when did i change?

this week i am sharing on the topic ‘spiritual formation through relationship’ at the northwest ministry conference in seattle, washington.  relationships are probably the one thing that have changed me the most over the years for better or worse.  but i want to start this blog with a word picture.

growing up in my little house on the prairie ways, i learned to use a loom.  my grandparents taught me how to weave the shuttle over and under, over and under through the strings pulling behind it various pieces of fabrics.  as you got to the other side of the loom you would pull back the loom bar pressing the piece firmly into place against the others to make a pattern.

more often than not your fabric would run out in the middle of a row forcing you to have to add a new piece into the shuttle.   the good news is that on top you would never notice this slight change.  however, looking up from underneath you would see loose ends, knots and the messy stuff that showed where the change had taken place.

i often share the story of my accepting Jesus at 13 with people.  not because of it’s remarkable impact on my life but more the lack of impact.  when i stood in front of my church said the words of faith and was baptized.  i fully expected Jesus to do his magic and make me new and improved.  a me that would want to spend time in prayer, reading the Bible and being more compassionate, gentle and controlled.  you know the list.  but the truth is that within days of my baptism i realized that my confession hadn’t worked.  i had not had any of those things dramatically change in my life.

unwilling to share this truth with my family or church peers i began a charade.  i forced myself to look the part with my moral behaviors.  i would read the scripture but get nothing from it, as it was a punishment not a discipline.  in every way, i was trying to live out my faith on my own until high school.  then i realized this is just too hard to keep up.  so i just played the part when needed and walked away basically from any kind of relationship with God.  besides i had all the information.  i had heard all the stories.  and guess what?  i wasn’t changed by that information.  in fact, looking back i think all the information made me feel more lost.

somewhere in my twenties God decided to use relationships to draw me back to him.  it was sneaky and subtle of him to begin to show me how he had always been there.  it started with finding christ church anglican a place where worship was more than motions or songs but people actively pouring into one another.  jen jacobsen, the youth leader, i started volunteering with helped me to see my faith is a journey compiled with information and relationship.  patrick wildman, our senior pastor would remind me one day in my work, “dawn you aren’t like others.  you are wired to see more, do more, and take people with you.” byron ragains of david c cook would invite me to join him in sharing with others my creativity in ministry.  allowing me to slosh my joy on others.  i didn’t understand why i went to share, but what i know is i was changed from the people i met.  laura tate, my right hand at my job and friend would say “keep pressing onward.  people aren’t ready for change but God’s vision will lead them there.”  janet lee would allow me to develop words and ideas to convey  my passion for spiritual formation in the family.  she would affirm me and pray for me.  she would accept all of the quirky me.  michelle anthony would enter into the story as a kindred spirit who would challenge me to let God dream of more for me.

each of these individuals and so many more ( i don’t have room to list you all) would become the fabrics that made my life richer and more vibrant.  if you were to look at my life you might see the beautiful tapestry of God’s relationship with me.  but underneath you would discover the beauty of the messy changes i have been led through because of relationships.

i am changed as a follower, a vision keeper, a wind chaser, a creator and a disciple because of many relationships.  i only wish the young me had been told, ” you are never alone.  i will send people to introduce me (God) to you.  you will find your place in my story and all of the gifts i have hidden inside you will make you ready for what i have in stored for you.”

may you take time today to pause and celebrate the people who have helped you on your journey.  celebrate a God whose goodness should be shouted from mountains.  then like david in psalm 16:11 give thanks that he has made known to you the path of life, allow him to fill you with joy in his presence.

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