Monday, October 27, 2014

Day 27 :: The time I kept the blinds closed and refused to answer the door

Right before we moved to Florida this summer I had the privilege of attending a Missions Conference at my parents' church, the church I was raised in.  It was so encouraging to be around missionaries from all over the world and hear the stories of relationships they were building with their neighbors, co-workers, random people they encountered.  They had a theme song for the conference; the chorus went like this:

I wanna be your hands and feet, I wanna be your voice every time I speak.  
I wanna run to the ones in need in the name of Jesus.  
I wanna give my life away, all for Your kingdom's sake.  
Shine a light in the darkest place, in the name of Jesus.

I left that week with a resolve to be intentional with relationship building once we got settled in Florida.  I even wrote this post about friendship, sharing a little bit of what I had learned.

Well, do you know what I did the second day we were in our home?  I closed all the blinds and refused to answer the door because I didn't want to talk to anyone.  

Within five minutes of opening our front door I had been bombarded with people who were very different from me, heard some unsettling stories, and had children clamoring to come into my empty home asking to eat our food (we had none) and play upstairs with my kids (who had no toys).  

I didn't want any of them in my life.  They were disrupting my space and making me uncomfortable.  I blamed it on the fact that we had no furniture for two weeks.  But the truth was I was neglecting to simply be someone who lived to serve people in the name of Jesus.  

I guess I was looking for something comfortable, hoping for people who were like me that were easy to get to know and be with.  The reality was that might never happen.  I could always be in a place where I looked different from other moms and had differing values.  I needed to look beyond the apparent differences to peoples' hearts and love them the way Jesus does.  Isn't that what I had been singing about just weeks before?  

This is what happens sometimes with living a life of blessing.  We look for opportunities, sometimes even wanting a big or new ministry.  But, there are probably people already in our lives that we can serve.  We might just not want to, or we might blind to the opportunities because we want something better, more interesting, or people who are easy to serve.  

Lysa Terkeurst wrote a book recently called The Best Yes.  In it she shares how to make wise decisions in our lives that are often too busy, sometimes with good things, and what it means in the midst of that to have a 'best yes'.  I was convicted in a lot of ways as I read through her book, but what stood out to me this summer was this:

"We will see our Best Yes answers most clearly when we are present, paying attention, seeing what we need to see, and being willing to extend God's love in the moment."

I didn't need to find people like me to serve and bless.  I just needed to pay attention and love the people around me. 

When I started paying attention I realized that my next door neighbor was hungry to learn about God's Word.  So we started doing a Bible study together.  One of Bradley's co-workers was here without her husband and kids for six months and feeling lonely.  So, I try to stay connected with her through the week, we try to include her in our family movie nights every now and then, and she is interested in learning about God, so she has come to Bible study too.  The neighborhood kids can sometimes have a negative influence on my children, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't encourage relationships with them.  The girls are learning how to serve, love, and be with people.  Yes, we have many teaching moments as a result, but our prayer is that even our kids will learn how to be a light and extend God's love to those around them.  

I want to extend God's love to everyone I encounter.  My husband, my kids, my neighbors, my friends, my extended family, a cashier at the grocery store, a homeless person on the side of the road, a parent sitting next to me during Mason's therapy sessions.  

Living a life of blessing means I have to pay attention.  To the Holy Spirit's prompting and to the people and situations around me.  Practically this will look different for each of us, but it requires being involved in the small moments of our days, aware to what's happening around us.   

This is Day 27 of a series:  Made to Pour, Living a life of Blessing

In the midst of reading Lysa's book, my friend Julie also wrote a series on Hospitality.  And although we aren't seeking to do a lot of entertaining in our home while we're here, the principles that Julie shared in her posts encouraged me that there were still ways that I could seek to be hospitable and open up my home in different ways. For those of you who are hesitant to open up your homes, her series is excellent!  Please, go and read her 3 part series:  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.  

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