Friday, November 18, 2011
I find it ironic that the preceding post had me "done with people". How far from the truth last night proved that to be.
At our last Bible Study, Heather asked if she could run this week's - working with the theme of Thankfulness as we won't meet again until after Thanksgiving. This was HUGE to me, as I knew Heather was passionate about she wanted to do and I was so ready to pass over the responsibility.
So, after the ultimate comfort meal of grilled cheese and chicken soup we settled in to 1st Thessalonians, chapter 5 and discussed its application for our lives. Then, the affirmation began. Heather set it up so that whoever was holding the stuffed teddy bear was the "target" and the rest of the gals (our entire group - picture taken from last night, minus dear Courtney who's at med school) got to tell that person what they loved about them. I think we all started squirming immediately - recognizing the discomfort of receiving so many positive compliments headed our way, but also so eager to pass on what we saw in each other - and build them up in such a way that it will be a night remembered always.
Because Heather was holding the bear, we actually got to start with showering her with love. And, it was amazing - and priceless, a constant flow of uninhibited adoration for each other. My only regret for the evening is that I wish I had the foresight to consider setting up some sort of video or recording device so that after the fact, I could type out what everyone said about each other and present that to each of the girls so that they could tangibly hold on to these words - these TRUTHS - about themselves.
I leaked some tears, to be sure. When I was holding the bear there was this mixed sense of wonderment and awe that these girls would see such things in me and my family. But, there was also this voice that screamed, "fraud" in my head. I know that's not the voice to listen to, so instead of going with that, I guess I came away from the evening wanting to strive to be even more what these gals believe me to be.
I have also come away with a significant realization this week. Back in my college/young adult days, I tried the "missionary" experience. I spent seven weeks in Africa and a week in Mexico attempting to share God's love with the people I encountered. I failed. I was miserable. The language/culture barrier prevented me from making "that connection" with folks that I so desperately need to establish the sort of relationship I long for when getting close to someone. It could be said that a man in my life at that time chose not to marry/love me because of these failures (thank God, I say and know now...but at the time - how painful).
Needless to say, these experiences led me to believing I was a "lesser Christian" because I did not desire to do the "noble" thing of sharing God's love to those in foreign communities. As time has gone on, I've recognized the nonsense in believing all that as God wants to honor the desires of our heart and He's created us with gifts for specific purposes and paths. I should not feel "lesser" because my gifts don't necessarily lend themselves to "overseas" missions.
Instead, what lacked in Africa and Mexico was "home". For whatever reason, I'm starting to recognize that that is what God has designed me to be and provide for others. A sense of "home". Apparently, I'm not the only who longs for that sense of haven, security, safety, and (dare I say) coziness - as it seems that that is a big part of what draws students to our house - and to our family. Both the physicality of this building, but also the atmosphere (no matter how lacking we see it) of our family environment. It all blows my mind still that there is an attraction at all, but if I'm going to acknowledge it, I want to proclaim that it is very much beyond me, beyond John, beyond our kids - it's a God thing.
Last night, despite all my self-doubts, it was made clear that we are in the midst of God doing a work through us, no matter how lacking we are. And, I can't even tell you how unbelievable that made me feel.