As many of you are well aware by now, Chi Alpha has this wonderfully-vivacious young woman named Laura. She's a force of nature, don't ever let her deny it. Heads-up, she'll likely pin you down in a stare if she gets the chance--you know, those really uncomfortable, "she's not gonna stop looking at me until I give in to what she wants", sees-into-your-soul stares. Well, that same Laura called me in the middle of Philosophy class the other day.
And I had no darn clue what to do when she suggested I write something on Chi Alpha's blog.
I mean, it's not like I was going to say no.
Granted, I like writing and all, but I don't feel like I have anything particularly interesting to share. I'm not the world's greatest writer (not even close), nor have I ever felt like my testimony is all-that-powerful. What could I possibly contribute that would speak to someone, at just the right moment they need to hear it? I never got into drugs or drinking, so if I don't have this 360 turn around story, do I really even have a testimony to share? However, what Laura doesn't know--and what she didn't know when she called me--is that God's been challenging me to share my vulnerability ever since I moved into my Radford apartment on August 22nd.
No, I never got into the partying, the drugs, the sex.
But I have been broken to that ugly point nobody really likes to talk about in polite conversation, that point where everything seems to be falling apart and you can't figure out why it is you're not able to keep it all from crumbling by your bare hands.
I like to call what I've seen in Chi Alpha a "sincere passion". That hands raised, voices lifted, hearts opened, and guards dropped kind of worship I've never witnessed before, being a newbie transfer student. There is nothing passive about this group. Nothing comfortable or content. The church I attended back home never once exuded this aura of joyful submission. My family are not what I would call sincere Christians, hardly even regular church-goers, and I was alone in my faith journey amongst them for the better part of my 20 years. I have been abused physically and verbally by authority figures in my family who are supposed to resemble God, figures who are supposed to lead the household biblically and lovingly. I remember looking at the dads and pastors at churches I attended as a child and thinking to myself, "What are they hiding behind those polite smiles and Sunday suits? Do they throw things or hurt their family too?" I taught myself that it was easier not to open up, to keep to myself in the church. So, when I got to Chi Alpha, I had absolutely zero intention of stepping out of my comfort zone and sharing those past hurts. I kept God in fearful reverence up in His throne in the sky and dealt with my "petty" emotional matters by myself. I was content with that.
I was safe.
This past weekend at Fall Retreat, God broke me. (What is that word everybody keeps using, "wrecked"? God wrecked me, let's go with that.) Through Sarah, Wes and Morgan, Lauren, Tori, Laura, incredible individuals I hope each of you gets to meet, God forced me to be vulnerable. To acknowledge that I didn't trust my Heavenly Father because of the pain caused by my earthly father. He broke me to fill me with His peace and joy, in a way I can only describe as miraculous. (Coming from a gal who has never used the word miracle in everyday conversation, please understand how big this is, how big God's power is.)
And it's just getting started. I'm not sure where His words will take me or who they'll speak to--and that's okay. You may not care a lick about what I have to say or you could know exactly what I've been through, because you were there too. Maybe you're going through those same things right now. Either way, with God and a fiery, extroverted photographer cheering me on, I will keep writing and keep sharing my vulnerability.
When you draw close to Him, He will draw close to you. When you open up, He will fill you with His good gifts and people who can build you up. That is the start of discipleship and real community.
A Christ community.