Tell What You Have Seen #ifgathering2016
A few weeks ago I hosted an IF:Local for a small group of women. This was my 3rd time to participate in IF. The first year was just me and my computer watching the livestream in the middle of the night when everyone else in my house was asleep. The second year was with our church (at the time), and this year we met at the BSU on the campus of ENMU. I feel personally connected to IF, even though I have no connections other than as a participant, because about 10 years ago God gave me a dream and IF seems like the promise of that dream coming to be. Anyway, this year Shelley Giglio was one of the speakers. When she was finished speaking I told my discussion group, “If I were a speaker, my talks would be very much like Shelley’s. She is pretty even-tempered, as am I. She didn’t use lots and lots of words with big elaborate stories, jokes, or examples…which is totally my style. She said what she needed to say, and it was meaningful and important and to the point.” Maybe that’s why her few minutes during the two day shebang has stayed with me most vividly.
She was speaking on the passage in John 20 when Mary was at the tomb and Jesus wasn’t there, but then Jesus appears to her, the first person to see him after his resurrection. Shelley pointed out that Mary didn’t recognize him until he called her name (vs 15-16). For some reason the fact that him calling her name was what opened her eyes to the truth of who he was had never stood out to me before. Isn’t that beautiful. Jesus calls to us personally, by name, and we see him for who he truly is.
Shelley also mentioned, as people usually do, that the first person to see Jesus alive again was a woman. But Shelley also said that sometimes women have a hard time figuring out their place in the kingdom, but women have a significant place with Jesus. I identified with this so deeply that I will never forget it. I DO have a hard time finding my place because I don’t have “typical” women gifts. I feel like the tradition I was raised in tries to pigeon-hole women into serving with children or serving through hospitality or food based ministries. So for MANY years, well my whole adult life really, I’ve tried to figure out my place because I’ve tried to fit my square peg into the round hole of children and hospitality, but time and time again I struggle knowing those are good things but not MY things. Please don’t hear me saying that I am unwilling to serve in those capacities. I have always volunteered to serve with children, but not on an every Sunday basis. I am more than willing to invite others into our home, and we do so often. I have always brought food when I’m asked to do so. It’s not that I am unwilling. It’s just when I serve in those ways, I feel I have no gifts because it becomes so clear that those things are not how God gifted me.
For some reason, as a youth and college student I was more free in the area in which I served. I never felt this tension, and as a result, I understood my gifts and used them with passion. I led my first small group for 8th grade girls when I was a junior in high school; I was an intern for my former youth group after my first year of college; I led a ministry team in my college ministry that worked with the youth group. When I married, my husband was a youth minister and I continued to lead in these ways for several more years.
But around the time my 2nd child was born, I started feeling the tension, that in order to fulfill my role as a woman of God, I needed to be serving in a different capacity. So I tried, and I slowly lost my confidence in who God created me to be. I was now serving on our MOPS leadership team, and as the MOPS coordinator there was once a month when I could address our group and try to share something to try and disciple these women in our midst. That once a month I felt like I was doing what I was called to do, but all other times I was just SO very grateful to God for allowing me to work with the best team ever. The women I served with on the MOPS team were and still are such an awesome, creative, loving, self-less group of women. I love them so!
The straw that broke the camels back (if you will) was when my husband decided to leave ministry and pursue teaching and coaching. We had to move. I had said "Anything" but was devastated in more ways than one; however, he felt called to this. He sees it as much of a ministry as vocational youth ministry and treats it as such. He is so good with those kids, and he has always been better at incorporating his faith into everyday mundane tasks than I will ever hope to achieve. His students know his faith is real and come to him with questions. He really is doing what God has asked him to do. But when he left ministry, I felt like I lost my place. I truly thought I would be a minister’s wife till the day I died. I felt my gifts were validated because they also had the “minister’s wife” title attached to them. I thought, “How can I lead now?” “No one will take me seriously because now I have no credentials.” (Don’t worry I see the flaws in that, I am validated because I have placed my trust in Jesus not because of a position.)
It’s been a crazy year and a half trying to navigate my way in this new station in life, but God showed me his “enough-ness” while hosting IF:Local this year. I really didn’t want to host this year, but when Jadee Isler tagged me on facebook one day because at the time there were no New Mexico IF:Local sites, I caved and signed up to host again. For the last 6 months or so, my family has been attending a church in a nearby community that my husband’s cousin planted a few years ago. We really wanted to go out there and support him and their mission. The church is meeting in a theater, and the wi-fi was insufficient to host IF. I was really feeling like we should try to host it at the college. I emailed the BSU director one day and told him, “I know you don’t know who I am, I know you don’t know what IF is, but here is some information. Is there any way we could host this at the BSU?” At first, I thought he was so skeptical it would never work out. But to get to the point, it did work out. God showed up, and brought ladies together from several different churches, different age groups, different towns and we are the better for it.
…Back to Shelley Giglio’s message…
The first thing Jesus told Mary to do was to go and tell what she had seen. So Shelley told US, “You have to be able to tell what you have seen.” I have seen God restore my hope. I have seen God renew my purpose. I have seen God make a way when it seemed unlikely. I have seen God be enough.