Yesterday was an emotionally-charged day for me. I had to make decisions that affected a large group of people, I had to have words when I needed them immediately, I had to generate answers when needed, I sat with the children of a friend while she was at a doctor’s appointment, I was the receiver of a text, and finally, I was the object of a request for snuggles.
Without my village, all of the above would have been very different. By village, I am referring to the group of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, who are also disciples of Jesus, with whom I have surrounded myself.
As the events from yesterday have started to fade into the quietness that is now, I’ve had time to reflect on the amazing role of a village, and more specifically, MY village.
During the large-group decision event, I had someone who physically stood by me. She didn’t budge, and her presence meant more to me than she will ever know. On the outside, I was calm, but the inside was a whole other story, as there were so many scenarios running through my head. Knowing that she was physically beside me made all the difference in the world. Friend, I thank you from the depths of my heart.
In the moment when I needed words, no one else could do this for me. I had to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit and just trust. Trust that the right words would come in a time when there was literally no time to stop and think. The Holy Spirit is a VITAL part of my village. It’s so important that I invite, seek, and listen to The Spirit’s promptings.
With the needed answers part, this involved a very special type of villager. This is a person in my village who is going to ask the hard questions, taking a gut/heart check-up on me. There are not many of these people around who can do this from a foundation rooted in love, but he did it successfully. This is an extremely hard role, but it is also an extremely necessary role. It’s tough on their end, and it’s tough on the receiver’s end. This hardship is why there are not many of these in a village, but man, oh man, this role so needed. It must be noted that the hardship is very short-lived. Why? Because once the questions are asked and answered, growth happens on both ends. Friend, for this line of questioning, I thank you from the depths of my heart.
Sitting in my friend’s house was a great pause in my day, because I was able to do my part AS a villager. A give back kinda thing, you know? I didn’t want to share this part with you, so as not to brag about my action, but it cannot be missed that in a village, there’s a give and take. It cannot be one-sided. BIG things happen when there is a change in a person’s heart that goes from the side of wanting to BE served, to BEING a servant to others. Being a part of a local church body, I see this all the time. When a new person joins us, they have two general paths: continue to be a attender/partaker of church-body events, just as the first day that he/she was a guest in our group, or after some time, become a contributor by taking on servant roles that line up with their God-given gifts. It is in these servant-role transitions that I see the most growth in a person’s spiritual journey. This is nothing new, not a new idea by any means, as even from my childhood when I would hear testimonies of mission trips, those trips did not only positively impact the people/focus of the mission trip, but it radically changed the people who went. The impact of servanthood is not something that can be taught, it must be experienced. Friend, for allowing me to be a servant, I thank you from the depths of my heart.
To my friend who texted me words of affirmation, encouragement, and prayer, you have no idea how much I needed that (or actually, rather, you did, which is why you sent the messages in the first place!). This type of village support is vital. The people who are praying for each other are vital. Prayer is THE MOST powerful tool in our life tool belt, so why is it the one that we so often reach for last?
With the events of my day, I had to play it cool when my preteen son asked if we could snuggle on the couch after dinner. I suppressed the urge to shout out, do a happy dance, grab him up right there, and to rather, respond in such a way that he would not be hesitant to ask me again. Even with all that happened earlier, this may have been the moment when I needed the most self-restraint!!! My husband has been out of town all week for business, and my son had miraculously picked up on the fact that a good snuggle was exactly what I needed. I must also note, that my daughter completely put herself aside to prepare my dinner on Wednesday night at church. She got my plate, napkin, utensils, drink, salad, and she even got the little butter pads, because she knew I liked butter on my corn muffins. Did they get to this way of thinking on their own? Heavens no! It had to be learned. It had to be taught. It had to be modeled. Having eyes to see where others need to be cared for is exactly what Jesus taught His disciples as they went on journeys with Him. Who better than to learn empathy from, than the teachings of Jesus Himself. When we study The Bible together, when my children go to church, when they see with their own eyes how this community of faith operates, they learn what servanthood looks like. Then, they, in turn, become servants also. My children, for putting yourself aside by preparing my meal, and snuggling your mama who needed it, I am so grateful.
Who’s in your village? Are there ways that you can serve your village? Are you able to see the positive impact that surrounding yourself with equally-yoked people, fellow disciples of Jesus, brings? If you do not already regularly meet with a group of this type, I’d love to take this moment to encourage you to do so. The enemy does not want you to be a part of a group of this type. In fact, he’ll throw excuse after excuse on you to keep you away. Why? Because you will find strength there, and if you are strengthened in the Lord, you are a threat to the enemy. See what the Bible says about this group-strength:
“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.”
Lord, thank you so much for companionship and those whom you have placed around me, so I can learn what servanthood looks like. Please open my eyes that I may see those around me with whom You would like me to be Your hands and Your feet. Thank you, Lord, for all the people who serve. Grant them strength and wisdom to continue pressing on towards the mark. Amen.