placeFinding My Place at the Five-Minute Friday Retreat

I sniffed my pits before closing my car door and heading towards the place where we would register. I shrugged. Without facing the registration process, I wouldn’t receive a room key for the retreat. And until I had that room key in my hot and sweaty hand, I couldn’t shower. I’d have to go in smelling slightly ripe, covered in grime (birding is dirty business), and wild-haired.

Once again, I found myself just a little late. Only this time, I didn’t know what to expect when I walked in the door of a strange building filled with women I had only ‘met’ online. As I passed Christy’s van in the parking lot, I smiled with relief. Someone would know me (and my penchant for bird watching). Christy had graciously hosted me at her place the night before (and I had showed up in the same been-birding-got-dirty condition).

When I entered the lobby of the building, everyone seemed to know me at once. Ladies jumped up to give me hug (despite my warning about dirt and bad smells). My heart filled with calm and gratitude that a bunch of in-real-life strangers would accept the in-real-life me without hesitation.

Without pretensions, we became an instant community. We sang together, prayed together, bared our souls, and confessed our sins. Although we signed up for a writing retreat, we ended up fellowshipping as the body of Christ—a church without a building or a specific place.

I don’t know anyone’s denomination, but I know everyone loves Jesus. We don’t all write in the same genre or style, but we all write to glorify our God.

Why Can’t Church be Like That?

placeAlthough I’m not a hugger (I don’t mind hugging, it just seems awkward without an invitation), I learned that I need to hug the strangers that walk in the doors of my church more often. I need to invite them into conversation and relationship. Even if they smell ripe and arrive unwashed with crazy hair.

All too often I fail at the one job I know God has given me to do—love. Love without hesitation, reservation, or conditions.

Too often I judge others based whether or not they look and smell and act like me. I subconsciously place a value on everyone, forgetting that we all cost the same—Jesus’ life.

So, I challenge each of you to forget the place where you worship God, and remember your place in his kingdom. Include people—even the odd ones. Give hugs liberally—even to those that you don’t know well. Smile often, listen more, and pledge to learn from others.

We all have a story, and something to teach the world.

All too often, I fail at the one job God gave me to do: Love others #fmfparty #Christianduty Click To Tweet