When I first started women’s bible study in September 2015, I hated it. My heart was in discord with the wizened smiling faces, the pleasantries, the organized program, the style of lecture, the small group discussions, and the questions on the homework that felt a little too much like my high school bible class homework.
I was coming to bible study hoping to be met on my own terms, like a millennial, and WOW began with a generation very different than mine. That generation, the one that became known as the Greatest Generation, speaks another language. They are a generation of manners and class and duty and privacy.
Mine is a generation that makes songs about our feelings, delving deep into our emotions, inventing new word pictures to describe and discuss our thoughts. I am of a generation that has become its own paparazzi, airing its victories and complaints. We are a generation that does relationships differently, without pleasantries, without rules, without customs, and often times without consistency.
And here in this bible study, the clash of the generations was happening in my heart as I saw an older generation doing something that I, if I were to do likewise, would be guilty of fakery.
But they are not fake, that generation. They are doing what they ought despite what they feel. They are modest and courteous and kind. And they care deeply about God’s word and how it effects their lives, although they use different words to describe this experience than me.
What became quite clear to me in my fifth month of bible study was that I had to stop expecting others to alter their methods for my learning experience. And I had to allow that their differences weren’t wrong, and in fact were quite meaningful and proper for them. Most importantly, I had to stop expecting to be listened to or understood perfectly. That is no one’s job but God’s.
I was tempted to give up WOW. Perhaps this was just a thing for the older generations and not me. But the desire to conquer compelled me not to give up. How do I make this thing work? It’s like a big machine, one that’s been running for years quite well. All the gears and levers fit together and run smoothly. The ladies know their jobs and do them duteously.
It was my burden to discover how my cogs could fit into theirs. We are, after all, one body. And these ladies, these sisters in Christ, are ones that I will be with for eternity. I must learn to love and respect them. We are all in the same boat. They are on my team, part of the same fleet, the same family. I’m sure I could go elsewhere and practice religion with people more like myself, people who practice being real like its a religion. But I think if I were to do this, I would be like the rich young ruler who went away sad because he wasn’t willing to sell all his possessions.
I have been asked to sell all my possessions. Yes, even this, comfort in worship. And there is a promise that when I give all that I have, I will gain back much more than I have given away. I gain a more multifaceted picture of God, reflected back in the faces of the ladies who do things differently than me.