Love and service

As many of you know, my daughter is recovering from a horrible disease, that has left her brain damaged. We do not know if it is permanent yet. Today she took the initiative and got her own lunch, did her own grooming and folded her own laundry. My heart almost burst with how well she is doing.

My wife, though, has so much pain in her foot that every step is excruciating. She lives with pain that most of us will never experience. She has two dislocated toes that are not healing and the joints have been damaged so that they will not stay where they are supposed to. The doctor has ordered her to stay off of it.

That is challenging, to say the least, because someone needs to care for Margaret. Fortunately, I have a laundry system in place, I am an excellent cook, I know how to vacuum and do it frequently. Susan can sit with Margaret and teach her to read and write again, and I can do the housework and cook and clean. If Susan will follow that plan, her foot can start to heal.

But she is a hard woman to keep down. She has dragons to slay.


It reminds me of several years ago. I had a birthday, and Susan and my daughters gave me a huge surprise party. It was wonderful.

It was right in the middle of a huge flare of Susan’s CRPS. Please look it up if you don’t remember it. It is a brutal and excruciating health condition. We went to Italy for the cure.

By the time the guests had arrived and I had gotten there (thoroughly surprised) I could tell by her eyes that she had had enough and her pain was through the roof. I took her to a quiet place and made her sit.

I welcomed everyone, prayed for the meal, and fixed a plate to take to Susan. One man was looking at me with contempt. He sneered to a friend of mine, “Anyone that would take food to his wife is a pussy.”

That was when I realized that this patriarchial, chest-thumping, posturing, posing, “men are to be men and women are to be women” garbage was not just wrong. It was dangerous, unloving, hateful, and set on fire from the depths of hell.

And today I have no patience for it.

I cannot stand the masculine and feminine ontology garbage, as if that is actually a biblical category.

I cannot stand the bullying and the posing and the chest-thumping.

I cannot stand the name calling and the posturing.

What exactly is it that men are supposed to be doing again? What exactly is it that women are supposed to be doing again?

Tell me about how she needs to be “keeper at home” one more time. Tell me about your ideal little fantasy world and about the ontology of my wife. Please enlighten me with your ivory tower back-slapping and speculation and the twisting of the scripture to fit your comfort level. Tell me again about how the men slay the dragons and the women are to be rescued while my wife fights day and night for the life of her daughter. Tell me again about the priority and superiority of men. We are all very impressed down here on earth.

The rest of us are trying to survive. Most of us in the history of the world have not had the luxury of pontificating in our easy chairs while the little woman fixes us a sandwich.

So when you are writing your theses, the rest of us will get on with surviving. I will continue to serve my wife and take the contempt of the mindless drones who cannot see the beauty of the gospel past their own tribe and their own experiences.

I will continue to nurse my daughter back to health and continue to try to get my wife to stay off of her feet so she can heal.

So go back to quoting all of the church fathers and drinking your trendy microbrews through your manly beards while your cowed wives and children kneel tremblingly at your feet. If that floats your boat, go ahead. Don’t be surprised to wake up and find she isn’t there any more. But that isn’t my business.

My dryer just rang, so I will fold clothes. Tonight for dinner I am making mushroom risotto. My risotto is fabulous.

I will probably listen to Air Supply while I am doing it. When I get my family settled, I will pull out my books and my computer again and work on my sermon.

You do your thing.

I’ll do mine.



Filed under Encephalitis journey, Men and women

15 responses to “Love and service

  1. Janet Matthews

    I LOVE YOU, SAM. You are my brother in Christ, a true servant of the Lord, who understands what Jesus did when He knelt and washed the feet of His disciples. I seriously love you. My brother, my friend. And you have a typo in this post. live should be life. 😀

    Have I mentioned that I love you?

    Thank you, Carmon, for introducing me to Sam.

  2. You tell ‘em!

    Yay you! Yay God!

    May His blessings abound, and deep respite be found.

  3. julie

    I love pretty much everything you write, but this….
    Thank you for speaking truth so eloquently, for being the voice of us who have none.
    I want to come visit your church.
    Blessings to you and your family.

  4. Anu Riley

    Okay, who the heck though he even deserved to be at your house, at your party given for YOU and not him—–and be around your family and friends—-and act like the most despicable party guest—-EVER??

    And use that kind of language, to boot—-not only in general but directed at the birthday boy himself, AND to his wife?

    The lines crossed here are too many to count, but I had to get that out. I feel better now :-).

  5. Anu Riley

    I remember watching Disney’s version of “Beauty and the Beast” years ago.

    The ” patriarchial, chest-thumping, posturing, posing” Gaston was a hot ticket (women fell all over him) but his ego would have nothing less than the “best.” Belle was the most beautiful woman in town and he deserved nothing less.

    He even had the nerve to plan his own wedding before even asking her to marry him.

    My favorite part was him trying to “woo” her with a description of their married life: she would be rubbing his feet in front of the fire. They would have all boys that looked just like him.

    The look of absolute horror and disgust on her face at his words, while trying to smile politely through it all—-was priceless.

    I’m not a fan of that movie anymore due to the well, absolute horror and disgust about a movie of a woman being imprisoned and then falling in love with her captor. No disrespect to anyone who likes that movie, please, this is just my personal thought.

    But even this child’s movie (though enjoyed by adults as well) knew that such a character, a supposed manly and attractive person, had a heart of stone. Not one shred of love for humanity was to be found in him.

    What’s funny is how the Hollywood world, usually viewed as being devoid of any morals—-can sometimes hit the nail on the head, whereas the church, supposedly ROOTED in morals—-needs many more nails to realize something so obvious:

    Don’t aim to be like Gaston. Aim to be like Christ.

    (Keep in mind that Gaston never got married and um, well met a terrible fate at the end. It’s not going to end well for anyone who follows in his footsteps)

  6. Anu Riley

    I’m so glad you’re such a wonderful cook and housekeeper. Male or female, those are darn good skills to have, and (news flash) not all females are “born with it!” I had to learn all these things and more from square one when I was well into my 20’s. And I’m still learning.

    A wonderful brother once talked about the non-existence of masculine and feminine Biblical roles. It got me to thinking about Christ foot-washing the feet of the disciples and commanding us to do the same.

    Foot washing was given to the lowest, most seemingly inferior servant. My hunch is that once that servant got a whiff (literally) of foot washing, he or she did everything possible to get through it as fast as possible, and get OUT of ever doing it again!

    My feet were so unkempt for so long that I had blisters, cracked and bleeding heels, and very ugly toenails. NOTHING like the pain of what your wife has or is experiencing, there is no comparison.

    But I was embarrassed by the obvious self-neglect. If I had been alive in Jesus’s time, I would have balked at letting anyone look at, much less wash my ugly feet. My feet, laid bare in all its “glory,” would repulse anyone.

    To serve is beautiful. To BE served is also beautiful. I feel so sorry for those who only value one over the other. They are missing out.

    Will pray for Susan. I can’t say for sure if she is like me in this: I know about pushing past your limit and not realizing that you even HAD a limit until you pushed past it.

  7. This is incredible. Raw. Unspeakably powerful. Thank you.

  8. k

    Dear Pastor Powell, You have been an incredible source of encouragement and strength in my life. I love you, but I also love how easy it is to look past you in your writing, to see a clearer picture of Jesus. (This is a gift, thank you for it!) It’s so humbling to me that in the midst of my trials that I am getting heartfelt encouragement from someone who is facing real, difficult and overwhelming trials of their own. I have not encouraged you enough. Thank you for being there. Thank you for being real and honest, and most of all … thank you for not obscuring the gospel, but for illuminating it. You are appreciated. So much.

    • Thank you for your beautiful words!

    • Z

      Dear Pastor Powell, K and everyone else who commented. I echo your sentiments about Pastor Powell’s incredible heart, humanity, wisdom, and just plain common sense-all of which are in short supply it seems among Pastors and church leaders these days. You, Pastor, have been a huge blessing and gift from above in my journey through the aftereffects of a lifetime of abuses. And that you share with us your God-given gift while fighting through your own family trials is all the more appreciated and admired. I love your plain-spokenness! You “tell it like it is” with no apologies. And you know what you’re talking about when you tell it! We can rely on your knowledge and your words. Never careless.
      So, I add my thank you to you to all the others’. You’re one of a kind. And my heart has been touched by your writing, the subject matter and your always evident heart for the hurting. What a gift the Lord gave to you. And what beautiful fruit you are showing the world with that gift. I’m so glad I found your blog at the time I did. I always look forward to your thoughts! On abusers hiding so easily in the church and anything else you chose to share with your readers. I personally love your unique sense of humor. Please know that you are making a real difference in the lives of people who need your voice. And of course, clearly in your family members’ lives. They are so blessed to have you! Mushroom risotto? Mmm. Blessed!
      Thank you again.

      • Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement. I truly appreciate it.
        The gospel is so beautiful and freeing and glorious and I am greatly blessed to be able to communicate it.

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