in the first few years of the refuge there were days when i really just wanted to throw in the towel. i often wonder why in the $*!^$&!(!)# i care so much about all of this. really. in the big scheme of things we are a little blip in the universe, just a teeny weeny pocket of love that is trying to scrape by and do the best we can. in the life of church-planting cycles, we are survivors. we have survived what many communities haven’t been able to weather. we have grown up over the past 5 years, not in numbers but in depth & width & in all kinds of ways that aren’t really measurable without kingdom-kinds-of-eyes. but we’re still young in all kinds of ways because that’s how faith & life is. if there was one thing i have learned in the past few years when i stopped always coming-to-the-edge-of-just throwing-in-the-towel, it’s that this kind of living requires a long, long view. it means weathering deep bumpy, rocky valleys in the road and having to climb big mountains without the best gear. it means letting go of needing everyone to understand and living in the tension of great disapproval. it means trusting that God is at work even though we may never see it. it means learning how to become less codependent and more free. it means having to chant the serenity prayer every day over and over and over again. it means holding on and hanging in and doing whatever we can do to remember that Jesus told us that this kind of life would be hard. but despite its hazards, it is beautiful.
at the same time, it poses another honest question–why work this hard? seriously. i know i have many friends who look in at what we’re doing and think it’s all a little nutty, how much we pour into this wild little community when we could take such an easier path. why have we chosen a road that’s so freaking messy?
trust me, i ask that question all the time. i imagine a nice office, an administrative assistant, making above the minimum wage, and being able to leave my work there instead of drag it home. but i then i just laugh because that is so not me. it never has been and it never will be. and this is somehow the little blip i’m dedicated to. that’s it. it’s not for everyone, that is for sure. but i am learning here what i don’t think i could learn if it were easier. i am not learning how to be a better speaker, a more efficient leader, a more effective manager, or a stronger fundraiser. those things are not inherently bad, but they are much easier than learning how to be a healthier human being.
i feel like that’s what i’m learning through being part of this community. how to be a healthier human being.
able to love and be loved. able to withstand adversity and still cling to Hope. able to hold on to what needs to be held on to and let of what’s not mine. able to laugh and cry at the same time. able to be mad at myself and kind to myself in the same breath. able to feel & hurt and able to receive healing & help. able to realize God is God and i’m human. able to have limits and also possibilities. able to fall down and slowly get back up. able to survive conflict and not have it kill me. able to be a friend & have friends. able to rely on others & also rely on God. able to trust. able to recognize limitations & able to still dream. able to give & able to receive. able to be vulnerable & allow myself to hurt.
i don’t think many churches teach this stuff. and i know why. it doesn’t sell. it’s not too inviting or comfortable.
but i think that’s what “church” should be about, really.
helping people become better human beings.
people of love, mercy, justice, hope, and healing. people who are willing to learn and fail and try again. people who focus on our own logs instead of others specks. people who lay down stones. people who are brave and scared at the same time. people who don’t give up but rely on God to sustain them through the twists and turns. people who are humble and willing to do the hard stuff and celebrate the good stuff. people willing to learn.
there are lots of different ways to learn it, it just so happens this is the particular Jesus school i happen to be enrolled in.
so that’s where i am at today. grateful for my humanity and God’s divinity. grateful for long-haul community. grateful for the 12 steps. grateful for the beatitudes. grateful for my dear & faithful friends who are helping me become a better human being.