Interview: Marilyn Meberg from “Women of Faith”
Posted on February 8, 2016 at 3:55 pm
Marilyn Meberg knows how to make everyone feel like an old friend. Counselor, author, and part of the Women of Faith tour of inspirational events, her kindness and warmth are illuminated with a wonderful humor, all grounded in a deep and abiding connection to the divine. It was a great pleasure to speak to her about this final tour of the group that has spoken to hundreds and thousands of women for the last twenty years.
By Experience and Fathom Events will present the farewell Women of Faith event on Thursday, February 18, 2016, at 7 p.m. local time nationwide, with an encore presentation Saturday, February 20 at 12:55 p.m. local time also nationwide and on Thursday, March 3rd at 7 p.m. local time nationwide. The film takes audiences on the historic journey of the Women of Faith movement and showcases how this extraordinary group has influenced the lives of more than five million women. It’s called the Amazing Joyful Journey. And it was a great pleasure to speak to Marilyn Meberg about what that journey has meant to her.
“I’ve been with Women Of Faith for 20 years as we all have. They just decided to call some of us out of retirement in order to have a farewell tour.”
She got started speaking when she was still a teenager. “I was a motivational debater in high school and did some speaking in college, too. Then I got married at 22 and started speaking with Christian women’s clubs and then various churches and retreats, so it’s been a very rich life. For some reason God thinks that I have a message that he’s put on my heart and mind and it’s been a pleasure to do that which I’ve been doing with Women of Faith.”
Meberg is known for bringing a sense of humor to her speeches, and she does it for a reason. “Humor is a door into peoples’ consciousness. They’ll listen to you if you can make them laugh. Once they laugh and you say something meaningful they say, ‘Oh, that’s another way of looking at it.’ My first book is called Choosing the Amusing. It’s how we look at life. We can look through a lens of despair — we all have despairing things in our lives. Or we can change our attitude and we can change how we see things. Of course the best lens is to say, ‘God is in control and God is love.’ Yes, you will have trouble on this earth but find something funny, find something lighthearted, something that can give you a giggle and that can get you through the hard times.”
She told me about a memory that still makes her laugh. “When our little boy he was on a pacifier and I felt like it was time for him to get off the pacifier but he didn’t seem to agree with me. He wanted his old pacifier which was rubbery and he rejected his new pacifier, so I decided to break it in. So one day I’m busy working on it, the doorbell rings, I go to the door, and there is a man who wants to sell me something and he stares at me and then he said, ‘Lady, I don’t know what you’re doing but I think your kid is going to be okay.’ And he went on out the door, and I thought, ‘That was nervy, what right did he have to do that?’ I was engaged into a private thing here! I could have been embarrassed and I wasn’t. I could have been the mad because he had no right at my door. But I thought it was funny and I have had a lot of giggles with that in the years since then. You don’t laugh your way to a funeral, because that would be denial and in many cases it would be inappropriate but you’re able to have room in your insides to know that you can lighten your spirit. Why? because God cares. Why? Because He cares. What goes on may not always be the best but it can be made much better when we see through a lens of humor. That is the very thought at my bottom line.”
She spoke about how she and her husband were able to find something to laugh about even as he was dying. “My husband was extremely funny. One of the things that drew us together was in fact was our wacky humor. I’ve been coloring my hair since I was 16 and when I turned 45 I asked Kenneth, ‘What would you think if I let my hair go?’ He said no. So shortly before he died, I said, ‘Babe, you know you’re going to leave me,’ and he said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘Well, don’t you think maybe I have to let my hair go after you’ve gone?’ He said, ‘Yes, but I think you should wait until after. I think you also you could get mileage out of letting your hair go after I’m gone.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘Well, how long does it take to grow out?’ ‘No idea. Don’t know what’s under there.’ He said, ‘Okay, here’s the deal. After my service don’t go out until the hair is grown out. People will look at you and say, “Have you seen Marilyn? Bless her heart, her hair turned white after her husband died because they were so close.” So I was like, ‘You rascal!’ and that’s exactly what I did, I let it go and when a friend that we had not seen in a year came to see me for lunch, she was like, ‘Oh no Marilyn,’ and so I said, ‘Oh Ken, you were so right thank you so much.’ I could play that for a while; humor does help.”
She had some concerns about how the immediate personal connection of the live tour could translate to film. “We thought: How are you going to make a movie that commemorates 20 years of ministry with Women Of Faith. We were afraid to be corny. But oh my word! They previewed it for us last week and I was so proud and so moved. Women of Faith has been about stories. Tell the story and it resonates to people. You know Jesus talked in parables, he told stories, why? Because you don’t get bored out of your mind hearing someone’s story. When you tell your story and God became a reality to you in the middle of your story that’s moving to people. So what this movie is about is the six of us, with Women Of Faith. We thought, ‘Oh no don’t let it be embarrassing,’ and it wasn’t. It was moving it was uplifting, and very tender. And I won’t tell you the ending of it, but for those who are acquainted with a Women Of Faith, Mary Graham who has been unable to be with us this past year shares the reason. She narrated the whole thing from the comfort of her living room so they put the movie together based on her narration which was flawless, so sweet and kind and then we concluded the movie with her story. I didn’t expect that to be so we were all pretty undone emotionally but it is just upbeat, it’s sweet, it’s kind, is encouraging. And for 20 years having done this, to go out on that note, we feel very very honored and pleased.”
The most meaningful responses she has seen to their tour is from those who “have found the realization in their heart that the God who created them has not lost sight of who they are, where they are, and what’s going on in their lives. And they have had a reminder that it is possible to notice God in a very personal way. The personal way is Jesus, the son of God and what he did to make it possible for us to have access to God in a personal way.”
She is comforted by favorite Bible verses: “God said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you,’ that’s in Isaiah and when he says in Psalm 63 “Oh my God, you are my God I thirst for you, my soul thirsts for you my, whole body longs for you in a parched and weary land where there is no water.’ There is water with Jesus, there’s water in worshiping him, there is water anointing him and He is never ever going to leave you starving and parched and alone.”