The Tale of Two Women
While a student prayed for the hungry children of the world I had one eye open on the professor who was adjusting the straps on her over-the-shoulder-bolder- holder. It was a bit embarrassing so I shut my eyes before she looked up and caught me. I was mesmerized how she could take that chance when she had a room full of mostly men who hopefully had their eyes shut. Had she reached that age where she was too old to worry about what she did in public? She had to be at least fifty! I peeked through my eyelashes and she was corralling the last boob into its proper place.
I finally figured out the reason the first year student was deliberately carrying on a live prayer marathon. Evidently, he wanted to avoid the much hated pop quiz! I wasn't shocked that a ministerial student would pull off such a self-centered stunt, since I had been exposed to a few shenanigans at a Christian college. It might have been a dare or a prank but I had a feeling this young man had not read the homework assignment and he wasn't ready for the daily pop quiz.
I had tried to read the long assignment, but I couldn't focus as usual nor could I comprehend what little I was reading. Back in elementary school my reading comprehension wasn't bad enough to qualify me for special reading class. I truly envied the kids that got to go to special reading.
The longer the student prayed, the redder Dr. Falls' face turned. I hoped he would keep praying because I wasn't ready for the quiz either. I hated her tricky questions like, how many animals slept under the missionary’s house, or how many people died from malaria, or how many elephants stampeded an African village. She had a romance going on with numbers.
After fifteen or so minutes, the professor blurted out, “Amen! Amen! Thank you young man, sit down, please! You are not the only student I've had to stop praying! (The class laughed.) And, I’m sure you won’t be the last! Remind me to not ask him to pray! (more laughter) Now class, number your paper one to ten for our pop quiz!” I think I got five right or six right.
I remember when Dr. Helen Falls told us on the first day of class that she aspired to become a foreign missionary from the time she was four years old. But, when she finished seminary and applied, she was rejected by the foreign mission board for health reasons. She accepted her fate and decided to use her Masters degree in foreign missions to teach at a seminary. After all, she told us, teaching missions and inspiring students to spread the gospel on foreign fields was the next best thing to being a real, live missionary!"
I often thought about the plight of Miss Falls the foreign missions teacher and Miss Davidson the librarian from my last memoir. Miss Davidson had the opportunity to marry the love of her life and become a foreign missionary but turned both down because she feared she was inadequate. Miss Falls, however, wanted to be a foreign missionary so badly, but she was turned down due to health problems.
Did they both miss their true calling? Does God only have one calling on our life? Did both women settle for less without a fight? Did God hold it against Miss Davidson for refusing to be a missionary? Was He disappointed when Dr. Falls didn’t try harder to be a missionary?
These two extraordinary women accepted their lot in life and they seemed perfectly content. There was a bit of sadness for them at the beginning when their dreams did not come true, but they didn’t let it get them down. Nor, did it stop them from succeeding in doing something else.
Dr. Falls showed me how to accept disappointments graciously and smile regardless of the lemons. She made delicious lemonade and she inspired me to pay attention to the details in life. Miss Davidson reached out to me at the perfect time I needed somebody to care and she inspired me to let Christ love people through me, one person at a time.