I’m gonna be honest, I began this piece from a posture of pain.
Reflecting upon a recent Sunday morning after a long, restless night. I had gone to a loved one wanting only a moment together. Simply put, I got an emotional kick in the gut instead. With that I felt like giving up on the relationship – again.
I’m usually pretty good at recognizing that I’m not the only human alive that’s confused, afraid or hurting – and I can be hyper-sensitive. That morning, feeling the sting of rejection, I quickly withdrew to get ready for church.
Despite the daunting I’d wrestled with the entire night before, I began feeling a little better in my busyness. I’d waved the offense aside, still not realizing I’d been derailed for some time.
I admit, seemingly rude, insensitive behavior, particularly directed at me by my loved ones is my right Achilles’s heel – yeah, I have two. Usually getting over that kind of slight takes me hours of speculation, denial, self-examination, confession, repentance… You get the idea. Still, I try to keep in mind that “forgive us our debts (and offenses) as we forgive [others]*” prayer and take the responsibility seriously.
So, without forgiving, putting hurt feelings to rest, there’s no way I could muster the nerve to go into the amazing presence of God and find peace in this crazy world. Getting there begins with prayer – fervent, effectual prayer from a pure heart.
I took a moment to shake it off again and clear my head. I picked up Bob Goff’s book Love Does**. Typically his light, lovely stories bring a smile at the very least and usually a hearty laugh.
Opening to the page where I’d left off earlier, words soon seemed to jump off the page at me:
“When you read the Bible, the people who loved Jesus and followed Him were the ones like me who don’t get invited places. Yet Jesus told His friends they were invited anyway. In fact, He told them that the religious people weren’t the ones who decided who got into heaven and who didn’t. He said the people who followed Him should think of themselves more like the ushers rather than the bouncers, and it would be God who decides who gets in. We’re the ones who simply show people their seats that someone else paid for.”
Bam! With the new perspective of my earlier attitude, having barged, uninvited into my loved one’s space I became humbled. She hadn’t come to me. Though she can own her attitude I realized my reaction to a perceived slight. I compared it to the person I want to be, stopped right there and got to my knees.
Later, during the ride to church I digested the actual glory in the whole scenario. God orchestrated the entire morning, likely the challenge I couldn’t put away the night before, if only to open my eyes to a truth I’d been overlooking:
“I’m more than a loser human, a Jesus fan and a wannabe Christ follower, I’m an usher to heaven’s gates!”
That morning at church I payed closer attention to the people I see every week:
The friend, a mom who goes out of her way to drive me to church on the days both of my household vehicles are unavailable. This woman has a family to care for, a job and is our Small Group’s journalist. You gotta know she takes some hits. And yet she prepares, sometimes days before to secure my ride.
The friend who unfailingly seeks me out to hug me and share whatever time we have together. Another busy mom and grand mom, she also checks that I have transportation when I need it and she texts me notes of encouragement every few days.
The young grandmother, part of the church leadership team, head of the huge Visual Arts Department that includes the Worship Team. In her position she’s usually under somebody or another’s close scrutiny. Yet this woman always makes a point to say hello to me by name every time she sees me, asking how I’m doing. And she waits for my response.
At home I found a lengthy email from a foreign missionary friend who manages to enjoy the messages I send her in pigeon German, and she faithfully assures me she will pray for me too.
Maybe I’ve gone over the top. Even so, I feel redeemed – yet again. I actually feel empowered to take my place at the Grand Entrance to heaven’s arena. We bloggers often refer to our roller coaster rides. I am especially delighted to share this one. Arms up, ready to scream for joy as the train creeps over the arch to the next drop and roll.
For the weeks since that Sunday I’ve been prepared for my days. Prayed up, my metaphoric vest neatly pressed, name badge, FORGIVEN, in place, flashlight charged and ready to stand with other believers, to show people the way. There’s a huge difference between feeling like we’re okay and actually feeling wheels rolling on the rails.
It’s good to be back on track.
“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NLT)
*The Bible Matthew 6:12 (paraphrase)
**Taken from Love Does by Bob Goff Copyright © 2012 by Bob Goff. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. www.thomasnelson.com.