Most people who used to read my blog or followed probably have moved on since its been over two years since my last post.
A lot has happened since my last post and I will try to catch up in this article, but I think I have enough material to write again.
Anyways, the reason I decided to blog again was because of an awesome church retreat that I just attended. I now feel very rejuvenated and it also made me realize that I should start blogging again.
Anyways, originally I didn't want to go on the retreat, but my wife (yes I got married since I last blogged! More on that in a separate article!) really pushed me to go...and boy am I glad she did. She is such a blessing in my life!
Anyways, my attitude was not the best on Friday night. But after a good night sleep, my attitude improved greatly by Saturday morning. Our head pastor was our "guest speaker" for the retreat and he talked about holiness. One comment in particular that surprised me was that "Holiness was meant to be practiced as a community". I always viewed the word "holiness" as a personal or individual basis. Anyways, my mood was still improving by the time we got to evening service.
Our new pastoral intern gave the talk for the evening service, and he gave his testimony. Then he showed us a card board sign he had made that had his struggles on one side and the end result of what God has done on the other side....kind of like the "end of the world" sign guys in movies. He then challenged us to make one too.
So as I started, I thought this was going to be a really dumb exercise. Little did I know that it would really change my life...that it would change the dynamics of our entire group!
As I sat there trying to figure out how to do this, I was originally frustrated because I have always hated giving my testimony since I was raised in a Christian home and had one of those "boring" testimonies. Then I thought, you know what, my entire life has been what my pastor calls a "Grace Story"...not necessarily how I became a christian but how God has shown his grace in my life. At that point I realized that I have cheated God out of his "Grace Story" in my life...and so I decided to make my cardboard about adoption.
Even though I centered in on the topic, I struggled for over 30 minutes on what to say on my cardboard sign. I brainstormed through ideas like:
I was adopted.....
.........But God gave me a family
I was adopted and stuck between two cultures
.......but God gave me a place to belong
I kept struggling with ideas like this....but what really nagged at me was the word "adopted"......was being adopted really the struggle of that I wanted to represent on the cardboard sign? I kept thinking about it and I realized that I use the tag "adopted" no different then like telling someone that I graduated from college. I realized that I use the word "adopted" so that I didn't have to face what really happened. I mean, I think it is great that I did this, and I think it definitely helped me through my childhood. But at the same time...waiting until I was 33 years old to really face this, may seem odd.....
That is when I figured out the correct word for my struggle: "Abandoned"
I struggled for another 10 minutes on whether or not I really wanted to use this word....I actually felt shame at first....it was a very difficult decision and I kept scratching the word out on my scrap piece of paper.....but at some point of time, all of sudden I got this sense of peace and an urge to use it and for some odd reason the strength and resolve to decide that I was going to use it and I was going to share with the group.
My final sign said: "I WAS ABANDONED.....BUT GOD ALWAYS PROVIDED A "HOME" AND A "FAMILY"!
What made the night the best experience ever though, was people were invited to share (not forced too) and what happened was amazing. Apparently I wasn't the only one who felt either convicted or the had the strength to share things as personal and as raw emotion as this....people kept going to the front and sharing. People shared some extremely personal information that I have never seen or heard people ever share that type of information about their past...the amazing thing is that it wasn't like momentum where people were trying to "top each other's stories" but these were all things written down on our cardboard signs.....we all decided earlier that we were going to share something extremely personal and expose ourselves before the sharing occurred!
If you have never experienced something like this, being involved in a group where people are willing to expose themselves for who they really are and not afraid of being judged and just being supported by each other.....You really need to seek this out! It is an amazing feeling!