When I first came to the church I now call home, it was with uncertainty and a little unease. I was there alone, my only daughter checked into Promiseland, the children’s ministry. I found a section on the ground floor in the back, because it was easy to slip in and out of without really being noticed. And then, once it officially became our home, I stayed, because that’s where I’d always sat. Then, during the fall a couple years ago, I learned that we were creating Section Communities, and that ‘my’ section was – OH. NO. For Creatives. This is not a word I have ever used to describe myself. I am not a Pinterest-worthy mom. I do not make home decor or children’s crafts from random rubble I find lying around my house. So when it became the creative section, I wasn’t sure if I’d stay, or if there’d be a place for me.
I figured I better find out more of what this was about. I met our Section Leader, Christine, and explained that I was NOT creative – but could I stay? She said of course, and that she still needed people with other gifts. In fact, she was desperately in need of an administrative gift! Now this I could do. I was, after all, a former Administrative Assistant. I was so happy to have found a way to volunteer and contribute – because now with 3 kids, there wasn’t a whole lot of volunteer opportunities that worked for me. This was something I could do from home! In whatever time I had. And without a babysitter!
But I was not counting on Camille being such an over-achiever. She walked at 8 1/2 months, ran at 9, never ate baby food, and is speaking 4 word sentences clear as day, and she’s still a few months from turning two. Administrative duties were all fine and good when she still qualified as an infant – because you know they don’t do much but sleep, eat, and – well, you know. I started feeling like I was continually making excuses. (I hate excuses.) I just couldn’t complete all the tasks Christine needed from me and still take care of my kids, the hubs, and our home (and work, even if it’s only 3 nights a week). With a heavy heart I regretfully withdrew from the supportive administrative role. I took this time off to refocus on my family, and wondered if I should be in a section that ‘made more sense’ for me — one of the young family sections, or the Promiseland section. People that were going through similar stages of life. Because there was just this little thing, the difficulty of socializing and meeting people and trying to be hospitable and remember 5 new people’s names and get their contact information when you’re also trying to care for 3 very needy children, all clamoring for your attention and trying to go in 3 different directions. No matter how prepared I thought I was, armed with my Mommy’s Bag of Tricks, there was awhile that I just felt like I was failing at this whole community thing.
So I did wonder if there was a ‘better’ place for us. But Aubrey did get a creative gene that I didn’t. I figured if I couldn’t really foster her gift, at least I could get her around people who could. And, I believe in “Grow where you’re Planted” because the grass isn’t greener on the other side, it’s greenest where you water it. I didn’t hear God tell me to go anywhere else, so I stayed.
And then Christine asked me to be the Prayer & Pastoral person. I accepted, but I was nervous – I didn’t know how to do this. I wondered if I should’ve prayed more about this first. Aren’t there books that are specifically devoted to saying ‘no’ gracefully? I didn’t know the people I was praying for, or what their situation was, or what they needed to hear. I was afraid I was again taking on something that would mess up the delicate balance I worked so hard to restore, and in which I would fail. But okay, I wanted to help, and I could do this from home. I’ll try.
There was a bit of a grace period, where I was getting my feet wet and trying to learn what exactly I was supposed to be doing. But then something happened: It became a beautiful merging of realizing that my gift is useful, and important, and REAL; and actually being able to make a little bit of a difference to His people in our community – all through His power.
And now, instead of feeling ashamed that I couldn’t remember people’s names or faces, I live in a community in which there are so many people I love. And we are growing these Affinity Groups – for photographers, and gardeners, and writers. And not only are we able to do and appreciate art, but we are able to celebrate the unique gifts of every individual. Ina, with her amazing cooking and baking, and willingness to do so even when it might be challenging. Christie, and her ability to just pray Word-filled, specific prayers for people, on the spot. Apryl, who is such a selfless and hospitable evangelist. Christine N, who despite being a working mother of 3 very active children, a supportive loving daughter, and a dedicated, supportive wife to a husband finishing school, still finds time to do all the administrative tasks and social media for our community (this sentence does not do her justice). Kathleen, who is a newer believer but still so willing and so giving of her time and talents. Grace, who lives up to her name; such a graceful, mature, polite, helpful young lady. Sisters Irene & Beverly, who come up with the cutest ways to add a little extra touch to every gathering, and make beautiful cards for the people in our section. I could go on and on. But the point isn’t to glorify any one of us, but to celebrate that we are all using our gifts for one another – to uplift, encourage, and love on one another the way God created us to. All these people not only share their own gifts, but by knowing mine, and knowing me and my children, free me up to use my gift – to converse and minister and listen and pray.
Today, It was as evident as it has ever been. The artists brought in their paintings of flowers and gardens. All the gardeners brought in plants that we were invited to bring home. We had guitar playing and singing. We had a spread of tacos, fruit, and desserts. We had a craft – WHO thinks of these things?? I am continually amazed at these kinds of crafts, because my brain just does not work this way – pipe cleaners and beads and yarn and silk flower petals, put together to make a little figure.
And then we had Happy. Happy Happy the Clown! When we first arrived I saw him making the balloon animals and shapes (flowers, to go with the garden theme!). Who doesn’t love balloon animals?!
But then as I sat there eating lunch, I overheard what he was saying to the children. He was using a necklace and a bracelet, and all of a sudden he was speaking scripture, and talking about how when we have Jesus in our hearts, He will always catch us when we fall.
Let’s just say this made me a bit emotional, so instead of disintegrating into a puddle of tears I quickly took a few pictures to remember the moment. Before I left I thanked him for sharing his gift with our kids – and learned so much more about his life and history and heart. I’m not sure there is a satisfactory way to thank the people that sow into our kids’ spiritual life. It’s a gift, like grace. All you can do is receive it with a grateful heart, and do your best not to waste it.
Because these are the important things. WE are the important things. Learning about one another. Just what the message was about this morning – asking one or two more questions; probing deeper, because every person matters. Each and every person matters to God, so if we’re going to be his ambassadors on this earth, each and every person should matter to us.
And I’m starting to understand, through our ‘little’ section community, what that really means. Love is understanding that God MEANT for us all to have different gifts so that we can use them to build one another up. It goes a little bit like this: I applaud your gift, because it is not my gift, and I am in awe of it. You use your gift to help me. I appreciate your gift all the more, and use my gift to now help you.
Everyone has a role to play, and in our community, we are all learning to do it well. To know one another well, to encourage one another well, to love one another well. So, it doesn’t matter if I am not a “Creative” in the traditional sense of the word… because the truth is, we are all creating a beautiful community with God at the head.
Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. -Romans 12:10
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace… 1 Peter 4:10