I have this thing I say… well I have a couple, but not all of them are ones I’d share here. This is one that my friend Brenda and I would bat around when we were faced with something we didn’t want to do. I’d say to her “I really don’t want to go to this leadership training” and she’d say back to me “Well, that probably means God has something big for you to take away from it.” or she’d say “Ugh! I just don’t have time for this meeting this afternoon.” Well there was no denying that God wanted her to listen up. There’s just something about that moment of “Do I have to?” that God uses to speak to us, to show us what we miss when we don’t take the time to listen to him in whatever form that is.
THAT has been me this week. Sunday came and went and I didn’t even open my email from Proverbs introducing the weeks Bible lesson. Monday, same thing. Tuesday I opened all 3 emails in between clients at our food bank, and then… tucked them into a folder. Wednesday came and I was panicked. Nothing done, nothing read, and blog hop… the thing I’m good at, one day ahead. So I squeezed in a chapter after Masterchef, and another after Big Brother. Not exactly a focused read.
I start reading Chapter 2, and instantly I know why I didn’t want to read it. It’s titled Hearing God’s Voice. This has always been something of a mystery to me. I’ve struggled time and time again with wondering if what I’m hearing is God speaking to me, or my own thoughts leading me to testy waters. My friend Oscar Roan (FANTASTIC Motivational Speaker and ex NFL-er… if you’re ever looking for a special guest speaker for something… just saying) tells stories of these incredible conversations he has with God. They go like this “I said to God….., and God said “Oscar…..”. It always leaves me wondering what I’m missing. Why don’t I have those kinds of conversations with God?
But…then again… maybe I have, and I just don’t want to recognize it for what it is.
4 years ago, when The Hubs and I moved to the states, we did so as laypeople. Non-Ministers ministering to broken people. And it was fantastic. We were doing God’s work, and it was in a zone that was more then comfortable to me. But all our co workers (except for one other couple) WERE ministers. And it wasn’t long before the question was posed. “Why don’t you guys become ministers too?” WHAT?!?!? Truthfully, I was offended. Were they implying I couldn’t do as good a job just because I wasn’t a minister?! I’ve grown up in the church, known PLENTY of ministers, and… well… there were some that I in NO way wanted to be lumped together with. Truth be told, I had my own hang ups and hurts that tripled every time someone asked why we didn’t just go ahead and become ministers.
It got very difficult to be around these people, to feel like they were thinking less of me because I wasn’t “One of them”. and the question came more and more frequently. We’d go to work retreats, and it would be the topic of a sermon, or focus of a workshop. We’d get together with friends, and it would be the topic of conversation… it was as if everywhere I turned, there it was… staring me in the face.
See where I’m going with this?
When our center closed, it was again the topic of discussion, and I had a moment where, when being a minister was an option given to me like being offered a job at McDonalds I was SO hurt and SO frustrated I got in the car with the Hubs and said “NEVER!”
I bet you know where I’m going with that one too, right? Way smarter people then me have learned over the years… never say never.
When The Hubs came to me and said, I want to return to my former life as a minister (remember last weeks #YestoGod post?), once the initial shock was over, I remember having what I thought was a one sided conversation with God one sleepless night. It went something like this… “God, I can’t do this. This is the Hubs calling, not mine. I can’t do… that stuff. I am not a public speaker. Crowds scare me to the point of paralyses. This doesn’t just count for public speaking… but for everything where words are expected to flow from my brain to my mouth. (Sidenote: I once told my pastor that if she asked me to participate in the service, we would no longer be friends… and I was only half joking). God… this is SO far out of my comfort zone that its just out of the question. I can’t preach, I can’t get up there in front of people… lead a group… out of the question!
So when we arrived here, and met with the church leaders from the province, I know the question that I’ve dreaded is coming again, and I’m ready with all the old answers. Except instead of asking why wasn’t I a minister, the question was “How do you know its not what your supposed to do?” and I think… ok… now’s your chance. Be honest. Give it to him straight. And I did. I told him that I couldn’t preach. That I couldn’t lead groups. That I wasn’t made for that kind of thing. and he looked at me and said “Who says you have to do those things?”
My parents, my In-laws, my husband… they all do those things that scare me beyond belief… My In-laws were leaders of a multi state territory. Just watching THEM climb the stage at an event made me break out into a cold sweat and I was just in the audience. What did he mean I didn’t have to do those things?!?
He went on to explain that our church has, in the last few years realized that there are people out there who have many talents, and can be used in ways that they never have been before. They have a training program for those people called Field-Based Tailored Training, and it recognizes the work people have done in ministry, the reality of family life, and the special needs of some people. It involves working in the field (something I’ve done for the last 10 years) and distance learning classes.
As I sat there processing what he was telling me, I could see the Hubs glancing at me through the corner of his eye. When we got to the car after our meeting, he turned to me and said “Well? What do you think? It’s the first time you haven’t exploded when someone talked to you about it?” and for the first time, I took a breath and said “I’m willing to listen”.
Two things happened when I came home. The first? I told my mom and she said “I knew about the training and was hoping someone would mention it to you”. Interesting. The second? While I was logged into facebook telling my mom about the conversation, my feed updated, and a post from one of my friends about an online Bible study caught my eye. When I read the title was “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God”, there wasn’t really an option at that point. I needed to do this, I needed clarity.
I haven’t run into this one #palmsup, but I’m open… that’s what I can do for now… be open.