Chatty Cathies and Water Cannons

I have a very sweet friend whose young adult daughter is going to have a baby within the next few weeks. My friend, (whom we’ll call “Darci” for the sake of this post … I’ve always liked that name), is ecstatic to be having a grandchild to spoil. All the joyful preparations are being made for the arrival of this little angel. And if I know Darci as I think I do, this little one will lack for nothing. He (or she?) will be wrapped in the softest, pinkest, (or bluest) cotton baby blanket ever woven. This tiny bundle of hope and innocence will be dressed in what I’m sure will be the cutest little baby clothes ever conceived by the mind of man … (or more likely, woman … they’re better than us guys at that sort of thing). He or she will dine on the finest strained peas and squashed bananas that ever came out of a Gerber jar and got spat up on Mommy’s shoulder. And if he’s a boy, I’m sure he’ll be dawning a little cowboy hat and politically incorrect play pistols in no time … and good for him! Conversely, if she’s a little girl … well, you know that little princess outfit, complete with the ruby bejeweled tiara will be making its appearance before you can say, “Walt Disney Collector’s Edition DVD box set!” Not only this, but you can bet that he or she will have the most perfectly furnished nursery with all the latest super hip baby accoutrements, and the softest, cleanest, most comfortable, and safest baby crib that money can buy … not to mention enough toys and “binkies” to stock a Babies R Us warehouse three times over!

This all sounds so wonderful, doesn’t it? And it is, isn’t it? So then why is my dear sweet friend with a heart of gold feeling anything less than 100% ecstatic about this life-changing blessing coming down the chute? (No pun intended … ok, you’re smarter than that … you know it was! I couldn’t stop myself!) Well, she is VERY excited about the little baby, and about her daughter becoming what Darci and all of us know will be a wonderful mom. But here’s the catch … her daughter, while an adult in her early 20s I believe, is not married … yet. It’s in the works, but still not quite official. And my good friend, Darci, is a pastor … and she’s feeling the squeeze. Not the squeeze of a crappy judgmental attitude about her adult daughter who made adult choices. Not the squeeze of shame and guilt … Darci is much too intimate with God’s infinite grace to be knocked down by that deception. (She knows all too well that there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” – Rom. 8:1). The squeeze is coming from some of the “Chatty Cathies” around her who seem to think the ground’s going to open up and swallow us whole because of the unfortunate timing of things; and that it’s their job to set things right … or at least badger someone (i.e. Darci and her husband) until they do. To put it plainly, they’re wearing her out. Here’s how she described it in an email seeking some prayer support from friends, “Yes, it is my unmarried daughter who is having the baby. That makes us love and support her no less; but did I mention, I’m a pastor. Talk about being in the meat grinder. We are moving forward; but oh, how judgmental some people are.” (She even threw in a nice plug for my blog with the “meat grinder” thing … thanks, Darci!) I can just hear the “Chatty Cathies” now … “Well, Darci, didn’t you teach your daughter the right ways?” or “Darci, do you really think this sets the right example?” or “Darci, you are going to address this in front of the congregation, aren’t you? I mean, people are talking, Darci” … (as if all families should be required to air their dirty laundry in front of the church).

I’m not suggesting that Darci’s daughter and her fiancé, (who from all accounts is a stand-up guy who’s currently in the process of “making it right”), made all the best choices at all the best times. But who among us HAS? Certainly not me.

I’ve written before about the 2 x 4 that sticks out of my own eye when I blare the spotlight on the speck of sawdust in yours. And I could easily go there again here, but that might be redundant. So I’ll just say this … one of God’s greatest attributes is the fact that he falls all over himself to see something good, a spark of light, in every single one of us … including Darci’s lovely daughter. He knows this because he’s the one who put the spark there in the first place. And then he falls all over himself to fan that spark into a full-blown four-alarm house-burning flame. Yeah, he knows there’s already a bunch of crap in there that he has to wade through to get to the good. And yes, he also knows that the darkness that surrounds it is almost overwhelming, and threatens to drown that fragile little fire out at every turn. But if you read that last sentence carefully, you’d notice that you read that it’s ALMOST overwhelming … in other words, not quite overwhelming enough to prevail. God’s grace is bigger. That is, unless a church pew full of “Chatty Cathies” takes a water cannon to the flame of one of their own, rather than fanning it with the merciful breath of God’s (unconditional) love. If we choose the cannon … it can and will extinguish the fire … and the light that goes with it. But here’s the deal … water can be quite unruly and unpredictable. When you shoot it at someone else’s flame, it has a nasty habit of splashing back and dousing your own.

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8 Responses to Chatty Cathies and Water Cannons

  1. Lynnea says:

    I can think of nothing better than a new baby for God to love, especially one who will grow up loving him back.

    • randyneff says:

      Beautifully stated, Lynnea. Sometimes we go WAY off the deep end on things in full blown reaction mode … not understanding that there are a whole lot of worse things that could happen.

      It may not be the absolute ideal circumstance, but God is SO ready, willing, and able to create a wonderful outcome if we’ll only trust him and let him do his thing.

  2. Treva says:

    First off..I love Randy Neff..and he loves you do I ! God is good all the time ! Let the “chatties” chat..they will and focus on the new baby and your family..we all will pray ..all my best…peace to all


    • randyneff says:

      I love you too, Trev! Thank you for being my kind and sweet friend … and for
      being a part of this thing, too. I’m so happy to have you in the family!

      I hope you’re doing great.

  3. Trisha says:

    Last time I checked….a sin is a sin is a sin….and none of us are immune. Jesus died for our sins…period. Chatty Cathies are everywhere but for some reason congregate in the church. Heaven knows coming from a non-churched family, I’ve experienced my fair share of Cathy. As hurtful as they can be I try to remember the same Jesus that died for my sins…..died for theirs too.

    God Bless Randy and thanks for the work you do!

    • randyneff says:

      Thank you so much, Trisha. What a nice thing to say.
      I’m very happy that you stopped by my blog and offered
      your thoughts. Please come again soon!

  4. Anita G Hitchcock says:

    I know I read this when you first posted it, I just re read it again. I do that often with your blogs. They make me think and are an inspiration. You are so right, none of us are perfect, we all make mistakes and we all sin , but it is to God we go to, we put our TRUST and LOVE in God and he will take that tiny spark and with his constant tending it becomes that full blown four alarm house fire. Chatty Cathys are everywhere, but I always told my daughters its not important what someone else thinks or says, you and GOD know the truth. I wish your friend and her daughter all the best. Already know the baby will have it.

    • randyneff says:

      Thank you for such wonderful insights, Anita. It makes me very proud and brings much gratification to know that you’re a part of this family. Please stick around!

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