Wow. What a day.
This morning, I went with my mother-in-law to a women’s retreat at her church. My inital thought after the experience is that I can’t even fathom the number of times we underestimate the Lord when He tells us that whenever two or three people gather for the sake of glorifying Him, He makes Himself present as well. A ridiculous number of life-changing truths were presented in such a short period of time that I fear I’m completely incompetent, as far as relaying any of them adequately. So I’ll just state where my heart is right now, after experiencing the whole thing.
Over the past several years, the Lord has been faithfully and steadily building up in me a desire to be a part of a ministry to girls/women. So many times, I’ve impatiently asked the question, “Okay, God…I get it. But what is it going to look like? I need to know what it’s going to look like to be able to accomplish it.”
And the Lord, in His infinite wisdom, has spent the past few years whispering into my soul, “Nope. You sure don’t. You don’t need to have any clue what it’s going to look like, and you don’t need to worry about “accomplishing” anything. Because…well, honestly. Because I know you, Aud. I know that as soon as you know what it’s going to look like and how you’re going to accomplish it, it’ll start to become about you. And you should know by now that my best work doesn’t happen that way.
“So here’s what you really NEED to do. You just keep putting one foot in front of the other. And one of these days, I’ll stick that ministry you’re thinking so much about in your path, and it’ll just be there, more flawlessly and creatively planned than anything you’re trying to think up right now.”
And it’s true. Several months ago, God put me in a teaching position at an inner city school, and it’s been changing who I am and how I see the world every day since then. But on some level, this year has been me running on survival instict. Because these kids are rough. It has taken me months to even begin to grasp the concept of doing more than just surviving in that place from day to do. To take the hits on the chin and turn the other cheek and hear them say to me, “You’re not going to change things,” and watch them effectively beat and bruise their teachers and their enemies and their friends and especially themselves in emotional oblivion. At first, it was just too much to watch, and I couldn’t believe that God had any interest in me staying here.
But at some point, I began to build up an immune system. The rough kids still exist, and the rough days still exist…but I’m learning that the time is coming for me to do more than just exist there. To be more than just another teacher who watches them walk into class with a sense of trepidation and heaves a big sigh of relief when they walk out.
This year has been such a learning experience. And the learning will continue, I have no doubts, in this school of hard knocks. And the Lord will continue to provide the strength I need not just to survive, but to thrive under unexpected and difficult pressures.
And as He continues to provide…it’s time for me to begin to provide for my students in a way I haven’t been able to up until this point.
So I’ve been thinking and praying again about what the Lord has in store. And after overcomplicating it and overanalyzing it and overplanning it and overreligionizing it for months, it all became very simple to me today, in one swift moment.
I make myself available.
Why do we ever believe that ministry has to be more complicated than that? The Lord has given me a burning passion to minister to girls. I have a school full of them set in front of me. Girls who are absolutely STARVED for affection, and attention, and love, and time…literally hundreds of them cross my path every day. And yet, in the effort to survive, I haven’t made myself terribly available. I get there as late as I possibly can in the mornings, teach my classes, plan for the next day, and leave as soon as possible. Why? Because I’m tired. I’m ready to go home to an easier place, a place where I’m not pouring myself out so much into people who don’t appear to appreciate it.
Which is where two truths spoken in today’s conference fire like a cannon into my heart:
1] Just because I feel something doesn’t mean that it’s true.
2] Just because I think something doesn’t mean that it’s true.
I feel unnecessary some days. That doesn’t mean I am unnecessary. I feel unappreciated. That doesn’t mean I am unappreciated. I feel disrespected. That doesn’t mean I am disrespected. But rather than live in those two truths, I let my feelings get the best of me. And I don’t make myself available, based on those feelings.
So here’s the plan. I’m formulating plans to head up a new extracurricular next year at my school. And it sounds so simple, but that’s the beauty of it. I remember when I was in college, how much I loved sitting with my roommate and making our own jewelry. How easy it was to just sit there and enjoy each other’s company and create something beautiful, especially after a long hard day when nothing else felt beautiful.
So I’m going to invite my girls to do just that. Come hang out with me after school for an hour a week and create something beautiful. And I’ve come to expect two things from a group of girls hanging out on a regular basis: relationships will be created, and life will be shared, both the good and the bad. And in the creation of relationships and the sharing of life, there is ALWAYS an opportunity for ministry.
God is good.