It was Commitment Sunday the year I had my sixth baby. I eagerly filled out the cards for ministry volunteers. The parish was new; many hands were needed to get things up and running. I was looking forward to jumping in with both feet.
No one ever called.
I asked my pastor about it and he said, “No, ma’am. I pulled your card.” Bewildered, I pressed on. He told me that he didn’t think it was wise to involve myself in anything. “Just focus on a being a really good wife, mother and neighbor. Opportunities to spread the Gospel will be plentiful.”
All around me, women are strapping on their sandals and going forth to share the good news. I have a friend who is sheltering pregnant women in Costa Rica. Nearly every month, someone I know goes abroad to travel with Compassion International. Here at home, there are committees, and classes and Bible studies, all being led by enthusiastic women. Good for them. Really. If God has called them, God has given them the grace to go out there and spread the Gospel, so that’s all good for them.
What about the rest of us? What about the mom at home with six children 12 and under? What about the young woman with the newborn and the traveling husband? What about the lady whose big family keeps her running from dawn until dark? Are they excluded in the call to make believers of all nations?
I don’t think so. I think that “all nations” includes this nation. And this nation encompasses your neighborhood. Do you want to be an evangelist? It’s hard. To evangelize in suburbia you have to do a hard thing. You have to open your door. You have to welcome other women into your home.
Women think about their houses the way they think about their bodies: never good enough, always lacking. They hesitate to invite other women in because they are afraid to let other women see the messes and imperfections of family life. The corollary is that women also are hesitant to go to another woman’s house. And there we sit, behind our own walls, not sharing even a cup of tea, never mind the love of Jesus.
We evangelize when we give a cup of water in His name. Pour it in a sippy cup, add a splash of apple juice, and serve it to the little boy down the street. Then sit on your couch with his mama, coffee and a muffin and befriend her. Meet her where she is. Share her burden. Find out that her husband is traveling and she has a new dog and the dog really needs to run every day, something she can’t do with three children in tow. Offer to watch the kids for half an hour while she gets out and runs with the dog.
Gather a couple of other women and study a book together. Invite them to come be in your home, with their children if necessary, and read and share. Here’s the thing: You don’t have to search Pinterest for the top 50 Bible study snacks. You don’t have to scrub your powder room with a toothbrush. You don’t have to melt scented wax so that it smells like autumn. Just smile. Share God.
Women tell me they are more comfortable in the home of someone who is welcoming but not perfect. There are a couple of reasons this seems to be true. First, when we let our guards down a little and let people see us as we are, we tell them we trust them and we invite them to trust us. Secondly, if we allow someone to see our imperfections, we let them know that we can love them despite their imperfections. We all are struggling; none of us is perfect. When I let someone in and they see the struggle, they also see the One who gives the strength.
Tune in to everyday needs in your everyday world. See that lady struggling to push her cart from the checkout stand while also holding and consoling her crying baby? Take the cart from her. Talk on the way to the car. Say something encouraging. Carry the cross just that small distance, but carry it as He would.
Evangelize your neighborhood. Share what God is doing in your life by allowing people into your life. Before long, they’ll bring you their heartaches, they’ll share their pain, they’ll reveal their wounds. Opportunity after opportunity to live the works of mercy will literally land on your doorstep. And you will have blessed moments to be the hands and the feet of the One who heals.
(A very kind soul sent me this after Granddad died. Like a big hug, I tell you!)