Disappointment. Unbelief. Flabbergasted. Sadness.
I don’t know how to describe my feelings after a debrief meeting about our recent Kyiv Christian Women’s Fellowship weekend retreat. For 2-1/2 hours we talked about specific things to make the next retreat better. (This is my third year serving on the committee, so these debrief sessions are not new to me). We ate fabulous chocolate cake, sipped wine or champagne, coffee, or juice. A very pleasant gathering.
The problem was that there was an issue that needed to be discussed. Nearly 1/4 of the comments written on evaluations immediately following the retreat mentioned this problem. And, yet, because it was controversial, the committee chair swept it under the rug! “It’s over already” was her solution.
This wasn’t a NEW issue — it had come up prior to the retreat. A warning that certain teachings might not be what we want to promote. But, no, “trust us.” “Trust my friend.” (NOT trust God. Or trust His Word.) I was told very clearly that I needed to back off — that this wasn’t MY club nor my retreat. Why deny OTHER women the opportunity to hear these teachings?
I was assured that this teaching would be taught in an OPTIONAL seminar on Saturday, so I could just skip it if I didn’t want to go. That seemed to be a reasonable compromise considering how close we were to the actual retreat weekend.
Well, that is not at all what happened. This teaching followed every talk that the main speaker gave. “Close your eyes. Tell Jesus what you want Him to do for you.” (As if He hasn’t already done it all!) I was totally dumbstruck. I felt ambushed. I sat through the “exercise” and couldn’t wait to get out of the room. Interestingly, I saw other women with puzzled looks on their faces asking me what had just happened in there! Not wanting to influence anyone’s thinking, I quickly headed to my room. I ran into several other confused folks and simply nodded in agreement. I skipped the game time so that I wouldn’t unwittingly say something too negative about the evening.
The next day I made a point of sitting near the exit rather than in the second row. It amused me when I saw who else suddenly chose to sit in those rows! I sat through the gobbledy-gook one more time, but I just couldn’t stay in the room on Saturday evening after the main speaker finished her teaching. When I saw her friend stand up to close out the night, I left the auditorium and read Scripture. Again, I skipped the camaraderie around the bonfire — s’mores and all — for fear that I might say something that would be misconstrued as negative.
Back in my room I had lots of visitors. And we had some great discussions. Not everyone agreed that the teaching was wrong, but those who were willing to discuss it at all DID say that they agreed that it was controversial and probably shouldn’t be part of the main content of the retreat.
Sunday morning I was surprised to be called out of the auditorium by one of the committee members. I was actually quite humbled when she thanked me for taking a stand for truth, and that she wasn’t sure she agreed with the warnings several of us gave…but she certainly had some red flags go up over the weekend and would be evaluating her notes in light of Scripture. Hey, that’s all we hoped! I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but at least do your homework! Be a Berean, for Heaven’s sake! She also acknowledged that she knew the weekend had been painful for me, and she was sorry for that.
So back to tonight. No acknowledgement whatsoever that there had been any problems with the teaching over the weekend. No acknowledgement that what we had agreed upon was not honored. No acknowledgement that there might be some validity to the concerns mentioned prior to the retreat.
Simply: “It’s over. Next.”
Whew. I resigned from the committee — before tonight, actually. Not because I disagreed with the decisions made, but rather how they were made.
Lesson learned from the meeting: If there’s a conflict, quickly pass over it. The Body will feel united, believing that maybe there wasn’t a conflict at all. The committee will believe that all is well. And life can return to normal. After all, we have two years until the next retreat.
How thankful I am to have Christian friends who will engage in meaningful discussions. Who will hold me accountable to God’s truth. Who will challenge my thinking. Who will wrestle with issues with me.
Thank you, Lord, for those friends. And for my children who have insight way beyond what I had at their ages.
And thank you, Lord, for my favorite sounding board: Jim.