I've been on an interesting faith journey in this past year. 2015 was a year of big change as we left our church of 11 years. And it wasn't an easy change. It was one of those heartbreaking break ups filled with angst and hurt. Like divorce.
Through it, one of my greatest struggles was that I stopped clearly hearing God. I'd reached a point in my relationship that I truly felt nudges that I knew were God giving me things to do, to say. Sometimes, I "heard" the voice. Sometimes, I just felt a knowing. But there was strong connection.
And then came all the circumstances that led to us leaving our church home. Leaving the nest. And as I struggled through those circumstances, God fell silent.
The knowing I had come to rely on wasn't there to give me instructions anymore. I was blindly following and it was pretty terrifying.
I'm starting to stick my toes back into the light again. We have found a new church and it offers each of us individually things that we didn't realize we were missing. It isn't the same. And it will take time to really recover from that "divorce." But Jeff and I both feel like we, as a family, are where God intends us to be.
The other interesting aspect of this year of great change and the changing of the year from 2015 to 2016 is that I found myself not really wanting to review 2015 and not really wanting to set goals or resolutions or even a focus word for 2016.
But there has been a little whisper. It's a whisper I haven't heard in a long time. In fact, it was about 1 year ago that I attended a women's retreat and had prayer focused on just listening and my heart broke because I only heard silence. It was about 1 year ago that I laid in bed and wept as I prayed and begged for guidance, begged to have affirmation that I was doing what God wanted of me. And I only received silence.
It's been a year of learning to sit in that silence.
I can't say that I love it. But I have learned a lot in it.
And just today, I heard a small and familiar whisper.
Up until this past year, I'd always known with certainty that my purpose was to Love Others. To love them in radical ways, in reaching out ways, in Christ like ways. To love people close to me and to love strangers. I listened and I obeyed and I shared God's love over and over and over and I felt very fulfilled in my faith. Not in an egotistical way. More like - peace in knowing my purpose.
But it was only my purpose for that season. Or it was only part of my purpose.
As we enter into relationship with this new tribe in our new church, we have each been a little tentative to receive the acceptance and love that others are offering to us. I see Teagan trying to shield herself from potential wounds. I know that I am staying behind a partial wall. There are wounds that we are still tending but are also protecting.
And in my prayers this morning, I heard it. And I have tears in my eyes now as I think about the moment. When I briefly heard a nudge, a knowing.
I have to admit that I'm not very good at letting other people love on me. I always want to turn the tables and find a way to love you, instead. It's not a matter of not feeling worthy or feeling that I'm less than in any way.
But it's really important to "allow" other people to fulfill their own call to love someone - to love me.
It's really important to realize that I need to be loved. That I need to be drawn in and embraced.
I'm fortunate that I have circles of people who do love me and that I accept that love. That was easy in our previous church family, as well. But that was part of why God was pushing me. When you get comfortable, you stop growing. It was easy for me to love others - in simple ways or in lavish ways. It was easy to be in the presence of people who knew me, accepted me, loved me.
God's purpose is rarely easy. God's work is hard work. And there are mistakes and failures along the way.
So in this season, I'm opening my focus on allowing myself to Be Loved. To observe others as they accept love. I'll continue to give love but I also know I'm in a season of rest. God has placed me where I need to be. In order to truly do whatever comes next on my path, I need to understand the acceptance of love offerings from other people.
It's like suddenly becoming aware of the traffic driving on the other side of the median. It's always been there but I just haven't paid any attention. And if I don't stop and observe and accept, I might get run over.
How do you allow others to love you? What are unexpected ways that you've been loved?