Emily Shares

Monday, October 03, 2011  ::  

This is a first for my blog: A Guest Blogger! Isn't it exciting? I asked my good friend, Emily, to share some of her thoughts on Retreat de Moxie. What she shares with us, speaks with authenticity, strength, and dignity. Emily expressed concern that it was too long, but let me just say if you think that, get over it. It is totally worth the read! Please be sure to leave her some comment love.

Thank you so much, Emily. Your heart blesses me more than you know! 
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I was talking with Angel the other day about how her week was after Retreat de Moxie. During the conversation, she mentioned that she had gotten several comments about how this year's retreat was “easier” than some past retreats. (I'm sure “easier” wasn't the specific word that was used, but that was kind of the idea that was conveyed).  This surprised me quite a bit because I haven't found that to be the case for myself at all.
As Angel talked about in an earlier post, the theme of the retreat was sharing Jesus with non-believers. Reclaiming the word evangelism. Opening our mouths to tell the story God wrote for us specifically in order to bring glory to his name, especially with those that don't know him. She challenged us to pray for the gift of evangelism and boldness and a burden for the lost.  Now, I don't know about you, but this is not “easy” stuff. This is hard, hard, heart-wrenching stuff.  The kind of stuff that makes me want to close my eyes and stick my fingers in my ears and sing really loudly so that I can't hear any of it.  But since I'm 30 years old, I decided that would be a little foolish, so I prayed God would help me engage and listen and absorb, that I would be open to conviction and change. So, of course, I'm still pondering a lot of things that I heard on the retreat.
Like I said, Angel asked us to start praying for the gift of evangelism. Maybe this was easy for many of the women there last weekend. Maybe the thought had just never occurred to them and when Angel said this, they thought it was a great idea and did it. But not me. I furled my brow and dug in my heels and thought to myself, “There is no way! I don't want that gift. That's hard and requires a lot and will put me in a lot of situations where my heart will pound and I hate being in situations where my  heart pounds.”  But, I wanted to be open to what God had for me, so I prayed really hard that he would put the desire for the gift of evangelism in my heart. That I could get to the point where I would really want to pray for that gift. I continue to pray that and will probably continue for a while (until he answers, I guess).
Here's why I think evangelism is so hard for me. It's not because I don't believe in it, because I do. I want people all over the world to know who Jesus is and what kind of love and power and healing he has and to lift up his name. I moved to Tucson to do exactly that. I've believed wholeheartedly in sharing Jesus with others for so many years. But my fleshly side really, really cares about what people think about me.  I want to be known as the nice, fun girl that laughs a lot.  I don't want to be known as the crazy Jesus freak that makes conversations uncomfortable. And I know there are a lot of issues in those few sentences that I need to work out with God, but that's what I'm really thinking deep down.
Also, God created us in such a way so as to get attached to people.  And I have a lovely, wonderful friend who doesn't know Jesus that I care so deeply about. And I want her to know Jesus so badly, but I also love being her friend.  I love talking with her and laughing with her and doing things with her. So, in my head, it makes perfect sense that I would want to share Jesus with her too. But in my heart, it is not so easy. Because in my heart, I'm wrestling with the fact that I may love our friendship more than I love Jesus, or at least more than I want her to love Jesus.  There is a very real fear that if I share with her, it will make it awkward and change our relationship. Maybe she won't want to spend time with me anymore. Maybe I'll lose her as a friend and that would break my heart.
However, maybe that's one of the reasons God gave me the spiritual gift of faith. Because in the deepest part of me, I know that if the above happened, it would be alright. God is good no matter what. If I lose friends for him, then it's just like what Paul says in Philippians 3:8, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” I pray that this will be true for me as well, and I'm at the point now where if I lost this friend, my life wouldn't end, but I would be really sad.  I know it's just something I have to get over. God continually put this friend on my mind and heart during and since the retreat. He put me in her life for a reason and I pray I don't waste the opportunity to join him in his work in her life.  But how to share with her? How do I bring things up naturally, so that even though my heart will be pounding I don't look like I'm nervous?
One thing Angel asked us to do over the weekend was to think about our story of coming to know Jesus. Think about it in such a way that we could clearly and concisely communicate it to others. This was difficult for me at first because I don't have one of those dramatic, make-a-Christian-movie-out-of-it kind of stories. I believed at a young age with no serious time of rebellion in my life. For a long time I've struggled with believing this makes my story irrelevant. What God revealed to me this weekend was that my story is a good one, the perfect one and the one he designed for me. For the first time in my adult life, I was so, so grateful to have MY story and not wishing for someone else's. God has done amazing, wonderful things in my life. I need his grace and mercy every bit as much as the next person. Without him I am a prideful, nasty, judgmental, petty person. When I walk daily in his grace, I am a patient, kind, faith-filled and joyous woman. And why would I not want to share that with every single person I come into contact with?  I believe this is going to be the start of how I share with my friend. My heart will still pound, but I will continue to pray that God uses my story the way he wants.
So that's a little bit of what I've been processing this week. I have found it every bit as challenging and difficult as anything I've dealt with from other retreats.  God continually answers my prayers to speak to me during these retreats and grow me in ways I don't even want to grow. I feel that he is building this body up for the next step towards the cliff he's put in front of us. I pray that I will never stop growing and am grateful he allows me to be part of a community that pushes me and helps me do that. If the conviction that you may have lost opportunities to join in his work in the lives of those around you isn't a punch in the face, I'm not sure what is.
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Beautiful Emily! Thanks again! 
Photo by Laura 

5 important comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Erin Leigh said...

Thank you, Emily! You put to words some of the thing I have also been thinking and wrestling with about evangelism.

Thank you for helping me find words to confront myself with and words to pray.

I'll be praying for you also in your journey.

Alysa said...

EMILY!!! Congrats on being the first guest-poster here :) I am so glad you wrote this because even though I wasn't at the retreat this year, this is something I struggle with too. Thank you for sharing. Love you!

Jeff Bajenaru said...

Great heartfelt post Emily! I think you hit on what so many believers struggle with...and so many need to hear. Awesome! Jesus is worth it and so is your friend. :)

Amanda said...

Thank you for being willing to share, Emily! I really identify with a lot of what you've been processing, and it helps to have another perspective on it :) This context for Phil. 3:8 was especially hard but powerful. (Thanks, again!)

tracy said...

Lovely words, Emily. This is exactly what I was talking about last night - not wanting to be the weirdo.

I love the line, "I hate being in situations where my heart pounds." That's such a perfect capture of this struggle. What I appreciated about Angel's talks was that even though you're right - this is by no means easy stuff - I felt encouraged by some really practical, reassuring advice. Like how all our stories are relevant, God is powerful enough to place people in our lives who will relate to our story, and to take time to really KNOW your story so that you can share it naturally. And that God will be with us when we speak up, because that's what he wants.

Thanks for sharing!

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