I present this with all of the love and Christian charity I can muster, but if I ever hear the following churchy phrases again, it will be too soon. And if you use them around me in the year of 2015, I will give you the “Ouiser Boudreaux.”

1. She’s earning jewels for her crown in heaven.

0461240_11026_MC_Tx304Wait, there are crowns and a system of jewels? Is this like a Kay Jeweler Add a Charm, bracelet thing? Can I request an all emerald edition? But seriously, I’ve never heard this phrase used in regards to anything except our own egos. And it denotes a creepy kind of “earning it” theology that is misplaced. Even more disturbing, we Christian folk love to use this monarchy platitude to talk about working with the poor:

Church Lady 1: Well, you know she’s always showing up to work at the food pantry!

Church Lady 2: Jewels for her crown in heaven!

Yikes.

 

2. You just need to love on them/your parishioners/your pastor.

You just need to respect my space bubble. And tell me about the Gospel from at least 2 feet away. I will hear you better. Trust me.

 

3. You can, you will.

You can’t. You won’t. Thanks, Tullian Tchividjian.

 

4. God is good, all the time.

So is gin. But that’s a terrible thing to say to someone who is experiencing real pain. When I worked in hospital ministry, I cannot tell you how many times I heard this at the bedside of some very sick people. Well meaning friends or family would offer this religious version of “keep your chin up” to someone hooked up to a ventilator. In those moments, it was the least comforting way to talk about God. So I’m striking this one from the record. And suggesting that maybe we should just listen to heartache and pain in lieu of offering an overused catchphrase?

god-loves-you-and-has-a-wonderful-plan1

5. Children in church make holy noise.

Nope. As the mother of two little ones, I will be the first to tell you that kids are just noisy. And that’s okay. We don’t have to justify the fact that our kids should be in church. They are loud. They are sinful. And they need to hear the message of Grace just like all of the taller people in the room. Let’s all stop pretending they sound like the Peanuts choir. Its untrue and a little condescending.

 

6. Your husband is the spiritual head of the household.

I mean sure. When he’s not being the full time employee, deeply romantic lover, and ever patient father. Then he pulls out the Holy Scriptures and sits in front of the bonfire to explain the Incarnation to the whole family. In the meantime, I’m around the kiddos more, and thanks to Martin Luther, Paul Zahl, St. Sally Lloyd Jones and the Gospel, I am as well equipped as anyone could be to answer their spiritual inquiries.

 

7. God has a plan for your life.

I love Jeremiah 29.11 as much as the next Church Lady, but when the prophet tells us, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with a hope,” he says nothing about life being easy. There is no mention a bigger house, a blissful marriage, or even a cancer free life. God simply promises to give us hope. And here’s the well known secret: We’ve already been given our life’s plan in the person of Jesus Christ. God’s plan for our lives started and ended on the cross. Not in the Beemer parking lot.

See also St. Paul to those Romans:

And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.