Those of you who know me well know that I dislike talking to people much of the time. Especially people I don’t know. I’m shy, I feel awkward, I get tongue-tied, and I’m much too easily embarrassed. I’m also a very private person (hence the enormous lack of personal posts on this blog). There are those things I’m perfectly comfortable sharing with the whole world, but in general, I like to keep to my own personal bubble.
Being this way, I always hate that moment at church on Sunday where they say, “Now stand up and say hello to someone near you/make a new friend/greet a newcomer.” And when I say hate, I do mean hate. I’d rather fake a miserable illness or a broken leg than get up and talk to strangers. Like I said, it’s awkward. And my hearing isn’t 100%, so that makes it worse. And I never know what to say.
So I was surprised when yesterday after the initial worship time, I turned around, saw a woman about my age sitting by herself in the next row, and not only introduced myself, but proceeded to carry on a natural conversation with her. Was this her first time here? How did she like it so far? How did she hear about the church? I listened to her story, which was unique and interesting, as every story is, and then as the service started, I welcomed her and sat back down.
As my dad would say, “Who are you, and what have you done with Grace?”
I didn’t exactly know in the moment. A rare instinct took over, prompting me to think of this lady and her awkwardness rather than myself and mine. I was less worried about my discomfort than hers, just for those few minutes. Was it prompted by the worship beforehand, taking my focus off of myself and onto my Savior? Or was it simply a matter of God working in me in that moment?
I don’t know. But the feeling was familiar, and it’s one that I’ve missed.
A few years ago, I was flooded with new understanding of the love of God, a realization of the beautiful way He sees each and every one of us. There was a brilliant epiphany, a sudden realization, and for a few months I saw the world through accurately rose-colored glasses. I saw in His children the heart of His son, and I saw in those who were not yet His beautiful creations made in His image, and I treated them accordingly–wanting nothing more than to spread His love to both. I was passionate about reaching out to others and showing them how they looked in His eyes.
Then came betrayal.
Betrayal brought depression.
Depression clouded my eyes to the love of God and the beauty of humanity again.
And ever since, I’ve been struggling to get that back.
I believe it’s my mission in life to share the love of God with everyone He puts in my life. But that’s hard to do in the midst of the day-to-day struggle. For awhile, I wondered whether I’d ever find that epiphany again. For awhile, I despaired. But in the past few months I’ve come to realize–perhaps it’s not so much about an epiphany this time. Epiphanies can be gifts, but sometimes it’s more a matter of a long, slow journey; one in which we sometimes take three steps forward and two steps back. But every step brings with it a glimpse of light. And every glimpse brings the peace of hope.
Like a moment in church, where for just a moment, a stranger becomes more important than myself.