Thursday, October 15, 2015

She's Not Okay...

I have a love-hate relationship with social media.  I don't tweet much, but I do have a social media account that I use with a fair amount of regularity.  Sometimes I hate that I love it.  Sometimes I love to hate it.  It can be a great ministry tool...but it can also be the devil on the small screen. 

I'm always curious to see if anything I post hits anyone in a positive way.  This week, it did.  It was just a picture of a quote, and it wasn't even my quote.  I saw it and thought, "Yes, that."  I have no clue who the original author is, but it's not me, so I own that. was shared more than anything else I have posted on social media in nearly 10 years, which led me to believe...this is a problem.  Here's what it said:

"Just because a person doesn't put hands on you, that doesn't mean they aren't abusive.  Abuse is control, blatant disrespect, and also hurtful words.  Don't settle for emotional abuse thinking it's okay because it's not physical." 

This Saturday will be my 16th anniversary in pastoral ministry.  Over those 16 years I have seen this played out over and over.  Folks will come into my office, shoot me a text, send me an email, or actually pick up the phone and call...and this is what it's about. 

They have realized that something isn't right in the relationship, but since there are no bruises, the idea that they are being abused isn't on their radar.  There may be this feeling in the pit of their gut that it's not a healthy relationship, but he hasn't thrown them against the wall, so it can't be all that bad, right?  Not exactly. 

This is a dangerous topic to write about, but maybe it's one we should be writing more about.  Being controlled is abuse.  Being separated from friends and family is abuse.  Being told who you can talk to and who you can't is abuse.  Having to walk on eggshells is abuse.  Being afraid to talk because it might cause a rage is abuse.  Being called names, talked down to, told you're not worth anything, or that you should just be thankful to be with him because no one else would want abuse.  There are so many ways one person can abuse another without leaving bruises, and none of them are healthy. 

Ladies, a black eye is a definite sign of abuse...but you don't have to have bruises on your body to be a victim of abuse.  If you've read this and thought, "Holy hell...that sounds familiar," talk to someone.  I promise you this, the people in your life who love you have already noticed, and are probably afraid to say anything to you about it.  They might not know what to say.  They probably don't want to upset you anymore than you are already.  But, I promise you...if they don't know for sure, they're at least suspicious, and their heart is breaking for you.  They're just waiting for you to say something so they can help you find your way to healing, happiness, and peace. 

If you're in an abusive relationship, and you want out, you will need their support.  It doesn't mean that you have to spill your guts and tell them everything, but when someone, who you know loves you, asks, "Are you ok?" be straight with them.  You may not be ready to right now, but pray over it, and in time you will have the strength and the courage to say, "No, I'm really not ok.  I need some help." 

One more's not your fault. You may have been told that it is, and that the only problems in your relationship are ones you've caused, but it's not your fault.  You may have been told that if you wouldn't make him mad, there wouldn't be any problems at all...but it's not your fault.  You wanted to be loved, and he said all of the right things.  There was no way of knowing the monster that was lurking just below the surface. 

Call a friend, your pastor, or a domestic abuse hotline.  Be shrewd, but be courageous.  If you are able, put together an escape plan.  Find a trained counselor who can walk with you as you make your plans to get out.  There are multiple resources that you can use to get away from an abusive relationship, and do it safely.  Find a good therapist who can help rebuild the person you were before you were beaten down emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  Know you're not alone and that healing is waiting.  My prayers are with you.

To those who may know someone in this situation, be patient with her.  Now is not the time to raise your voice to her, or to tell her how stupid it is to stay in the relationship, or to try to force her to get out.  She's not okay right now.  She probably knows that it's not a healthy relationship, but is afraid to make a move.  Be gentle, but don't give up on her.  Remind her, as often as you can, of her sacred worth.  When she's ready, and when the time is right, she'll make her escape.  If you've handled your end right, you may be one of the ones who can help her do it.       

Here is a number you can call to begin finding your way back to healing.  1-800-799-SAFE
If you are in immediate danger, you can also call 911.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

How Adam Hamilton Just Messed Me Up...

Ok, let me start by saying I'm a fan.  I have several of Pastor Adam's books in my office.  I've been to COR three times for the leadership institute.  Today, actually just a few minutes ago, Pastor Adam messed me up.  I mean shook me to my core.  No,'s a good thing.

My Myers/Briggs starts out putting me at 90% introverted.  I don't think I used to be as bad as I am now.  Actually, I think it's gotten worse just in the last couple years.  I don't know if it's my career, the way the church is growing, or if I'm just getting older.

I knew, coming to COR this week, that there was going to be a huge crowd, and I wasn't disappointed.  I'm guessing a couple thousand folks are here this week.  Traffic has been insane.  Lunch is crowded...but I expected all of that, so it's ok.  I was prepared.

We broke just a little while ago for lunch and the folks at COR had set up several huge tents in between the buildings to feed everybody.  The lines were fairly long.  The tables were all set up under the tents.  Folks were crowding around the box lunch tables.  It was a hungry introvert's nightmare.  I grabbed my box and looked for a spot in the the myself so that I could eat without having a panic attack.

Here's where I got messed up...

I'm sitting there in the sun, enjoying this beautiful first day of October (It really is gorgeous outside), eating my lunch, and just people watching.  I'm watching the crowd and think, "Oh hey, there's Adam Hamilton."  He was walking around talking to folks, shaking hands, posing for selfies, and smiling.  I knew that folks called him an introvert, but here he was, shaking hands with folks (and not even using hand sanitizer).  He leads a church that worships 11,000 a weekend.  He travels all over the world teaching and preaching.  I had heard he was introverted, but he looked like he was actually enjoying what he was doing.

So I watch.  Then I watch some more.  Then I find some of our group and tell them what I had been watching, and I pointed to Adam and told them, "Look at him.  He is just walking around, shaking hands, talking to folks, and posing for selfies!"  One of them said, "You should email him.  I did and he responded within 15 mins."  To which I replied, "Nope, I'm going to go talk to him."

So I did.

I walked up to him and said, "Adam, I'm Jamie.  I have one question...How do you do it?  I heard you were an introvert.  How do you do it?  11,000 a weekend and I've been watching you while I sat by myself and ate my lunch.  You're shaking hands, taking pictures with folks, and smiling.  How do you pull it off?"

Then he messed me up.  He said, "I'm not really an introvert.  I used to be.  But I pushed through it and now I actually enjoy it."  We talked for a few minutes and as he walked away I said, "If he can do it, so can I."

I was perfectly comfortable the way I was.  Perfectly comfortable by myself.  But...God didn't call me to be by myself.  I'm a church leader, for crying out loud.  I was kicked back against the wall, in the sun, watching all of those people crowd into those tents and thinking, "Thank God I'm not in there."  But...if being in a crowd shuts me down, how can I lead a church?  I was not expecting this as I drove to KC.

It won't be an overnight change, but 5 minutes with Pastor Adam today messed up everything that I thought kept me comfortable.  Funny how that works, huh?, actually in the last hour, I guess I begin a new journey.  Honestly, it scares the hell out of me.  But if he can do it, so can I.