[this is an excerpt from something I (Helen) wrote a few years ago, processing my first time discipleship group]
I’m not doing it. There is no way.
I have nothing to share, I’m just wading out of post partum depression.
I’m too tired. Everyone else is a ninja at it.
There’ll just be long, uncomfortable silences and I’ll start jabbering untheological nonsense to fill it. The baby will start screaming. I’ll run out of things to say after 2 weeks.
I’m just. Not. Doing it.
Week one. 8 hours to go. I am feeling hot, now cold.
I test the Skype connection for the third time. It’s still working. Shame.
I check my notes again and think about every word I should say. Long suffering husband smiles patiently. This infuriates me.
“Just tell your story”, he says brightly. “that’ll take up half an hour or so”. HALF AN HOUR?? Of me talking? Non stop? About MYSELF? I haven’t talked for half an hour total in the past year! What story? What on earth for? “To give a back story, to add legitimacy, weight to say where you’ve been and what you’ve come through. People love hearing stories and you’re going to be sharing your life and discipling these women”. I AM?? Full blown panic attack. In retrospect, more coffee is probably not helping.
I write out every word of ‘my story’ but I can’t remember most of it and I definitely need to make it sound more like I knew what was actually going on spiritually. Full time lawyer, ministry call, total failure, miscarriages, love and loss, overseas move and back again, family illnesses, desert times, huge blessings, more failure, more loss. I have managed to somehow reduce this to some chronological house moves and the difficulty of international shipping.
And now the computer pipes up: You are now running on reserve power. YOU think I don’t KNOW that? Reserve power – it’s all I’ve got left.
Ten minutes before the group starts; I sit serenely on the nursing chair in my 7 month old’s room, the lights dimmed. I am gently humming, all is calm and ordered. I breathe. And baby sits up and throws up. Everywhere. Lasagna. I’m covered. The new Laura Ashley rug is covered. Baby is covered, and now screaming. I’m yelling for assistance, and the others emerge from whence they were banished. My twelve year daughter swings into action, ordering the others with practised assurance, one to a bucket and cloth, warm soapy water, the other to run a bath for the baby, and she orders me to change and leave them to it. And I wonder how she’s learned to organize like that, to sum up a situation and sort it out so confidently. And it suddenly dawns on me that perhaps I do know a few useful things and perhaps I might be able to teach something which might be helpful.
And five minutes later, I sit in my PJ's, still smelling awful, and tell my story to a group of women in North Carolina, in Indiana, in Peru. I still need my notes. I don’t feel very articulate. But somehow, what God has done in my life, it seems to take half an hour. And I learn more than they probably do. And then a couple of them tell their stories. Stories of marriages being redeemed, of loss comforted, of the hard nature of living in community, of betrayal of friends and the never ending juggling of motherhood. And all of us say we want to share the journey, to learn together the tools that will help us disciple others, despite the smell of baby sick and the release of tears down the skype line or across the cloud or however it works.
And afterwards, when I sit with my husband, him smiling smugly, I breathe deep and thank long and am amazed at the power of being vulnerable and honest. And that’s when I realize. I have to do all this AGAIN next week…? No. Way.