I'm not sure whether or not I will post this. I don't want to step on anyone's toes, but I had an encounter which has left me reeling -REELING - and apparently, I can't let it go until I write it out.
I recently joined a Bible study at a church in our community. I love the Bible, and since hearing Beth Moore speak last April, I have wanted to join a study of one of her books. I read one of them after hearing her speak, and loved it; the next step was to study a book in community.
If you're a regular reader here, you will know that I was raised in Christian Science, and later, baptized in the Presbyterian church, along with my children. You will know that I loved and served that church in various capacities (Deacon, Stephen Minister, LOGOS) while being lovingly ministered to through its sermons, Lectionary class, women's retreats, etc. My children attended the Sunday School and LOGOS program. We were an active part of the community. When Katie was diagnosed, that community surrounded us with love, prayer and every kind of care. I will be grateful to that church forever.
If you read along from the start here, you may recall that while we were in Seattle for Katie's cancer treatment, an interim pastor gained a foothold in our church and changed the theological stance. Whatever happened, I was not present for it, but the end result was that she drove out about 2/3 of the congregation. This church had something like 600 members, and in an "unchurched" state (apparently, Washington is low on church attendance), that is a big deal. It's a big deal in any case, but think about the impact here, in a small community.
Some of those who left now attend other churches, but some, like me, don't feel they have a church "home" now, and don't have the energy to re-start that search. I've done that several times in my life. My husband (though baptized and confirmed as a Lutheran) does not want to attend. I haven't withdrawn my membership yet, but can't seem to return, so I have been seeking a mid-week Bible study and/or worship service that would meet my need for being in the Word, and might bring praise to God through worship and sharing in community.
I attended one that I liked right away, but found the Bible study to be less in-depth than what I was seeking. Then I found a Beth Moore study nearby, and signed up for it.
The first week, one woman noticed that there were newcomers and said, "The natural first question is, Which of our services do you attend?" I replied, "The answer is: None. Do you have a second question?" I was surprised that this was the first question.
I got over that, and returned the following week. That day, we broke into small groups and were asked to discuss the impact of the week's lesson on us. Two people spoke, and then it was my turn. I shared what was in my heart. Everyone listened kindly.
After class, a nice lady came up to me and said, in essence, "I noticed you were tearing up when you spoke [I wasn't, but that isn't the main point]. There is a place where you can go for healing prayer near here. They have the gift of healing and could help you."
I was shocked, and truly mystified by this suggestion. What if I was crying? I wasn't, but what if I had been? In the community of Christ, where I do tend to cry during worship music, I should be safe to let whatever comes, come. Why would tears over the death of my daughter be a reason to go someplace else for healing prayer? It is natural to cry! Katie is gone and not coming back here; I have to wait, in hope and faith, to see her again. That's a tall assignment. Why would tears - a natural expression of missing her - be something to "heal?" I will never stop missing her until I can wrap my arms around her again - I'm her MOTHER!
This set me back at least four years in my social interaction journey. I left that place feeling hurt and unsafe, though I believe this woman's motivations were all good and kind. However, she mentioned that God had healed her of cancer twice, and that she believed that He did so to prove His love for her. If you follow that kind of reasoning out to its conclusion, what does that say about Katie? About us? Would you pray to such a God for the healing of tears?
I recalled with gratitude how my spiritual director would teach her groups to allow each person to have her own space and feelings, and never to try to jump in or "fix" each other.
Gregg and I discussed how I could approach such interactions in the future. I need to learn to smile and say, "Thank you," and walk away. I am going to return to Bible study, and forgive this dear woman for this painful interchange and her misguided suggestion. I wasn't crying, but I felt like doing so after she finished with me. What are people thinking when they make assumptions and say such things? Do my strong emotions make you squirm? What does that say about me? What does that say about you?
Please don't try to "fix" me, or anyone else.