“How can I oppose or despise what I don’t know ?”this question echoed in my head this weekend.
This past Saturday I went into Birmingham for one of my very best friends birthday. I parked the car, walked to the station, bought the ticket, sat down on a seat on the train and dozed off looking out the window. This was such a familiar place for some of the best chats that I have had with Hannah and Garrett. This was the same train we all took together every Thursday to meet up for our local cluster meeting ( A place where we meet, pray, encourage) and something we did together for three years solid. This weekly meeting was a lifeline for us as we struggled together in ministry and in life but also a place where we could celebrate victories and successes. As I stared out the window this time, alone, this question invaded my thoughts and triggered many memories.
I will ask it again…..”How can I oppose or despise what I don’t know ?” I realized this question summed up a massive part of my learning over the past 4 years of being and serving in England. I came over here with my thoughts and my opinions which I can say were very black and white, but shortly realized that they were to be challenged. God challenged them. He challenged them through people, places, and situations. I think we can respond to His challenges in several ways. We either resist God and carry on as things are normal learning nothing or we embrace all the He is doing and all that He is teaching us. But in allowing the change, He can change the very person that we are but also who we are to become. I think back to moments where my pride got in the way, that my stubbornness stopped me from growing, and probably hurt others in the process. These moments are kringe-worthy and make me feel sick to my stomach. But I also recognize that there will be many more moments to come where I am found flat on my face in the same position.
There are countless people who have been a part of my shaping and challenging that I feel compelled to introduce you to
Peter, my pastor in Wales, is wheelchair bound. He suffers from ME or MS, I’m not sure which one but either way he was inspirational through his life. I had the privilege of living with them for 6 months. He faithfully preached on sunday morning to a small congregation, one of 8-9 people. Every Sunday his wife Julia would roll him down the aisle and turn him to face everyone. If I wanted an example of committment and marriage, I was exposed to one. Til death do us part, sickness and health, these two demonstrated that.
Or Hannah and Beth, two of my very best friends that have such a massive capacity for empathy and kindness towards others. Hannah is like a little grandma, compassionate and loving. She knows how to look after people well. Beth is very organized and detailed. She has grown into a strong woman who faithfully is working out what God wants to do with her life. I’m more of the in your face, tell the truth, firecracker intense type. Our strengths managed to balance each other out. These relationships are not without struggle at times but I learned from them by who they are.
Or Denise- a mom I went on mission with to South Africa and Mozambique with. I instantly connected with her spirit but our honesty, vulnerability and brokenness that we shared bridged a gap that goes beyond culture and generation. I will forever be connected to her.
Or Dan- who is my complete opposite but somehow we have this brother/sister bond that can never be lost. He has such a faith, he is rock solid. I pushed him to take more risks and he pushed me to be more balanced. If anyone knows how to live out love, its Dan.
Or my pastor Donald that I had for three years, such a humble and gracious man. I know the grace of God because of his leadership in my life. He challenged me, encouraged me, but also worked hard to understand me when I was a complete mess. He is an amazing listener. I am not. So I’ve learned a lot from him.
The young people and what a privilege is to walk and serve a bunch of teenagers. I realized I needed them just as much as they needed me. They invited me into thier messy lives and I invited them into mine. Therefore there is this connection that will be there forever.
These are only to name a few. I could keep going however I know it could get very boring because you will be sat there reading this for ages. The list of people who have been involved are endless, too many to count.
So I am sat on this train and I feel two emotions……as I reflect it brings tears to my eyes to think of all that God has done in this time. I am overwhelmed by all that He can do if I allow my heart to be completely His. Sometimes I miss the mark completely but He gets that, He knows that, and He loves in spite of that. I just love Him. I have such a genuine love for my Father. He is able, he is faithful and I look back and think I’m so glad I chose to embrace the hard stuff, the suffering, the moulding, the restructuring, the love, the grace, the compassion, the help, the support but I’m even more glad that He has chosen me, believed me and enabled me to walk through and experience all that I have. I am in awe.
And on the other hand I feel a sadness and a despair to be walking away from it for a while. I’m leaving these incredible people and relationships and community. I hate that. I hate leaving, I hate saying goodbye and I have a lot of anxieties and questions but I know that God doesn’t stop working in me in the lives of these people that I would call my family. I know I will be back but it doesn’t take away the pain that I’m experiencing. All I can do is be honest, and honestly I’m so torn. I can’t wait to be in Florida, I can’t to reconnect my amazing church family and friends, to spend some time with my dad and to see all that God has for me there but still, right now……I am torn.
I’m constantly learning. I’m grateful that I embraced all that God was and is doing. It’s not without fight, tension or pain because I think that is life but where I’m sitting now is a much different place then where I was before. I’d like to think I’m more open to change, to others, and to my surroundings now seeing everything and everyone a key part of the journey rather than resisting.