My Thoughts on Witnessing – Part Two

I was on Facebook the other day when I came across this quote by the wise and wonderful Jordan Loewen:

Evangelism shouldn’t be simply “telling” people about God, as if he’s some how missing from their world, but rather, It should be finding where God is already at work in their lives and making them aware of it.

That summed up a lot of what I’ve been thinking about recently. Just a little while ago, I had an amazing conversation with a friend about a really incredible, life-changing experience that she had recently gone through. She was glowing, inspired, and very animated as she told me all about what had happened.

I’ve been wanting to find opportunities to talk with her about Jesus, so as I half-listened to her story, the other half of me was scheming, “How can I somehow bring this whole thing around to being about her need for God??”

But you know what? I realized just as quickly that instead of being excited for her, and truly just listening to what she was telling me, I was coming up with an agenda. I wanted to fit her experience into my framework for how to experience God.

Who says she needs MY framework? Who says she’s only experiencing God if she’s aware of it? Who says that her experience is only powerful and life-changing if I add my “Christian two cents” to it? And why did I assume that God is missing from her world, when in reality, I could see God all over her experience?

At some point, I really hope and pray that she does become aware of God, but I started to sense that this particular conversation was not the time for that, yet.

I realized that I needed to ditch the agenda, and start praying. I prayed that the wonder of her experience wouldn’t die, but that the Holy Spirit would keep pursuing her through it. I prayed that it would lead her to ask questions. I prayed that it would open up an awareness inside of her for the things of God, and that she would recognize Him working, as He is already.

I believe that God is already doing something in her life. I don’t exactly know how to go about “making her aware of it”, as Jordan said, but I’m praying, and every time I get together with her, I’m hoping that God will show me what He’s doing, so that I can join Him. I’m praying that He’ll give me the right words, at the right time, when she’s ready to hear them.

I want to stop making God so small that I think He needs to work within my framework.  I want to stop thinking that His hand in people’s lives will look the same way (my way??) each time.

I want to look for Him, not my idea of Him, in the lives of other people. I want to be open-minded and sensitive enough that I can recognize what He’s doing. He’s got some pretty amazing ways of becoming real to people. I never want to squash or hinder that. I think I have in the past.

Here’s to better attempts in the future! Less talking, much more listening…

Soup Dawn

Just came across this great description of what it feels like to be in the presence of true friends:

Because, when I talk to Amy (and a small handful of other dear, darling kindred spirit pals), I feel so thankful to be me.  I feel witty and smart, and shocked beyond belief that this wittier, smarter, significantly more saavy person would actually call me friend.  I’m a fan of friends.  Good friends.  The kind that warm you to the bone.  Make you comfy in your own skin.  Make you happy, happy, grateful and happy to be you.

You know what makes that quote even better? She was writing a post about soup! Yes, soup. But first she wrote about the warmth of good friends. And I connected instantly with that quote.

I heard once that the people you enjoy being with the most are the people who make you feel like the best possible version of yourself. That doesn’t mean that you want to be with good friends just so that you’ll feel better about yourself, but it sure is a fantastic bonus!

Right now I need a bonus. I’ve just been in some situations that made me feel like the worst version of myself, and left me wondering if I’m really that bad. You know those moments when some ugly stuff comes to the surface. It’s good to deal with them, but they leave you feeling a little raw.

And that’s when a good friend comes and soothes those raw places. I am so thankful for each and every friend that God has sent into my life that sticks around for the raw times.

Lucky for me, I get to see one of my dearest friends this week. I’ve known her forever. Like, kindergarten. It took me awhile to realize the amazingness that was before me all along, but since I did, she’s been inspiring me and loving me, challenging me, and then soothing my raw patches. And then she moved very far away, and I haven’t seen her in a couple of years, but this is the week when that changes.

And she is always my “bonus” – the person that I love to be with and want to give love and friendship to, but the also the one who gives so much back to me, because she makes me see all that I could be, and makes me feel privileged just to be called her friend.

Funny enough, today is her birthday. I never intended to sit down and write a post like this, but the soup post inspired me, and my friend Dawn inspires me, so it all comes together in the end! Never thought to compare her to soup before, but it works. She fills my life with warmth and comfort.

What about you? Do you have someone who lets you see the best version of yourself? Wishing you the warmth and comfort of good people in your life!

Been Thinking About Skydiving…

You couldn’t pay me enough money to go skydiving…. I don’t think…

It’s the kind of experience that would just be far more than I could handle.

Ben went a few years ago. It was his mom’s birthday request that she be able to go skydiving with her family. So Ben and his sisters went along, while I stayed on the ground with my father-in-law, Anika, and Kaylia, although I didn’t know about Kaylia’s existence at the time. (Good thing I didn’t go! What happens to an embryo if the mother jumps out of an airplane? Do you think it would handle that well? Just wondering…)

Anyway. I asked Ben what it felt like right before jumping out of an airplane. He said that he felt a mixture of thrill and excitement. He felt a little bit nervous, but he didn’t really feel scared. And the rational part of his brain was asking what exactly he was doing, jumping out of an airplane.

Ben is very cool and calm in most situations. I am not. I think that if I were to jump out of an airplane, it could possibly involve vomit and a lot of other nasty things. I would be a nervous wreck.

So why was I thinking about this?

Today I had a great conversation with someone very dear to me, and we were talking about doing things that are good for you, but are INCREDIBLY HARD TO DO! It’s funny how even a conversation with a person can make you feel so nervous and worked up! But I’ve totally felt it. The most recent one that sticks out in my mind was when I asked a lady that I respected and admired very much, but didn’t know personally very well, to be my mentor. I had prayed for a mentor, and had prayed specifically about asking her to be my mentor, but to actually get around to picking up the phone and asking her to do it seemed about as nerve-wracking as jumping out of an airplane. Except I didn’t vomit. But I felt like I would.

I was so afraid she’d say no! And I was so afraid she’d think I was weird or ridiculous for asking. And yet I knew that I had to at least try. It came down to just taking a deep breath, grabbing the phone, and dialing before I could think about it anymore, and rationalize my way out of it.

Some things are just like that – do it quick before you change your mind! I’ve often shared the story of my younger sister and me listening to forbidden tapes in our bedroom. My parents were fairly particular about what we listened to, and my sister had gotten a tape that would not have been approved of.

One day, I went to the field for a ride on the tractor while she was driving, and she was listening to her forbidden music. My conscience started bothering me, and I started nagging her about that tape. It finally got to her, and she very suddenly stopped the tractor, stopped the music, grabbed the tape, opened the door, and threw it as far into the field as she could. I sat there looking on in shock. She turned to me, all calm, and said, “I had to do it quick, before I changed my mind.”

And it’s true – sometimes the right thing needs to be done quickly. Squeeze your eyes shut really tight, take a deep breath, and just plunge in. Jump from the airplane. Chuck the tape into the field.

I remember one conversation with a friend that was like that. One of those on-the-verge-of-vomitting type of conversations. Quick, be honest, before I chicken out!

See, she’s amazing – beautiful, talented, super-organized, always seems to have her outfit and all details of her life looking awesome, she’s confident, has such great faith in God, and this strong, nothing-can-faze-her type of personality that I only have in my dreams. And although she was my friend, and I loved her, I was so jealous of her! It ate away at my insides and drove me crazy. And it affected our friendship, obviously. I always saw myself as being in competition with her, because she was amazing and wonderful, and …I wanted to be just like her.

I didn’t know what to do about it. I prayed about it, and wrote in my journal about it. I tried to rationalize myself out of it. And it just would not go away. It was awful, because I knew that I could not be a good friend to her in that condition.

And then I became really convicted about confessing it to her. I really didn’t want to. It was so ugly, I really wanted to keep it a secret. But something inside said that I needed to apologize for not loving her as a true friend, and for being jealous of her.

Oh, my goodness, extremely intense experience of squeezing my eyes shut and just “jumping”.

And you know what? It was one of the best experiences ever. For some reason, confessing it made it go away. Bringing the darkness to light. And from that point on, we had so much more openness in our relationship, and it grew in ways that it never could have if I hadn’t taken that plunge. I’m so glad I did it.

So what is it that you know you need to do? I know it’s hard and scary, but I also know that once you do it, the chances are probably good that you’ll have a peaceful landing. You’ll be glad you jumped!

Picture taken by my sweet sister-in-law Alicia