Getting Messy and Birthday Cakes

I’m attending an amazing conference that kicked off tonight- but has already rocked my world in a way I wasn’t quite prepared for.  The speaker, Reggie Joiner, talked about how we can’t reach people without it getting messy.  It gets messy for us to be involved and share ourselves, and it gets messy for them.

I don’t like messy.  What I mean is emotionally messy- lives intertwined, issues faced together, sharing hurts and feelings.  Surface is easier.  Surface is safer.  So in order to keep a bit more control in this crazy life where very little is under my control, I control that.  I let few people in very deep, and I don’t get very deep with others.

But I’ve wanted to be a bit more messy, I’ve wanted to share, thus this blog.  But you notice it’s been a while since I posted.  It’s been too hard lately, anything I would have said would have required me to share more than I really wanted to.  But yet I keep asking God to use me.  But you know, without the mess.

It doesn’t work that way.  I’ve let few things get messy in almost five years, and truthfully avoided it usually even before then.  For almost five years I’ve stayed out of ministry areas of the church that required me to get messy with people with few exceptions, and I’ve been involved in missing persons work but in the least messy way possible.  Tonight was like God was speaking directly to me though- letting me know that I can’t do the work I’m called to do without being willing to be messy and uncomfortable.

It might be baby steps, but here is my first go at it.  Writing a post when I’d rather keep it private.  And sharing this:  Yesterday was Austin’s 31st birthday and in my no mess style, I made one post on Facebook and didn’t think about it much again- because you know, I’m fine.  But I wanted to take a cake home to eat with my mom and the boys and recognize the day, so I stopped at the grocery store.  I thought I’d get something he’d like.  And that’s when the minor meltdown happened, when I realized that I don’t remember what he liked.  I walked in a circle around the bakery for 10 minutes, long enough for four employees to ask me if they could help find something.  I left empty handed and brokenhearted.   

I don’t know what good may come of sharing that simple honest look at a tough day, but I know that like 2 Corinthians 3:3 says, our lives are a letter from God, meant to show Him to others.  I hope that someone can see that in my letter there is pain and trouble but there is an ever present hand of God.

Getting messy isn’t going to be easy, but I’m going to be trying more.  Feel free to ask me how it’s going and keep me in check- because I know Reggie was right.  Ministering to people is messy.

Influence

Throughout my life there have been many influential people, those I admired and respected and who helped shape my world view and self view. I could write entire posts about those people.

I listened to a speaker this week, one who has had influence on me and many around me, and thought how much I’d love to be able to have the impact and influence he has. Just a portion even. But one of the things he spoke about was the importance of leaders in our churches who partner with parents to influence our children. Influence + influence = even greater influence.

That got me thinking about how everyone has influence in some way. Each of us has influence in ways we realize and ways we don’t. We hope our influence is more good than not. We sometimes forget that though we don’t necessarily have influence over thousands, those we do impact matter just as much.

And our influence is probably greatest than we ever know. I wonder if Austin could have ever known what influence he would have. His name is known by many he never knew, and he’s now pushing me out of my comfort zone to have influence on a few through sharing my experiences. He’s having influence through my mom who is sharing her time and skills with families going through the same.

I needed the reminder that though my influence is small, someone is watching everything. My children are influenced by my actions more than my words daily, and they will also have influence one day. I need to never forget that.

You have influence. How are you using it today?

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