Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Brethren

Everyone loves a good solid friendship.  The kind of friend who will listen to you for hours and doesn't mind overlooking your flaws.  The Brethren are different.  They are committed.  They are in it for the long haul, no matter where the adventure of life takes you.  They know the road gets messy and they've got their hip-waders on.  You know the ones, you say I need you and they come running, no matter where or what time.  They are like the Special Forces that God sends in when you are in it up to your ears.  He sends them to either coach you out of the pit or drag you from it.  You have to appreciate another human being who is that willing to invest in you, I found a whole church full of them. 

Lest I even dare not to mention the Fifth Street Baptist Church in Key West, Florida, the heart and the love of Jesus billows out of their windows.  I walked into their church with my little one in tow and barely showing my trial.  I wanted to slide into a pew unnoticed but God had other plans.  Within seconds, I found strangers approaching me with warm smiles and outstretched hands.  Women gathered around me to direct me to where my daughter would have Sunday School and another asked to me join her family for service so I wouldn't have to sit alone. 

It didn't take long before I had gotten to know a few and with my impending breach of belly from my baggy clothes, I felt the need to confide in one, to let them in on my secret.  I was met with a wonderful, compassionate reception and a kindness I hadn't felt in years.  I needed to be loved and to feel accepted and there were 4 key women in the church who wanted to love me with all they had.  Who couldn't be just speechless when you recieve such compassion.  I felt more open to letting them in on my hidden life down on their island.  I was waiting for someone to give some kind of reaction, a sign that I didn't sit well with them but it never happened.  I wondered if they would think that someone in my situation shouldn't still call themselves a Christian but no one ever questioned my faith.  I kept waiting for my own judgements against me to materialize in the faces and out the mouths of this congregation but they refused to oblige.  I felt cared for.  I was desperate for it.

Here it was, after 8 long months with them seeing me every week, loving me through my hurt and my decision and it was winding down to my due date and everyone knew it.  There was a little sadness in the air and an uneasy feeling of 'what comes next?'.  I was approached by a dear friend there one morning.  She gently told me that she was asked to see if I would be okay with the ladies in my congregation throwing a baby shower for Alex's parents.  They wanted to bless this couple with gifts to show that they loved me and this child all this time and that this was there way of showing it.  They wanted them to know what a gift it was for them to share in this experience with me.  I was silent for a lot longer than I should have and her eyes started to dart and her shoulders rolled in as a sign that she was afraid that she'd injured me.  I just didn't know how to put to words the awesome sense of gratitude and humility I was feeling that they'd want to do something like this for them.  I agreed and we worked out the details of gift giving and how they would get to Brett and Kayla.  I couldn't wait to email Kayla to let her know what this sweet group of ladies wanted to do for her.  I was bursting with pride over the outpouring of love from my Sisters. 

Such and amazing experience, to see these women love on me unconditionally and every bit like the love of Christ.  My most humbling and confirming moment in these women came as I was substitute teaching bible study on Sunday.  I had finished up and one of my favorites raised her hand and said, "It has been such a blessing to see you live out your testimony".  My tears wanted to flow.  I had come to that church just hoping I could fade into the crowd, ashamed of what I'd become and completely unaware how greatly I'd be blessed.  I couldn't have ever fathomed that I'd be a blessing to others.