Women of Faith, Sandi Patty, and Me

Many of you have probably heard about the huge, national annual women's conference "Women of Faith." Believe me, when I say "huge," I mean sold-out-the-Excel-Center huge...more estrogen packed into stadiums around the country than you would EVER want to experience! Up until this year, I had never been before - and believe me, I was perfectly fine with that. 20,000 females in one place is not my idea of a particularly good time.
Yet somehow this year, I got suckered into going. Well, not suckered exactly. I kind of got myself into it. A friend from work had extra tickets, so I spamed out an email asking if anybody wanted to go. My mother-in-law felt like God was telling her to go, so I told her I would go with her. NOT for the conference, mind you, but for the opportunity to spend some good bonding time with her.
We got there Saturday morning and found our seats...very back balcony, very back row...and gazed out over the sea of hairdos, taking in the smells of mini donuts mixed with perfume & hairspray. "Oh God," I thought to myself, "This is going to be a long day."
Now, many of you are familiar with my "issues" with a certain Australian singer by the name of Rebecca St. James. (I'm not going to go into that - that's another blog.) But you probably don't know about my issues with another singer/songwriter, Sandi Patty. If you don't know anything about Sandi Patty, don't feel so bad. She was "big" when I was "little." I used to be a part of her "Friendship Company" where I would receive newsletters and tapes with children's music on it. I thought she was great. My style of music has since changed, and blaring soprano vibrato just doesn't do it for me anymore.
Probably about 12 years ago, Sandi Patty was busted for cheating on her husband. It rocked the CCM industry pretty hard since she was so well known. Ever since I found out about this - as young as I was - I have had extreme issues with her and her music. The mention of her name would send shivers up my back. Some people said she had repented, but of course she's going to "repent," I figured, because her reputation was at stake! Anyhow, that's my rant.
Go figure that one of the key note speakers at Saturday's conference was - you guessed it - Sandi Patty.
When it came time for Sandi to speak, I was in my seat thinking, "Oh Lord, please let this be over soon." She came out in all her pomp and makeup and sang an outrageous rendition of "Crown Him with Many Crowns" to which all God's menopausal women erupted in an equally as obnoxious thunder of applause and cheering. Sandi blew kisses to the crowd and I just rolled my eyes, thinking of a what a two-faced, phony, blasphemous person she was.
Shortly thereafter, she started getting into her message. And as much as I hated to admit it, she was pretty funny. She did this hilarious Barbara Streisand impersonation that I tried SO HARD not to laugh at...but it was really good.
What really surprised me, though, was when she started talking about the one topic I thought she would surely avoid - her affair. She made it very clear to the crowd of women that she had made a decision - a wrong decision - and that it was nobody's fault but her own. She talked about how she walked around in self-condemnation, feeling as though she had a big scarlet letter on her chest. Then she talked about repentance, restitution, and Biblical restoration. My jaw was hanging off the balcony by the time she was done as I realized this woman really had repented, and I continued to judge her.
As she was closing, she told a story of how shortly after everything went down, she wanted to go to church, but everywhere she went people would recognize her and reject her. Finally one Sunday, she went to a church she had never been to before where she was fairly sure nobody would recognize her. She went into the balcony and sat way up in the corner, hoping nobody would come by to greet her and ask her her name. The pastor preached on grace, and as he drew to a close he spoke to the visitors: "I know there are some of you out there who would love to get to know everybody around you, and then there are others of you who just want to sit in the back row of the balcony and be unnoticed. Just know that even if that's you, God is with you there, and He forgives you." God was speaking to her.
Then Sandi said, "maybe there are those of you here today who have your own issues, be it something as big as what I did or something as little as hurt or bitterness. I want you to know that even if you're in the very back row of the balcony in this place, God is there with you, and He forgives you."
OH MY GOODNESS! By this time my mother-in-law was poking and teasing me...sitting in the back row of the balcony...clinging to the bitterness I just wanted to hang on to...but having to laugh at God's creative way of getting my attention to an area of pride in my life. God has such a sense of humor!
Don't get me wrong, I'm still not going to run out and buy her CD...but I'm sure not going to speak out against God's annointed anymore! Thank you Lord for teaching me that funny lesson!


Deb said...

Oh man. That's so funny, I have to read it again.

Chris Good said...

Wow that was pretty great...I know that I felt that same way about Willow Creek...then I went there...and yeah...well...er...I was wrong about that place too.

Anonymous said...

i know you wrote this 9 years ago but I would just like to say that I can relate to you as a believer and the outcasted singer, Sandi Patty. I was just thinking about her and how the church rejected her. Although my case is a bit different, I want to tell you that your honest recount of how you felt before during and after gives me hope that Christian people don't mean to be such hard-hearted separatists. I have not been so emotionally wounded as I can not recover, but a friend of mine suffers to this day from so much real and imagined condemnation. It drives me crazy to listen to how much churchy jargon she spouts when speaking about how disappointed God is in her.

I enjoyed reading this. Thanks.