Tonight was the second half of our discussion on chapter one in our book Sacred Roads, Relational Discipleship. Understand, please, that the word TANGENT was used to describe our ragamuffin group of women. We stray from topic to talk about things such as the priesthood and the way they love wine, Amway hawking in the 1980s, and the Latina family structure. So it’s all a great ball of fun.
We had five women, two who were not part of the five we had last week. It’s kind of funny, seeing as how all save one (including me) are DRASTIC Type A people (and I am giving the benefit of the doubt to T, the new girl, as I don’t know her well enough to say yep, she’s one of us). And we all seemed to struggle with the same concepts. Confession and submission.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that submission is the point of relational discipleship. But the examples that are given in the book brought the subject up. To be honest, submission is a word that didn’t occur to me in the slightest when I was reading, but it must have come up for others. The first Old Testament story that is given was for Moses and Joshua, how Joshua served as Moses’s second until such a time as he was appointed the leader–40 years after first starting to serve with Moses. I thought it was odd that the questions for this section were difficult for people to answer–we had to describe a training experience, good or bad, and what the value in a spiritual relationship like that would be. I came up with answers easily, I admit–but then again, training is what I do. (Well, what I would do were I employed for a living at this current time.) It was odd to me that people couldn’t think of examples. T gave a personal example from her profession–as a physical therapist, she has to mentor people, and the question she had to learn to deal with is how much to hand-hold in order to be able to allow them to work on their own. The other girls started to get it. To me, I think the easiest way to explain how I think of training is birds. As a baby bird you receive instruction, and at some point mama shoves you out of the tree. You either fall on your head or you spread your wings. If the training for something is sufficient, you should be able to fly. Further illustrating the point is the story of Elisha and Elijah. Elijah taught, Elisha followed, and then surpassed the instructor. Signs of a good teacher.
We spent a lot of time discussing Naomi and Ruth. I have always loved this book. Ruth is one of my favorites. Again, discussion was more on how people were stymied by the way Naomi could help Ruth, or Ruth help Naomi. We had a long discussion about the two of them. My thoughts on how they helped one another on their spiritual journey? Naomi, who had lost her husband and both her sons in a short period of time, returned to her homeland and the faith and values she had known since she was young. The dedication to her faith that she shows despite her grief is, to me, an inspiring thing and one I think Ruth saw as well. Ruth gave up all she knew, her own homeland, her own culture, to move back to Israel with her MIL and to do her best to support her in her time of grief. Her loyalty and service to her husband’s family enabled them to eat and survive, and eventually to move along into a relationship with a relative of Naomi and marry Boaz–something that, had she stayed in her own homeland, she would have not had the opportunity to do.
We then talked about relational discipleship in the new testament, and how that might be an even harder concept. Maybe it’s just our group of women, but with one exception (who has quite the famous evangelist for a father and therefore grew up quite differently than the rest of us) we spent a long time talking about how we did NOT have those important role models in our youth that enabled us to learn and glean. We might have had brief shining moments, but more remembered are the corrupt youth minister fired for his outside activities (me) or the priests that made very inappropriate comments to the growing young teenagers (someone else). All in all, though, we then somehow got on the subject of Paul, and how for such a singular man he had such a great impact on our faith and how, without him, the voice of Jesus as we know it would be drastically different.
Finally, we talked about mentoring and confession. Of all the weeks for J to be absent, this was one I wished she could have been at. The majority of us have had no experience with mentoring or with mentorship, though it is a prominent program in our church. J has about five mentors that she refers to regularly, that she has learned and grown much from. The goal of this group that we have formed, however, is to have a mentor sort of relationship with the members. We have four that are in their 40s-50s, and four that are in their late 20s-early 30s. I am the oddball, sitting in my later 30s, but not married with no children don’t have the same experiences that the ‘older’ group does.
I am enjoying this study. I laughingly made fun of the girl that chose the book saying that for chapter one the questions are already quite difficult and thought provoking, but it leads to wonderful discussion throughout the evening. I am anxious to see what the next few weeks bring as it seems that as we get to know one another better the conversations will get more intense.
I’ll end with this final quote from the chapter that I liked. Edgar Guest (and if I were good I’d look up who this guy is) said “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day. I’d rather one would walk with me than merely tell the way.” Isn’t that the truth!