(I just need to give some advance warning for this post. I will make some statements and some of them are generalizations and stereotypes. But here goes anyhow…)
Over these last few weeks I have sat chatting with numerous women of varying ages and in varying life situations. And I’ve been thinking about how most of us naturally process our life-events.
For many years in our church community we have been using a tool called the Learning Circle. It’s based around the words of Jesus in Mark 1:15 which say “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” From this we talk about the word “time” referring to a Kairos – a life-changing event or opportunity (good or bad) – a moment in time. The learning circle is a framework designed to help us process what God is saying when we experience a Kairos.
It looks like this:
(I realise this is not the most professional-looking Learning Circle, but stay with me. Just in-case you can’t read my fantastic writing …. on the first half of the circle it says “observe, reflect, discuss” and on the second-half it says “plan, account, act”)
There is so much I could say about this and if you want some in-depth teaching on it you can get hold of it in this book.
But why do I think that this is an especially great tool for women? Well, what I have observed is that women often do the first half of the learning circle brilliantly. The “observe, reflect, discuss” side of the circle. Let me give you an example: We are having a catastrophe in our lives (an example of a Kairos). We share it with our female friends. They listen to us. We make lots of observations and reflections. We do lots of chatting. We work out why this catastrophe might have happened. We quite often cry. And sympathise. And tell each other that everything will be ok. We can often know what God might be saying to us through that Kairos. And then we feel much better.
And then we leave it at that.
And then in a few months we find ourselves at the same point, not having moved on. We share it with our female friends. They listen to us. We make lots of observations and reflections. We do lots of chatting. We work out why this catastrophe might have happened. We quite often cry. And sympathise. And tell each other that everything will be ok. We can often know what God might be saying to us through that Kairos. And then we feel much better.
And then we leave it at that.
And then in a few months we found ourselves at the same point…..
Get the picture?
When I first met Rich I used to jokingly sing to him “Jim’ll fix it for you. And you and you and ba ba ba. Ba ba ba de ba de ba de ba. (This is a reference to a programme in the UK called “Jim’ll Fix It” presented by a guy called Jimmy Saville. It will only make sense to you if a) you’re English and b) you’re a similar age to me)
Anyhow the reference to “Jim’ll Fix It” was about Rich’s desire to “fix” every situation. Every time I had some kind of Kairos he wanted to shortcut the observations and reflections and was more bothered about how I was going to change. And this is where I think men so often differ from women. A man hears a woman processing a Kairos and very often he jumps straight away into trying to fix it.
And this is why I also think that the learning circle is great for men too. Because they can learn how to engage better in the first half of the circle (but that’s a whole other blog post). When these differences are recognised and harnessed there can be real synergy, and this is something we’ve really tried to develop in our marriage over the last 10 years.
So women, if we really want to see change in our lives, if we really want to allow God to change stuff, rather than just wanting someone to sympathize with us, then we will have to engage with something more. We will have to show genuine repentance (“change of mind”) by actively believing; doing something about it. Now there might be lots of ways to do that but a really effective way we’ve found to do this goes like this: After making godly observations and reflections on the situation or event we go on to
i) make a plan
ii) be held accountable for that plan
iii) do it (in the power of the Holy Spirit)!
Personally, I am so comfortable with repentance. I could set up camp in the first half of the circle. But I’m not content with just being able to make good reflections. I’m not content with just being able to hear what God is saying. At the end of my life I want to look much more like Jesus than I do now. I’m not going to get there just by repentance. I need to step out in faith and do something about it, knowing that God will help me in my small steps of faith.
What does this look like for you?
Are you a woman whose natural tendency is to do the second half of the circle?
Or a man whose natural tendency is to the first half?
…tell me how this all works for you?
posted by Anna