Monday, April 10, 2017

I find people exhausting...and yet compelling.

OK, so it's been a while. I don't know why today is the day that I felt called to resume blogging...but here I am.

I'd try to catch you up on all my follies from the last few years, but I think you and I both know I will come up with plenty of new ones to keep you shaking your head. I'm bunking my perfectionism and typing right into Blogger, hoping that without editing I'm still understandable. You and I both know I need more polish and less words, but oh, well.

So on to my confession:

I just got a reference to a workshop called "Connections Matter." [] I signed up to become better informed about the role that human relationships can play in mitigating the longterm effects of trauma. It's a subject of intense interest me, in part because I'm a front-line worker in the business of transformation: helping the hurt, wounded, broken, and sinful grow into healed, whole, redeemed, and beloved Children of God. And in part, because it's a path I'm trying to walk myself!

I love that researchers like Brene Brown and organizations like Connections Matter are finding ways to validate and quantify for us how invaluable we are to one another. One of the things they keep finding, that is especially inspiring to me, is how little it takes to make an immense difference in someone else's life. I needed to hear that today. So maybe I'll repeat it for you:

It is especially inspiring to me, is how little it takes to make an immense difference in someone else's life.

You see, people overwhelm me. I'm an introvert. I thrive best in small company, or structured interactions. The narthex of our church on Sunday morning during fellowship time, where any of these hundreds of people can approach me at any moment with a complete myriad of topics, suggestions, questions, or needs -- that is without a doubt, the absolute hardest part of my job. A huge crowd and no structure. I need a nap now, just from mentally going there.

But those same people, as I am bringing their faces to mind or looking out at them from the platform during worship -- I am filled with love and prayer. I know there is need in each of them and long to see God move in life-giving ways on their behalf.  I long for them to know -- each one personally -- how beloved and valued they are. How clear the mark of their Creator is on each one of them.

When I get caught up in my feelings of responsibility to love my neighbors, I need God to call me back to humility. God is there all the time, bridging the gap between my social limitations and the deep, deep love for people that is God-in-me. I have to trust more, to rest in that more. And then I hear these amazing statistics and affirmations: just one dependable and caring adult can offset all the factors that put traumatized kids at-risk. It doesn't even have to be a relative.

Did you hear that?  Just one dependable and caring adult can offset all the factors that put traumatized kids at-risk. It doesn't even have to be a relative.

You know what that tells me? God is there. Filling the gaps. No act of love or kindness -- no heartfelt prayer for grace and hope -- comes back empty.

So we can make our communities stronger in these really simple ways: holding the door for someone at the store, listening to a young person tell their whole story without interrupting, inviting a coworker out for a cup of coffee.

I often shake my head at God, who filled me up with so much love for others, and then failed to provide me that gregarious, extroverted personality that could make that love impactful. But when I think that way, it's all about me. And you don't need more of me; you need more of the perfect love the fills my gaps.

We love each other because he loved us first.
1 John 4:19

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