What Are True Friendships To You?

The past few weeks I’ve been thinking over friendships that I’ve had, the idea of best friends, close friends and the thousand+  friends/contacts I have on social media. I’ve lived primarily out of my passport country, the country of my birth, for over 11 years now. I clearly resonate far more with the younger generations, primarily Millenials, than I do with people my own age or just older than me. I have deep friends in the States still and keep in contact with a few on a regular, sometimes daily basis. I’m thankful for them. A couple of them have gone through the steps of recovery along with me and we continue on that journey together.

Last week I had two similar but distinctly different encounters with friends. One was over a phone call with a friend from the States-a friendship that we’ve had for many many years. The second was on an overnight camping trip here in the countryside with a friend that I have grown closer with the past seven years. After getting off the phone call I noticed something had changed, something was different. Actually it was a feeling that I had been there for a long time, but I wasn’t able to put my finger on what I was feeling. It wasn’t until I read an excerpt from a book by my favorite author, Henri Nouwen, that I could put words with my feelings. As Nouwen was visiting his family back in Holland after living abroad for so many years, he had this to say about his reunion with them, “The feeling of having become something of a stranger in my own family was strong throughout the whole day. I had not seen many of the people at the party for more than a decade. Our reunion made me realize how much had happened to them and to me, and made me sadly aware that I no longer know the soil on which we both stand.”*

That. That was the feeling I had been feeling that night as I hung up the phone. It was more than simply not being in the same culture, it was the notion that the ground in which we used to share commonality was eroded away into something different that I didn’t recognize. Not bad, simply different.

Contrast that with my closest friend apart from Iris. While camping we shared way too many laughs, and more than a few tears as we lived life out together raw and untamed. Our emotions and thoughts intersected as we talked about Jesus, coffee, camping, pain, the beautiful mountains we were in, family, cafe design, beer, and the Bible. There was a common ground, a common struggle and a common core belief that we shared. There is freedom for listening with no need for feedback  as well as freedom for pushback and disagreement. This was relationship at it’s core, and I am so very thankful.

I don’t believe that someone has to go through the exact same thing you have gone through, nor has to be older than you in order for them to understand you better. Though I believe everyone is uniquely made and does go through pain that as a total, is unique to them, I also believe that that same person is able find others who can identify with those same struggles and joys they have when looking at a small group or even a society of other people. Meaning, I believe we are not alone in our struggles nor our joys, that God has people around us who can walk with us and can identify with what we are going through. This is what I experience in true friendship and this is what I seek out.

This isn’t so much a call to action post as it is me simply sharing with you my own growth and learning of who I am in Christ. The friendships I seek out and desire are ones that are life giving and leading me to that end. I will say that part of that also involves pain as we are still people and we will disappoint each other. But, walking through the pain and seeing how that leads to peace and joy, it is worth it. As I was caught in a moment of reflection on that this week, maybe you may be encouraged to reflect on your friendships as well. And may God help you to be incredibly aware of His presence in and among them.

be blessed today

*”The Road To Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey” by Henri Nouwen.

Photo Credit:  me 🙂
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Are You Feeling Like You’re In Exile?

I try to share from my heart, things I’ve read, things I’ve experienced, not to preach at or down to anyone but simply to say “I’ve been through this, maybe you’ve gone through or are going through something similar. Let’s walk the path together.” At least, that’s my hope. Sharing our stories, I’ve found, brings freedom, enlivens us who are despairing and equips us to continue on this journey with Christ in this world. Many have done this with me over the years, and I am so thankful for them. It may sound cliche, but I honestly don’t know where I would be right now if it hadn’t been for the countless people who continue to walk alongside me.

There have been a couple times where, even though I had that group of people, I felt as though I were in exile. That group of people that supports me, prays for me, listens to me and gently helps me see where the Spirit is in the midst of my struggle, most of those people don’t live close to me. Technology affords me the ability to interact and engage with them. And, for that, I’m thankful. But there is something to be said about having people nearby. I mean physically near by, close enough to have a face to face cup of coffee or commune over a micro brew. To be able to see the body language, eye contact and the occasional hug speak make up a conversation so much more than just a dialog made up of words.

Exile, or the feeling of exile, is hard. The feeling that the world as you know it is against you. Perceived or real, it’s hard, it’s sad, it’s a horrible feeling of aloneness. Two years ago was such a year for Iris and I. I felt alone, in exile, with no one truly understanding what I was feeling and what I was perceiving. There were one or two people who were physically there to listen and be with me in that. But, most of “my people” where thousands of miles away so very distant from what was going on in my world. Yet, God still had them in my life. I felt alone but I never felt abandoned. For almost a year, it seemed as though my exile was increasing in intensity. Iris and I had each other and we had our people, but that feeling of being in exile, an outcast and rejected was there and more overpowering than my people at times.

Sometimes I feel like I’m in exile, abandoned, on the edge of civilization when in fact I am being pressed to the center…where God is. social-icons-01

I was journaling one day and decided to draw out what I was feeling. I later recounted to my spiritual director the image I had so crudely drawn. I was on top a hill, looking out to the valley and the village by the sea. But I was surrounded by forest in every direction, fog settling in and no clearly marked path. I saw the village, a Zion maybe, but I had no earthly idea how to get from where I was to that place. I felt like I was in exile. I could have chosen certain paths to remove myself, my family from the pain I was feeling (quit, slander, gossip, etc), but that would not get me to that village by the sea I drew. Instead, Iris and I continued to follow God’s leading by staying in the fog, moving ever so slowly down the hill. I felt as though I was in exile, abandoned on the edge of civilization when in fact I was being pressed to the center where God was. I was being pressed into deeper communion with Him.

The Pulitzer Prize winning poet and novelist William Faulkner once wrote “It’s hard believing, but disaster seems to be good for people.” Everyday we are given a set of choices from rolling over and hitting snooze to whether we should run that red light because it will get us somewhere faster. Some choices are bigger than others and what may seem small to one person may be a monumental decision to another. And the same holds true for those moments we are in disaster, in exile or in crisis.

We are given choices as to how to work through, move forward or simply engage with the situation we find ourselves in. When we are in exile, again perceived or real, it feels like a catastrophic disaster. But it is in those times we have a choice to either allow ourselves to be pressed to the center where God is, or to excuse ourselves from stepping deeper into Him. Some times this is pressing into the exile, sometimes it is accepting and sitting in it and sometimes it is removing ourselves from it. Depends on what God is leading you to do.

Whatever He is leading, if we are being pressed to the center where He is, we will never be abandoned, crushed or destroyed. That is a true promise of His. I’d like to say that in that time of exile that I followed His leading in every choice, but you know that’s not true. I am a fallen human saved by grace. But I can say that in the times that I did follow His leading I was never alone. I still had my people that God had so divinely and timely placed in my path, no matter how close or far away they were. And regardless of them, Jesus was always present. Maybe He wasn’t revealing everything He was doing at one time, but He was guiding my next footsteps even if it was one at a time. After a long time of leaning into the exile and sitting in it, He led us out of it. But it was hard. It was depleting.

I say all of this to simply share a bit of my journey and past. Not from a desire for someone to look at me and say “oh look at this holy chap.” No, I am the worst of these. I share this for those who might feel as though they’re in exile that you may know you are not alone. Others have gone done a similar path and were not crushed, abandoned nor destroyed. My prayer is that you won’t be either. He is a God of peace.

be blessed today

Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/

In Today’s World-The Most Heavily Traded Commodity

A lot has happened in the past two weeks that I took off from writing. Philando Castile was shot, his girlfriend immediately pulls out her phone and takes a graphic video of him dying in the driver’s seat; the week before him Alton Sterling was shot and killed. Though I had no emotion in reading the news those days, what grabbed my attention and hurdled my emotions into deep empathy was watching Alton’s son start to sob uncontrollably as he tried to be strong standing next to his mother at a press conference. This followed by the horror of a sniper targeting police in Dallas and killing 5 officers and wounding 11 other people. This is just in the U.S. alone.

Just a few days ago, a man drives a refrigerated delivery truck into a crowd out to celebrate a national holiday in France, and kills 84, 11 of which were children. The Turkish army attempts a coup against a self creating dictator but fails, and over 300 have been killed in the ongoing conflict in South Sudan. Colombia opened its border to Venezuelans, the first time in over a year, so that they may cross to purchase the basic of food stuffs as the crisis in their own country has left many wondering where their next meal will come from. There is ongoing fighting in Rio ahead of the Olympic games and Russia has laid down a law so harsh, you cannot even speak to your children about Jesus without first registering with the government.

And that has been the last two weeks.

The U.S. political race is trying to capitalize on these atrocities for their own gain in their career, giving little concern to the actual people who are caught up in the pain and collateral damage. And honestly, in my opinion, these politicians are no better than the terrorists who are claiming responsibility or the media trying to sway the public in one direction or the other.  Why? Because they are all using a currency that is more powerful than the United States Dollar or the Euro or gold or diamonds. They are dealing in something much more valuable that can control and motivate people to do unimaginable things. What is this incredibly valuable commodity? Fear-it’s the most heavily traded commodity in the world today. 

As I’ve written about before, fear is a powerful motivator. Though it can paralyze people to inaction, more often than not, it causes people to do whatever they can to escape it. To become safe. The craziness that has gone on in the past few weeks (or the past decade) seems to be increasing. It’s always been there, but it seems to be more on the incline  in the Western world. But what do I mean by “traded commodity?”

Fear-it’s the most heavily traded commodity in the world today

Let’s look at the back and forth, raising the stakes game that seems to have occurred, especially as of late. Regardless of who was the first to pull the trigger, there has been a constant trading of fear the past several years. The 1% of the world (and if you’re reading this, you’re white and live in the West,  you are almost without a doubt, in that 1%), has oppressed the other 99% in the world. Intentional, not intentional, having full knowledge or ignorantly, it has happened. ISIS and other extremists are afraid of the West constantly bringing it’s “liberal” ideas and oppressing them with their wealth. That fear is traded with us being afraid of the extremist and the terrorist acts towards innocent people.  Cops have a rough job and are afraid of losing their lives when so many officers have been killed in the line of duty from people of all ethnicities.

This is traded with the fear Blacks have towards cops because so many have died from innocent shootings. This plays out in politics as politicians either saying “we’ll protect you” or “we’ll get them back.” This plays out in how we view neighbors, no matter the color of their skin or social class. It plays out when driving through the wrong side of town, people telling us that we need to lock our car doors.  And it plays out in the advertisements from gun shop owners or gun manufacturers telling us we need to build up our own personal arsenals to protect ourselves or protect what we have. All of this back and forth, constant trading of this commodity called fear. And that fear drives us to spend more money and vote to do things we never thought we would. Why? Because this commodity is valuable, it gives power and it lords over us. It brings oppression.

And, in the looking at the world from the perspective of someone who has no other hope, this makes sense. But the thought, the constant that has been running through my mind as of late is “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Psalm 24:1. This just “happened” to be the main verse that I hit upon everyday last week using a book for daily reflection. If what David writes is actually true, and we really believe it, then fear no longer becomes our motivator…God does. God’s love does. This changes our perspective on how we view other religions (even if their goal is a holy war and they are dead set on ridding the world of all other religions). God’s ultimate power becomes who/what we trust in and not on our bank account, arsenal, government or anything else that is substandard. Yes, if God is the standard, everything else is sub par. So why do we give fear so much control? Because we are human.

Can we be afraid, yes. But do we have to be? No. Is it wise to be wise? Yes, but can we foresee everything  in the future like a refrigerated truck barrelling down the road intentionally trying to hurt people? No. So we can either lock ourselves in our fortified homes forever, or we can live.  We live our lives, lives of freedom no mater what happens, knowing and trusting that God is in control…even if that means we lose our lives, we still have gained something greater-Christ. It is counter intuitive for us to to release control to anyone, let alone God. But that’s what God invites us to do. He invites us to live in freedom, a lighter yoke, a lighter burden, a thriving life in Him. My prayer and hope is that as we head into tomorrow, the day after, next month, that we live lives that are more trusting in Him and less fearful. That our lives are lived out of a love that compels us from deep within, a God placed love, that no fear can ever overcome. In that they will know we are different. In that they will know Who is Lord of all. Blessings.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: http://bigvalley.co/media-savvy2/

What Does Being Honest Mean?

I ran from God for a while. I was angry at my parents, at God, at other people. That was middle school to early high school. My sophomore year hit and I got to a point where realized the only person I was really angry at was me. I was selfish. I was self focused, and that caused a rift in my relationships. My desire to live a life that modeled helping others began to grow, but there was still a fear that God would punish me for being angry at him.

I would pray in bed at night, and as if some small way to appease a wrathful Creator, I would go through this small little saying of “goodnight, good morning, good afternoon God.” Trying to win His favor with some humor. If He is omnipresent, then I would need to say all three of those greetings, right? Unfortunately, this fear of His wrath was always with me. I could never just be me in a prayer or conversation with Him. I had to put on some kind of show, character or act in a way as to not make Him more mad.

Screwed up, I know, but it was what it was. As I began to grow in my faith and knowledge of Him, the more I began to see that there is a raw honesty in the Bible. Even at looking at other historical texts not in the Bible, but pointing to Him, there is an honesty that is stripped of niceties. From Song of Solomon to David almost cursing God at times, there is nothing more raw.

“Praying wasn’t being nice before God….The psalms aren’t pretty, they’re not nice… but it’s honest.”-Eugene Peterson

Bono, the lead singer for U2, and Eugene Peterson, recently got together at Peterson’s home to talk about faith and life. It’s 20 minutes, but this clip is definitely worth watching as these two creative minds who love Jesus are simply being honest. I’m sure I’ll refer more to this video in the future, but there was comment in particular that spoke to me.

Peterson states, “Praying wasn’t being nice before God….The psalms aren’t pretty, they’re not nice… but it’s honest.” There was an honesty, a breaking down of any desire to save face or put up a front. The honesty that David had to question God’s motives and actions. The honesty that David had to dance before his troops out of pure joy. An honesty in the prayers of Jesus pleading with God for another way for man to be saved. An honesty in Moses telling God of how useless he was and how he didn’t want to do what God was asking of him.

As I continue down this road, I am continually reminded how God desires honesty with Him. If he does really know all, well, He kind of knows what we’re thinking already. So, why not be honest with Him? With ourselves? That “hustle” I keep talking about, that fear that motivates us to try and make ourselves look better than others, that drives us to wear so many masks to save face, that hustle keeps us from being honest with ourselves. If we aren’t honest with ourselves, to the depths of even our darkest secrets, then how can we ever expect to experience the depths of God’s love? Love deep enough to cover us and bring peace even to those deep dark places we try to coverup?

The answer is we can’t. The more honest we are with ourselves and with God, the more understanding we have of His love. Some days I wish there was an end, an ultimate point we come to where we can say, “ok, that’s all of His love..we now know the end,” simply so I could know how deep it goes. But, then I’m reminded again of how limitless it is, and how grateful I am for it. The only way to gain greater depth of His love is to be honest. Stop pretending, stop hustling, stop putting up walls, and finally be you.

And enjoy living in your new freedom.

be blessed

 

 

Photo Credit: https://www.verywell.com/how-to-tell-if-someone-is-lying-2795917

 

Do You Have The Courage For Empathy?

There have been several times where I’ve had no words. There are some people who might find that hard to believe about me (I tend to talk a lot), but it’s true. At times I have been known to hustle-try to make myself look better in others eyes by providing some sort of “wisdom” or “advice.” But what it amounted to was me simply floating, fading, smoke filled words to build my ego, or at least save face.

There’s been a series of ads run in the U.S. from a help line for those who are dealing with family members struggling with substance abuse. The commercials usually have two people chatting, one obviously upset about something and the other simply there. The person struggling reveals that their child has a drug problem and then the other person doesn’t know what to say. Or perhaps worse, says something very similar to what I mentioned I do above. The commercials premise is great, helping people help their family members by giving them tools and resources.  But, it seems to be lumping two  very important things together that should never be linked.  Empathy and Sympathy.

I used to hand out sympathy left and right to people. To me, sympathy was pity. Sympathy can also mean having compassion, but often times to show someone sympathy is to show them pity. To say that they are lesser than, weaker than, worse off than myself or yourself, that’s pity. Knowing that I love Jesus and Jesus loves me, I walked around with some sort of arrogant pride in the love Christ has for me, and therefore had pity on other people. Perhaps it was simply my Western, White, American mind that had pity on those who had less than me. Perhaps that is why I still struggle with it. Perhaps, but that’s for another post.

To have pity on someone, only, is to simply put yourself above them. To have pity, only, is to feel bad because they feel bad. That isn’t compassion, that is co-dependency. Jesus showed compassion to others around Him. He wept because He was so overcome with compassion. Even God showed compassion on Jonah in the midst of Jonah’s judgemental pity on Ninevah, by letting a giant weed grow to provide Jonah shade from the hot sun. Jobs friends, on the other hand, had nothing to offer. They didn’t really seem to listen to Job. They simply handed out their advice and in the end, said it was all Jobs’ fault. Not only was this not true, it also wasn’t compassion. It was pity.

Having empathy is something a bit different. Empathy is trying to relate to another person, tying to see what is going on from their perspective, trying to have an idea of what they are going through. I wrote about my daughter last week, grieving saying goodbye to her school and friends she may never see again. I had compassion because she was really hurting. And I also had empathy because I have had to say goodbye to people I knew, not knowing if I would ever see them again. I had to be real, honest and vulnerable with myself in my emotions in saying goodbye to those I knew and loved in order for me to relate and have compassion for my daughter. And I had to dig deep into myself to find the same feeling that she was having.

My sister in law passed away unexpectedly three years ago. Iris was in the middle of grief and mourning. So was I. But, understandably so, Iris’ grief was far deeper than mine. This was her older sister. She shared a room with her growing up. She learned from her, watched her, and spent most of her life with her up until she met me. I had lost all four of my grandparents years ago, and that was a time of grieving for me. But I was young, and both of my siblings are still alive. So, I didn’t know how to relate or even understand what Iris was going through.I hadn’t had that experience. So, what was the only option? Sympathy?

Sympathy as compassion, yes. But not pity. Her walking down this road was also the beginning of my journey of understanding what I was feeling and allowing myself to feel. Thankfully, I was able to lean into my support system of friends, coaches, spiritual directors and others. God began a work in me to become more in touch with my feelings, why I was feeling them and what they were. This also came about from starting down the road of recovery. Sitting in meetings, talking with people and hearing their stories allowed me to dig deep and find those same feelings from past experiences in my own life. What I learned was that simply listening to her, acknowledging what she was feeling and honestly saying I had no idea what to say, was the most empathetic response I could have given. And she was thankful for me sitting in the midst of the darkness with her.

But digging deep, just like loving, is a process that brings about pain. Empathizing with someone going through a hard situation means you are tapping into the same feelings you had after going through a painful situation. We don’t like pain, because, well, it’s pain. It hurts. But when we have the courage to dig deep, be vulnerable and honest with ourselves and tap into those feelings, the joy of building relationship comes through. Empathy and compassion build relationship. Sympathy in the form of pity drives wedges between people. It holds others at an arms distance because we are too afraid to dig deep into ourselves to find those same feelings.

Empathy does not only come in hard times, but also in joyful times. Empathizing with someone when they are joyful of a pregnancy, marriage or promotion can also happen even if we have never experienced those exact things. But again, it comes with digging deep and being honest with ourselves. And even those times of joy can come om pain.

Jesus empathized and showed compassion. Though He was the most courageous of all, my prayer is that we strive for the same courage of our Savior.

Be Courageous. Be honest. Dig deep.

be blessed

 

Photo Credit: http://weheartit.com/entry/13536737

The Art of Ending

I never took a preaching class. As part of high school and core college classes, I had to take a public speaking course. I enjoyed them. It was good to get feedback, but apart from that, nothing. I’ve also never taken a formal writing class. You probably can pick up on that in my writing. There are far better writers in the world, and I don’t desire to compare myself to them…it just won’t make my day. Nonetheless, I still enjoy speaking and writing.

Why? That’s a good question. Their might be a bit of ego in there, being in the limelight, center of attention. Although, God allows me to fail in that area from time to time when my pride tries to block any glory going to Him. In those times, I search to find a greater reason why I like these forms of expression.

Thankfully, I have come to find a greater depth as to why I enjoy it. Depending on what I’m speaking, writing or talking about, there are two main reasons why it brings me joy and encouragement. First is that I am a bit of a visionary leader. I love being able to cast vision, help others develop a vision and encourage others to see what God could do if we took a risk. So much so, that it is very hard for me to follow someone who isn’t a visionary leader. Casting vision and then continuing to bring people back to that vision, for me, is key at making anything work. People who can’t do that cause me to question if they can’t dream or believe in something greater, how could I? But that’s another topic for another day.

The second reason why I enjoy speaking and writing is that I can simply share my journey in hopes that it may help someone else, just like others have shared their journeys with me, encouraging me to keep moving. Without us sharing our stories, we can end up feeling all alone, unique, un-relatable and isolated-not what God intended when He calls us the family of God, the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ.

But in all of this, in looking at other leaders, one of the hardest things I’ve noticed is how to finish. Back to me never taking a preaching class-I’ve always heard that how you end the sermon is the hardest thing about it. How you “land the plane,” so to speak, could make or break any talk you give. Being able to make that conclusion bring it together, summing up to challenge others with what was just said or spur others on in a rally cry is a hard thing to do. In fact, it’s hard every time I write in this blog to come up with how I am going to end each post. The ending is what people will remember. The ending determines what will be remembered.

Though I’m only 37 (yes “only,” don’t mock me you young ones), I’ve come to learn that how I end things is important. How I will end my time here is vital to leave a legacy of God’s grace, provision and love. I struggle with not only ending a blog post, but with handing things off to others. Coming alongside someone to encourage, invest in and build up is something I enjoy. But handing things off entirely to someone else is hard. I know that if that project, business or ministry is to sustain and thrive, it needs to be handed off well. In order for that to happen, the leader, or in this case me, needs to hand it off well. If the pilot can’t land the plane, it doesn’t matter how fast or smooth it took off, and it definitely doesn’t matter how smooth the entire flight was. The landing is important.

Landing it, handing it off well, is not only you being able to empower those who are now stepping into the lead, but it is you submitting to God that He is ultimately over all.  Hanging on too long is nothing but fear based. I talked about that a bit last week. Paul wrote many letters to a lot of people, trying to empower them from afar. He moved from the lead role to a support role. A good friend of mine, Andreas, is the leader of a church planting movement that started out of Sweden. His ministry philosophy goes like this:

I do it, you watch me. I do it, you help me,

You do it, I help you. You do it, I watch you

Not only does he believe this, he has modeled it many times over the past two decades. He not only knows how to cast the vision (take off) and keep the momentum going (cruising altitude), he also knows how to hand it off well (landing). If Paul had not  handed it off, it makes me wonder if Romans, Ephesians, 1 & 2 Timothy would even be in the Bible we read. We simply move into different seasons of life. From being the one who needs support and encouragement to the ones who are giving both to others as they step into the roles God has for them. Modeling to them our trust in others and in God. A “giving back” to Him a portion of what He has given us.

My prayer is that we not only do that with every ministry venture we’re a part of, or job position we have, but also with our lives. To come to a place where we are passing  on what God has done in us to those around us. Encouraging, empowering and speaking truth.

How about you? Do you have experience with someone handing it off well? Have you handed things off well, or perhaps not so well? What was the impact?

be blessed today

 

Photo credit: https://schalks28.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/ride-bike.jpg

Lingering and The Butterfly Effect

Lingering and The Butterfly Effect

Butterflies. They’re pretty. The zoo near my folks place has an indoor butterfly garden that I just love. These incredibly delicate flying things. Metamorphosis is alone incredible. I really do enjoy them. They flutter around, looking for more food, cross pollinating for the betterment of crops, forests and wild flowers. They are beautiful. The normal life expectancy, on average, for a butterfly is around two weeks. As beautiful as they may be and flutter from here to there, they don’t live long.

Though I am an extrovert, I fall just over the extrovert/introvert line on the scale. I love to be in front of crowds and parties but in order to recharge I need solitude. Throughout high school and college, even into my early professional years, I was a social butterfly. Fluttering from here to there, trying to be as much apart of what was going on as I could. But I never fully committed to one group of people, one small group of friends. Fluttering around is ok, but eventually it will burn you. It isn’t sustainable. It isn’t something that will give you life, but in fact, will take it from you. Lingering, staying, eating well, drinking well, resting, loosing track of time…these are aspects, if done in moderation, of living a life in community. These are characteristics of living life, not just surviving it.

This past week we were able to host three professionals in the coffee world in the States. They came here to help in training our staff as well as a conference we were putting on. The conference, a huge success and the first of it’s kind here, was wonderful as we sought to build community amongst the coffee world here. Everyone who attended both vendors and the general public alike, thanked us for putting on such an event. I am incredibly thankful.

As a way to get away from the busyness that has consumed us the past several weeks, and a way to enjoy being with our three guests, we headed out to the countryside, to a national park to spend the night in a ger (yurt). Huddled in a 5 bed, one room ger with a single fluorescent light bulb and one wood burning stove in the middle, we were able to talk and just be. Talking about life, great “successes” and great “failures,” family whom we were all missing at the moment, praises and petitions, community was happening. This is where spiritual formation takes place. Moments of vulnerability, raw honesty and truth are where bonds are formed and where trust starts to be built.

I’ve had moments like this with my kids, with Iris, with friends both next door and thousands of miles away. This kind of community is something of great sacredness and holiness. Well, at least to me. I think of Jesus and when the disciples seemed to have the deepest, sometimes hardest truths of God. Some were in public sermons Jesus preached. But, it seems to me, that most of those times were sitting around a table, resting after a hike, gathered around a fire on the beach, in a garden, lingering just a little while longer with each other.

Communities aren’t developed or made when people are busily buzzing from one place to another. They are created in times of great patience, great graciousness given to each other mutually. A few years ago, I was struggling hard with trying to ascertain where it was that God may have been leading us as a family. We knew we were leaving one city, and perhaps a country to move somewhere else, but didn’t know where. I was frustrated, angry, hurting and wanting answers so I would feel stable. But I’ve talked about stability before in a few places.

In a group made up of some of the best leaders in the Church in the States and Canada, we went around sharing what God had said to us during this, one of 4 two week long residentials we would spend together over the course of two years. I had been struggling with not knowing where God wanted us…my first ever Dark Night of the Soul. With tears filling my eyes (not entirely uncommon for me), I yelled “I know what God has for us 20 years from now. But, as to our next steps….I don’t know. I ask, and I hear nothing. I seek and haven’t found anything. I just want Him to show me my next footprint damn it! I just want Him to show me what is next and tell me what the hell is going on!”

My community simply sat, in sacred holy silence watching as God did work in my life. No cliches, no comforting words (though those who speak them usually are only trying to comfort the person uncomfortable with silence, not the one who is hurting). And it was this same community that I would sit with again, six month later in the same circle, thanking them for allowing God to work, sharing with them about where we knew God was leading us. Had I been fluttering instead of lingering, I may not be where I am today. I may not be the person I am today. I pray that we stop the busyness of buzzing around from thing to thing, group to group, person to person and …just………linger. Linger with a few. Linger and lounge and converse and sit with people who are being honest and raw. Those who give life. In community.

be blessed today

Have you found yourself to flutter around? Have you gotten out of that demand of the world? Have you found community? And do you linger in it’s life givingness?

 

photo credit: http://oddnygumaer.com/2014/10/