Who have I been talking with this week? Today I'm going to feature the EPB man. Let's just say some unlikely encouragement about education came my way.
Let me ask you readers a question. When someone comes to wire your house for faster internet do they usually try to give you solid biblical marriage advice? I'm guessing your answer is no. In my experience, when people come to fix things around here they don't engage in much talk beyond some wild tales from the trenches of whatever their specialty is.
On Wednesday I was taken aback when the middle-aged EPB guy started telling me (and my close friend) how he was on the brink of divorce at one time, but the Lord brought him back. To be fair, my friend and I were talking on the patio while our girls were playing in the backyard and he didn't have to strain to hear us. To be honest, I didn't even remember he was there. We were talking about when things get intense in our marriage and how we as believers know how God has called us to honor our spouses, but obedience to the Lord is so *stinking* difficult when we feel wronged. He started out by saying, "Now I'm not trying to pry, but I overheard you ladies talking..." Such a Southern way of saying things. I am so thankful that I live in a place where we can still start conversations like that. Small talk is a natural part of doin' business down here.
He proceeded to tell us:
- that he was from a broken home where his dad was a good provider, but not a great father.
- that he has been married for 20 years and has 3 children.
- that the Lord has been faithful to him even when he was about to call it quits.
- that -- and this really blew me away because our culture COMPLETELY shuns this idea -- he realized that he knew God was telling him he needed to work on HIMSELF when he was tempted to criticize or blame his wife.
- that he regularly talks to his 17 year old daughter about virtue and he has a very close relationship with her.
- that the best advice he could give me was to seek out older women to receive mentoring from in my church.
Am I weird that it totally did not bother me? I know some people would recoil in indignation. As he got ready to leave, I told him how much I appreciated his humble courage to give countercultural advice to a stranger. He overrode whatever apprehension he must have had to try and encourage someone with theology. What a ministry this man has! Experience and trust in the Lord had been this man's teacher and allowed him to break the generational cycle of brokenness he experienced. I wonder how many other times people have told him to butt out or to keep his religion to himself? I wonder how much easier his message would be accepted if he decided to say, "I get into arguments all the time with my spouse, too. You just have to do what makes YOU happy. If you're wronged, then wrong them right back! You don't have to put up with that! Your kids don't need that, etc..."
Let me reiterate, I was so shocked and thankful to hear him say I needed to examine my own heart.
I need to hear that every day of my life, even from strangers.
This 30 minute experience with the EPB man reminded me of how we are tempted to venerate missionaries and pastors as the only ones who are really carrying out any "real" ministry. We denigrate our own callings as something less valuable, but we need more fathers like the EPB man sharing with a lost world about God's faithfulness in the hard times.
Who else have I been talking to this week? My two neighbors... both retired teachers who brought up the state of our schools since TCAP week has just finished up around here. They were sad, but honest conversations. Stay tuned...