Let's all just take a chill pill. (a.k.a how women could become better evangelists)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A few years ago, before I was married, I was on a staff team with a large majority of young mothers, pregnant women, or women who were yearning to be pregnant.

I myself had never had much of a longing to be a mother or to be pregnant, and so I tried to steer clear of conversations amongst those women. It felt awkward, forced, to be sitting there, smiling, pretending to know or even care about babies and children.

Then, we went on a retreat, and though I liked hanging out with most of these women one on one, I felt as though it was unbearable being with them all together. Picture this: a lot of women talking about strollers (bugaboo or stokke?), diapers (pampers or apple cheeks? disposable or cloth?), and even... nipple cream (apparently 'em milk jugs can get pretty cracked and dry.)

t.m.i. right?

That's how I felt. I felt isolated, not understanding this whole world, and not quite sure if I would ever understand it. I felt mislead, like I had been duped into going on a mother's retreat instead of a women's retreat.

Fast forward a few weeks, months, years, and I've actually learned two things about that situation.

1. I needed to take a chill pill. 

In those years following, I found out that all those conversations that I was awkwardly a part of enabled me to have a greater scope of conversation. I can hold my own when I'm talking to a mother about strollers: the Bugaboo donkey is nice, but might be too wide in small city shops; the Stokke is has really nice lines but doesn't do very well on terrain, etc.

Being able to hold my own and to talk about things a mother cares about makes me a more versatile evangelist.

I don't need to restrict myself to talking to college aged students (as per my job description), or to married women in their mid-20s (as per my life stage). I can talk to other women in a variety of life stages and feel confident in those conversations because I can identify (or at least try to identify) with the things that are important to them (nipple cream one of those things... sometimes).

2. They needed to take a chill pill.

Being a good evangelist means being sensitive to the people around us, which is easier said than done. We've all been around the bride who talks incessantly about wedding planning, or the student who can only talk about impending exams. In my case, it was the mothers who couldn't stop talking about their children.

The reality is that we are all good at talking about the things we are going through, but not very good at putting ourselves in the shoes of others.

We don't think about the barren woman who might struggle to hear about the 'plight' of the fertile, or the student who just failed out of university and doesn't have a clue what she'll do.

***

A year ago, for a few months, I was a married person in the minority, hanging out with a bunch of singles. They would go off and do their thing and would often decline to invite me (sometimes forgetting, sometimes perhaps purposefully). I felt really hurt and isolated, but when I took a step back, I thought, why would they want to invite me? The married are constantly guilty of flaunting their non-singleness, and PDA isn't the most appealing thing to witness even as a married person, let alone a person struggling to come to terms with her singleness.

The singles probably needed to take a chill pill and realize that married people aren't aliens who can't identify with singlehood (after all, we were all single at some point), but married people need to also take a chill pill and strive to not flaunt what could easily be a sore point in someone else's life. Being a married person, it is my responsibility to deconstruct the negative impression that my predecessors have left on singles, and to show them that we aren't all that different, after all.

This will make me a better and more trustworthy evangelist.

***

Something I've noticed about HH and his guy friends is that they can often pick up wherever they left off. Guys seem to, generally, be able to talk about a myriad of topics, and that makes them effective evangelists, giving them multiple 'ins' to gospel conversation.

As women, we need to work on this, becoming all things to all women in order that they might gain Christ. We aren't defined by singlehood or motherhood or ____(insert adjective here)__hood. Our identity comes from Christ, and Christ was stellar at was being able to identify with people from all sorts of backgrounds and genders. This made Him the best evangelist there has ever been. We would do well to learn from Him.

3 comments:

  1. I'm sorry for being one of those singles who needed to take a chill pill and hang out with you. I really enjoyed this post and have been feeling the need to humble myself, put others first and think of how they feel in different situations.

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