I was asked to give a talk to a ladies Bible class at church this summer, about living with unfulfilled desires. Single people learn to be wary of invitations to address such topics. It’s like the facilitators look around and say, “Where is our token single person who can say that God is enough and all is sweetness and light?” Even though I know the women I go to church with are way beyond that sort of nonsense, still it gave me pause.
I spent a considerable amount of time mulling the whole proposition over, as in, “Well, this is humiliating.” I considered a few possibilities – you know, giving them what they asked for, but not taking any risks. For example, I could go the platitude route – that’s always safe. Boring, but safe. I could highlight a biblical character whose desires were thwarted at every turn. There’s no shortage of material there either. Or I could choose a book and summarize the main concepts. Again, doable.
But after a half dozen false starts, I had to admit that none of the crap I was tempted to dispense had anything to do with real life. There was no spirit of God in any of it. So, finally I took a deep breath and plunged in, deciding to tell my own story. Which is a true one, though not exactly safe. It’s a story of how the two of us, God and I, faced off, after many years of pain and anger. I knew without a doubt that he wanted me to tell it.
I have to say that the evening I stood before those beautiful faces and related that story, I felt a sense of peace that I know I would never have felt had I chosen an easier route. I really think that God wants us to share our stories because we are all in this world together and need to help each other. If we don’t, it’s like each of us has to invent fire all over again. What kind of a community is that?
It’s taken a long time, but I am deciding that it’s all right just to be myself, that the only person whose approval is really essential is God’s. Not that I don’t forget that nearly every single day, but it’s getting easier.