Introduce Yourself

I almost didn’t go to small group this week. I have been tired from working a full time writing job and beginning another (and my last) semester of teaching. And a few of my friends had said they couldn’t make it. So my excuses were pretty abundant. But I went anyway, and I’m really glad I did.

My church celebrated our first birthday this past Sunday, and we shared a few videos of individuals who had found our church and what the year had meant to them. In honor of that, my small group decided to share our stories of how we came to find our church.

I have shared my story with friends and at my previous small group, and since a few people from my previous small group are in this group, I didn’t want to “bore” them. I also don’t want to feel like people pity me–I’ve felt that enough in the past year, and it makes me feel even more ostracized. But soon enough, one person sharing turned into another, and we were suddenly going around the circle. As the person next to me spoke, I kept thinking just say “pass,” but when she finished–and there was an appropriate pause–I found myself sharing.

As I listened to others’ stories, I started to realize that knowing their stories is a vital component of getting to know them. Sharing stories makes us vulnerable, and that can be genuinely tough and nerve-wracking because we are baring a bit of our soul, but vulnerability is a big part of establishing community. If we are not honest and open with our community, we aren’t really in community; it’s only a facade. Telling our stories is important–they are our testimony, they showcase our “why,” and give us opportunity to build honest relationships.

So, take some time to introduce yourself. What do you blog about and why? What gets you going? What made you want to blog? What does blogging mean to you? How did you come across blogging? Is it a career for you or is it just something you do to share your story and let others know they are not alone?

God uses our stories. What’s yours?

 

 

 

 

Hurricanes

Hurricane Florence is set to make an appearance this week and weekend.

I’ve never lived in a place where paying attention to hurricane patterns is a good idea, but this particular one might actually affect the east coast. I live in inland Maryland, so we won’t get the brunt of it–not like South Carolina or North Carolina will–but we will get lots of rain and probably some flooding. I’ve never lived in an area where I had to worry about flooding, but there are areas near where I live that can affect my, albeit short, commute to and from work and getting Belle from daycamp. So, for the first time, I’m keeping an eye on the storm. (And if you are in the path at all, I will be praying for you.)

And I’m reminded of how a year ago I felt I was directly in the middle of a hurricane, being spun around without real direction in the midst of utter chaos. After a while, the storm subsided, and I was left with a painful humming. I seemed to be surrounded with the destruction.

Like any storm, though, things get rebuilt. It takes time–lots of time–but reconstruction begins and, eventually, even though the storm made it’s mark and it’s remembered by those who suffered through it, things start working again.

It has taken me a long time–about a year–but I’ve begun rebuilding myself. The storm made me realize there were some things that needed to be taken care of that I had neglected. It made me realize I had lost myself, and I needed to work on finding myself again. At the time, I cursed the storm. Don’t get me wrong–I would not wish it on my worst enemy. But now I can more clearly see that God has always been working.

Weather storms usually leave a trail of destruction behind them, with daunting possibilities of rebuilding. That process isn’t easy by any means, but it is possible. Personal storms leave a different type of destruction in their wake. They can damage relationships, our spirit, and our faith. And I would argue that a personal storm is much harder to rebuild from, because no amount of money can heal a crushed spirit–only God can. And if you’ve been in a storm where you didn’t feel like God was there, then the ability to confidently go to Him can be nonexistent.

But I found that when I pushed through, even in the moments of unbelief, He made Himself known to me. When I prayed in the moments I didn’t know what to say or didn’t feel like He would hear me or care, I felt His presence. And that is when healing could begin.

I still sometimes struggle with going to God. I sometimes let life and my own schedule get in the way. It’s something I’m working on. Because when I make time with Him more of a priority, my focus shifts, and I feel more capable to tackle my storm.

So as I keep an eye on Hurricane Florence, I’m also keeping an eye on my personal storm. I am taking inventory each day of how I feel and the damage the storm left behind and continues to create. But I’m also taking inventory of how God has spoken to me in the storm and the times I have seen His hand in it all. And that gives me hope.

. . . . . .

Have you ever been in the path of a weather storm? What was that experience like?

How did you overcome personal storms? Or, if you are in the midst of one, what is helping you through it?