I’m no evangelist. I tend to be quiet and introverted, and am usually too busy following my kids around to have much of a deep conversation – especially with people I don’t already know well. But that’s also why chasing my kids around suits me well. 🙂
Don’t get me wrong – I have plenty of big opinions when you get me one-on-one. And I can be plenty stubborn and pushy about what is right, and why I am the one who is right. And I care about and think about things deeply. But, because of my personality, that just doesn’t come out in my usual conversations.
Being raised in a ministers’ family (with a very outgoing, ready-to-talk-and-get-into-deep-things-quickly kind of mom) and now married to a minister, I have often struggled with feeling like I was the lame part of the pair in terms of sharing the Word. It’s not that I don’t think I’m doing good work: being a stay-at-home mom and fully immersed in the life of my kids is exactly what I want to do, and I feel useful doing it. But, if so many of my family member have poured their lives into sharing and spreading the Word, where is my role in that? It’s a question I’ve thought about frequently. Since I’m not comfortable pushing into other people’s business and (even if I wanted it) I don’t have a venue for public speaking like my husband (or a conversation that lasts more than 5 minutes for that matter) I don’t really share my experiences, thoughts, or feelings about the Lord and the Word.
While those practical blocks to conversation have been the case for around 7 years, I think another part of being hesitant in sharing about religion has been a lack of emotional connection and motivation. I’ve been raised and steeped in the teachings of the Word, and those things did bring me help and comfort as a child; however, as a teen and young adult, a variety of big emotional issues took over my inner life, and I think I found very little comfort in the teachings that I was still being regularly exposed to and even tested on in school. Then, a few years ago, I stumbled into being part of a wonderful Bible Study with two dear friends who helped me process the teachings that I could recite back, but hadn’t broken through the various emotional and mental barriers that stood between knowledge and understanding—between knowing and loving, between having knowledge and using knowledge.
I have grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years of applying years of knowledge to what now feels like it was an emotionally and socially stunted life. Some of it is general emotional intelligence, but I believe just the emotional side wouldn’t have made the same impact if it wasn’t coupled with the deeper spiritual perspective. The backbone of everything I have come to understand about emotional intelligence is the spiritual truths I learned from the Word and the Writings, but which hadn’t found a real, settled, life-changing place in my worldview until more recently.
Even with that shift, I’m still me – hesitant to get too deep too quickly, resistant to putting my beliefs on another person. So I still haven’t really known how to share my faith or in some ways, still haven’t known why to share my faith. I think that having that right motivation is hugely signifiant to my willingness to push myself outside of those restrictions.
Enter New Christian Woman. I’ve been working on this blog since it started more than a year ago. And I’ve always loved the vision and idea of it, and genuinely enjoyed the whole process. But recently I’ve been re-inspired as I was once again rolling the idea of why to share around in my head. The women I respect the most in terms of their motivation to share – why do they feel that way? What are they aiming for and why is it worth it to them? And I hit upon it: they want to change the world by sharing the New Church in a way that they can.
I don’t want to stand up and give speeches, I don’t want to go around and convert people. I do want to change the world for the better. And I do want to be able to prioritize my husband and kids in the way that feels significant to me – which means I don’t have a job outside of our family, my kids aren’t used to long stretches of out of home childcare, and as a result my in-person conversations are often stunted and interrupted. But I can write in bits and pieces. I can help publish articles. I can work on learning how to build community even between people who are spread out. And maybe through those things lives can be changed in little ways, but which will have a rippling effect. A small new thought that a mom shares with her daughter about beauty; an idea about sexuality that brings clarity to a young woman; an example of inner spiritual life and how it affected one woman’s day helping another woman feel closer to the Lord.
These are the kinds of things I feel confident we can do with this project, AND this project is something I can do. So I’m newly energized, and have some real clarity about how I want to share religion with other people, and in some parts for the first time ever the WHY of wanting to share. It may not be big and flashy, but neither am I.