Blue Jeans and a Ponytail ~ BSF by Suzanne Matthews
I told this story recently. I had not thought about it in a really long time. When asked about my faith journey, all of a sudden the memories came flooding back…
When I became a Christian my junior year in college I was briefly mentored through the first months as a Christian newbie. Looking back, I knew nothing really; only that my heart had been changed by believing Jesus died on the cross for my sins. A friend told me that the word believe in the Greek meant to receive personally, and in a tiny dorm room late at night, I got personal with Jesus and confessed I was lost and hurting and opened my heart to receive my Savior.
What took root in me was belief. I believed, but I didn’t know how to grow. After college and wildly in love with my new husband and my new city (Our City), I became immersed in growing a marriage and a family and enticed by everything the world set before me. I wouldn’t quite call it keeping up with the Jones’ as much as keeping with ‘me’. I had some pretty steep dreams and felt continual disappointment by my failure to reach them. I call these my back burner years because my faith sat barely simmering on the back burner as so many other things boiled out of control.
It took me about five years to grow desperate.
My husband and I had four little stair-step children and by the time the last two were off to kindergarten I found myself, for the first time, able to breathe a little. I was desperate for “me” time. The long list of ideas to satisfy my dreams ranged from golf or cooking classes to a crazy array of entrepreneurial ventures. Interestingly, through all the back burner years and obvious desperation, my mother repeatedly relayed to me faith stories from a Bible study in which she participated. I listened but the interest stopped there.
One day standing around with kindergarten moms, I was telling the things on my ‘free time’ list. A girl I barely knew asked if I would consider a Bible study. As she talked about it, I thought it sounded familiar, a lot like the one my mother kept telling me about. And it was, the same one – Bible Study Fellowship. Right then and there something changed in me. I knew I would go, wanted to go; in fact there was nothing that would keep me from going. I tore up the rest of my list and on the second Wednesday in September I walked in BSF and found what I was desperate for.
I’ll never forget the first day. I didn’t know a soul, everyone was so nice and also more dressed up than I was. These were the days of skirts and sweater sets. From the minute I walked in my heart was pounding – not from nervousness or being under dressed, but from the Holy Spirit’s confirmation in me that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Each week I snuck in, sat on the back row in blue jeans, with my hair in a pony tail. I didn’t care if anyone else saw me; I knew God saw me. I found what I’d been desperate for – a relationship with Jesus.
Wednesday’s became my favorite day of the week. I came home and at the dinner table re-taught what I had learned. My husband said Wednesday’s were his favorite day of the week because I was so happy. The Bible came alive to me. I was completely floored that Jesus was alive. I could prove it – He was alive in me! Every single week there was another truth that I had never heard or thought of. Girls in my small group talked about God planting seeds in their hearts. With me, God was not planting a nice little garden; He was planting a farm, plowing up hard ground and planting row crops!
One of my strongest memories is how I revered the lecturer. In December, after listening for four months to her weekly talks, I wanted to simply thank her. I tried to make it from the back row down the aisle but halfway there I started crying, just rehearsing the words I wanted to say. I left the church with a full heart and unspoken words of gratitude.
To this day two things mean the world to me. Spiritual growth. I remember what it feels like to be starved and hungry for God and the Holy Spirit’s spark. When I see it – in others, in myself, I still feel the first-time fire.
And then this: it has happened a few times after I have taught God’s Word that someone in the audience will approach me with tears in her eyes. She has no idea what I remember, and I always love her for her bravery.
Bible Study Fellowship starts next week in Our City. I’ll be attending the day class, anyone want to meet me on the back row? I’ll know you by your jeans and pony tail.
The Women’s Day Class starts next Wednesday at 9:10a at Southwood Presbyterian and the Eventing Class starts Tuesday at 6:20p at Southside Baptist. The Men’s Evening Class begins Monday at 6:30 at First Baptist Church.
Author ~ Suzanne Matthews
One day I am an artist and another day I am an author. One thing all days… I love the Word of God! I cut my spiritual teeth teaching the Bible Study Fellowship Evening Women’s class in Huntsville. After 14 years, God called me to write, and a few years ago I retired from the Huntsville Museum of Art as the Director of Advancement to finish writing Crossings: Life Lessons from the Book of Joshua. That study cemented my advocacy for small group study, and I am busy writing my second study to be completed spring of 2014. I married the love of my life, Ben, and we have four grown children and I am “Zannie” to seven grandchildren. We worship at Saint Andrew’s Anglican Church in Madison. You can keep up with me through my blog at Coffee, Tea and Thee.