The other night I spoke to a group of gals at Birthchoice –a nonprofit supporting the parents of unplanned pregnancy. It was the usual crew of girls albeit a few new faces.
The topic was pregnancy and exercise and the level of interest was slim to none. I know not every talk I give will raise the roof, but is a small rumble too much to ask for?
One of the new ladies was either mentally disabled or had fried her neurons from excessive drug use. I was warned by the leader that she had been very disruptive the week before and interrupted the speaker constantly. I prayed for Holy Spirit intervention or at the very least, enough humor to keep it light.
Every few sentences I uttered, the woman chimed in. I found out it was her fourth pregnancy and she walked an hour a day and the names of her kids and a thousand other details all while I was supposed to be speaking.
I kept thinking of Henri Nouwen and the lessons Jesus was trying teach me about compassion and empathy but my frustration level subtly rose notch by notch with every interruption.
I asked the girls a few questions to figure out their lifestyle and discern their difficulties in finding balance between exercise and babies, work and education.
- How many of you work? None
- How many of you are in school? One
And then I realized how my stupid my questions were and I got pissy and a little defeated. One of the girls had been showing off her hair extensions earlier and when I looked up, she flipped her glorious locks over her shoulder.
I think it’s what set off my internal envy switch.
I am standing up speaking and what’s going through my mind is pure evil…This is so unfair! I want hair extensions for my scrawny tresses but they are too expensive and my kids need new shoes. Some days I want to stay at home and not work two jobs to pay the mortgage and all the sports fees and endless activities for my kids; so what gives you the right to be lazy and Welfared and sooooo relaxed while I have heart palpitations and still take more time out to volunteer and share with you how to exercise when you are going to laugh at me and eat Cheetos anyway and then just have another baby? (was that a run-on sentence or what?)
After an exhausting thirty minutes, I finished up and exited quickly. Normally, I hang out and talk with the girls but I needed to sort out my heart and emotions.
Jesus clearly needed to take the wheel back from Satan.
Here is what I discovered once I calmed down and dug into my crusty soul. Like everything in life, nothing is black and white. I admire these women for choosing life and not aborting. I love them as sisters in Christ and I can champion and promote their desire to overcome adversity and grow into responsible citizens and loving mothers.
But I cannot take on their burden if or when they choose to operate with entitled and lazy behavior, nor will I condone it.
I volunteer and give because God called me to encourage and love these women and it’s possible only a few will hear the message and respond. But even if it’s only one or two or even none, they are precious to God and to me. My agenda is love and to come alongside them -not to fix. And in all honesty, at my worst, I am no different. I too want to be coddled and cared for and take the easy road some days.
But at my best, when someone believed in me –even when I didn’t believe in myself, it allowed me to experience a sliver of hope and to dream of a different and courageous life.
A life where God can take a selfish and self-righteous girl –despite her complete and utter unworthiness, and allow her the grace to grow and minister to other women.