Last weekend I went to Bayside of Citrus Heights very first Women’s Retreat.
There were 116 women who attended and about 30 of those had never been to a Retreat before. I just loved every minute of it, but my favorite moment was on Saturday night after the service. Before we wrapped up the night and headed to make smore’s at the bonfire, we opened the mic up for ladies to share.
One by one, the ladies shared about what was happening in their hearts and what God was doing.
Personal Testimonies are so powerful. It’s one thing to hear about what God is doing from a pastor or speaker but it is ten times more powerful when someone else does it. Each woman’s testimony was precious, authentic and real. Near the end, a beautiful young woman named Charlee stood and walked forward. She also happens to be the mom of one of my youth girls, Michaela. Both have a unique gift to love those that others are awkward with or even feel uncomfortable with. Michaela is this little fashonista that we took with us in April to Las Vegas for a Missions trip at the City Impact Center. She did well working with the inner-city kids, but she absolutely shined when the team worked with the homeless.
Last weekend I got to know her mom just a little bit more. I already knew that they look alike, but when Charlee got up to share, I found out that their voices sound alike and that they also have that same unique gift with people. Charlee has befriended a wonderful handicapped woman who sits on the front row at our church on Sundays. When someone tried to thank Charlene for reaching out to her, she said, “Hey, she’s my friend. I call her and we go to the mall!” I love her for that.
Anyway, when Charlee approached the mic, she was nervous and shaking like a leaf. I’m paraphrasing what she said because I can’t remember it exactly, but it went something like this, “I was really nervous to come to this Retreat because I was worried that there
Is too much wrong with me, but after hearing everyone share, I realize there is something wrong with everyone!!!! I’m not that messed up! I totally fit in here!”
It was definitely a “laugh-cry” moment and she spoke a truth that should set us all free.
Later on her FB wall she put up her favorite quote of the week, “Just because you fail, doesn’t make you a failure”.
I have a relationship with God not because I’m perfect or because everything is “right” with me. I have a relationship with Him because of His grace. We all have things wrong and even have a few things right. But perfection isn’t our goal – an authentic relationship with God and eachother is.
It’s because we all have things “wrong” with us that makes God’s grace and gentle healing love is so precious to us. That we can appreciate and receive the forgiveness that God offers. It’s because we all have things “wrong” with us that we can relate with each other and offer compassion instead of judgement.
We aren’t all right. We are all screwed up. Some things are all wrong. Broken.
But God loves us anyway.
Reaches out to us anyway.
Paid the price for us anyway.
Forgives us, cleanses us, grows us.
Never leaves us.
Is there something wrong with you? Welcome to the club. Me too. I’m not perfect and thank the Lord, I don’t have to be. But I am loved, forgiven, have help from heaven and take it one day at a time. And no one is so messed up that God can’t reach them and turn their mess into a grace message.
Everytime I think of that moment, I smile and am thankful that I was there to experience it. I’m thankful that Charlee didn’t let her fear stop her from being there either.
“But for the grace of God, there go I.”
Because of the grace of God, I am here…
And I am so thankful for it.