I’m Not Who I Used to Be

i'm not who i used to be… and thank God.

I remember in college our old youth pastor sat a group of us down at Starbucks, and we played one of his encouragement games. One person would be in the “hot seat,” and each of us would go around and share one positive thing about the person. We loved him so we obliged, and out of the all the things people said about me, the only one I remember is, “She got nicer.”

Gentleness was not my strong suit in my younger years. I understood the other fruit of the Spirit. Love- of COURSE. Joy- DUH. Peace and goodness- YES. Patience, kindness, faithfulness, self-control- not in my repertoire, but OBVIOUS. But gentleness? It seemed like an option. Like something you were either born with or not, and clearly I wasn’t born with it. I wanted to be tough and hardcore, and there wasn’t any room for gentleness with that persona.

Fast forward to my seminary years. My first year, I was paired up with Heidy- an artist and the complete opposite of me. She was sweet, sensitive, honest, and so so gentle. She was hurt by my rough edges more often than I knew, and yet she continued to stay close. She loved me, encouraged me, forgave me- over and over again.

My second year I lived with Christine- deeply reflective, loving, and like Heidy, sensitive and honest. She loved me enough to confront me when I hurt her, she was willing to walk together toward reconciliation, and I’ve been the recipient of her grace and love more times than I can count.

They were the chisel and the sandpaper of sanctification I needed to soften my sharp angles, and they deserve a standing ovation.

The other day someone thanked me for rebuking them with gentleness, and I couldn’t help but think of the three of us- Heidy, Christine, and my old self. It wasn’t much fun being disciplined to be gentle, and I’m sure it was worse for them than it was for me. But it was only because of those going-against-the-grain times that I’m able to do anything with gentleness, that I’m seeing how Jesus was strong and kind, hardcore and gentle, and that I’m learning to embrace the pain of discipline because “it pays off handsomely.”

Thank God I’m not who I used to be. Thank God for time and community to shape us, hone us, and mature us so we don’t stay the same.

Dearest Single People

This post is inspired and dedicated to the single people who have babysat for us and allowed us into their lives. It is also made possible with the help of a single person right now who’s taking care of the kids downstairs while I peacefully type away upstairs. 

 

Dearest Single PeopleDearest Single People,

We treasure you. Your current life stage gives you the freedom to do what you want with your time, and we’re grateful that you choose to serve and invest in our family with your time. When I was younger I used to love babysitting for other people as well, and now that I’m on the other side I wanted to let you know how life-giving it is to me as a mom and to us as a couple. So, thanks. Thanks for loving us, for giving us a break, and  for loving our kids. Seeing how much our kids love you back fills my heart to the brim and makes me want to cry out of happiness.

I always knew in my head that having multi-life stage relationships was beneficial for all involved, but it wasn’t until recently that I saw how beautiful it really is. We need you, and we need each other. We need to hear each other’s stories, worries, and triumphs. We’ll miss out if we don’t, right? Let’s keep walking this life together. Let’s keep sharing and needing one another. Let’s keep doing community because it’s right and so good.

Can I tell you something? YOLO. It’s just true. You only live once, but instead of doing reckless or mind-numbing things, I hope you’ll fill your days and years doing things that matter. One thing that I’m reminding myself these days is that loving others is the best investment you can make. It’s often not glamorous, and most of the time you won’t even get recognized or even appreciated for it, but people matter. Little ones, old ones, hard-to-love ones, broken ones- they all need to be loved. It’s hard work, but so worth it eternally. I hope whatever you choose to do with your life will involve loving others, and we will cheer you on it!

We love you, dearest Single People!

Love,
Us

Community and the Gospel

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Community is beautiful and hard. We often get hurt deeply and sometimes irreparably because of each other’s brokenness. There’s no running away from that, and we wonder if it’s worth it or if it even matters to be part of a one.
 
I’ll be honest, it would be easier not to be part of one. We would get hurt less, we would only have to take care of ourselves, and we wouldn’t have to deal with anyone else’s messes. It sounds like the better, more comfortable option, but oh, how much we’d miss!
 
I recently heard this quote from Jeff Vanderstelt,

In order to really understand the gospel, we’re going to actually need to be in a community where we can see the impact of the gospel. We want to preach good news about Jesus who’s reconciled us to God the Father, but oftentimes we lack the opportunity to show them how that good news changes all of life.

The good news of Jesus isn’t just about how He’s saved you as your personal Savior. The good news of Jesus is also about Him redeeming His people, His Bride, His Church and making her holy and beautiful. On our own, we can only understand and experience a taste of the good news, but it’s in the context of the church that we can live out and experience the grace, the redemption, the restoration, and the true beauty of the gospel.
 
I picture it like a dance, a ballet perhaps… except that we’re often not coordinated. We don’t move gracefully on stage, we look awkward and clumsy, and we bump and bruise each other in an attempt to be in sync. Annoyances turn into fights about who stepped on whose toes, while the world watches and wonders how this is supposed to be showing them the Good News.
 
But when we understand that the gospel is meant to be lived out together, that we are created to sharpen and soften one another with grace, that we are to forgive as we have been forgiven, then we slowly start to move together. We start to dance to the same rhythm, to the same song- that we have been saved by grace through faith, that we have been loved with an everlasting love, that we are all broken and in need of Jesus with every single move we make. Loving one another becomes the theme of the dance, and the world watches and longs to know more.
 
Community is the stage where the gospel can come alive, and it can happen anywhere- as you take care of your kids, as you look after your elderly parents, as you walk with a friend through a loss or a failing marriage, as you have dinner with a new neighbor, or as you persevere through building meaningful relationships at church. It’s hard and necessary and good because it’s through the dance of community that we get to know more of Christ and show more of Him to others.