Today I am thankful for the nudges God gives us… and the times He has to hit us over the head to make us listen.
“I don’t have the time. I’ve got too much on my plate already, and taking on something else right now will just be too much for me. I don’t want this responsibility, Lord. I just don’t!”
Those words have played over and over in my mind. In fact, they’ve become a bit of a mantra over the past five months or so, beating their rhythm into my head and pounding my skull with their insistence. A million reasons have run through my mind as to why I can’t take on another job at this point—I mean, one person can only do so much! But God has other plans….
Months ago, at one of our church’s weekly prayer times, my pastor’s wife shared that she truly felt we needed to offer support to the single mothers in our community. She talked about the strain and the pressure that single moms face and the judgement that many feel they will encounter in the Christian community, particularly those who have had children out of wedlock.
Those of us there agreed wholeheartedly, me included, and we discussed it for a while. I even suggested that having it on Wednesday night might make it easier for single moms to attend since we offer programs for children and youth on Wednesday nights, as well as nursery services. I thought back to my own childhood when my mother was a single mom, and it seemed like such a great idea. I truly hoped that someone would step up and offer to take over the idea and run with it. But nobody did, and so it kind of fell to the side.
Over that next week, I thought about it a good bit. Daily, in fact. I wrestled with it, and I tried to figure out why it wouldn’t leave me alone. Part of me knew why, but I had so much on my plate that it felt like even thinking about it was overwhelming. We talked about it briefly at our next prayer time, but still no one stepped up.
As time went on, the idea seemed to disappear. At least, it seemed to disappear for everyone else. For me, it would pop in my mind when I least expected it. And every time it did, it felt so overwhelming. I mean, I do freelance editing—not a job with any stability or financial gain and it certainly takes a ton of time and effort to find work—as well as homeschool my two kids, teach middle school writing online, and run the social media and websites for my two personal websites and the church already, not to mention keeping up with all the other “mom” duties a regular mom encounters daily. My plate is FULL. The mere thought of adding another responsibility is enough to make me want to run for the hills, so the idea of finding a way to make this support group happen was just too much for me.
But even so, the Lord wouldn’t let it go. It kept on popping up. Over and over and over again. And each time I argued right back to the Lord. “Lord, I know I graduated with a Master’s degree in counseling. I know I have experience running groups. I get it, but wouldn’t a woman who has been a single mom be a better person for the job? Wouldn’t it be better for someone with more church experience to do this? I mean, I’m so new at this! I don’t know enough to be the one leading an entire group of women who need You and need me to show them the way to find comfort in You? I barely know how to do that myself! I’m so intrinsically human. SO human. And my plate is just too full to take on something else. I can’t even think about it without feeling overwhelmed. It will be too much. I don’t want this responsibility, Lord. I just don’t!”
Things finally tapered off, and I thought maybe the Lord had found someone else to do it. I thought I had been right in my arguments. After all, wasn’t I being a bit conceited to think the Lord would pick me to run a group that is so needed in our community. I mean, I’m a relatively new Christian, and my three and a half years as a Christian don’t compare to the people who have been walking this pathway for decades. They have more experience, and I had only been driving myself crazy. Whew! I didn’t have to worry after all.
But then it happened.
This past Sunday after the morning service, as my kids and I were walking out the side door to leave, an older gentleman (who will remain nameless) came up behind me. Nonchalantly, he asked, “What, can’t you get that husband of yours out of bed on Sundays mornings to come to church?”
As his words knocked me in the face, the red-headed country girl temper in me creeped up in my throat. You see, my husband works every Sunday morning. In fact, when he got this job, we decided to change churches to a church that offered evening services as well so that we could still spend time together with the Lord in church each week. That’s how we came to join our current church a year and a half ago, and that’s how I came to be standing there listening to this man’s judgment.
“My husband works every Sunday,” I replied as calmly as I could. As the man hurried past me, I continued, “Actually, my husband gets up at 3:30 every morning to go to work, so getting him up isn’t a problem.”
“Then I apologize,” he said and hurried away, never looking at me.
And as I walked to the car with my kids, I’ll honestly admit that the bile in my throat grew and grew and grew. I choked on it all afternoon. I mean, what did that man expect to gain from such a comment? Did he want me to go home and tell my husband his rude comment and then expect that would somehow urge my husband out of bed each Sunday—especially since he wasn’t even there? Did he think it would make me laugh? What on Earth would be funny about that? Did he think his judgment of my husband—of my family!—was justified? He doesn’t even know us! He’s never spoken to me before that horrible comment! What—I mean, WHAT—could he have possibly thought to achieve with that absolutely ridiculous question?
And as I sat there wracking my brain trying to find out what on Earth the purpose of that stupid question was, it hit me. It REALLY hit me. It whacked me over the head like a ten-ton truck full of concrete blocks. THAT was what single moms faced all the time. THAT was what it was like to go to church and have someone judge me because I didn’t have a husband with me. THAT was what I needed to kick me in the hind end and get my blood boiled enough so that I would finally listen to what the Lord wanted me to do. It was time for me to step up and do what He had been nudging me to do for months. Someone needed to show single moms that there was a place beyond judgment—not in the church, but in Christ.
Now, I don’t tell you this to make you think you can’t come to my church or any other church without judgment being passed. Over the last year and a half, I have been loved more at this church than I can even explain. But every church is made of people, and, being people, the members are just as human as you or me. For that reason alone, I can’t say that you won’t experience judgment, either. After all, there are bad apples everywhere, and church is no exception. I mean, if we weren’t sinners, we wouldn’t need a Savior. What I can say is that you’ll also find love. You’ll find genuine people who genuinely care, and if you find a church anywhere with that, then you’ve found a treasure.
What I can also say is that the Lord used that man’s words to spur me into taking an action He’s been pushing me towards for months. You see, the Lord knows that 90% of my life has been lived as a result of my temper sparking some flame and fanning it until it blazed. Some would say it’s the Irish in me, but I say it’s just who I am with a bit of backing from the Holy Ghost. God knows me, inside and out, and He knew if I wasn’t going to answer Him the easy way that He’d have to do it the hard way. And I’m glad He did.
So, as scary as it seems to me today and as little time as I have to breath, I know my path is being led by Someone much bigger and wiser than me. And I am grateful—and glad—that He doesn’t give up and that He nudges me ever onward. And I’m also thankful He doesn’t mind hitting me upside the head when He needs to in order to get me to listen to the nudging I ignore or avoid. That’s the amazing thing about being a Christian. We get to make our own choices, but when we ask the Lord to take over and lead the way—something I have begged for over the last three and a half years—then He takes the lead. Sometimes He may have to nudge us. Sometimes He may have to hit us with a ton of bricks. But isn’t it an amazing thing that He cares so much about each of us that He will.
“Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” Psalm 73: 23-24
Shared on the Hearts for Home Blog Hop for November 2, 2016: http://www.yearroundhomeschooling.com/hearts-home-blog-hop-november-2nd/