Still Learning

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This year, our Summer Sampler theme dovetails with our mentoring endeavors. As you know, by design is dedicated to fostering healthy spiritual mentoring relationships among the generations. As we seek to learn from each other, one concept that comes up frequently is the desire to learn from those before us and pass on our experience to those coming after. In this series, we will learn the hard-won lessons from women who have been walking with the Lord and have some wisdom to share. We hope that you’re blessed and enriched by their stories.

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Still Learning

By Jan Carlberg

Returned home from North Carolina last evening. I love and need time with my brother, Ralph, and sister-in-love, Chris. A couple of mornings, Ralph made pecan waffles along with country ham and warm maple syrup. We had Carolina BBQ and just enough sweet tea to last me until I head back in August with the whole family. So now you know why I didn’t post a blog until now. Too busy feasting and making memories.

Sunday meant church. They’re members of a more conservative Presbyterian church. I attend an Episcopal church that’s not as conservative. But both congregations love Jesus, work at knowing and loving each other and welcoming those outside the church. As a family, we don’t agree on everything, but who does? But we love each other. Period.

However, last Sunday I expected to be on opposite sides of the pastor’s sermon: “It is Good: Human Sexuality.” I was so sure I knew where he was headed. And that’s just one of the problems within churches, Congress, and elsewhere. People like ME. We’re so sure that WE are right and THEY are wrong. This sermon was part of a series from Genesis on the theme of God creating and saying, “It Is Good.” And this Sunday he tackled a tough issue within our culture and the Church. He’s brave.

Well, I’m still learning. Before he preached, we sang “God is so good,” like we needed reminders. I do. If I heard nothing more than these snippets, God got my attention. “Don’t treat people like a social issue.” And “Relationships matter more than winning arguments.” And “Sometimes saying nothing may be better than saying something.” He wrapped his words in GRACE.

Sunday felt a little like going back in time. I was a kid again, sitting with my brother in church. He pointed out a WWII vet, 100 years old, sitting across the aisle, wearing his baseball hat with the stars on it. But when the service started, he removed his hat. The song came from my childhood, “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” The old soldier leaned on the chair in front of him and sang like he knew more about leaning on Jesus than I’d ever know. Too true.

We sang about the strong arms of Jesus, but as I looked around I sensed we come to church to lean on and learn from each other, too. We need each other to deal with hard stuff in our world, country, churches, within our families, and unwell stuff inside us. Like my friend Jay Barnes reminded me when dealing with divisive issues and hurting folks, “We’re to listen, absorb pain, and return Grace.” 

Well, sometimes I need reminders of what to let loose of. Maybe that’s why I’m still singing the last verse of Sunday’s song:

“What have I to dread, what have I to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near, learning on the everlasting arms.”

And when I or you choose to handle issues and each other with gloves of grace, I suspect God takes a deep breath and says, “That’s Good.

I’m Still Learning.

Jan Carlberg is an internationally known writer and speaker whose contagious joy and exuberant story-telling style have delighted her audiences for decades. Some of Jan’s most well-known books are The Hungry Heart and A Place to Call Home. She also contributed to the book Joy for the Journey. Jan also writes a regular blog that you can subscribe to at She is the former “First Lady of Gordon College” in Wenham, MA, where she and her husband, President Jud Carlberg, served for over 20 years. Jan currently resides in Gloucester, MA, and enjoys regular and frequent visits with family on both the East and West coasts!