The last couple of weeks have stretched my comfort zone. No. Let’s be honest – it has pushed me far outside my comfort zone on an almost daily basis.
A last minute change in plans sent me to Virginia instead of Boston on marathon weekend. Coincidence? Nope. Probably not.
The trip to Virginia reaffirmed my worth as a physical therapist and opened up possible job opportunities when I was beginning to lose hope. Coincidence? Nope. Probably not.
I was able to meet one of my best friends for dinner as I was desperate to talk things through. It was a night in which she just happened to be available as I passed through her town on the interstate with a last minute dinner request. Coincidence? I think not.
I spent the beginning of this weekend with a lady and man I knew from BSU many many years ago and their rock star brood. I signed up for a women’s day at their house months ago while I still lived in Boston. This seems like nothing to you as you read it. I know that – because you don’t really know me. I responded to the invite because God was nudging (or shoving)– and I wrote it on the calendar so I would have no ability to back out. It was a commitment – I don’t back out on commitments. As the date drew closer I became more terrified at the decision I made.
It is a group of ladies that I have never met! I will have to screw on a smile, cover up the mess that I am and hope there is something about me that they like.
The lovely lady hosting is a lady I knew --- but didn’t really know in BSU 10 years ago. She was more than an acquaintance but less than a good friend. She was the cool Senior girl in BSU while I was the young awkward freshman who felt like she didn’t fit in anywhere. This is the lady who is willing to put it all out there ( http://loriharris.me/ )and inspires me on a regular basis with her transparency and authenticity as I hide in the shadows and hope no one notices me.
Her husband is the pastor who blows you away with his “boy next door --- simple and true” --- Love for God. He is who he is -- a kind, compassionate, God loving man. Loving husband and great dad who genuinely cares about the people that God places in his path. He listens. He replies. He loves.
Their kids. What can I say? Six. I had never met them before this weekend. ROCK STARS! I was concerned. Not of the kids --- but my ability to remember all of their names These kids are respectful, loving, helpful, compassionate, unique, quirky, and downright lovable. They are everything I thought their kids would be and so much more. (Not to mention the singing and dancing --- loved it!)
A group of ladies. God actually expected me to sit in a living room surrounded by women I have never met and find fellowship. Find community. Find hope. Oh--- I wanted to run. My head hurt, my heart raced, and my throat closed up. I begged for things to do so that I didn’t have to think about the women coming to the house. My time with Lori and her family the night before was amazing and I didn’t want to mess up the growing friendship by doing/saying the wrong thing with this group of women. And let’s be honest --- after having to screw on my smile to meet so many new people over the last week and a half --- I was exhausted. Exhausted from pretending to be more perky than I felt, attempting to be what I deemed “lovable” and hiding the exhaustion that is overwhelming.
The day was great. The laughter was easy. The women were authentic. We shared pieces of our junk and we left feeling like we knew a little more about each person.
This weekend was a weekend I was excitedly dreading. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to get to know Lori more (in our older versions of ourselves) and looking forward to having my cup filled a bit by fellowship with a group of believers.
God laughed at my innocence – at my dimmed sense of hope – at my hesitation to embark on this journey. He filled my weekend with laughter, joy, and fellowship.
The weekend included heartfelt and true discussion that involved asking/answering the hard questions that you hope no one ever asks you. But God provided great support for the journey – a lady who loves the Lord and wakes up every day and loves everyone around the best way she knows how while hoping the next day will be better. A lady wanting to be used by God in a powerful way. A lady who doesn’t always see what a blessing she is to others. A lady who feels like she is often waging this battle called life “alone” --- that she is the only person who feels the way she does.
She is an amazing lady. A blessing to many. She isn’t alone. Her blog posts make me cry. They are the words that I feel but can’t find strength enough to speak them – much less type them for the few blog readers to read. God uses her to challenge me to be authentic – to accept my junk for it has made me who I am – to love the parts of me that I hate – and to keep going on the days that I prefer to hide under the covers of my bed.
God knew where I needed to be this weekend – by the fire pit with an adorably quirky group of children and their lovely parents, in the kitchen prepping food with a friend, laughing with tears in our eyes, and talking about the junk in our lives, ending my day tucked under a pink bedspread listening to beach sounds and young children sleeping, and sitting on a couch surrounded by unfamiliar women with a shared love of our Father.
He knew where I needed to be this weekend and He planned it months in advance.
I am blessed.