This week turned out better than I thought it would. God is good that way. To say it's been rough for me with everything going on, and with Sean's overnight job, is an understatement. God knows, though. He's been holding me up.
Last night during church, we were all sitting around and discussing "The Unity of the Spirit"--how a group of people can come together because of God and there's a unity and a love there for each other. My parents were talking about how, in all the years they've been traveling and speaking at different churches, they haven't always seen that unity in the churches they've visited. I can say the same thing. I've been to churches, large and small, and haven't always seen the unity that comes with a love (and a LIKE) for each other. In fact, it's a rare find.
Part of that unity comes from knowing you can just be yourself and you'll be loved. Another part comes from knowing that it's okay not to agree about every doctrine...nobody knows everything about God and you can only go on the bit that he shows you, as an individual. I think it's also that unity comes from knowing that God loves you as you are, so you are free to be transparent with the people around you, including those in whatever body of believers you belong to.
I cherish that about our church. It's not typical. It's the kind of place where we sit around and discuss a topic, rather than just hear it from the pulpit and then walk out the door. It's the kind of place where you can wear whatever you want to and you won't be out of place. It's the kind of place where there's NO pressure to perform or to say the right thing. It's the kind of place where you know that when you walk in the door, at LEAST one person will genuinely encourage you, whether it's through something they say to you directly or something they say in the discussion. These people are a huge blessing in my life and I don't take that for granted. I've been in other church situations where I've felt completely alone in a crowd of people...I have never felt that way here. I'm grateful for that.
The unity of the spirit is not something you can fake. It's not something you can duplicate. It just is or it isn't. I will always be grateful for this little church and I feel like God has us in this body for the long haul. It's not about growing in numbers; it's about the individual people growing in their lives and in their love for God.
Today, I'm grateful for...
Sunshine and warm temperatures. Need I say more?
Dates with Liam. We went to the Natural History museum and the Art Museum on Friday, and we had a great time exploring together. I think spending one-on-one time with my kids is really important and I am grateful to have the ability to do that.
Having more than enough. No matter what our financial situation has been over the years we've been married, we have ALWAYS had enough. Even when we had $.05 in the bank (that really happened), we have never wanted for anything. We have lived on one income the whole time because we felt like God wanted us to do that, and he has been faithful the whole time. Any money I've made has gone toward extras. It's been great to have the ability to do that. This week, our credit card debts will be paid off. We never really use our credit cards anyway, so there's not much on there, but it will be a really nice feeling to have it out of the way. We will be able to start saving to fix up our kitchen and to do other things we need to do. God is faithful if you give your finances to him and be smart about what you spend.
Letting go. God has been teaching me about holding the things he gives me in an open hand--not grasping everything tightly and being unable to let go. Sometimes God calls us to let go of things (memories, fears, money, friends, dreams, etc.) because they are doing us no good. If we hold everything and everyone with an open hand, we are free because we know our significance and our identity are not affected by losing something that wasn't good for us anyway. Even when we lose something or someone who WAS good for us, we can trust that God will bring something good out of it all. Everything turns out okay if you give it time and if you trust that God has your best interests at heart.
Getting there. I know that I will never be a "finished" project and I'm okay with that. I am constantly learning new things on this journey with God and it's cool to occasionally feel like I've reached the small plateau before the next big climb. While we're in the middle of a lesson, it can seem like we're tip-toeing on a steep ledge where we're just barely hanging on, but when we reach each little summit, we gain more confidence in ourselves and in him. We learn to trust him more. We learn that we're stronger than we thought we were...all because of his grace.
My hope is that you know that everything will be okay. Don't worry. Even if you feel like you're coming to the end of what you can handle, God will always provide you a way of escape, or he'll provide the means to step up your courage and hold on to your faith. When we worry, we take control away from God and take it upon ourselves, as though our worrying somehow makes us the ones in charge. Worrying helps no one and causes nothing but anguish. There will always be times to be smart and to be alert and to be present in the moment, but there is never a time to worry. My hope is that you are able to let go of whatever is in your hands and put it all in God's. He's MUCH stronger. He's far more capable. He is faithful to take whatever you commit to him and to make something beautiful out of it. His grace is always sufficient.