Posted by: ritagone | June 20, 2012

Face Your Fears

I’m off to a Christian Associates conference in Chicago tomorrow morning.  It’s hot in Chicago right now.  And humid.  I was born in Chicago, but the city is unrecognizable from when I left it with my parents over 50 years ago.  I don’t have any time to visit my old haunts anyway, and even if I did, I wouldn’t even know where to begin.  The conference is over on another part of town, near the lake, very posh.  Where I grew up is not so nice anymore, I’m told, not a place you’d go snooping around, especially at night, which saddens me.  So it’s in and out Thursday afternoon to Saturday afternoon, with meetings and sessions and lots of fun and fellowship, which I’m looking forward to, as I always do the gatherings with CA friends and family.

One of the good things that has come out of this conference already is that I was asked to serve on a panel about gender, and so I’ve had to give some thought to that issue.  Specifically I was asked to talk for about 12-15 minutes about belonging to a church that doesn’t believe that women elders are biblical, while I, meanwhile, serve as a key leader in the ministry organization sponsoring the conference itself.  Ironic, isn’t it?  Does it bother me that my home church doesn’t allow women elders?  Not so much anymore, because I know that the men on the elder board have come to this conclusion honestly and with great amounts of prayer and study of the Word, not to punish women but to be faithful to what they believe scripture teaches.  And I’m certainly not going to up and leave the church without my husband (who for years was chairman of the elder board).  So if I disagree with their conclusions, I can live with that.  (Besides, I do love the younger men who have come onto the elder board at our church in the last few years; they are young men we have known since they were children, and we know they are now godly men who will do the work of God with stamina, lots of prayer and great love for God’s people.)

But in preparing my short talk, I’ve been able to do a lot of thinking and praying and some Bible study once again on this topic, plus I’ve brought into the conversation some of my girlfriends.  Like yesterday, over lunch with three friends, I raised the issue and told them what I was being asked to speak about at the conference and then asked their opinions.  We wound up engrossed in a lively discussion about women elders, pro and con, and at the end of our time together, we realized that we had had a very stimulating conversation.  So something really good came out of this conference already: channels of conversation and thought-provoking debate were flowing even back here in Westlake Village.

Another fun event that I come home to on Saturday night is my 50th (yes, 50th!!!) high school reunion, being held so close by my home that I just couldn’t not go.  So Saturday late afternoon Michael picks me up at LAX and whisks me to the reunion.

You know how they say speaking in front of people is one of those things that people fear as much as death?

Not me.  I have no concerns about my 12-15 minute talk about women elders and my position about it at my church.  In fact, I have no idea how many people will be listening, sitting in the audience at the conference and either agreeing or disagreeing with what I’m saying.  Doesn’t bother me a bit to be talking in front of these people, however many (or few) there are present.

No, what I’m REALLY terrified of is that reunion, coming face to face with people I haven’t seen in half a century, trying to remember names and faces and wondering if I look as old as they do. (I do.)  I will be clutching Michael’s arm.  I can fly to Europe on my own.  I can give birth fearlessly without anesthesia, have done it twice, once to a newborn almost 11 pounds in weight.  I can stand up and speak in front of audiences of hundreds of human beings sitting in the seats in the darkness.  I can buy and sell stocks with great trepidation, not even panicking when Alan Hirsch sends me texts that are mildly hysterical about the current stock market situation.

But the thought of marching into Brent’s Deli in Westlake Village and facing Ulysses S. Grant High School classmates has me hyperventilating and wondering if perhaps I shouldn’t take a Xanax before we get there.

But I will face my fears.  Who knows?  The church may change its policy on women elders, and how would it look if I were asked to serve but had to confess to this terrible insecurity and fear?

I’ll let you know how it goes.  Not the conference speaking session.  The 50th reunion.

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