In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I want to be like Paula

As mentioned previously, I've really been enjoying working through a bible study workbook ("Discerning the Voice of God" by Priscilla Shirer) with a group of women at church. As I was doing the homework this week I read the following statement by Priscilla Shirer and had one of those "yeah preach it sister" moments:

"God has given us a combination of scriptural guidelines and freedom. Each believer must determine what God would have her do personally. The Holy Spirit knows your stage of spiritual development and will direct you accordingly. His job is to instruct you in the way you should go and give you details concerning the issues of your life." After this statement she goes on to talk about how we should neither press upon others our specific convictions or freedoms in those areas where scripture is not outstandingly clear and we each must do as the Holy Spirit leads us personally.

Part of why this meant so much to me was because, like everyone else, I've experienced that yucky "Christian condemnation" that makes us Believers so attractive to those around us. As I read this I was reminded of an incident that happened to me a few years ago.

I have a good friend Paula. My youngest son had a good friend I'll call Ben. Ben's mom I'll call Susan. Now Susan was very intent on being a godly woman. She was diligent about what her children could watch on movies and such, what they could read, even what they could eat. She home schooled her children and the family rarely missed, if ever, going to church together. Paula and I were both single moms at the time. I had a demanding job that I loved but which required an enormous amount of time/energy/creativity. But God blessed me through that job and I was able to support my family. However, I often felt that "mother guilt". You know if you've ever been there exactly what I'm talking about - our clothes were always washed but the clean ones never made it out of the laundry basket until we grabbed them out to wear, my family always ate dinner together but too often it was procured from fast food establishments, I made sure that my children made the straight A standard but couldn't tell you what their homework was about, I didn't quite make it to every school awards assembly or performance due to work but I did make it to most.

Well one Sunday after church my son was gonna have his pal Ben come to our place and Susan was delighted because this would give her and her hubby some much needed alone time since she'd managed to farm out all 3 of their offspring. However, unlike the homes her other children would be going to, before Ben entered my home Susan felt the need to have a discussion with me. It just so happened that my friend Paula was sitting beside me that day while Susan enumerated all the things she did not allow her Ben to do because, she, Susan loved God and of course children shouldn't do these things. Apparently Susan wanted to ensure that I didn't corrupt poor Ben (BTW did I mention that Ben was 12 years old at the time? Did I mention that I knew both Ben and his sister well because I'd taught them in volunteer situations at the church for the past several years and Susan never volunteered to help with anything?). As Susan went on and on I kept noting in my mind that I let my beloved son do all of these things that Susan insisted were bad and her son should never be around. It's hard to explain but somehow the whole thing felt really condemning from Susan to me. I would have thought it was just me but when Susan had finally left and Ben and my son went off to play at bit before we left church to go home, Paula turned to me and said that she was sure glad that Susan had finally stopped talking because she'd been about to slap her!

Paula volunteered with kids at church too and really cared about both them and their parents. She's outrageous, irreverent and funny. But one of her best qualities is that she accepts people just as they are. She practices Love and Acceptance . She enjoys people right where they're at and embraces them being themselves.

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