My journey began as an outsider.
My choice. Self-preservation.
I believed we had entered into fellowship with this new church for my husband’s purposes. It was my turn to step back and watch the fostering of his gifts; celebrate his coming into the Faith.
Indeed, this new community of believers embraced him and encouraged him in his spiritual growth. I rejoiced in watching.
But I became a Wallflower.
I chose not to step too far into the inner circle, for I did not know God’s plan for us yet…Still bruised from leaving behind my church family of many years–I did not want to grieve yet more loss.
But He had other plans.
I have just returned from a weekend retreat with the women of this church. I was invited, not just to attend, but to speak.
This is God’s way with me. He places me in a position of vulnerability to teach me.
I hate how He does that.
But I am nothing if not obedient.
After much prayer, I agreed to speak.
All of this comes after the decision is made: we will be returning to our old church at the start of the New Year.
They need us. And God has called. So we will go.
All of these things weigh on me as I drive into the West Virginia hills to meet with these ladies–To meet with God.
What am I doing? What are we doing? I ask Him, alone in the car.
And it seems that I am driving deeper into the wilderness.
I know that I should feel fear. I know that I should be anxious.
But all that I feel is Him. I feel Him near me. I feel His comfort.
I am walking into something that I am not prepared for.
But I feel Him there.
So I put one foot in front of the other.
The beauty He has waiting for us–for me, brings me to tears. It is a perfect fall weekend. Blue skies, crisp temperatures. The leaves are just turning; reds and golds pepper the hillsides.
I am so overwhelmed I have to stop and snap a couple pictures before I arrive at the conference center.
He is tendering my heart.
But also, I am stalling.
I arrive, and immediately am lost. These ladies know each other. They are in Bible study together. They are in home groups together.
I practice growing on the wall.
But I see.
I am watching; not belonging.
I see these women together. How they smile with their eyes. Talk with their hands. Offer their hearts. Hold each other’s burdens.
And I am swept away by the beauty of it all.
I am completely won over. I am falling in love with these women.
The theme for the weekend was freedom.
Friends, did you know there is freedom in tears? Did you know there is freedom in opening your heart? Did you know there is freedom in being…
Oh, how God spoke.
He showed me that our strength is the tenderness of our hearts. That grief deepens our souls. That vulnerability carves out a cavern in our hearts and creates a dwelling place for Him.
He showed me the deep bonds of worshiping together…and the grace there is in being a woman.
Being silly together…
(How many men do you know who will dress up like a dice to promote a bunco tournament? How many men would play bunco?)
We hold life in our bodies…and in our arms.
But it is His life that shines.
He dwells there.
Inside of us.
He revealed Himself to me in the beautiful faces of many women this weekend. I want to share some stories with you about it…
But this post is too long already.
I’ll meet you here later, my friends. Thank you for your prayers. They were heard. Though I began this journey as an outsider, by the end of the weekend God had increased my number of intimates.
(My favorite fellow retreater–Annie, our youngest attendee.)
(This is my small group…those are my boots in the foreground.)
God showed up.
He was there all along.
I can just see Him more clearly in all of this now.
And He is beautiful.