So I realize that you are generally supposed to do a year in review in January. Since I can't get it off my mind, I will go ahead and tell you guys (whoever you may be)...late though I am.
For a while now, my years have had themes to them. If I am good, I write them down but mostly, I notice in December what it was and smile. 2011 had a distinct theme, one that is extremely important to me because it is the culmination of years and years of walking with the Lord. The theme was this: Driving out Fear. "(See 1 John)
1 John 4:18 has always been kind of a mystery to me. "Perfect love drives out fear." It evokes more questions than answers for me. Who's perfect love? God's? Can people love perfectly? This verse has been echoing in my heart for years....years! If this is true God, why am I still so fearful? Fearful of dumb stuff and legitimate stuff. My heart was one big field of opportunity for the enemy. Thus, my loving Jesus set out to eradicate that weakness for my good, by calling me to face my fears.
So here it goes, the big lessons from ordinary things. Things God asked me to do that most of you can do without blinking an eye. That is why my journey has been visible only to me, the Lord and a handful of people who were fortunate enough to see fear roar its ugly head in the form of a breakdown.
Biggest fear.....drumroll.........Entertaining people at my house.
I can remember the first time that God called me to work on this fear. "Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Romans 12:13. That's not the only verse that gives hospitality as a command. Type hospitality into your bible search engine and just see how many times it shows up. It's a lot. Every time I would roll over this concept, I inwardly winced. I thought, oh gosh, not that. I can give, volunteer, keep the nursery, share the gospel, disciple someone, but please don't make me open my home.
My dinner club friends (Shawnee DC shout out) can attest to this fear. That was step one to God removing fear in my heart. I would go to dinner club, once a week with some lovely ladies connected with OBU. Occassionally, it would be my turn to host. I would have to have a pep talk on the phone with my mom before any of these occassions. I dreaded everything: cooking, greeting the first person who came, small talk that depended on me to carry it, the fact that none of my dishes matched, everything. The only thing I was comfortable with was when it was time for everyone to go home and they all politely left at once. Then my heart would return to normal. A little reference, that began in 2004.
The second place that God began to pull away this fear was in my jewelry business. In 2008, I started selling Silpada (LOVE IT). The only problem is that this business requires home parties. My stomach dropped at the thought. I can remember my first party. I invited everyone I knew, got great invitations, picked food that I knew would work, cleaned my house and of course, had my mom and sister Leah come so that I would have a safety net. I vividly remember talking to them and saying, "What if nobody comes? That will be so embarrassing! What if they don't have fun and then they stop liking me?" Yes, I was 26 years old and not 14. I am telling you, this fear was deep and intense. Short version, the party was great fun and I got lots of great jewelry and made new friends.
As much as selling the jewelry pushed on my insecurities, inching me closer to God's perfect love, it was not the kill shot. Jewelry got to be this really fun buffer. If there was an awkward pause, there was always the jewelry to stand in between us. God still wanted more from me. He wanted me to have people over for dinner. It was a clear, undeniable call in my heart. I started small with friends who knew about my fear and I knew wouldn't judge. Eventually I got braver but not too much. I was averaging 1.5 dinner parties a year.
Then in January of 2011, Terry and I sat down to do our yearly goals. One of those lists included people that we would have over for dinner. I wish I could say that I had all of them over...I can't. However, I can say that I had my inlaws, my neighbors, good friends and lots and lots of college students. I even go into the habit of having a group of college students over every Sunday for a while. I would try daring new recipes. I made Collard Greens.....and they were delicious. With each Sunday, I could feel the grip of that fear loosen until I realized I was free.
You are probably thinking that this is a little stupid and why is it important for me to get rid of that kind of fear? If you don't like having people over, just don't. Right? Wrong. The reason it was so important for me to conquer that fear was because people need community. I need community and they do. Every person, no matter their response to other people, needs community. Community is most easily created by engaging in common activities. What could be more common than your dining room table? People need to be loved and God had given me a great gift of a big house and money for food. The only thing standing in my way of loving people was my fear of doing so in my home.
What are you afraid of? Let God press on it and break it open, I dare you. Perfect love drives out fear and allows us to drive out the fear in others.
Love you guys! Who is up for dinner? :)