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Thoughts on life by Teri McCarthy

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I Am A Big, Loud, White Woman!

Posted by admin in February 16th, 2010
Published in faith, missions, teaching

I am a big, loud, white woman! I’ve been big and loud and…well…white all of my life. When I was a little girl I used to get in big trouble all the time in school as a result of sheer volume. My Mom went to check with one of my elementary school teachers to find out why I was always in trouble. She asked her, “Is Teri really that bad?”

“No,” the teacher replied. “But she is always the first one I hear and so she gets punished.”

It was awful during high school because I so struggled to be quiet and demure. But if I got too excited or had one unguarded moment, the loudness took over. It was terrible.

My poor husband Daryl. He’s so reserved and gentle. On our first date we went to a really nice restaurant. I got too excited over the menu (which is disgusting in and of itself) and when the waiter came to our table I was so over-excited and of course, got too loud. When the waiter left Daryl looked at me and whispered, “Teri, do you think you could use your inside voice?”

Sadly, I thought I was.

Loudness was one of those things in my life that embarrassed me. Frustrated me. Made me feel inferior to everyone else. I just kept thinking that if I could conquer this thing, this weakness, this flaw, I could be better somehow, a more improved version of myself.

In 1983, at 24 years of age and still struggling with loudness, I went to live in China. Now, this might surprise most people who know me, but no one has ever mistaken me for a Chinese person. I have never, ever been asked, “Hey, are you Chinese?” Nope. Never. And one characteristic, or I’d say quality, of the Chinese people is their respect for quiet and gentle manners. Ugh. I knew I wouldn’t fit in.

I went to China with a team of two other women. Irma, who was 65 and actually born in China to missionary parents and Deborah. She was about my age, but had a master’s degree in education and was super smart. Then there was me: big, loud donkey girl me.

After a few weeks on the university campus where we’d been contracted to teach, the Party Secretary came to visit me in my dorm room. Now, I spent my first few college years at a university in Texas—Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos. That school was known for partying. In fact, I think you could major in that at SWTSU. So, you have to understand that when the Party Secretary asked if he could meet with me, I thought this was the guy in charge of getting the keg for the weekend. He was the Man with the Party-down plan. But no….this was Red China in the 1980s. He was the Communist Party Secretary. His name was Lao Seung.

Lao Seung was in charge of monitoring the three American English teachers. Each week he met with us to discuss appropriate wardrobes (red was not a color allowed to be worn in the classroom); he explained that no nail polish was allowed to be worn by teachers. It set a bad example for the students and looked too bourgeoisie. No blue jeans were allowed of course. Too radical. So imagine my anxiety when Lao Seung made a surprise, non-planned, visit to me one day. I was sure I was in trouble.

“Huo Chi! (That’s my Chinese name). Everyone on campus have English feveh! Everyone want to learn English from native-English speaka! We no have enough teachers for everyone. So, will you give all-campus lecture each week in English language? We will invite everyone on campus to come and they can hear native-English lecture. Will you do it?”

Wow. All-campus lectures. He told me everyone would be invited from the university’s president to the cleaning ladies. Professors and students. And their families.

Well…what could I say?

“I’d be happy to Lao Seung. But what do you want me to lecture on each week?”I asked.

“It doesn’t matter! We no pay you for this, so you pick topic,” he smiled.

You see at this time in China, Communist officials were cracking down on “spiritual pollution.” Spiritual pollutants were anything that contradicted basic communist philosophy. On the top of the pollutant list was Christianity. We three American English teachers were not allowed to speak of our faith. We were not allowed to speak of Jesus or the Bible or pass out the Four Spiritual Laws tracts. We couldn’t preach on the street corners or share our love for Jesus in conversations with our students or in our classroom lessons. Big time restrictions. If we had broken these laws we would have been tossed out of the country—not just the offender, but the entire team. So, we prayed in private for our students. We loved them the best we knew how and we asked God to move upon our campus in ways only He could.

“You don’t care what I lecture on?” I asked just to make sure.

He nodded, “No care. You decide.”

“Well Lao Seung I’d like to lecture on Heroes of Hebrew literature. You know, tell stories of heroic men and women of old.” I tested the waters.

Old Lao Seung thought about it for a moment, scratching his chin. Then he smiled and held both thumbs up, “Yes! Very good. Heroes of Hebrew literature. I no know what it is, but it sounds very interesting!”

Those of you reading this old blog probably know these folks. They are Abraham, David, Daniel, Esther, Ruth and Moses. I was thankful that for years I had taught Sunday School for three year olds. I knew the stories in simple English and I knew them by heart. I may not have had a flannel-graph board, but I can be quite animated.

Well, the first week of the Thursday night lecture series, Lao Seung came to escort me over to the lecture hall. It was one of those lecture halls that was built like a theater with the seating stacked to the ceiling and the platform at the bottom of the classroom. Lao Seung and I walked in and the room, which was built for about 300 or 350 people, was packed with over 600 Chinese. There were old and young and educated and not educated. There was the best professor on campus and the guy who swept the sidewalks. Children of instructors and lots and lots of students. I was amazed. I was struck. There really was English fever on campus.

Before the lecture began and everyone was getting settled in I started getting a little prideful. Lao Seung and I were sitting on the low-lying platform and I leaned over to ask him, “Lao Seung, why did you choose me to give the all-campus lectures? Why not Irma or Deborah?” I was thinking to myself it was probably my great intelligence or perhaps my winning personality.

Lao Seung cocked his head back a little surprised and shocked, “Are you kidding? We have no PA system and you only one loud enough!”

And that is when it hit me: God had designed me loud for a reason. He had actually created my DNA with a loud gene for this very time and this very day. The thing that I hated about myself, the thing that I thought was my biggest weakness, my biggest shame, was actually part of the reason God had designed me. Because He knew one day He would send a big, loud donkey girl to China and each week He would make a way for her to tell 600 spiritually starving Chinese about a God who is personal, loving, faithful, and Who keeps His promises. Those Chinese heard of God’s faithfulness to Abraham in giving him a son long after it was physically possible. They learned of a young shepherd boy who slew a giant and became a king. They heard of Daniel in the lion’s den and how God parted the Red Sea and Moses led his people across on dry land.

My weakness, my flaw, my shameful trait, was in truth the very way God had designed me because in my weakness, He showed Himself mighty. He used my weakness to confound the strong.

Eric Liddel, the Scottish gold-medal Olympian, was a runner. He won a gold and a bronze medal in the 1924 Olympics in Paris. Once, his sister Jenny criticized him, complaining that running was a waste of time. If you’ve seen Chariots of Fire you know this scene. Jenny’s scolding her brother, “OH Eric! I don’t know why you waste your time with this runnin’ and racin’.” Eric shyly smiles at his well-meaning sister.

“Oh Jenny. Don’t you know. God made me fast and when I run I feel His good pleasure.”

Well, God made me loud. And when I’m loud I feel His good pleasure.

What has God made you for? What is the thing in your life you believe is your biggest weakness or flaw? We serve a God Who takes those things in our lives we may hate the most and He turns them for good and oftentimes, we His children discover, they weren’t really flaws at all. They are actually our greatest strengths. This way He receives all the glory and all the praise.

For two years every Thursday night at the all-campus lecture, a big, loud donkey girl from Kansas was privileged to tell a packed lecture room of God’s mercy and love and faithfulness. They heard of a compassionate God who longs to be in fellowship with His people. And I know they heard me…even way up near the rafters because God made me loud. Peace.

6 users Responded In This Post

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354. big sister said,
February 16th, 2010 at 2:42 pm

God knew what He was doing, didn’t He? Having you as my loud white sister makes me most proud! Love!

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355. Lisa said,
February 17th, 2010 at 10:30 am

Hey Loud Girl! That’s why we love you — cause you’re JUST the way God made you! Thanks for the encouragement!

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356. Noel Horton said,
February 17th, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Great story, and one I can relate to. After I got married, I asked my wife what her first impression of me was. I expected to hear something about good looks or a strong physique. She said I was loud! Thank God that teachers need volume.

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357. jalling1 said,
February 18th, 2010 at 6:31 am

Once again, you spoke to the deepest part of my heart.

Your cousin,

Janis

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391. Laura Savage-Rains said,
April 28th, 2010 at 9:58 am

I so enjoy hearing your heart! And in my mind, I can also hear that wonderful voice! Looking forward to seeing you in July!!

Blessings,
Laura

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466. Jennie Hester said,
February 6th, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Hi there!

My name is Jennie. I heard you speak a few years back in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma at Perspectives. I purchased a copy of your teaching on cd. Since then we have moved and I can’t see to find the cd anywhere.
Anyhow, through lots of hunting, this seems to be the only way I can find to contact you.
I am hoping there is some way I can purchase a copy of your story about going to Chine. Can you please let me know if this is possible?

Thanks Dear!
Jennie

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