Accepting the need for authentic community through sharing

I am sold out for God. I accepted Christ at 12 years old. I know that I know where I’m resting for eternity, but that isn’t all there is. God created each of us to be His hands and feet while we are still here. I am a part of the body of Christ. For me, my body…my community…has to be my church.

I’ve been hurt so many times. I’ve been rejected, abandoned and abused. But that’s not my story. My story is how God has brought me through all of that to where I am today. I am a child of the One True King. I am loved, accepted and redeemed.

I am worthy. I am good. I am loved. 

These are very basic things I have to read from my Creator every day in order to believe them. Sometimes, I forget that who I am is more important than what I do. Sometimes I forget that God created us all for real community, not just hollow relationships based on our worldly purposes.

I forget that I need people just as much as people need me. I forget that trusting God means letting go of the pains and hurts from my life so that God can use me to shine His light.

And then God does something huge. He orchestrates conversations and spontaneous moments of grace. He uses the most unexpected people in my life to sow a seed or to ignite a fire.

This past week has been harder than I would have liked. I haven’t slept much. I’ve prayed a lot. I’ve worried more than I should have. I have had a huge lesson in not only trusting God, but trusting people.

I don’t trust people. I trust nobody. It’s part of my past. I have been brutally hurt by nearly every single person I have ever put my trust in. Parents, pastors, teachers, counselors, doctors, mentors and friends alike have all, at one point or another, brutally and intentionally hurt me.

God strategically placed moments in my week to prepare me to trust. There was the prompt, the preparation, the prayer, the proclamation and the peace.

The Prompt

I love serving with my church. I wish I could make a living and serve every time I wanted to. I recently started serving with students on Wednesday nights. Last Wednesday night, I started to leave but God prompted me to sit down and start talking to someone I wouldn’t normally have a deep conversation with. (Who am I kidding? I don’t have deep conversations anymore?)

The next thing I knew, I was telling this person of some of my deepest hurts and most buried pain. It really doesn’t matter who it was…because it was really Jesus. Jesus came in the form of a man to invite me to let it go and embrace my past so that I might be more effective in my service to God.

The challenge was presented to have a conversation and start tearing down walls I’ve had built up for years. Walls I swore were never coming down. Walls I swore nobody was worth me dredging the past back up to tear them down. Walls I thought would withstand any attack by any enemy in any war.

The Preparation

So how do you just invite someone to lunch and tell them your whole life story? You don’t. Well, I don’t. You can if you want. I started by writing it all out. It was raw, unedited and uncut. It was still G-rated and in no way encompassed it all, but it was the bones of my story. And then I sent it to “the prompter.”

I proved I could write it out, but now it was time to prove I could sit across from someone and tell them how I came to be the most guarded human being ever over a sandwich and soup. I wasn’t planning on it, but in a split second of not thinking, I just randomly invited the Kids’ Director from my church for an hour of “personal time.”

What? Why? Because after 3 and a half years of attending my dream church, she was the first person to take me, pull me under her wing and invest in me. She trusted me. She loved me. She believed in me.

She is the reason I am so Crosspoint-oriented today. She is the reason everyone else on staff even knows who I am. She is the reason I don’t travel on the weekends. And even though she has the power to control my travel schedule, I hadn’t trusted her. I hadn’t even begun to believe she really loved me for who I am more than she valued what i did.

The Prayer

There was a whole lot of prayer before the proclamation. I prayed every time I thought about the impending meeting…which was often. I asked others to pray. There were some people praying for me who didn’t even know what they were praying for. Then the prompter agreed to pray with me before the meeting. I’m so used to nobody caring about my needs or my fears. I’m so used to the lie the Enemy has convinced me of – that I am worthless. But I was worth this guy’s time. It may seem trivial, but it was huge. He prayed for God to give me confidence. And confidence I got.

The Proclamation 

The drive to and beginning of lunch was all about kids’ ministry stuff. I love talking about kids’ ministry and was dangerously close to just letting it be the sole topic of conversation. But see, that’s my comfort zone. The most dangerous weapon Satan uses against me is conversation about ministry. It’s the reason why my friends know nothing about me, and I know nothing about them. All of our conversation revolves around ministry, service projects and volunteers.

One of two things happened. Either I recognized what the Enemy was doing to side track me…or I knew I was going back to face the prompter. Accountability saved me on this one. The meeting went better than I ever expected. I was confident, focused and prepared. I allowed God to share my story through me and it worked beautifully. I was able to fully trust someone that has proven to be trustworthy. It’s the first time in my life I have been able to do that.

On the drive back, she said this, “While I value what you do, I will always value your heart more.” She has no idea how much I needed to hear that – I needed the affirmation that people are not going to replace me, or reject me based on what I do or don’t do.

The Peace

It’s found in Jesus Christ alone. His grace is sufficient for us all. There’s healing in sharing our stories. What I experienced in this process was a God who took my story, wadded it up, set it on fire and  nothing but beauty rose from the ashes. A few bricks of my wall came down. A little more of my heart opened. I’m a bit deeper into authentic community.

Now that I’ve shared my story with one person, maybe I’ll share it with you one day too.

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