I had something sweet happen to me at church this past Sunday.
But I'll say this first: It's funny, I'm finding that because I'm writing this series on church, church memories are bubbling to the surface, including some of the harder moments in years past, and I've had a more difficult time than usual with church since I've been writing this series. It's strange. Sometimes I guess we live out the things we write about.
Anyway, this past Sunday at church a lovely young girl who I admire (age 20) bounces over to see me. We talk for a while about her life. Then she asks if she can pray for me. 'Do you need anything in particular?' she says. I smile: 'You just pray whatever God puts on your heart to pray for me. I'd love to hear it!'
Out of her mouth comes a beautiful, long, long prayer. She is speaking words about the various good things I bring to this church! On and on she goes about all those good things, elaborating on them in quite a lot of detail.
... Then suddenly I feel another arm come around me from the other side. It's one of our elders. So, these two are both standing there, arms round me, like a pair of family members.
The prayer finishes, and the girl says to me straight away: 'I love what you bring to this church, Ann. I love what you're doing here. In particular, I find you such a SAFE person.'
The elder nods to all that, adding in things. 'You're very safe.'
Safe -- hmm, that's interesting. I think us SUMites are safe people for others.
I thanked them hugely for those words. Honestly, it was just what I needed to hear.
Finally, I headed to the door to go home to Bryce, but as I did I hugged another girl by the door, hello and goodbye. 'Oh Ann, you make such a difference!' she said, not knowing anything about the conversation I'd just had.
Do you think God was trying to send me a message? ((laughing)). But seriously, to have that experience just after writing a blog post about feeling invisible and not properly part of the family, I thought "I really must take notice and know that I DO belong in this church family."
In that spirit, I'm including a photo from my church. That's me in the glasses on the far left of the photo. I sit alone in the pews without my husband. AND, I am part of the family.
I genuinely don't think the people who gave me those words this past Sunday had read my last blog post. People in my life don't read this blog even though they know it's there. No, instead I think it was all God: He wanted to bring perspective.
So, let's ask ourselves what do we bring to church, as SUMites? Do you think it would be true to say that we underestimate what we bring to the church?
What we bring is a unique, sparkling, shiny, glorious, hand-crafted set of gifts that the Father has placed in us. And beyond our unique personalities, we also bring some common strengths as a direct result of our unequally yoked marriages:
- We know how to pray.
- We know about spiritual warfare because we live with it.
- We know how to talk to people who are on the fence.
- We understand those who are on the periphery at church
- We have an uber-strong dose of faith -- Faith that has been tested like crazy.
- And, finally, we are SAFE people. Yes, we are safe!
So today I pray one thing: I pray that we all know, and settle in our hearts, just how valuable we are to the church, and to our church family.
For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, 'Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body', is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say 'Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,' is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.' (1 Cor 12:14-18, NKJV)