Monday, September 28, 2009

In the small things

photo from here

I returned yesterday afternoon from a weekend away from my family (at a women's retreat) with so much brimming around in my head and heart. In one conversation a young college age girl was talking about how to live fully for Jesus and how she didn't know if she was there, or ever could be there. We had a great conversation later about it and I've been mulling it over more.

I, like this sweet girl, used to envy people who had not grown up in the church. They had such a great conversion experience! And how could I know if I was really experiencing faith or a love for God if I couldn't feel it? After some pondering this is what I found is true for me.

When I met Matt, it was love, passion, excitement, wonder, uncertainty. I would have crossed oceans to be with him! I longed to show him how much I loved him. Now, nearly 5 and a half years later, we don't live in that place any more. We love each other in the small things, carving out minutes or hours together, rather than every waking moment. I seek to love him unconditionally and have him be in my thoughts during my day. It's not a blazing love affair, and I don't think it is meant to be. After all, it's not the flames that make the most warmth, it's the glowing coals after the flame.

It's the same way for my faith now. I have already crossed oceans, and done the biggest things I could do to show God how much I love him, and there I was, in a new location, 'all in', committed, and, as a favorite musician friend of mine sang long ago, "Wherever I go, there I am". And there I was, with all of my drama, junk, selfishness and every other thing that plagued my ability to serve God in a big way, back home!

And just like marriage or love didn't transport me into this other plane of existence where all my loneliness and troubles melted away, neither did working as a missionary solve all of my faith related issues. Now, I'm not knocking mission work, at all. I loved being in Peru, but it didn't prove anything, either to myself or to God. It changed me, but not in the ways I was hoping for. I wasn't refined of all my imperfections, I wasn't transformed into some kind of holy person in those months. (And is that the point of serving others? Nope. But did I have some small hopes that serving in this 'self-less' way would purge the junk out of my heart? Yep.)

All this to say, I'm discovering, for myself, that love and faith must be grown and tended to in the small places if it can ever hope to grow out to the big places. In the corners of my heart where I hide my selfishness and ugly thoughts. On my street with neighbors who are different from me, in how I spend time with my baby girl, in friendships, with my sweet husband. A prayer, a meditation, a quiet song to an empty room. There is faith and love in these, the small things.

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