My mother visited us from California for the last week. She had a speaking engagement in another town in Ohio. For those who are new readers, my mom is one of those shocking grandmas. She's written a total of 55 books, speaks all over the country and hikes up mountains for "vacations." You can check out her website here: Karen O'Connor.com.
She's got a new book out that has a beautiful cover: The Beauty of Aging
Anyway, we went to a country club community event where she was the keynote speaker. In advance she had been told not to be overt about her Christian faith in such a way that it might offend those who are not Christians. The event was sponsored by a community family news magazine, not a church. My mom is artful in her ability to affirm those who are making the journey toward God and is inclusive in how she expresses her beliefs. The talk was delightful and practical. She talked a bit about offering gratitude at the end of each day and that prayer can function as the means to offer that gratitude - to God, to your source or Higher Power.
She sold lots of books and got great feedback at the book table.
However, what neither of us counted on: this is Ohio. Church and Christianity are givens.
The feedback on the evaluation forms was overall very affirming - women love when my mom speaks. But two of the women were dismayed by the lack of overt Christian message. They went so far as to say that my mother undermined the Christian message by including a Higher Power in her talk and that Jesus is the only way to God. One of them said it made it nearly impossible to witness when my mom as the speaker didn't take a strong stand for Christian faith. The organizer of the event then expressed some disappointment that my mom didn't make her faith more overt (how confusing is that!?).
The event organizer assumed that since my mother attended a 4Square church that she would be too charismatic in her enthusiasm for her faith so the moderator had wanted to "tone her down." How ironic that when my mom took her advice seriously, she got criticized for it.
I find the whole thing absurd. Imagine being one of those women: you go to a talk over breakfast and the whole time you're listening, you're evaluating whether or not you agree with the speaker (thereby missing the import of the talk, I might add, which was about making the most of each moment in our lives based on my mom's book Squeeze the Moment).
Instead, these couple of women were busy "squeezing the speaker" in their minds, utterly missing the moment.
I have to admit... I remember living that way. It was a good reminder to me to realize that I need to give as much space and graciousness as I hope will be extended to me.