I went into the weekend unsure of what God was calling me to do. I knew that my leading was to spend a weekend with Rob’s sister (who I’ll refer to as C from now on) and her husband (D), presumably because they’re going through some rough times and could use our support, but I was not sure what I would be called to do when we arrived there. Surely following the leading wasn’t as simple as just sleeping in her house for 2 nights. I resolved to try to be open and receptive to that still, small voice at all times, to be able to discern His will at any given moment.
Maintaining a constant state of open prayer is vital, not only for some days of greater importance, but for all days — no matter how unimportant they appear. Sometimes keeping the gates of my being open for Him is remarkably easy, as if it were just part of my nature. At other times, though, my self (and in particular my pride) rears up, threatening to not only close the gate, but bar it shut.
One of those moments happened late Saturday evening, while the four of us were heading back to her house after dining out. We’d had a suspringly pleasant visit up to that point: C belly danced with me while our husbands went out and even asked to see more videos of what it looked like; Friday evening we’d had a nice dinner out (their treat) with even some enjoyable conversation. But by Saturday evening, I was beginning to worry that I hadn’t done whatever it was I had been called to do.
C had had a bit to drink with dinner, and thus was both more open and more frank than usual. About a month ago, I had come up with the idea of a book exchange between her and me. We’d each give each one book, with the promise that we’d read it in its entirety. The goal of this exchange would be to foster understanding between us, especially with regards to our faiths and how they were similar and different. Before I could stop myself, the suggestion was out of my mouth. She agreed.
Then I went on to explain that I thought it’d be important for us to do this with the goal of furthering understanding and not to convert each other. She replied with something like, “If I knew to the core of my being that I was right and that you were doomed to suffer for eternity, would I be wrong to try to save you from that?” If I were a cat, that moment would have been when all the hairs on my body stood straight up and I braced for an all-out attack.
I tried desperately to calm myself, to still myself, and prayed earnestly for God to guide me, because I didn’t want to mess this up by a rash retort. Noting my silence, she broke it by asking, “T, you’re being awfully quiet.” I replied honestly by saying, “I’m praying.” She silenced herself while I waited for God’s will to be made manifest in me. Finally, I responded and said, “C, as long as we’re both open, I think this can still work.” Too quickly, she replied, “I’m open.”
I have my doubts about how open she is, but I can only follow where He’s leading me. Later that evening, curled up in bed, I reflected about the weekend with Rob. I shared my worry with him that maybe I hadn’t done what I was supposed to do. He told me frankly that he didn’t think anything would be gained from the book exchange I’d proposed with his sister, that she certainly wasn’t open and had very set ideas of what a Christian was supposed to be. I wholeheartedly agreed with him, but added that I wasn’t following my will on this, but God’s. I asked Rob if he thought I was a Christian. I’ve asked him this previously, and he’s always dodged the question or said that he didn’t know. I was pleasantly surprised when he said that he thought I was. I pressed him for the reasons why he thought I was, so I could later share them with his sister, and he was unable to answer.
The next morning C gave me Lori Wick’s “Pretense” as the first book for our book exchange (see my livejournal for details about what book I’m going to give to her). Rob and I left early to attend a Meeting for Worship in Charlottesville (over an hour away, but on our way home) with my friend Elliot (the same friend to whom I had trouble explaining Quakerism a couple of weeks ago). After such a charged, challenging weekend, the Meeting for Worship was rejuvenating. I was pleased to see that the group of worshippers was younger than in my own Meeting, with a median age perhaps of 40, perhaps younger. I wasn’t able to center as well as I can in my own Meeting, and exhaustion certainly wasn’t helping, but it was still nice to have the entire hour to pray in silence.
I wish I could say that since the weekend has ended I’ve become certain that I did whatever it was that I’d been called to do, but I’m not. I’m starting to feel certain that visiting C for a weekend was just the first step in this leading instead of the only step. Though I’m paying for the weekend physically, I’m grateful I followed the leading. I don’t know if a gate has been opened between me and C that will allow us to be closer, but I do know that the weekend brought me both closer to God and to Rob.
Rob’s support of my faith these past couple of months has been remarkable. It would have been easy for him to flat-out refuse to visit his sister, God calling me or not (and without Rob, it would have been very, very difficult for me to visit C… and to make it through the weekend grounded in God). He could have laughed when I told him about my leadings, instead of taking them seriously. He could have gone along with it half-heartedly instead of going out of his way to be nice to both C and D, neither of whom he particularly likes or whose company he enjoys.
I am grateful to God, for giving me this leading and for sharing His will with me. And I am also grateful to Rob, for supporting my faith unconditionally.