Even the wife of a pastor can at times feel lost and struggle with what it means to belong even in her own church. Does that surprise you? I was talking with a friend today and she affirmed to me that it was okay to just be myself. What a relief! I am opening up the vault of vulnerability to say that even leaders can’t live up to their own expectations and at times can feel displaced, not enough, and wonder how they fit, especially after a wilderness season.
I shared in my last blog I’ve been ruminating and reflecting a bit more lately and so bear with me as I continue with this theme. As I went to sleep last night and confessed my jumbled emotions to God, I asked him to sort them out for me because I can’t. I learned a long time ago that my emotions unlike my heart can’t be trusted. They seek to lead me astray with lies and can cause me to slip into a state that doesn’t choose to trust and believe God.
This morning I carried this baggage into church with me stuffing the lies and overriding my hidden emotions with a smile. That’s what leaders do isn’t it? I am not saying that I was faking it 100% but I was determined to practice what I had surrendered the night before hoping that my tattered emotions would follow my obedience. And God surprised me this morning in a way I didn’t expect.
But isn’t that just like him?
And He surprises us again with His extravagant love.
I was standing and chatting with another woman when one of our staff joined the conversation. With a big smile he asked us to give him a word, any word. At first, I wanted to laugh because it reminded me of the father in the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding who claims he can trace any word you could give him to Greek origin, of which he was of course proudly Greek! I thought for a moment and blurted out the word believe. After my heart-felt conversation with God last night, it was the first word that popped into my brain.
He proceeded to hand me an enormous bar of chocolate, the kind that comes in a brick and looks like an oversized postcard. On the wrapper it had a warm cozy picture of a room with a fireplace. It actually said, Merry Christmas! In his broken English (it is his second language) he told me with enthusiasm that the word believe meant that I was to be a light, just like the fire in the picture that was lighting up the room. I am not sure all the way of the connection between the word believe and the light, as I was trying to follow him as he excitedly shared with me. He was determined to help me understand that he wanted me to hear that I was to “be a light” as he repeatedly pointed to the fireplace in the picture.
I do know that God was speaking to me directly in that shared encounter. It was a link of something that happened last month around the word “light” when I was at a retreat. God reminded me in a room full of women standing in a circle with candles lit that despite the dark wilderness that I have found myself in at times over the past few years, his plan for me is to not forget that he has called me to be a light. He is the reason that I have life and light and His desire is for me to live out what I told this man this morning, that the origin of my name Cynthia, actually means, reflector of light.
It may sound simple, but it was profound to me and resonated in my weary soul. God gently reminded me through an act of kindness that whenever I feel displaced or not enough, His love is my home. His love is where I belong no matter what’s happening in the back story of my life. It is His love that keeps me sheltered and because of that I choose to believe, I can trust and I can be His light to the world.
Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 (Message Bible)