I went away last weekend. A reunion of sorts somewhere where I used to be for three years.
I will admit I was nervous. I was always shy. I struggled with interacting with people, not knowing if they really liked me or simply felt sorry for me. Didn't help that I was at least ten years younger than the average age of the others. So I was nervous. I was a mess when I was there. Don't know that I am not a mess right now, either.
But reconnecting with this place has been a big plus in our lives. Real support. Real encouragement. Real prayer. Realness.
Still, I was nervous. I was going without my husband, and he is the outgoing one.
But it was amazing. Wonderful. Fun. Thankfully, my favorite people showed up. And hmm... ten years made a big difference at 16, but is almost nothing at 37.
Oh we had fun! Stayed up way, way too late eating cookies and drinking coffee. Laughing at old jokes and new. Crying together. Sharing. Doing dishes. Admiring ourselves all dressed up. Laughing over what it takes to get "all dressed up". Praying. Singing. Listening to awesome messages. Playing volleyball in the worst torrential downpour ever. Rolling in the mud after volleyball since it really didn't make any difference anyway. Fun.
I thought it would be a rest and I'd come home refreshed.
I came home refreshed spiritually and emotionally, but wiped physically!
But what a gift! I still smile.
What made me smile the most, though, was not all the fun. Not even all the connecting, although that was a blessing.
It was the ministering. See, I was messed up when I first went there. Really messed up. I still am. But I am learning about God as He walks me through my mess.
It was the chances to minister.
I took the blogs I'd written about losing my daughter to the friend who just lost hers. She's passing them on to others she knows.
I took my article about living through abuse and gave it to one woman who knew me - just to let her celebrate what God has done. She came running to see me before I left wondering if she can share this. She works with the new girls, and she needed something like that. She wondered if she could tell one girl it was me.
I took my pain of the silence of the mission team near me here and shared it with a seasoned missionary who works in an area like ours. To hear her assessment, to hear her listening... it was healing. She left me with her contact information, an ear to listen.
To hear the women who had it all together - or so I thought when I was sixteen! - stand up and talk about how hard it has been to be wives of the leaders. That it was most often in their homes that the attacks have come - physical, emotional, spiritual... all sorts. A sudden clarity and a feeling of being a part of others... life for us got so much worse when my husband became the team leader. And worse when we stepped into finishing a Bible for a country that did not have one.
I know that I still stand responsible to God for my sins. I do.
But I also know that we are under attack.
And the last years were tough to deal with. Silence from our mission base only hours away. Concern, but condemnation from our "here" pastor who was appalled that we would even suggest any of this was anything more or less than personal sins which we needed to search our hearts and confess. He was actually horrified when we said that we feel like we are under attack right now since we have taken on finishing the Bible project. Horrified that we would blame it on anything but our own sins.
I sin. I know that. I do. I am responsible for them, too.
But, we are also under attack. The devil is doing more than roasting marshmallows on the end of his spiked tail over the fires of hell. He's alive and active in this world and decidedly ticked about what we all do.
It was good to have that acknowledged. To be reminded that we all need to be praying for each other.
But what has me dancing with delight after years of silence and condemnation is that with reconnecting to this place, we have support, prayer, support, love, connection, and a knowledge of what we are going through.
If I wasn't drifting off to sleep from a few days of acting like I was still sixteen, I'd be dancing!
As it is, I have bruises up and down the insides of my arms from playing volleyball with all my heart.
(and I made the flights home without much fear! Yay!)
If you've joined since I made that offer a year ago to let you see my story, an article I wrote, you can still ask. I'll send it to askers, but won't post it here.