Spiritual scrapbooking. And quilt circles. Just because.
Tuesday I was privileged to attend a women’s Bible study. Wait. Don’t quit reading yet.
Now, I know a thing or two about women’s Bible studies. I served on the leadership team for Ladies’ Bible Study for a large, famous church for about 7 years. (And, as blessed as it was, I didn’t think it was my thing, then, either.)
But I thought I should go, so I did. At a new church I visit when I’m on the road for work. It’s called obedience. The Holy Spirit prompts; I obey. Without question. Sometimes I get it right.
And, I walked in late, because, well, I am the hospital doctor. And hospitals are unpredictable. But I came.
And I saw the tabecloths. The centerpieces. The mints. The Coffee (except they were out-darn). And the cute curriculum with books and workbooks and matching videos. We were sitting in well-dressed groups of 6 or so, at small round tables. Quiet. Listening. Pretending we had it all together. Taking no risks.
And then a strange thing happened.
The group leader, raw and honest, told a story that had happened the day before. About how she couldn’t find the strength to forgive. About how she blew a chance to reconcile a relationship. One that mattered. About hurt. And anger. And the desire for revenge, or at least lifelong rejection of the offending party.
She talked about how she had failed God, and herself, and how she didn’t feel qualified to lead a lesson on…obedience.
And then it all broke loose.
What followed was real, vulnerable, honest communication. People shared. Really shared. Their insights. Their failures. Their questions. And they helped each other. There was regret. And real repentance. Culminating in…real obedience. It was as if, in a matter of minutes, the invisible wall of pretense and protection dematerialized.
Now, I’ll give credit to the study author. We were reading a book called Chase, by Jennie Allen. And inside the cute, color-coordinated cover, and behind the slick video and marketing materials, was an honest heart. That asked probing questions. And challenged us to be real.
But it was the ladies themselves that took up the challenge. And it got real. And the presence of God, and the very real answers from woman to woman, became intense and beautiful.
And, in the middle of it, a Bible verse came rising up from inside me.
Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Malachi 3:16-17
And, I realized, that God, in His own unique way, was whispering to me. And, when I recovered from the magnitude of that, I realized something else. He was enjoying it.
With this little group of women, who had barely begun to be honest with each other, in the fellowship hall of this small church, in this small Texas town….He. Was. Pleased.
And I thought about us, sitting around that table together, making something beautiful out of the scraps, rejects and failures of our lives.
Women have done this for centuries. The most modern incarnation is the scrapbooking party. Where scraps, literally, are made into beautiful books of remembrance. But before that, there was the quilting bee. Where scraps (literally), were made into heirlooms.
When my oldest daughter finished college, she had accumulated 73 free t-shirts. Some of them she liked. But college was over. And even though programmers can wear t-shirts to work, she really didn’t think she would. So we gathered her favorites and had a family friend make them into a t-shirt quilt. The glory days of college, all in one cuddly, useful memory aid.
But the old-timers cut their scraps from clothes that were no longer useful. And other rejects.
And women sat around in circles, and assembled them into beautiful and useful objects, for comfort. For provision. For others.
And, even though I have never been a crafter (note that I paid a family friend for that t-shirt quilt), I realized that I had attended a scrapbooking party. A spiritual one. And that, together, we had made something beautiful.
And we each took home a new patchwork of connected experiences and understanding. That brought comfort.
And that this was probably happening all over the world, in many different nations and cultures today.
Women helping women. Making sense of life together.
And when it involves God’s Word, it brings such hope. Such life. Such relationship.
So, even those of us who don’t like Ladies’ Ministry, who don’t craft…can’t help but piece and patchwork and talk and encourage. At least spiritually.
We’re designed that way. And He said it was good.