I have asked Sandra Glahn, my mentor and co-author of Sumatra With the Seven Churches, to write a guest post, giving an example of pressing on in her life. I think you will enjoy it greatly!
The ultimate neighborhood babysitter, I believed I was destined for motherhood. I loved living in a large family; I never felt lonely; I always had a cheering section for viola concerts; and we had killer seven-part harmony on road trips. So when I went to Bible college as a new believer, I had no career plans. Mostly, I envisioned myself married to Gary, my high school sweetheart.
Once we married and received our diplomas, we moved to Dallas for Gary to attend seminary. And around our fifth anniversary, we decided to expand our family. But a year passed with no success. And then another. I went to the doctor. Nothing. A third year passed.
And then it happened—a positive pregnancy test! But cheers turned to sobs when I miscarried. But then I conceived again. And miscarried. This scene repeated itself seven times—ending with an ectopic pregnancy.
We took a year to recover before pursuing adoption. Then over the course of three years, we connected with three birthmothers, each of whom changed their minds.
The spiritual crisis laid me lower than the emotional one. What did God want me to do? The wound struck at the core of my womanhood and at my limited view of what God made woman to do. Wasn’t giving birth the pinnacle? Wasn’t raising kids the proper channel for a woman with the gift of teaching? I’d always heard that a female images God when married and more fully images God when she has children; that her highest calling is motherhood and that she is sanctified—especially if she’s a teacher—through that role. No careers outside the home—only caring for the family. Where did I fit into that view of anthropology?
As I write this, I marvel at the narrowness of my perspective. In God’s pattern book I see a wide array of options and means for women serving Him. And I wonder…where would my views have left the virtuous wife who bought and sold real estate, stretched forth her hand to the needy, sold belts in the marketplace, and—most shocking of all—taught the torah of hesed (Prov. 31:26)? And tent-making Priscilla, who partnered with her husband to teach the orator Apollo—what about her? And the merchant of the Thyatira Purple Company, Lydia, or the women in Luke 8 whose jobs supported Paul? I couldn’t see then what I know now—that godly womanhood cuts its fabric from a wide swath, and its garments are not “one size fits all.”
As I prayed about what I should do, I considered that I had a degree in Bible; I loved teaching women’s Bible study; and my husband and mentor were urging me to attend seminary. Finally, though medical bills had drained our finances, an older woman promised she would cover the $1,950 for my tuition.
But a week before school started, she called to inform me that her son had lost his job and she would have to use the money to help him instead. I hung up and bawled. Lord, if I can’t be a mom and I can’t be a student, what am I supposed to do with my life?
A week later, when the mail arrived four hours ahead of the tuition deadline, the surprise that met me served as one of the most meaningful “God sightings” of my life. I opened an envelope from my fertility doctor’s office and found inside a check for my unused medications that he had legally resold. The amount: $1,900.
Despite such provision, I still doubted whether a woman should attend seminary. So on the way to my first class, I dropped to my knees and begged God to stop me if I was doing wrong. And the Spirit whispered these words: “Mary has chosen what is better.” While Martha was complaining that her sister had wrong priorities in the domestic department, Jesus was saying, “Leave her alone.” She was learning theology—as God desired her to do. I walked out the door with head high that day, as the Lord had provided the peace and provision I needed.
Today we have a 17-year-old daughter who joined our family through adoption, and I teach at the same seminary where I took a class that spring. In the years that followed my mailbox surprise and the whispered Word, I found my purpose: I was born to teach. And in addition to raising my daughter in the faith, I have children numbering in the hundreds who are serving Christ all over the world.
About Today’s Guest Blogger
Sandra Glahn teaches at Dallas Seminary, edits Kindred Spirit magazine, and has written seventeen books including the Coffee Cup Bible Studies. She’s is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas/Dallas focusing on aesthetics, gender, and first-century Artemis/Ephesus.