I can’t help but think back to last weeks bible study. Pastor explained that wherever we find our most difficult interactions is where our ministry is.
So I think.
It can’t be children. I was a preschool teacher for four years in Boston. My first job turned into a career. I started as a substitute. I had no credentials for teaching but the way I engaged the children and help aleve the fears of the most difficult children was almost second nature to me. Most of my children had seen the traumatic effects of domestic violence as most of them came from shelters so some had difficulty falling asleep during naptime. It was something soothing about me that would cause even the most difficult child to settle down. So much so when my co-teachers would tell me, of the ways in which they misbehaved after I left I would look in shock and disbelief. They never gave me any trouble. But since my capacity for love is so great sometimes thats all a troubled child need is love. An encouraging word, or a smile. Or even just to know they are safe in the presence of an adult since some had experiences of not feeling safe, they knew how to tell the difference. Children draw to me. So where is the difficulty in that.
So I sign up for the childrens ministry. Background check comes back and they are ready for me to start serving, but I hear that quiet whisper telling me no. Not yet. So I wait.
Oh yeah this must be where I belong. The teen ministry. My sister tells me that I don’t act my age. I live to love life, and now that I know my Lord in a personal way I love it more abundantly so she says I am more her age, like twenty five. So maybe the teens can benefit from that bubbly overflowing personality that knows how to deal with the pressures of life and get right back up. But no. When I was supposed to get up for the meeting I overslept. I asked the Lord if it is His will make a wayfor me to get there. I don’t make it.
Ok. Where can I be. Where is the best fit for me. What is the most difficult thing for me.
Ahhh. Women. Other women. Interactions with other women. There it is. There must be a reason that I have missed every single Love sister to sister meeting since arriving at my New Life.
Male relationships as friends have always been easy for me. In fact the oldest friendship I have started when I was but a baby and he a toddler would ride my back. As the years progressed he would torture me with the birds and reptiles that he kept as pets. It was troublesome then, but as adults he became a support for me and I for him. We would spend numerous hours talking life, and politics, and hip hop, and from time to time share a good game of Soul Caliber back when I only had a PS2 in my dorm where most nights he slept right below my bed and neither of us thought of each other as anything more than brother/sister. I would often spend my time building a relationship with his girlfriend turned baby momma as we made the best of tough times.
Yeah. As he said, “Rae-Rae, you like one of the guys only with lady parts.”
Its hard to get caught up in the latest he say she say. I stay on my grind, and I didn’t like to be handed what I could work for. Now I am just thankful for blessings but my I don’t care attitude and nonchalance towards relationships was more akin to a male than a female.
I guess thats why all the emotional crying men would find comfort in me, they would do what Icouldnt. I would rub their backs and love them anyway.
Its not like I don’t want to maintain friendships with women.
I grew up in the house with nothing but. All three floors were filled with women. My mother would throw sleepovers for me, and on occasions she would do the same for herself. It was easy. The women could just walk up to their own homes after a night of popcorn, Anne of Green Gables or Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or something equally as exciting.
I grew up believing that I was supposed to love my female friends with all I had. And I did.
Until the first friend I had in my teenage years was doing something in the alley with someone that was supposed to be close to me then had the nerve to want to fight me about it. Ok shut me down. I’m through until I get to Boston.
My first friend there was the oldest of a lot of children. They were all smart. So smart that we spent most of our time on Harvard’s campus once she went away to college. My BFF was there when Tatiana Ali was there and she would often invite me to her freshman seminar with Cornel West. I never attended. I never understood the significance of education, but we spent so much time together like I saw my mom with her girlfriends that her roommates accused us of being another way. No that was what most of our conversations were about, the boys. The boys I was busy not getting attached to with my dudelike demeanor and the boys she had yet to start dealing with. I spent my time making sure my BFF had so much I felt as if I had become her big sister. I paid for not one but two prom dresses while she was still in highschool. Got her her first cell phone, the list ran on, but I loved her. I still do. She will always be a sister to me. We sat crying on the phone wishing life had handed us a different set of cards just this past January as the events we missed in each others lives were ones we never thought we would have to. We thought we were inseparable.
Until she turned 21. Until me laying in a bed next to her and the man that said he needed time to get himself together in order to get himself ready for me. Until that smell hit my nose. Until I looked around and saw them doing something I should never have had to witness.
I ran back to the boyfriend I had just gotten the okay to leave for whom he knew was my true love, because he wanted me to be happy because all thoughts of that rekindling had been dashed by two individuals selfish need to pursue flesh and forget my feelings.
With me in the room next to them thinking I was sleeping when I was merely resting my eyes.
I could expect that from a man. I knew how men operated. Friendships with guys were easy, so I learned their ins and outs and how to avoid getting entangled in their spider web. I knew what they would do if given the chance to a willing participant. Thats what made friendships with them so easy. I dare not be the topic of the conversation I would hear many speak too much about, unless my care factor just dashed all the way to the ground.
So I retreat. I had met so many wonderful women in Boston before my BFF and after the friendship fell apart but I could not get over that to invite others into my heart to risk being betrayed again.
So here I am. Back in Chicago.
When I get back to Chicago the main two women I do allow into my space continually betray me. One waited until I denied her the opportunity to be my friend again when she reached out to me weeks before her son was killed. I missed the opportunity to be used by God to speak life back into her with the words he would have given me, so she took that as her opportunity to kill me and my reputation to any family member or former friend she encountered.
Such is life.
The other woman was the only person who knew where my jewelry was stashed. or rather my mothers heirlooms. She watched me unscrew the bottom of a fake candle and pull out a ring to wear. She claims that I was upset with her because shortly after me being robbed of all my valuables in a home invasion her gas which stayed off because of a balance of over two thousand dollars every year finally had been paid.
It could be a coincidence. But why a thief would leave a box of 24k overlay silverware for a seemingly worthless candle is beyond my comprehension unless they knew what it was they were looking for.
Yeah. I tried this female thing.
I try to reach out.
Then I hear the talk behind my back.
Or the glances in the other direction when they don’t notice that I saw them looking my way but looked away quickly to avoid speaking.
Yeah. I don’t know what it is.
I love. I motivate. I encourage. I pour until I am empty cause it means nothing if I make it and I don’t have a sister friend along the way who has made it as well. And if there can be more than one of us I am thankful.
Someone once told me that the people who we are assigned to offend us repeatedly. The enemy creates dissension so that we don’t ever get the strength necessary to upbuild one another and exist in mediocrity separately instead of in greatness together.
All I know is I want everything God has for me. I know working on my female relationships is going to be difficult, but I am learning. One interaction at a time. I am thankful for who is at my table and thankful that the ones that left have opened the door for what is real to walk through.
I just know that there is more that I can do, and however difficult it may be it must be done.
I sit back to meditate on Matthew 5:43-48 “You have heard that is was said, ‘love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect therefore as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Yes, tough assignments to carry out, but when I think of all the sacrifices my Savior made to redeem me from who I used to be, I become a willing agent.
I want to be used. So I make the necessary changes little by little. But every small change is a big enough change to make a lasting one. And if you get enough change eventually there is enough sense to take one where they need to go.
I think I am ready to go. No I know I am.