Friday, April 19, 2013

Being Quietly Honest - Eleanor Shepherd

Today I had the joy of meeting with a friend, a soul sister, for lunch.  What I love about getting together with her is that there are few things that are off limits in our conversations. 
            As we sat at the table, catching up with each other the conversation flew off in all different directions circling around my new ministry, the challenges facing urban pastors today, the need for those in ministry to have prayer supporters, and her fundraising endeavours.  We shared anecdotes of times we have been misunderstood when we talked about faith and times we failed to understand where friends were on their faith journeys.   An important element we grapple with in our faith is the importance of being centred in our relationship with God.
             As we talked about our lives, our parents, our husbands, our children, our joys, our fears, our faith journeys, and our challenges we realized we have come the place in life where we are able to acknowledge to ourselves that we are simply women who love God intensely.  On the verge of what are called the golden years, we can put away pretence and game playing and just be who we are.  We are Christians. We are learning the joy of being able to be quietly honest about our identity.
            We know that today to declare this is who we are, in some circumstances immediately makes others uncomfortable, for a variety of reasons.  There are some who have boldly and defiantly declared themselves as Christians, with the good intention of taking a stand for the faith.  Sometimes their fearlessness has been mistaken for arrogance. In all honesty, there are times when our faith has been declared in arrogance, as if we alone have all the answers and are willing to bludgeon others with the truth. This does not help our cause and dishonours the One who said that our greatest identification mark is our love.
            I admitted during our conversation that not wanting to identify with this kind of insensitivity and appear as overly judgemental, I have sometimes asked myself if I have gone too far to the other extreme.  Is it possible that by my openness to others I have appeared to deny my faith, by not declaring boldly wherever I am the truths that govern my life?  For me, to behave that way would be as dishonest and unfaithful to the person I am as jumping up on a soapbox and shouting out my faith through a megaphone. 
            Those things that I most firmly hold to are those that I quietly affirm to those who want to listen and discover who I really am.  A few years ago, I found that I was tiptoeing around talking about my faith to some folks who were close to me, for fear that I would antagonize them and threaten the trusting relationship that we had with each other. 
            Then one day, I realized that I was not being genuine with them by hiding behind that fear.  I gathered up my courage and approached them.  I told them that I wanted an honest relationship with them and that meant that I was going to talk about my faith with them, because that is an important part of my life and defines who I am.  What amazed me was the graciousness of their response and the expectation that of course I would talk about it.  They knew that my faith defined me and expected me to do so.  That was the day I discovered the strength found in the quiet honesty that comes with admitting I am a woman who loves Jesus with all my heart.  

Word Guild Award
Word Guild Award

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Thank you for your candid sharing, Eleanor. You reflect the tension that, I'm sure, many of us experience regarding our frank verbal witness to our faith, vis-a-vis the quiet relational spadework of lifestyle witness.
Listening well and learning when and how to speak of our faith is important, as you show well in the personal example you describe, towards the end.

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