Last week, I went to a meeting at church about Adult Formation. And if you don't know what that means, then you are pretty much where I was before I went to the meeting. I thought it was going to be about Sunday School for grownups, and since I go to Sunday School, I might have ideas about it. Basically, someone asked me to come, and I said okay. That's how they getcha.
There were ten or so of us, and I knew who everyone was, at least by face. These were church people, the ones you see every week, usually doing something like reading the scripture or carrying the banner or singing in the choir.
Our priest started the meeting by asking everyone to say their name and what their passion was in Adult Formation. I got sort of a panicked look in my eyes, because I do not as of yet really feel a passion about Sunday School. I managed to get by with only saying that I was here because I was an Adult interested in being formed. Other people seemed much more passionate. A couple of them spoke intensely about something called "EFM" that happens on Wednesday nights. I wanted to ask what it stood for, but the moment passed.
As it turns out, Adult Formation does not mean just Sunday School. It basically means any programs in the church targeted at adults. So that includes the evening Bible studies and mission trips and EFM, whatever it is.
The meeting stuff was fine. We talked about the results from a previous meeting, where some other group of passionate individuals had come up with a list of things we did well and things we would like to do better. I didn't really say much. I laughed when things were funny or made a sly comment or two, but for the most part, I just listened. I got the feeling that the meeting was really more for ideas-people than implementers like myself, but I was still interested.
About halfway through, the priest looked at me and asked, "Sandra, are we giving you room to speak?"
The lady next to her said, "Yes, I'd like to know what Sandra thinks!"
Oh, geez, no. No no no no no no. My face red, I assured them that I would say something if I felt the need. We moved on to talk about Wednesday night Bible study.
Up until that moment, I had felt very comfortable. I was interested in the conversation, and any thoughts that I'd had, someone else had spoken up about them.
And then I just wanted to go home. I did not feel comfortable, I felt anxious, like I needed to be sure and have something to say in case I was called on. And then I felt more anxious about the fact that I was so busy worrying about not having anything to say that I wasn't paying attention to the meeting anymore.
That was the first time I have ever left my church feeling mad. Room to speak, bah. Can't I just have room to listen?
On Sunday, I was at the cookie hour following the service when I saw someone who had been at the meeting. She said it was funny how different people can be about speaking. She mentioned a person at EFM (?!) who never used to say anything, but after a year or so, began to speak up more. Then she said something about people needing to feel they are in a safe space.
So do I need to feel safe? Or do I need room to speak? I really don't know. But I do not like being treated like I'm fragile or even just shy, because I don't think I am. I'm just quiet...right?
I don't know. I still don't know what EFM is, either.