Today I did something that I wouldn't normally do: I signed up to join a Bible study/journaling group. Now I wouldn't NORMALLY do this because, well, I'm an awful private person and I'm not so...gregarious or sociable. (My daughter is the complete opposite!) But I am making changes in my life, changes for the better. And I really wanted to join this group not only to understand things better but also because God has really touched my heart in a BIG way and this is my chance to really glorify in that.
I don't know why I get nervous about being around people I don't know. Maybe it's a natural thing for this to happen? Sometimes I wonder if it's on account of my deafness. Am I afraid to socialize with others because I can't hear? Am I worried my deafness will present communication hurdles which OTHER people just won't have the patience to work around?
Well, it's not like I'm new at this church. Actually, I've been a member of this church for about two years now. The people there are wonderful and VERY friendly, very patient. Some of them actually reach out to give me a hug or shake my hand when I'm walking by them with my head down, minding my own business. I mean, they are really good people. So why should I worry about them being all impatient with me during conversation or deciding to talk to somebody else if I can't understand them?
On the other hand, they HAVE suggested I find someone to act as my interpreter for the services, etc. I'm still trying to do that. There is one girl who might be acting as my interpreter for the church, but we'll see how that works out. The last two interpreters I had moved away!
After I filled out a form to sign up for this group, I sat to watch the services, all the while wondering just what possessed me to agree to going. The timing wasn't a problem; the group meets 3 Sunday nights a month for an hour or two. My husband will be home to watch the children. That is NOT a problem. So I...couldn't exactly use that as an excuse to back out. But I WANTED to do this, and I kept thinking on WHY I decided to sign up. What exactly compelled me to sign up even though I am so nervous about this very same kind of situation?
As I watched the pastor speaking and taking notes of the text they had on the overhead screen, I saw the pastor stretch out his arms and make the sign of the cross in the air, like he was saying something about what the cross symbolized. Well, we ALL know what the cross stands for: the crucifixion of Christ at Calvary! But as I watched him make these gestures and I kept looking at the picture of a cross in the background, something ELSE about the cross struck me. The fact that it looks like a person holding out their arms. Ready to embrace someone. Ready to embrace NEW THINGS. NEW EXPERIENCES. NEW FRIENDS.
If ANYTHING should symbolize what the Christian faith is all about, it is that very attitude of welcome. It IS a vulnerable position to be in, true, but one which the Christian is willing to submit to all the same. We cannot grow in Christ unless we open our arms and our hearts to LIVING THROUGH CHRIST. And part of living through Christ is GETTING OUT THERE to fellowship and socialize with others. Not just others who follow Christ, but others everywhere. Those who don't know God, those who do not accept Jesus as their Saviour and those who are just hungry for communication with others.
THAT is why I must open myself up to this new experience. THAT is why I must look past my fears and embrace the challenge of TRYING to communicate with others even if there could be difficulties in trying to communicate with them. I can't let my deafness prevent me from sharing the Glory of God with others. I can't allow it to scare me away from people and hide myself away from the world. I don't let my burn scars do that; why should my deafness be any different?
I walked away from that sermon more enlightened than I ever had been before. That very insight gave me the key to facing my fears. I must open up my arms and be willing to embrace new things. Just as Jesus spread his arms out on the cross so long ago.
And now I want to end this blog post with an inspirational quote I saw somewhere on the Internet:
"I once asked Jesus, 'how much do you love me?' 'This much,' He said, then spread His arms out and died."
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