When our kids are Pre-K age we feel keeping them alive is all we can handle. And some days that is even debatable. So when our church ladies’ committee approached me about being President, I initially said no. But they persisted and my resolve weakened and finally disappeared. I became the new President of our women’s organization.
The Vice President invited me over for lunch, to make plans she said for the upcoming year. Innocent enough I thought-I couldn’t have been more wrong. Oh the meal was pleasant enough-tuna sandwiches and fruit salad (staples of women’s lunches in the South). But then she began her speech.
“I’ve done some research on you, and I realize you have young children. You’ve also never held a position of leadership at our church. I’m not sure you are the right person to be our president. However, you have already been appointed, and you do seem to have a teachable heart, so I guess we will just find a way to make it through this year.” Although I never really wanted this position, I still didn’t enjoy being told I’m not qualified. What the heck is a teachable heart anyway? Does that mean she feels empowered to tell me everything I’m doing wrong? I did not see this year off to a good start.
To make matters worse, I managed to be five to ten minutes late for every officer meeting. It wasn’t really my fault-my husband could not always get home exactly in time for me to leave on time. Sometimes one child or the other would spill something, spill something on me, or just have a meltdown because I was leaving. Every time I walked into the officer meeting I could feel her icy stare and knew once again I was confirming her theory that I was not the right person to be President.
Our women’s functions were normally on Saturdays so I could run out the door and leave my husband with children munching Pop Tarts and watching cartoons. It was just those darn officer meetings. I tried to move them but the other officers couldn’t meet later in the evening or the weekend. My tardiness became an unwritten part of our monthly agenda-everyone sat and chatted for five to ten minutes until I walked in the door. But I still knew deep down that my Vice President thought very little of my lack of timeliness.
I managed to survive the year with a few tears and quite a bit of anger and guilt-pretty much the same as any other year of motherhood. My Vice President was moving up to President and I was rolling off the board, and I think neither one of us could be happier. I skipped to the last women’s program of the year with a song in my heart. Little did I know I was about to learn a hard lesson in forgiveness.
I brought the meeting to order and said a prayer for our women and our meeting. I was about to introduce our speaker when my Vice President stood up and announced she had something she’d like to say to everyone. As she made her way up to the front of the room my heart started beating wildly. I imagined she was going to tell everyone that this meeting marked the end of an incompetent President with poor punctuality and misbehaving children. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
My Vice President began her speech with tears in her eyes as she addressed the women. She told us that she had begun this year with a grievance against me because she had judged me as inexperienced and therefore incompetent. As the year progressed and I arrived at each officer’s meeting late, she became more and more convinced that I was unfit to be President. Her heart hardened against me each month. However, these last two months her life had changed dramatically and so had her heart.
Her son had gotten divorced, received custody of the kids, and moved across the street from her and her husband. She jumped right in to help and found herself taking care of the kids several hours a day. She got them ready for school and dropped them off, and also picked them up and helped them with homework. She began taking them to school activities and feeding them dinner when her son had to work late. She started to remember that being a mom is hard! Timeliness went out the window quickly as she tried to adjust to being responsible for getting three people out the door instead of just one.
My Vice President turned to me, openly crying, and begged my forgiveness. She confessed she had forgotten how much is involved in being a mother and judged me for not measuring up to her strict standards. She tearfully said she hoped I could find it in my heart to forgive her and that we could be friends. My heart literally melted and I also broke into tears as I hugged her. I couldn’t even get the words out of my mouth but she knew I accepted her apology. I turned to the audience and exclaimed “Well you can’t have a women’s meeting without some tears!”
I find a lesson to be learned in all my past deeds. I should have addressed our problem at the beginning of the year. I admit I am not good at conflict, and I was even worse at that time in my life. I also should have been praying for my Vice President-I think that would have helped my hard heart tremendously. Today as an Empty Nester I have the utmost respect and patience for parents of young children because I do remember the struggles.
Please comment and let me know what you would have done in my situation, and tell me some stories of your personal trials of getting somewhere on time.