A few weeks ago I turned up ready to lead the lunchtime Bible reading group. I was only just on time. Thankfully, I was also the first there.
Check phone. No messages. Hmmm. Sitting by myself.
‘Maybe they’re all just running late…?’
Obsessively check phone again. No messages. It became pretty obvious that no-one else was going to turn up.
I think I did most of the classic grief responses in about 90 seconds:
- I’m hopeless – no one likes the way I lead groups.
- They’re hopeless – they really should get their act together to turn up.
- I’m more important than this – don’t they know I’ve given up a lot to do this church plant!
- Maybe I shouldn’t have started the group in the first place?
- I feel stupid – will hubby think I’m hopeless at this?
- I’m angry that I rushed to get here, and prepared and did the stupid printing.
- I’m embarrassed that I got so angry at hubby that the printer wasn’t working.
- I’m relieved that I don’t have to lead the group – maybe I could go shopping instead?
- I went shopping.
Half way around Myer (trying to get free samples at the cosmetic counters), it dawned on me that the one thing I hadn’t done was pray. I didn’t pause and pray about my response. I didn’t pray for my group. I was so focussed on myself. I rode a very unnecessary roller coaster. I also realised my emotions and sense of competency are very closely linked to how many people turn up to things.
We’re learning from James:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
It’s indeed a joyful (painful) gift from God when no one turns up to bible study, because my honest knee-jerk questions bubble to the surface. They give me clues as to who I really am – helpful questions I can ask myself:
‘Is my self worth tied to what people think of me?’
‘What does my angry response show about what’s really driving me?’
‘Why are the opinions of others so much more important to me than God’s?’
I hope that all six of my group turn up on Thursday – but if they don’t, I’ll consider it pure joy.
– by Cathy Tucker