Tuesday, June 21, 2011

You Can't Always Get What you Want

"...but if you try, sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need."

I recently had a conversation with a wonderful woman that took an unexpected turn.

I love women. I love the fellowship of sisters in Christ; It's one of the most beautiful things about the church. This woman is someone I've known and admired since I was 12 years old. Even so we've never really been personal friends. 

So honestly, when I discovered she was involved in a program through her church with Compassion International that I wanted to know more about, I was secretly excited to have an excuse to just hang out with her.

I met her at the church after months of email-tag. We sat on a couch in the foyer and she asked, "So, what did you want to know?"

I had hastily pulled together some relevant questions about the church partnership and her involvement, but, without my permission, the conversation quickly turned personal. I found myself pouring out the tale of my confusing meandering journey to find my place in God's kingdom. My emotional and spiritual struggles. She  the story of being the answer to the prayers of a woman in El Salvador. Of experiencing death, illness, fear and God's amazing faithfulness. She encouraged me in my study of the bible with an enthusiasm that sparkled with genuine delight in God's word.

I tried a few times to pull the conversation back to the ministry I had been curious about, but I realized as the conversation kept turning back to my personal struggles and desires in my own relationship, that God doesn't allow us to step into a vacuum when we put on our ministry hat.

I admit am uncomfortable with that. I would rather put on my ministry persona and take it off when I go home. I would rather not have ministry bleed into "my" time, draw on my emotions, or highlight my personal weaknesses. But that's not the way it works. 

God exists in relationships, not in projects, and relationships require personal contact. Ministry is as personal as your own body; you touch people with your own skin and occasionally catch their diseases. People see parts of you that you want to hide and their pain becomes your pain. It is a costly thing to serve others as Jesus did because things get personal.
But the beautiful thing is that, difficult as they are, relationships are God's workspace. Despite losing control of the conversation, I was wonderfully blessed that day; I grew in my relationship with my friend, I was able to be loving to her, and she encouraged me so much more than I could have hoped.

I walked away from that conversation knowing that it was not what I wanted but it was exactly what I needed.

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