God doesn't require us to succeed; he only requires that you try.
- Mother Teresa
I had a moment last week.
The woman I've been staying with as a caregiver goes to a very VERY conservative church. We've had some "discussions" in the past, as I go to a church that she considers very much liberal, too much so (even though by MY standards it's very conservative and a step backwards from what I grew up in...but I digress.)
We've clashed (nicely and politely) about women's roles and worship styles. And I usually state how I feel and drop it because I figure she's not going to change her mind, but I don't want to keep silent on how I feel (for example that what's in your pants doesn't determine if you can actually be called to ministry. Yeah. Don't even get me started!).
After all, nearly 30 years separate us and she's had such rich life experiences. I'm always a little intimidated by that, and I always feel like women who are in her position would never listen to a woman like me -- never married, with no children, and in their eyes still too young to know anything.
However, we were at lunch the other day and she out of the blue said
"Lora, I'm just going to confess my sins to you."
She proceeded to tell me that she isn't a scholar of the Bible "like she should be". She reads her Bible regularly, and she loves and trusts God, but she doesn't feel like she's ever been good at studying the word, or at anything for that matter.
This actually goes on for awhile and I let her get it off her chest.
And when she is done, I simply said
"I don't think you have to be."
I went on to back up that statement by saying this:
- by going to church and Bible study you are learning from people who ARE Biblical scholars (hopefully)
- we're not all called to be scholars. Some of us have the gift of prayer, of hospitality, of caring for others.
- that whole scripture about different parts of the body? Yeah, so being a scholar isn't your strength. You're not a head. Neither am I. You're a mouth, or an arm...and that's ok!
- I think at some point you just have to let the guilt go and realize that God is pleased with you just the way He created you.
I went on to explain that I grew up in a church and environment that was very legalistic and focused on the wrong things. And that I had let it go, and began focusing on what's really important--the relationship. And as long as my focus is on that, everything else just falls into place.
She was silent at this.
We continued our meal, and the conversation organically progressed to other things. I was certain that my words had fallen upon deaf ears as I've so often thought in conversing with her.
However, about 20 minutes and 5 topics later she said:
"You know...I think you're right."
And I wanted to stand and shout right then and there. Because somehow my words helped another woman just lay down some of the guilt. And let it go.
(and maybe she doesn't think I'm such a heathen after all).
My fervent prayer is that I can continue to reach out in the small things.