We read several passages talking about how Jesus expressed a variety of emotions, verses teaching us not to allow our emotions to cause us to sin, concluding with the story of David and Bathsheba and Psalm 51.
Then, to connect the lesson in a more tangible way, I gave each woman a red construction paper heart, and told them it represented their hearts. Each of us has things that have happened in our lives which have caused our hearts to be hurt, to be less than clean. I invited them to write on their hearts some of those things.
As an example, I showed them how I had written on my own red heart phrases like Mom’s death, and Husband leaving. I had torn the heart in several places, as well.
I then showed them a White heart on which were written the words of Psalm 51:10: Create in me, a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me. I told the women that no matter what has happened in our lives, through Jesus, God offers us clean hearts.
I was hoping that this would help the women share some of their concerns and struggles, and also give them a reminder of what God has done in their lives, and promises to continue to do.
Some of the women wrote and tore and seemed to understand. Several of them however, dutifully tore their hearts, but I think only to please me. A couple of the older women kind of, well, I guess I’d say ‘fussed me out’.
They told me that I needed to stop being sad about my mom dying of cancer. (I had also shared a couple of weeks ago about her cancer in an attempt to say how important mammograms and self-exams are).
Death is a part of life. My parents died a long time ago but I don’t think about it anymore, one of them told me.
One of the pointed to her head and said, You’re too much up here. My spouse had other women. That’s not important. You need to take all of that and put it out of your mind.I was rather taken aback, to say the least! I did my best to be gracious, but very honestly, it was hard! I wanted to defend myself and explain that I don’t really dwell on this stuff, I was just trying to relate to them.
Hmm...Even though I truly was trying to relate to them, I was doing it in a way that assumed that they also placed a high value on dissecting and analyzing and discussing all aspects of life. After all, “An unexamined life is not worth living” (Socrates).
That’s not necessarily how the women of El Callejon see it, however. For many of them, tomorrow is a new day, so why cloud it with dwelling on bad stuff from the past?Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow, to consider the sparrows and the lilies. I don’t think this means we are never to think about how our lives are impacted by a loved one’s death or by troubled relationships.
But, perhaps too much inward staring isn’t healthy, either. As the women pointed out, I do spend an awful lot of time in my head! (The fact that I’m still thinking about this four days after the fact is pretty strong proof!)
I pray that as I continue to teach the women, I will also be open to their words for me. That as we read the scriptures together, I will be able to put aside some of my own pre-conceived notions of what it says, and read it again with fresh eyes.
And, I pray that as the Holy Spirit leads, we will all learn more about this amazing God we serve, who has all of our yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows in His hands.