72 hours in a church with a bunch of women with the goal of growing closer to God. What could possibly go wrong? My mind was kind enough to make a list for me to choose from:
- I’m not enough.
- They won’t like me.
- I won’t like them.
- I’m too stupid to “get it”.
- I will be the only one to NOT “get it”.
- There will be drama.
- I won’t be comfortable.
- I’ll laugh inappropriately (see #2).
- I’ll say something inappropriate.
- I’ll cause an argument (see #9).
Those are just the top 10. There were plenty of other reasons to fear the unknown.
I never expected my ENTIRE list to become irrelevant.
I never expected to encounter love and acceptance. I never expected to bond with women. I never expected to laugh so hard that I thought I would wet myself – many times. (In case you’re wondering, I didn’t wet myself on any occasion. #miracle)
What I found was a safe environment full of so many women with the same fears. These women are now my sisters.
I spoke to the Spiritual Director the first night and told him that I couldn’t understand the vastness of God’s love. He assured me I would have an understanding by the end of the weekend. I just needed to pray for God to show me His goodness. I went to bed halfheartedly believing his advice, but still afraid I was unreachable.
While I was waiting to speak with the pastor, I was asking God why He wasn’t speaking to me when a thought popped into my mind: Colossians 423. I picked up the Bible in the pew and was more than slightly irritated to find that Colossians ends at 18. (See? I can’t even hear God correctly!)
I closed the Bible and went to put it back when something told me 4:2-3. (Yeah. Sure. Let me look again. Sigh.) Fine. Flipping to those verses, I found this:
“Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains,” Colossians 4:2-3 CSB
That was how it began. Maybe I wasn’t too stupid for the weekend after all.
I was seated at a table with strangers. All of us had our guards up. All of us were careful to share only pieces of our stories without going too deep. That was Day 1.
Over the course of the next two days, we began to open up more and to learn that people really cared. We stepped out of our comfort zones. We showed genuine love to one another. We discussed the events that unfolded with transparency and honesty.
We were emotionally wrecked many times during those days as God opened our hearts to each other, and to Him. We comforted each other, encouraged each other, laughed together, ate together, and cried together.
By the end of the weekend, I could say with absolute confidence that the Spiritual Director was correct: I do understand.
After one of the talks, I felt led to write a poem. Our summary of the talk focused on the fact that the strive for perfection can be paralyzing and perfection is unattainable. We merely need to consider our audience of one.
The poem appears in the next post, titled “Audience of One” (https://walkbyfaith3blog.wordpress.com/2018/07/30/audience-of-one/).
My Walk to Emmaus was more incredible than I ever expected. I firmly believe every Christian should take this walk. It’s a game-changer.
I witnessed many miracles over those 72 hours. The women at that table on Day 3 were NOT the same women we were on Day One. Transformation occurred before my eyes. Hearts were wide open, love flowed freely, and trust was reciprocated without hesitation.
God was with us. He is still with us. He will be there all of the tomorrows of our lives. And guess what: he loves us. Unconditionally, irrevocably, vastly. He loves us where we are for WHO we are. Claim that love, friends. It’s a gift, just for you. You don’t have to change a thing.