The first post in our series Worshipping God in the Real world is contributed by Theresa Froehlich. Theresa is a Certified Life Coach, an ordained minister, a native of Hong Kong, the mother of two grown children, and the wife of Hervey Froehlich’s.
“Why don’t you write a book about marriage?”Charles asked me as he dexterously snipped off strands of my hair with his scissors. This conversation began with me sharing with my Korean hairdresser about the book I have been writing as a result of the traumatic launch of our two children, now in their early 20’s.
“This is a book to show struggling parents how to stop parenting, let go and move on. The book grew out of my messy launching experience.”
At first hesitantly, he confided, “I have so many problems in my marriage. My wife of six years is leaving me and taking our one-year old daughter with her. She has yelled very abusive words at me numerous times and used expletives when she lost it with my parents. She has moved out and yet she feels I should be paying for her apartment and living expenses. I don’t want to get a divorce but she refuses to listen. I have hired a lawyer to fight for the custody of my daughter.”
“Does she speak any English? Does she have a green card?”
“She speaks only Korean. No, she doesn’t yet have a green card.”
“Charles! That must be very painful.”
As I finished paying for my haircut, I bowed in the Korean custom (even though I am not Korean) and promised to pray for him. He looked at me with gratitude and hope in his eyes, because another human being had taken the time to listen to his story, to enter into his pain, and to feel his heartache.
Pain has a way of opening my eyes to see the suffering around me and to visualize myself as the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. My own painful experiences have stripped away my self-centeredness and turned my eyes from the institutional church to the world, the community, and the individuals around me. After all, this is “the world” that God so loved that he gave his only Son.
Years of teaching adult Sunday School, leading Bible Study groups, and speaking at and attending retreats have all been very challenging, productive and enjoyable. Yet, something has been missing in my walk with Jesus Christ, the connection with those who do not darken the doors of the institutional church, the place where the Gospel of Jesus Christ can become animated in the daily conversations in the marketplace and the neighborhoods.
At times, I wondered if I need to take Communication 101 or re-read Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People in order to connect with those who don’t speak Christianese. After all, talking to non-Christians is somewhat like cross-cultural communication. I was pleasantly surprised that what people most appreciate is simply my attentive attitude and listening ear.