*Disclaimer: Any opinions expressed are personal and stated purely to explain the narrative. Nothing stated is meant to cause offense. *
Now, go! I myself will help you with your speech, and I’ll teach you what you are to say. -Exodus 4:12 (ISV)
I have a dear friend whom I met in church when I was five and she was three. However, six years ago her family moved away to another state, and slowly but surely, I’ve felt the bond between us dwindle. We’ve both grown up and apart. I can’t express how much this realization saddens me—it has for the past three years. Nevertheless, this last year, it has weighed on me even more: after a bad experience at a church and a year or so of not congregating, my friend’s parents have decided to reject the faith. They did not tell my family, but one of their Christian relatives confided to us the tragic truth. Honestly, I have no idea where my friend stands. Yet, either way, I feel the need to encourage her in the faith she once professed to believe. The only obstacles: I can’t physically speak with her, I’m not great at conversation—and much less at anything deep—and she isn’t the best at keeping a chat going.
Anyway, one day I decided to try my luck. I sent her a message addressing her Whatsapp status, which sounded hard-core feminist. I asked what her stance on women’s rights and such was. As someone who is skeptical regarding the entire feminist movement, I already had a full sermon at the tip of my tongue. I thought that somehow discussing grave topics would be a good way to reconnect and bolster the Biblical worldview in her eyes. However, I began the wrong way. Every time she stated something, I would counter—automatically shifting the mode in her head to defensive. Soon we were holding a rather awkward, cold, stilted debate. Then she said it was her bed time. We said our good-nights. Realizing I might have gone too far, I tried to make up for the harsh debate with an “Love you. Rest well. Sweet dreams,” and a heart emoji.
I felt empty. Completely void. I had tried to encourage her faith and failed miserably. In fact, the thought exchange had merely served to widen the ravine between us, I felt. Had I been loving? No. I had been cold and callous, I was sure. And there I sat, in the middle of the roof-room floor pondering where I had gone wrong.
I discovered my mistake: I had reached out to her by myself. I had tried to advocate celestial designs through my own limited powers. I had wanted to draw her into the faith using my own intellect—and had wretchedly flopped. For the Bible’s love and truth to shine through, my words had to come from the Author of Everything. Anything else would fall utterly short of the mark.
I sent another message to my friend. This time I hoped to merely be the channel through which the Lord could speak. I typed a kilometric text, encouraging her to search the Bible with me for answers about gender roles. She never answered my message. All I can do is hope that a desire for Scripture was stirred in her and keep on trying with the Lord’s gracious help.