I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I love what I do. In part because I cannot believe that a) God lets me do this, and b) that I actually love it because I used to hate it. What I’m talking about is public speaking…..getting up in front of a bunch of women and sharing my stories and experiences and truths that God has impressed upon me through His Word and through my life. I love it. I love the during part and I love the after part. Because the after is when I get to talk to women one-on-one.
Today was no exception. Today found me in Racine, Wisconsin at a church I’d never been to before. I didn’t even know how they found out about me to invite me but it turns out that a gal that attends a local group that I’ve spoken at about five or six times has a sister in the group I was at today and she recommended me. So sweet.
So I did my talk on friendship where I touch on our relationships with other women, with our husbands and with God, where I remind us that we’re created for coming alongside each other and coming alongside God, and then I headed out to the lobby.
To be honest, sometimes, this is hands-down the most awkward time for me. Sometimes I just sit at my book table with not a soul coming up to me to talk or look at my books. I reassure myself in these times that God already knew this, that it’s not about me, that no one must need to talk or pray, and then I usually pray for the women I just spoke to while they chit-chat with each other or make their craft (or I doodle). But today, I had several come up to me to share. And a couple of them had a catch in their voices while they did.
Two in particular caught my attention and I asked if I could pray with them (favorite, favorite part of what I do…..because that’s the most eternal thing I do all day). One gal mentioned being overwhelmed, sad, her kids were driving her crazy. So of course I prayed with her – for peace, for strength, for divine measures of patience, and that Jesus would draw her close.
And then I was packing my stuff up as I needed to get on the road to be home from Wisconsin before my kids walked through the door at the end of the day, and this precious woman walked up to my table and said, “I’ve lived here for four years. I’m moving in June. I don’t have any real friends. I don’t think anyone will miss me when I leave. And I don’t even get any of this faith stuff.” I stood up, walked around to the other side of the table and she said, “I know you have to leave…..I’m sorry for coming up at the last minute…..”And I looked her in the eyes and said, “You might be the only reason I even came here today,” and she started to cry and I gave her a hug and let her cry on my shoulder. You know us girls…..the whole time all she could do was apologize for crying, “I never cry in public,” she kept saying. “It’s okay,” I kept whispering.
Then this was my “please give me words quick, Holy Spirit” advice to this sweet gal. “First of all, I think you’ll be surprised at whether or not you’ll be missed. But keep coming back here and try to get connected even in this short time. And as far as faith goes…..I don’t want to try to force something on you that you’re not ready for..…”And then I glanced up and saw the group leader standing ten feet away, ready and willing to step in, so I motioned for her to come over, and continued, “Do you two know each other? She was just telling me that she has some questions about the whole faith thing and though I’d love to just pray the prayer with her right here and now, I bet you will be able to give her the time she needs.” The leader nodded enthusiastically. The sweet lady stood next to me with tears streaming down her cheeks, and I asked if I could pray. So I prayed. Not “thee” prayer…..not the prayer of salvation that guarantees she’s locked in..…though I wanted to. But I knew it wouldn’t have been right. It would’ve been forced. I would’ve been running ahead, and sadly, just maybe, in part, so I could say that the Kingdom had been built today.
So I stepped aside. And I packed up my things and I watched the leader and this gal walk into another room to talk. And I drove away. And I realized that I had just played my part. I planted a seed when I drove up to Wisconsin, leaving my family for the night (my son actually tearing up when I said goodbye). I planted a seed when I shared with the larger group of women how Jesus is my best friend, how I love him so. I planted a seed when I connected those two women. I planted a seed when I prayed with them. And then I handed the seeds over to the leader to continue the process when I walked away. I played my part. And I’m so glad there was someone else ready and willing to play hers.
Which begs the question, are you playing yours?