It’s not often but every once in a while I find myself engaged in negative self-talk. Oh, let’s be honest, it’s more like self abuse.
It looks something like: Who do you think you are preaching to others? You’re a sinner. You don’t even love people better this year than you did last year. You take your work too seriously. You do know others don’t really care. It’s insignificant.
On and on it goes.
Blah Blah Blah.
For several days.
I know scripture so quoting it to me won’t help.
“My dear Jackie, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Truth is, sometimes I start to loose heart, thinking it is useless. I start walking off the playing field ready to take the bench.
Is this just sin? Or is it spiritual warfare? Or simply raging hormones? I suspect it’s a cocktail of them all.
That’s where I was when a man called my husband with an invite for a drink and conversation.
We joined him and his wife to learn that his church had been in a discussion about the role of women for the past year. They had spent a great deal of time in study, learning the 42 reasons the word “authority” in 1 Timothy 2 means this or that. The 62 reasons head cover means this or that. (Yes, I’m being a bit sarcastic.) He proceeded to share how my new book, Lime Green, which he recently read, was crucial in his understanding on the issue. Not because Lime Green is all that theological but because it was from a woman’s voice sharing what it’s like being a woman leader in the conservative faith community. For him, the book was the linchpin to the discussion.
The next day I received a text, “Pray for me, I’m about to meet with my pastor about hosting a church wide discussion on Lime Green.” Nancy (not her real name) had asked her pastor to read the book, which he did, and now Nancy was meeting with him to hear his perspective. He disagreed and agreed. Consideration for a discussion is in the making.
Another woman emailed to say she saw Lime Green on her pastor’s desk.
Another woman came up during Wine, Women & Jesus and said she’d bought the book in hopes her church leadership would read it too.
To top it off a senior pastor asked if I could direct him to resources on the role of women since they were in the process of writing their church’s bylaws. Yes, yes I can.
At Wine, Women & Jesus we discussed the meaning of marriage and sexuality. It was a wild conversation that ended with one woman asking, “How do we change this?” (Referencing how the conservative faith community speaks about men and women in marriage, and sexuality.) As I looked out over the faces I answered, “Just like we are doing right here.” We are digging in, asking deep questions, seeking real answers and when we walk out of here we take these ideas into our areas of influence. Kids, husband, friends, colleagues, small groups, maybe, like Nancy, we invite a discussion with our church leaders.
Ideas have consequences.
The next day, while in Austin, I sat with a talented woman who is working to build bridges between church, business and the community. She’s been in the business world and knows that real change in a city comes when God’s men and women link arms and walk in battle side by side. But, she’s been at this for a while, trying to connect men and women but there are so many obstacles. (Many of which I address in Lime Green.) Her question to me was, “Do you see any change happening?” I could hear the desperation. I was there just a few days earlier.
Has what I’ve given my life work to matter? Or was Solomon right, “Everything is meaningless, completely meaningless?”
My answer? Nothing is useless for the Lord. Then I proceeded to share with her the domino effect God showed me in the last few days.
Sometimes, I self abuse. And God in his tenderness reminds me that He is at work through my work. And yours. And yours. And even yours. Nothing you do is useless for the Lord.
I needed that reminder. I suspect you might too.