I’m in the middle of packing and sorting my things for another cross-continent move. My bedroom is filled with black tubs and suitcases and my conversations with my kids are peppered with questions about whether this stuffed animal should go or stay. I’ve got four weeks and two days before I get on that airplane and leave one home for another.
The “found object” that represented my emotional state this retreat, was a picture of a free fall because I find myself in the middle of transition without clear direction and I feel out of control, adrenaline coursing through my body. It is easy to get caught up in the certainty that I am the only one who feels lost or stressed or grieved. I’m the only one who has ‘that’ problem to deal with and no one else will understand.
I think I want my experience to be unique. I want to hold onto the idea that I have it hardest. It gives me the right to live in a place of self-pity, anger or bitterness and holds me stationary in that one place. Desperately wanting to be affirmed in my pain, demanding that Jesus fix it and save me now.
Yet, throughout the retreat testimonies, I could hear myself in much of what each woman was saying. And the words of God spoken to them in the midst of their struggles were now being spoken to me, and through it God breathes life and comfort and peace, calming the soul.
It is okay that I don’t understand what God has done, he is still patient and loving and kind.
It is okay to let go of ministry as the focus of my value and worth.
It is okay if I don’t see success and sometimes God doesn’t give me what I think I need to find healing.
But God will sustain me where I am, with the people he has chosen to surround me with.
I think that this is the power of the gospel in community. When we share the depth of personal experience and encounter with God, we breathe out what is true and what is good. Our words leave the arena of dogma as our experience gives life to theology and people are transformed. We are moved to contemplation and action. We are challenged, rebuked and we are inspired to trust that there is life in this death, there is relief in these tears and joy in this pain.
Thank you, ladies, for telling your stories because right now, in this moment, God is using those words to sustain my faith and bring his peace.
We really aren’t all that different, you know, because we are all women of God, seeking to understand service and joy and love in the middle of a chaotic, ever changing life. When we share our stories, open and honestly, the gospel light shines through and Christ is glorified. We are a sisterhood intent on finding the face of Christ. This is the beauty of our Velvet Ashes community.
‘That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Jesus Christ has made me his own.’ (Philippians 3:10-12)
What words resonated with your soul as you retreated? What stories can you tell in your own life that can empower others?