describe me and articulate their own understanding of who I was.  There was a sense of accomplishment and arrival for me as they talked, knowing that I had well articulated who I was but even more grateful that they had listened, observed, and acknowledged that I was who I said that I was.

I have had a number of people who I have worked for in past years who did not understand me.  With a few engineering degrees and one theology degree under my belt, I also have an artistic side that people are more often exposed to than the analytical side of me.  Getting into my head could prove frustrating and confusing for some people who like order and structure.  While there is that side of me, the creative side of me rebels against it at times and I come across as flighty and aloof.  For these guys to see that and hear my own acknowledgement of my weaknesses in our first meeting together was a gift for me.  I went home expressing to my wife my gratitude for these men who were willing to take time to enter into my story and try to understand me better.

There are few things more frustrating to me than being misunderstood, but understanding and being understood takes time.  It is an investment that sometimes doesn’t seem to be worth the effort that it takes.  Yet, when we take the time to invest, to listen, and to observe, we can help a person know that they are being known and being understood.  We can help others see how valuable they are and know that there is at least someone out there who understands them on a deeper level than just what’s on the surface.

I am grateful for the people that have been placed in my life who understand me, who “get” me.  I am sure that it hasn’t always been an easy ride for them to get to this point, but how thankful I am that they took the time to do this.  As I think about them, it helps me to extend grace and show patience in taking the time to know and understand others.  It’s an investment that I am not always willing to make, but I am growing, I am learning.  To know and be known has been such an important part of my own growth, progress, and transformation and my hope and prayer is that taking the time to do that for others can be as equally beneficial to them as it has been when others have done that for me.

Why Have You Brought Me Here?

Years ago, I recorded a CD.  I did it in a converted chicken coop with some friends who had their own equipment.  Back then, I was a somewhat avid writer of music.  When I would let my melancholy self out to play, I would generally wax philosophical and find some somber tune to match the melancholic words that would seem to roll effortlessly from my brain.

It’s not  often that I find myself so vain as to quote any of the music that I wrote, but among all of the songs that I did pen, there were a few there that I was proud of, not the least of which was a song called “Why Have You Brought Me Here?”

In the years that have passed since I wrote the song, it seems that its poignancy has grown.  I can return to the lyrics and find new meaning there, seeing how the song was not only relevant for my life at the time but almost prophetic for the life that was to come, completely unbeknownst to me.

Whenever I find myself in a difficult situation, I will ask myself what its purpose is and what I am supposed to learn from it.  It’s cause for introspection and a helpful reminder to me that my pain is rarely or never wasted.  There is always purpose behind it, although that purpose may not be evident then or even in the not too distant future, possibly not ever.

As I have faced some difficult situations over the last few years and even looked at the purpose of some current struggles, I have found myself asking that question over and over again.  Why am I here?  How did I get here?  What is the purpose of the struggles in which I find myself?

Answers don’t always come, but sometimes answers aren’t the most important thing.  Sometimes it’s the wrestling, the questioning, the struggling or coming to grips with the situation.  Even if there are no valid conclusions, if it’s caused me to reflect and do some deeper self-criticism, I don’t think that I can say it’s a bad thing.

I don’t know that I can say that I am grateful when I experience difficulties.  The Bible says to consider it joy when trials and difficulties come, I’m trying to get there, but it’s not an easy task.  I work towards it in hopes that each subsequent struggle will get me a little closer than I was before.

In the meantime, I continue to ask the question and while it may seem vain and self-promoting, I occasionally listen to the song.  It’s helped me to realize that there is a bigger picture to see, a picture that I am a part of that encompasses much more than the “now” experience.  When we find ourselves in difficulties, we can get stuck in the weeds, failing to see the forest for the trees and missing the greater purpose in the midst of it.

Nope, I’m not there completely.  It’s a journey, and it’s not for the weak of heart.  I press forward and know that there is purpose in it.  God doesn’t waste my pain and my growth is a process that will continue until the day that I breathe my last.  Why has he brought me here?  I might never know, but I’ll keep trying to find out, even in the midst of those dark and frustrating situations.

A Learning Experience on Race

A few weeks ago, I came under fire by a friend after a critical remark that I made on social media about the President.  It was nothing that I thought was off color or more than playful poking, but there were some strong comments in the thread underneath that were criticized even more than my own initial comment.  In exchanging messages with the friend who had brought the criticism, I decided that I needed to pursue a conversation about the comment and something that seemed to have eluded me.

A common question that I have asked recently is, “what am I missing?”  I have lived enough life to realize that as objective as I think that I am, I still have blind spots and am in need of others whom I trust to help me see in those blind spots.  I realized that there was something much deeper than what I could see on the surface.  I had made a criticism of the President but it seemed to have been interpreted as a racist remark, something that I had never intended and something that I definitely wanted to avoid even the possible interpretation of in the future.

While I was in seminary, I had the privilege of taking classes at a branch of my seminary in the Metro D.C. area.  The classes were held at a large African American church.  It was an incredible learning experience for me, not only biblically, but culturally.  Over the course of my years, I have not often been a minority in many settings, but I was there and it was a very good thing for me.  I was able to learn a lot about myself and was grateful to meet some neat people, particularly one African American professor who remains one of my favorites from my time there.

I have such respect and admiration for this professor that I felt that it could be beneficial to email him about my situation.  I excelled as a student in his classes and I felt that the level of respect and admiration went both ways.  I figured that if he was willing to share them, his insights would be incredibly beneficial for me, I knew that I could learn an awful lot.

I emailed him and he graciously agreed to have a phone conversation with me.  After exchanging the usual pleasantries, I jumped right into the conversation, asking him about the criticism of the President and how that could be perceived as a deeper criticism of the character rather than the role.  He was forthright and honest about his own experience.  He talked of professors who had caused him to question his own ability because of his own color of skin.  He spoke of the constant doubting that had been caused by his experiences and the desire to see anyone who could possibly be viewed as an underdog rise to the challenges that they faced.  Seeing those who had been marginalized rise to the top was a victory, not only for them, but for others who had similar experiences.

I began to see that beyond my own experience, or lack thereof, was the experience of so many others, an experience which could not easily be downplayed or ignored.  Although I had never been privy to these experiences and although I had never felt that I had exhibited racist behaviors, to deny their existence was to belittle the experience of others and the history of our country which left wounds and scars that, although they may have been forgiven, have had lasting impacts well beyond the decades that have passed since.  Racism is real, rearing its ugly head even in today’s society.

As we talked, I offered ideas and sought suggestions as to how to enter into dialogue about bringing restoration to the race relationships within the Church.  How could we move towards reconciliation?  We could start by refusing to deny the issue and realizing that although we may not have been guilty of creating it personally, we can be guilty of perpetuating it should we ignore it or deny its existence.  In the course of a thirty minute phone call, I felt that I had been enlightened, even getting the sense that I was doing research for a paper that I had not been assigned nor was I even planning to write.

After we hung up, I prayed a prayer of thanksgiving.  I was grateful that God had brought this humble and wise man into my life.  I was grateful for his willingness to share his own experience in order that I might learn something from it.  I was grateful for my parents and the way that they had raised me, to acknowledge differences but to look towards commonalities instead.  I was grateful for a father and mother who had modeled the love of Christ through the relationships that they chose to have.  I was grateful that I had looked around for a rearview mirror which could help me with my own blind spots and had been given the gift of perspective, a perspective different than my own.

So, what has changed?  How am I different?  I have looked at things from another side.  Joni Mitchell wrote, “I’ve looked at life from both sides now.”  While that would be an overstatement, I would say that I have had a glimpse of another perspective and found myself wanting for a more full understanding, but that wanting has led to an awareness that may not have been there before.  The different perspective has helped to make me more conscious of what I say and more importantly, how it may be interpreted.

I told my professor and friend that I looked forward to the day that we would all gather at the throne of God, people from every tribe, tongue, and nation.  While we can look ahead to that day, we need to be about the work of making that kind of multi-ethnic experience happen sooner.  It seems a daunting task, but we have to start somewhere and the best place to start is with me.  Today, I am a little more understanding of what others who are different than me have had to endure and I look forward to seeing how God can shape and transform me.

The struggle in fighting against racism can easily be diminished by making statements that we “see past color” or that we are “color blind.”  While I think I understand the sentiment behind those statements, we have been created with differences that make us unique.  To pretend that they don’t exist is to also diminish their significance and importance.  I still have a long way to go to gain more understanding in this area, but every step forward is growth, every opportunity that I move through and seize can help me gain perspective, one step at a time.  I am a learner and I hope that I will always and ever be learning.

It Costs What?

2014-02-12 10.48.46I was getting my car fixed the other day and I walked up to a local coffee shop.  While en route, I passed this sign and it made me pause.  I kind of scratched my head and thought about it a bit and just hung my head sadly as I felt like it was false advertising of a sort.

$189 for a divorce?  Fast and affordable?  You’d think that we were talking about a power-washing for your home or something like that, not the end of a commitment, the end of a covenant and vow that was made between two people.  Is this really all that it will cost if someone decides that they want to get divorced?

I would venture to guess that anyone who had been through a divorce, if asked if this were the price, would say that the price was far greater than this.  It might depend on how much was involved.  Are there kids?  Is there a house and property?  How much valuable property and material do you have?  What kinds of emotional costs are involved?  For you both as well as the kids?

In fact, not too long ago, I did a book review of a friend’s book about his own experience with divorce.  Having talked to him and read his book, I’m not sure that he would say that his divorce was fast, affordable, and only cost him $189 (you can see the post here).  While there was a redemptive effect from the divorce and while he learned an awful lot, it certainly wasn’t without cost and fast and affordable were most likely not among the adjectives to use to describe the process.

In the West, it seems that we’re very much about the “bottom line.”  How much will this cost me?  Unfortunately, I don’t think that you can fit on a sign just how much it costs to go through a divorce, and I wonder if you can really put a monetary value on so many of the things that are lost.  I can assure you that anyone who has gone through it might beg to differ that it only cost them $189.

When we present things in such a simplistic way and offer no possible options, we diminish the impacts of it.  Rarely are things as cut and dry as they are presented as in advertisements.  Rarely does anyone who seeks to gain a profit count the cost of that which they are trying to bypass in order to gain a buck.

What do you think?  Does this seem like a really good idea, a bargain even?  Guess I’m going to ask some of my friends who have been through this kind of heartache whether or not they think you can get through it with such a cheap and affordable price tag.  In this day and age of instant gratification, I wonder how often we really do count the cost to do our best to foresee the implications of what we do.  If we stopped to make that assessment, I wonder how many of our decisions would be altered for the better.