To see one of our spiritual sons.
To have some down time with an old youth group friend and his wife that we truly call "couple friends," which is no small feat when you are married to an opposite.
And finally to fellowship at the church of my old campus pastor at my college alma mater.
I haven't seen Pastors Bill and Lisa Shuler in more than seven years, so as he took the stage, I let out a little squeal and happy clap as I reached for my journal prepared to capture every morsel of wisdom that he ALWAYS, without fail, oozes.
And as he opens his mouth and begins to share the words God has place on His heart, the theme become quickly clear :: community.
My heart did a little flip flop as I thought,
"Oh man! That word, this challenge, the gentle nudge forward...it is coming from every direction -- personal tug from the Holy Spirit, the blogosphere, and now an out-of-town church visit."
The last few years have been spent in a mode of aftershock due to trauma after trauma personally, physically, mentally, emotionally. Living in a culture not my own, experiencing multiple incidences of theft within a one-to-two year period, chronic pain increasingly debilitating my body, infertility holding the dream of multiplying our family at bay, and finally an earthquake in my childhood home of Haiti, cutting off life-and-death news of my parents for over seventeen hours -- all had me walking dazed and confused in my own skin.
In that shell-shocked season, I felt so very isolated from community by life circumstances, personal seclusion, and harsh judgments.
Two years ago, stepping away on an indefinite sabbatical from full time pastoral ministry found me in need of a hiding place for awhile. My emotions have run the gamut, from guilt to anger, from hurt to relief, from rejection to jealousy, from pride to disdain, and on and on and on.
With my heart functioning as one, BIG, raw, exposed nerve, connecting was off the table. For awhile. And as an extrovert, who thrives on relationships, this was HARD. But, drowning in pain from misunderstandings and lack of grace, I felt gun-shy to move forward, to open back up again.
So with the past, ever in my consciousness, I felt the Lord gently lifting and urging me in the direction of community again as Pastor Shuler's words rang through the auditorium...
"When meaningful relationships are not present and active in our lives, we lose affirmation....and correction...because we need that too."
What am I missing by hiding behind the curtain?
How can I move forward from the hurts of the past?
Pastor Shuler shares three basic steps from the life of Jesus as told by counselor and relationship expert, Henry Nouwen:
1) Jesus began with solitude -- He connected with God
2) Jesus THEN enters community -- He formed a small group of disciples
3) Jesus finally steps forward to minister -- He reached out to the world around Him.
The more I connect with the Father, the more I can let go of the hurts of the past and risk opening up now and in the future and maybe even to be understood. I thought this was just a Lindsey-obsession, this desire to be understood, but come to find out it is THE #1 characteristic longed for in relationship -- to be understood and accepted.
And the more we open up ourselves and accept others, the more that same understanding and openness is returned back to us.
Yeah. I know. It is really simple.
But really it is not.
Not without Jesus.
Not without the cross.
This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. ~I John 4:10-12So I am over here, taking tentative steps BACK into community and learning how to lean on Jesus in that endeavor more and more each day.
How do you move towards
RE-connectiong and forgiveness
in relationships in your life?
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