Thursday, July 13, 2017

It was Fitz. At First Baptist.

It was February, 2014, and I was in the ladies room at First Baptist Church of Laurel, MD. My sons were taking karate classes at the church and, as I often did, I drove them to class and took a scrapbooking project to work on while they had class for two hours.

I was having a great time and I was also drinking ice water. After a while, the ladies room beckoned and I went around the corner and entered the ladies room. While I was in the stall.....you know.....I heard the main door to the ladies room open and close. I thought, of course, that another lady had come in to use the facilities.

Imagine my complete shock to open the partially-private stall door to find a man standing there looking at me with a smirk on his face! Immediately, I said, "Get out of here! This is a ladies room! Why didn't you knock to see if it was occupied?"

He said, "I don't knock. I ain't gonna knock. I got work to do."

I said, "Get out of here!"

He would not move. He was blocking the door; I could not get out. He stood his ground.

I said, "You can't just come in here at will and clean unless you know the room is empty!"

He said, "I do what I want. I got work to do. I ain't got time to do no knocking."

And he stood there, looking at me with a smirk on his face. I got bold. I walked over to him, passed within six inches of him in order to leave and did not take my eyes off him the entire time. He continued to smirk.

I was shaken. I was embarrassed. I was upset. I went to the security person on duty and told them what happened. That person didn't know what to do, so they called the building supervisor. I could hear her on his phone. When he told her what I had told him, she said, "Oh, that doesn't sound like Fitz."

So, Fitz was his name. I had not known that.

The security guard was flustered and didn't know what to do and I heard him tell the building supervisor, "She's right here...." as if to tell her I could hear their exchange. He hung up and shrugged at me. I told him I was going to call the senior pastor. He said the senior pastor was on the premises, in a deacon's meeting.

"Perfect," I said. His eyes widened in response. "Yes, please let him know I need to talk to him after his meeting."

Then I called my husband and told him what was going on. He was livid and was glad I was going to talk to the senior pastor.

When I told the senior pastor what happened, he was at first shocked and compassionate. Then, after assuring me their system of checking to make sure no one was in the ladies room would be revisited and they would stop this from happening again, he shook his head and said, "This just does not sound like Fitz!"

I was shocked he would say that to me. I looked at him and said, "But it was Fitz. He did this."

He replied, "I hear what you're saying, but it just does not sound like him."

And that's where he left it.

The church trustees met and put a protective practice in place. From now on, I was told, Fitz would have to have the security person with him, knock on the ladies room door, wait for an answer, slightly open the door, yell to see if anyone was in there.....and only if they were sure no one was inside they could proceed to enter and clean.

I observed this - they did it a total of one time.

After the one time they did it, I returned the next week to observe Fitz enter the ladies room with a small knock as he entered. He was back at it. I informed the security person and they said the trustees were handling the issue.

I did talk to a trustee. I was told, "Well, we discussed it and determined that it all happened so fast that no one really knows what happened."

I said, "I know what happened! I was there! No trustee discussed this with me so how was this determined without talking to the people involved?"

"Listen, we have all known Fitz a very long time and he's worked at the church for a long time."

And that was that. I stopped using the ladies room at First Baptist and we removed our membership. I still go to First Baptist's building from time to time as my sons still take karate there.....they are adults now and take themselves to and from.

I see Fitz from time to time when I'm there for tournaments or occasionally to meet a friend.....
and he smirks at me every time he sees me.

I fell into the trap.....I didn't voice this incident until now. I didn't voice it when church leadership minimized things and did not treat Fitz as the threat he is. Life got difficult....my husband got cancer....we had to move several times....I dealt with it by leaving the church and warning a few other moms whose kids go to karate. But, I should have done this a lot sooner. Now that my husband no longer has cancer and we are settled into a home we bought, I've finally found the where-with-all in myself to tell this story and name names.

Beware of Fitz at First Baptist in Laurel. He is not a member. He is hired help who is working unsupervised many evenings throughout the week. I have never seen anyone supervise him. He saunters through the building, entering the various ladies rooms at will with no knocking, no warning and no apology when he happens upon someone using the facilities.

~Tricia

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Lie Your Church is Telling You

Some men are finally waking up to the fact that women have more to offer than coffee and casseroles and they are beginning to advocate for women in the church. It's about time. Don't get me wrong, I think men who advocate for women are great and I would never try to discourage such action.

But I recently realized King Lemuel's mother - of Proverbs 31 - needed no advocate.

King Lemuel's identity is debated in theological circles. Some believe Lemuel is another name Solomon was known by. Others believe he was King of Massa and still others believe he was not a real person at all. While the debate over who he was goes on, I want to focus on his mother.

Proverbs 31 starts out with "The sayings of King Lemuel.....an oracle his mother taught him..."

Some versions say "a prophecy his mother taught him..."
Some versions say, "an inspired utterance his mother taught him...."

Oh, my. A woman, inspired? Oh, God, what were you thinking?

I digress.

King Lemuel's mother taught him. This is huge. These are not the oracles of his father. This is not a father/son bonding moment which all fathers need so they can teach their sons the things of God. This is not a time when a father "stepped up" and took the reigns and taught his son because only fathers can teach sons properly and men need their father to teach them.

No.

His mother taught him.

And it was powerful.

And it was enough.

And King Lemuel was not the only one whose mother was their main influence/instructor. Paul praised Timothy's mother and grandmother - by name - in 2 Timothy 1:5...."I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well."

The lie in the church is that fathers and sons have to have a deeper, better relationship than fathers and daughters. This is a lie. Sons are not more important than daughters. Fathers are not more important than mothers. Ideally, a family has both a mom and a dad, but that is not always the case, nor is it always possible.

Don't be fooled by the lies that your family will be less than what God wants it to be unless the father steps up in the way dictated by those who promote patriarchy. If you're a single mom, don't think for a minute that you aren't enough. Don't think for a minute that your son or daughter won't "turn out as good" without a father. It is God who works in them.

I recently read a blog post from the "Desiring God" (as if anyone does) blog of John Piper's group and I was shocked that the blog post actually said that women whose fathers don't step up and get involved in even "dating" their daughter's boyfriend, are leaving their daughter "emotionally and spiritually uncovered."

Huh? What is that? What does that even mean? Is not Christ enough, even for a daughter? Surely if a woman is going to be enough, by God's design, to teach a son like King Lemuel, she is enough. God is enough for a young girl even if she has a desire to get married. And He's enough if she decides not to ever marry....and it's no tragedy for her to make that decision. This article hinted at being single as a tragedy. Their teachings that women need a "spiritual and emotional covering" is akin to Sharia Law and has no business in Christian circles. God says there is no distinction between male and female in Galatians 3:28. We are all one in Christ.

I recently heard a preacher exalt the relationship between fathers and sons while minimizing the father/daughter relationship. He said dads are the ones who teach sons to be good dads, so a dad's relationship with a son is more important, more vital. That preacher needs to put his opinion back in the opinion box because that is simply not true.

To put it another way, that teaching is false. Just look at King Lemuel. Look at Timothy.

God is not limited by man's ideas of what is good and what people think things, even families, should look like. God will raise up who He wants to raise up, with or without a father.

Do not underestimate the influence of a mother in her son's life. King Lemuel was not afraid, ashamed or embarrassed to give his mother the credit for all she taught him. He did not mention his father even once.

And get this....listen carefully....not one verse in Scripture talks about a father exclusively teaching a son. Not one. Many verses talk about mothers teaching sons, but not one talks about how a father, exclusively should - or even did - teach a son.

Deuteronomy 6:7 talks about teaching God's statutes diligently to our children, but does not single out fathers and sons.

Deuteronomy 11:19 also talks about teaching our children, but, again, does not single out fathers and sons.

Proverbs 1:8 says, "My son, hear the instruction of your father and do not forsake your mother's teaching," putting the teachings of mothers and fathers on an equal plane.

Proverbs 6:20 says, "Son, keep your father's commands and forsake not the law of your mother," putting the teachings of fathers and mothers on an equal plane.

Proverbs 31:1 says, "The words of King Lemuel, the inspired words of his mother..." exalting the teachings of his mother above all else.

My husband and I reared our eight children together. He did not treat our sons any differently than he treated our daughters....and neither did I. We taught them all that they are not entitled....that no one owes them anything....that they have to earn their way....that their love for God and relationship with Him is the most important thing in their life....the list could go on. But, we taught them together. My word as their mom was (and is) still as much "law" in their lives as their dad's word. We are fortunate to have lived long enough to raise all our kids, but, had one of us died young, the other would have continued teaching the kids the things of God without missing a beat.

That is what is important......teaching the things of God.....not the things people think of God, but what the Bible actually says, without speculation and without adding to it.

Do not fall for the lie that tells you sons are more important than daughters. This lie will destroy your family and you won't see it coming.

~Tricia