Monday night was my last night with our ladies’ group here at church before our move. I was pretty emotional right beforehand, but the Lord gave grace during the evening to handle it all well. I was really, really hoping not to cry in front of people. I know this will sound silly and vain, but one time when I was crying when I was little, I caught sight of myself in a mirror and was shocked. It wasn’t pretty. 🙂 Not that I am obsessed with being pretty, but it wasn’t the elegant crying you see on TV, the quiet dabbing at the corner of the eye with one’s handkerchief. It was red, screwed-up face, runny nose, blubbering, snorting, and gasping. And from that moment on I hoped to never cry in front of others. Even with that, the Lord gave grace to just not worry about it, that we’d just deal with whatever happened — but I am really glad He helped me not to cry. 🙂
OK, enough silliness about crying..
The ladies were incredibly generous to me. They gave me an arrangement of beautiful pink-edged roses…
And a copy of one of my favorite hymns done in calligraphy in different shades of pink by one of the ladies:
They also gave me a gift card from Michael’s to help decorate our new home and gift cards to Outback for an outing with the family. I joked with them that I should leave more often since it is so rewarding. 🙂 But probably the most treasured gift is a little booklet done in the style of the ladies’ booklet I have done for almost ten years with notes to me from several of the ladies as well as many of our missionaries and some scattered quotes and poems.
I was blessed reading over that Monday night when I got home and I know I will enjoy going over it again and again. It was gratifying to know that some of the goals I had for the group had been accomplished and a blessing to see that the Lord had used the ladies’ ministry in many ways.
I have to confess at first that I was incredibly nervous about being honored in front of people. I am often terribly self-conscious in groups, even to the point of not being able to raise my hand to answer a question, so the thought of having everyone’s attention directed toward me in that way was uncomfortable, to say the least. And then the thought of having what I do highlighted nearly sent me into a panic attck. It’s funny, if someone compliments my cooking or decorating, and I can just say “thank you” and move on, but if someone compliments something I do in the way of ministry, I had this strange idea that that was taking away from the Lord receiving glory for it, especially if I took pleasure in being complimented for it. I wrestled with that in one of my earliest posts here. But over the last week, the Lord helped me come to terms with that enough to be able face the evening graciously. I was going to devote a whole post to thinking through all of that, but there just hasn’t been time to write it out. But one thing that helped was this quote from C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity:
Pleasure in being praised is not Pride. The child who is patted on the back for doing a lesson well, the woman whose beauty is praised by her lover, the saved soul to whom Christ says, “Well done,” are all pleased and ought to be. For here the pleasure lies not in what you are but in the fact that you have pleased someone you wanted (and rightly wanted) to please. The trouble begins when you pass from thinking, “I have pleased him; all is well,” to thinking, “What a fine person I must be to have done it.”
Then I wrote to my good friend Susan for some help in gaining the right perspective, and she encouraged me to just graciously accept it as an expression of love and the ladies desire to be a blessing to me.
I also remembered something a former pastor’s wife shared in an officer’s meeting for a ladies’ group — she was emphasizing the need to speak up when giving reports to the group, because it wasn’t doing anyone any good to stand up in front of people to say something if no one could hear you, and she made the statement that self-consciousness is consciousness of self, and we’re supposed to forget self (let me just say, lest anyone take that the wrong way out of context, she wasn’t talking about forgetting self to the point of becoming a doormat and never having a will or desires of your own, but she was making the point that self-consciousness is fed by too much focus on self.)
Then Monday morning, several of the verses from Daily Light spoke of not being afraid or dismayed, because the Lord was with me, and even though those verses were talking about vastly different circumstances, they were a help.
There is a balance between doing things “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men” (Ephesians 6:6-7) and “[Letting] your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). I hope I was able to justly point the glory for any good accomplished to the Lord. I tried to share I Peter 4: 10-11: “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” both as a means of showing that anything I did was “as of the ability which God giveth” and to encourage whoever takes up the ladies’ ministry next that He will enable them, as well. I am blessed to know that God can use me in spite of my faults and flaws.
I want to write up some of the things involved with the ladies’ ministry for the next person — not that they have to do everything the way I did it, but just so they have some idea of what’s going on and why — but other than that, I am pretty much done with my responsibilities there. In some ways it is an incredible relief; in other ways I am missing it already. I know the Lord will have ministry for us in a new church, but my mind is also buzzing with ideas about some other writing possibilities and a web site for ladies’ ministry that I have been thinking about setting up. So, we’ll see how the Lord leads some time after the dust settles from moving!