I was looking for a Women’s Group last Fall, when my Mom and I saw the Community Bible Study group for women was being held at our church. It sounded interesting so we signed up. It was very interesting to me because I have never been in a study before with a workbook. It took about five hours each week to complete it because there was a lot of questions and reading each week. I wasn’t able to go many weeks because I wasn’t strong enough and my health was bad.
When I was in school I was never in a classroom that gave me work that required study and reading and answering questions. My school was about tasks, so this was a good experience for me to realize what that was like. It was the book of Acts in the Bible that we studied for 30 weeks. It was interesting to me because I have never studied the Bible like that. I have heard the Bible all my life but I haven’t answered questions so it took a lot of my Mom’s time to help me with this study.
Yesterday was our last time together and I have had two weeks of lots of breath holding and hyperventilating. I hate them! I hate being noticed because I am turning blue, but I had known in my heart that I wanted to let everyone know how much I valued my time with them. The entire group was very large, about 150 people. My small group was about 12 women. I wrote a message and my Mom and I went up to the microphone and shared it with everyone who was there. I know many of them saw me for the first time. Really saw me. If I was in the room with the large group I was not seen as someone who was intelligent, so it brought great joy to my heart to share this message. There were tears, clapping and a standing ovation. I am glad for that, but mostly I am glad for them because their eyes and ears and hearts were opened just a little bit more yesterday, because they saw. I feel glad for that and I feel blessed.
Here’s part of my message to them:
It was a hard thing for me to decide to come to a formal Bible Study. I often feel anxious in a formal setting because my disorder causes my body to act in ways that might distract others. When I can’t control it, I get stressed.
I don’t know if this is a group that I will continue with next year, but I wanted all of you to know something. I have learned a lot about Paul. His courage, his boldness, and willingness to suffer much pain. His righteous anger at times, his ability to teach about things that changed people’s lives, in a culture that didn’t value change. I learned about how much a willing heart can be used by God. I find my heart is more open to learning if I can see how it can not only change my life, but the lives of others around me, when I ask God how I can use my new understanding.
I have many times felt overwhelmed by the limitations that my disorder has caused me and my family. But I am so glad that even when our lives make no sense to others, God can use us in mighty ways, just like He did with Paul. I think the thing I’m most glad about from this study, is that God knows who we are. And the things that may look like problems to others in our bodies, our minds and our spirits are known of God, and He can use them for His glory. Paul didn’t seem like a likely candidate for a Christian at the beginning of this study, but by the end we can see how God used his personality and his heart to change the world in ways that others couldn’t. I want to be bold like Paul and not live a life that I will have to apologize for.