To know, is to love

A few months ago I was asked to consider speaking at a ladies' gathering.  My initial reaction was curiosity, but that was quickly followed by nervousness and finally dread.  I gave a quick verbal decline, "Thanks, but no thanks."

It was my mind that held onto the idea, turning it over and looking at it closely.  What could I possibly say that people want to hear?  Who am I that people would care to listen?

I pump detergent into a tattered blue sponge, and began to wipe clean the pile of dishes in the sink.  From the window I look over our fence to see the backyard of my friend Maria.  She reached out to me before I moved into my house six months ago, and in the midst of that crazy, busy, strange time, I felt a flicker of hope for acceptance and belonging.  I wonder what would Maria want to hear?

I rinse and stack and wipe down counters.  My phone pings; a text from one of my sisters.  I dry my hands to send and receive a few messages back and forth, then return to the daily work of cleaning and straightening.  I think of her and the hard things she has walked through with grace and love.  I've tried to tell her, but I'm not sure she truly understands how her life has impacted mine. What truth could I speak that would encourage her heart?

It forms slow and shapeless.  The edges are translucent, but it is something that I too want to know.  I too need to hear.  I think about it.

The girls come over on Monday nights for what I jokingly refer to as the "non-Bible study."   We call ourselves a Tribe, which to me represents a group of women who are devoted to the support and betterment of each other.  Our ages span five decades, and I smile at the beauty of unique life that is represented in this group.  I sit down in my big blue chair and loosely facilitate conversation.  Stories unfold from the lips of these women, and my heart grows full and heavy until that joyful ache bursts open.  Voices shake with the telling of life with all of its messy twists and turns, and each hard and beautiful thing I hear grows an understanding and deepening love of the speaker.  Do they see how the ribbon of Christ's love and redemption weaves through their stories, their lives?

I do.

To know them fully is to love them deeply.  To see them, is to see the beauty of Christ in them.

I change my mind, and commit to the speaking engagement.  I am excited and I am scared.  I know how my voice gives way to my nervousness.  I know how I cry when I share those tender places that have been lovingly touched by the finger of God.  I don't like to appear weak.  I hate it.  I wrestle with pride before I come to the place where I needed to be all along.  It's not about me, or how well I share my story.  It's about Christ and His redeeming grace in my life.

The outline of my own hard stories take shape.  I lay out the details of my weaknesses, my ignorance, my doubts and my fears.  To know me, is to love me.  To see the unfiltered me, is to see the power of Christ that can renew and transform my humanity.

I take the stage and share parts of me.  I cry and try not to regret it.  I point to Christ flowing through the ending of one chapter and reaching through to the next.  His love is woven through my life.  His ribbon of grace is crimson.


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