I went into this past weekend’s Created for Care retreat open to new experiences and connections. I knew I would connect with other adoptive mamas and, most importantly, with God. I knew that He would meet me there and we would spend a weekend of rest and worship together.
Prepared with this knowledge, you would think that I was arriving with a heart open to God. Without anxiety or worry.
In reality, I was mostly concerned with the fact that I really didn’t know anyone. That, and the fact that based on photos from previous retreats, everyone seemed to be wearing adoption tees. I didn’t own any adoption t-shirts.
The Type-A planner in me kicked in about a week ago and I ordered a new t-shirt to wear the first day. And, I knew they would give us the retreat shirt so I could wear that one on Saturday.
Whew. The important stuff was out of the way.
Oh man. I was so off base. I was so focused on the wrong things: Who I would sit with at meals. What I would wear.
I can almost hear God laughing (in a sweet, “Bless Your Heart” kind of way, of course).
I had no idea. No idea that I would meet true friends that I feel like I’ve known for years. That no one would care what I was wearing, there were much bigger things to look to than my shirts (a-hem, like, God). That my soul would find rest and restoration and joy and wholeness.
I hardly know how to put my experience from this past weekend into words. It was so full and so intimate and so real. I truly felt the embrace of Jesus this weekend.
I marveled at the other women’s faith and strength and perseverance.
I listened to their stories. Their testimonies. Their words of truth.
And, I felt like a fraud.
That is the exact word I gave to what I was feeling. I didn’t even know it until I said it to my gentle and loving Jesus.
I am not holy and sweet and kind like these other women.
I am sarcastic, cynical, and scared. I’m afraid of radically changing my life for Jesus. I know he is wrestling with my heart right now and I am afraid to move. I don’t know where to step. I don’t know what to do. I feel raw and exposed to all of the hurt and suffering on this earth and I don’t know what to do.
Yes, we are adopting. Yes, we are listening and obeying with that one thing. But, there is so much more we can do. So much more we should do.
Look at these other women. I met so many mamas who have adopted 10+ kids. Older kids. Special needs kids.
I met women who started ministries and work across the globe for justice and mercy for the oppressed. These women are making a difference. They are building the kingdom.
And, I am just spending my days going to work, doing laundry, running around, filling my days doing ordinary things. I am ordinary. I do not belong among these 450 women. They are all doing extraordinary things.
And do you know what He told me?
I heard these truths (not with my ears, but crystal clearly. I wrote them down in my journal immediately so I would not forget the exact phrasing):
“Precious, daughter, you are my treasure.”
“You don’t have to do this alone.”
“You don’t have to do it all.”
“I am with you. I will guide you. You just have to trust.”
“All you need to do for me is be a light. Be My light. Bring My light into the darkness in this world.”
I stood with tears flowing down my cheeks. Soaking in His embrace. In His love. Knowing that He loves me. He treasures me. Me. It was the one of the most profound moments in all my life. Feeling my gentle Savior showering His love and grace on me.
I am still aware of all the pain and darkness and oppression in this world. But I no longer am afraid to move. I know that the Lord will guide me. He will show me how to move. When to move. Where to move. I don’t have to feel guilty that I’m not doing enough. I just have to respond to His call. I just have to keep my heart open and share His love.
I need to be a light. I need to share His beautiful, redeeming, everlasting love.
My prayer for each of you reading these words is that you too will know that you are treasured. You are loved beyond human comprehension. You can be a light in your world. In the midst of the ordinary, you can be extraordinary. I pray that you focus on Jesus’s unending love for you and know the true freedom that accompanies that truth. You are unshakeable when armed with the knowledge and fullness of His love.
“We love because He first loved us”. 1 John 4:19