Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak at the church my great grandparents, my grandparents, and my dad and his siblings grew up in. I attended Bible School in the summers of my childhood at this church; I recall distinctly lining up in the yard of the church to play the relay game where you have to put a thousand layers of clothing on, run to one end and back, and then remove those layers for the next person to slip on. I hated that game. And, honestly, in my dislike for it, I've misplaced just what it was I was supposed to glean from it.
The yard is still there. And the stained glass windows depicting different Biblical passages still allow the sun to share space on the pews with the red cushions.
I have shared meals with the people who have raised me and loved me the hardest in the basement of this church. Far too many of my people have been laid to rest in my 28 years, and we always gather at Cove Springs Church for a meal after each of us has thought, or said aloud, that we simply cannot cry anymore hot, sodium riddled tears. This church has pieces of my history in it.
But as children often do, I grew up and I began making decisions for myself and so that little church with the basement for teaching and eating and the red-cushioned pews with the stained-glass windows letting in the light became something of my past. I stopped attending Bible school and then I stopped attending church; I went to college and thought I knew Jesus and then I got a real job, moved out, and realized I'd had no clue, but He was a man I wanted to fight to know deeply. And in that time, I returned to that church for one, two, three gatherings for my family after three of the greatest men I knew were called home.
But yesterday I got to go - not because of a death, but because of life. I returned to this little church - that still has Hymnals in the pew backs and where they list joys and prayer requests out loud to the pastor before the sermon - and I was given the opportunity to share about the life I've been given because I said yes.
How often do you say yes? I'm currently a teacher, so I often say no more than yes -- to the bathroom requests and the urgent need for water from the drinking fountain two halls over and to the occasional request for one million dollars in exchange for a uni-browed Turkish boy to complete his verb sort.
No comes easily to me. It slips off the tongue sweet and quick because I am of the human variety.
If I can't imagine the outcome, I'll say no. If I can't guarantee I won't look like a blooming fool, I'll say no. If there's a chance I'll be embarrassed or left behind, no is a sure bet from my mouth.
But what happens when we say yes?
I could turn this into a litany of ways my life would've been easier if I wouldn't have said yes, but it is simply because I wasn't saying yes to the right person.
What happens when you say yes to the nudge on your heart that makes little to no sense? When you can't see the ending, don't even have the capacity to imagine the ending, but nod your head up and down, anyway?
What could occur when you finally relent under the twist in your stomach that occurs anytime you think about a certain place, or person, or event?
What might alter in your life if you agree to traverse a plot twist in the narrative you'd been so hell-bent on writing yourself, but could just never get right?
For me, it was everything.
I said yes to India - and my entire worldview expanded and my heart tried to break right out of my chest.
I said yes to Goutham - and my heart willingly split itself in two so that I could remain with him and still return to where I needed to be.
I said yes to a job change - and humility rolled over me; it drenched me in the cleanest, purest rain; it watered pieces of my soul I had no idea were in need of hydration.
Because each time I sit down to talk about India, or I share a new picture of Goutham, or I ask someone to prayerfully consider making this journey with me, I am laying my heart on the table. My pumping, over-feeling, fractured, aching heart is laid bare. And it absolutely cannot be about me.
Yesterday I got to share about pieces of this story. I cried over Goutham in front of former teachers and strangers alike. I briefly got the chance to talk about God knowing our hearts, our dreams and visions for our little lives, in a more intricate way than we are capable of understanding. I got to talk about saying yes. And, not for the first time, I thought about that 14 year old boy and all those other beautiful young boys and girls and I recognized that it was never my choice to love them and see them and know them. It is my privilege. It has been gifted to me by a King.
Here's what I realized yesterday, about saying yes. . .
It is the most humbling experience of my life. Saying yes to India, to Goutham, to Back2Back Ministries - it all has absolutely nothing to do with me and everything to do with Jesus. He is the star. He is the big deal. He is, and must continue to be, the biggest event of my life.
I thought about those dreams of my name in bold print on the cover of a hardback book and had to laugh out loud.
Because of Jesus I got to talk to an 11 year old boy yesterday who leaned over to his mom as I was talking and said, "mom, I think I know what I'm supposed to do with my life now."
Ya'll. That is what this is about. Not me. Not you. It's about movement. It is all swirling and rotating and dancing around movement for the Kingdom.
He gives me the words. He allows me to step into the story. He gives me the strength to say yes and He gives me the wisdom to admit I cannot do it without Him.
Life is a series of seasons. Most of mine in the last three years have been dark. They've hurt and they've hallowed me out. They've left me feeling like the shell of the green-eyed girl I am.
But this season? This season of yes and okay and I have no idea what You're doing, but I'll follow You into the dark? This season is about humility.
This whole story and this job and loving that boy thousands of miles from me has absolutely nothing to do with me.
And for once in my life, I want to rest and rejoice in that. Hallelujah.