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BSSM 2.1 - DIFFERENT

October 17, 2020

BSSM, round two. It’s different this time.

 

Yes, COVID makes school different. For the first week and a half after getting to Redding I was quarantining and awaiting test results. That meant I had to sit in on classes online, despite being a 10-minute drive from where they were being streamed from. I missed auditioning for the student worship team. I had to wait much longer than I would’ve liked to see some of my friends from first year (and still haven’t properly connected to others).

 

Our main sessions which would ordinarily pack the entire school year into one room for wild, passionate times of corporate worship are split into two half-full sessions, and then reduced again as students come down with symptoms, test positive, or come into contact with those who have and are forced to quarantine.

 

Masks. Limited social gatherings. Quarantine.

 

Yep. COVID still sucks in California.

 

But COVID isn’t the only thing that makes second year different. The feel is different. The themes are different. The expectations and responsibilities are different. The messages are different, and the leaders interact with students differently.

 

And I am loving it.

 

I’d say the biggest theme of second year, at least thus far, is leadership.

 

And it’s a bit strange for me, because the whole concept of leadership has always felt vague and ethereal. I’ve had a lot of moments over the years where people would tell me I was or was going to be a leader, and in general my reaction was to smile and nod and assume that this whole leadership thing would somehow someday just attach itself to me and I’d be a leader.

 

Turns out, that doesn’t seem to be the way this thing works. Shocker.

 

Instead, I’m learning that leadership is intensely practical and immediate. It starts right now.

 

The concept of “ownership” has been drilled into us, over and over again. I’ve thought and re-thought through the people I’ve placed around me, and which relationships I’m investing in. I’ve felt challenged to think through exactly why I am here, now. I’ve been encouraged and filled with hope in what is possible with God. We’ve had sessions on goal-setting, time management, and task prioritization. There’ve been messages about capacity, and how to grow it. Leaders have talked about what this school provides and how to prepare for the time ahead when we aren’t in it anymore, and are therefore required to sustain ourselves internally instead of just feasting on the incredible environment that’s been carefully crafted for us.

 

And we’ve talked about responsibility. For me, one of the biggest growing points so far has been to think through the responsibility I have for the people around me.

 

Classmates. Roommates. Co-workers. Friends. Family. Strangers on the street.

 

Let me provide some context by saying that I have confidence in my ability to shut myself in a room and get stuff done. I did good in college. I received recognition for my commitment to and engagement with homework last year, though BSSM doesn’t do any sort of normal grading. When it comes to employment, I know I can slip on my earphones, shut the world out, and throw myself into the work at hand.

 

I am aware that I’m good at accomplishing tasks assigned to me.

 

But what I’m learning is that that isn’t really leadership.

 

Leadership involves checking in with the people around me, and making sure they’re doing well. Leadership means going together. It doesn’t mean taking control of other’s lives or letting my sense of self-worth be dictated by another person’s choices, but it does mean caring about what’s going on in the lives of others around me, and loving them enough to challenge and encourage them.

 

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

- African Proverb

 

I’m in this for the long-haul. This life, this purpose, this way of walking the earth… I’m in it to stay. I love going fast as much as the next guy, but I wanna to go far. I want to go long. I want to sustain the pace for decades, not just a few flashy years.

 

It makes me think of Jesus (which, as an aside, is always a good end to any thought trail). He was literally God walking the earth. All-powerful. All-knowing. Outside of time save for a few brief years when He chose to subject Himself to its limits.

 

And what does the fully self-sufficient God-man think as He’s starting His ministry?

 

“I could really use a bunch of fishermen and a cheating tax accountant or two hanging out with me for the next few years.”

 

Um. What?

 

If there was anyone ever who could justify not bothering to slow Himself down by bringing people along in His journey, it was Jesus. He didn’t need any of them. And as one reads the gospels, it’s hard not to sense that that these disciples slowed Jesus down.

 

He had to re-explain parables, and often they still didn’t quite get it. He had to break up, ahem, “discussions” over which one of them was the best. He had to remind them that having enough food wouldn’t ever be a problem after He had miraculously fed thousands of people by using the disciples to distribute bread and fish. He told them He would die over and over again and seems to have been met by mostly blank stares except when they tried to convince Him out of it.

 

Jesus didn’t learn anything from the disciples. Yes, they absolutely partnered with Jesus in His ministry on a few occasions, but for the most part, I think it’s fair to say that Jesus slowed down to bring them along. But to Him, it was worth it. It was worth it to invest in this collection of people made up partially of fishermen and entirely of people who would either abandon or straight-up betray Jesus in His time of greatest need.

 

Why? Why in the world would Jesus, who was intricately involved in the process of creating humans at the very start, make decisions over and over again to invest in people who often just didn’t get it?

 

I think it’s because He had a long-term goal. For Jesus, it wasn’t just about getting His earthly mission of dying for the sins of the world done and healing a few people along the way. No, He had a bigger vision. He was preparing a group of people to launch into what would become a successive, generational, worldwide ministry involving greater works than anything He had done while walking the earth (John 14:12). Jesus was interested in more than just His own ministry; He was interested in the advancement of the Kingdom as a whole, beyond what He would do in His life.

 

Jesus, Creator and Saviour of the world, intentionally brought people along in His journey. Who am I to presume I could or should go it alone?

 

I need people, probably still much more than I realize. I need to invest in them, to grow with them, to encourage and strengthen them and have them do the same things for me. I need to go together.

 

Because I want what I do on this earth to far outlast me. I want it to echo on into eternity.

 

And that, my dear friends, are some of my learnings from month one of BSSM 2.

 

Thanks for reading. Love ya’ll.

 

❤️


BSSM 1.8 - JOY

May 30, 2020

Hello friends. Welcome to my eighth and final instalment of first year BSSM recap blogs. I’m here to talk about April. And I’m here to talk about JOY.

 

I’ve experienced a lot of Jesus over the past year, in fresh and unexpected ways. I’ve seen Him from new perspectives, with new lenses, through new mediums of communication, and He just keeps getting more beautiful.

 

But there’s one particular experience I had yet to undergo. That is, at least, until last month.

 

Last month I got hit with joy.

 

Now joy is a bit of an interesting beast. If we start with the dictionary, we find that joy is defined as “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” I would hope everyone can relate to that.

 

Perhaps a particularly meaningful gift, or being reunited family members after a long time apart, or maybe something as simple as watching a gentle snowfall begin. Joy contains that feeling of happiness, of pleasure, of utter satisfaction.

 

But, I would argue, it’s different. Yes, it’s related, but it’s also decisively, importantly different.

 

It feels a bit nuanced and hard to pin down, but how I have come to think about it is that happiness is rational. It’s expected. It has a defined cause, and an outcome. You are happy because you got a job promotion, or entered into an exciting new relationship. Certainly there’s nothing wrong with this emotion, but defining such feelings as joy, well… I would argue it just sells joy a little short. It pulls meaning out of it, makes it a little shallower.

 

Because while happiness is grounded in cold hard fact, joy, I propose, frequently doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

 

Joy dances around the living room when you find out not that you got a promotion, but that you lost your job. Joy shouts in thankfulness in the midst of grieving a loved one’s passing. It stops to smile up at the sky when the world around it is running around in sheer panic from, say, a global pandemic.

 

Joy is irrational and illogical. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not supposed to.

 

Now I don’t believe the point of joy is to stick one’s head in the sand and ignore the circumstances. I think joy simply acknowledges greater, more authoritative circumstances. Truth beyond what we can see in the natural.

 

If we move from the dictionary to the Bible we find some interesting discussions on joy. To start with, the Bible refers to the joy of the Lord being strength (Nehemiah 8:10), and says that we should consider falling into trials to be joy (James 1:2). We are also urged to display joy in everything, in every situation and circumstance (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

 

So yes, it might be said that joy is in part a kind of wrapper around happiness, but it’s much more than that. It’s more than a reasonable emotion.  In many ways, it’s detached from circumstance. It survives and even thrives in the midst of heartache and pain. We’re invited to choose joy when happiness makes the least sense.

 

While happiness tends to be a reaction to events, joy is different. Joy is a choice.

 

The Bible implores us to count hard seasons of life as joy, to make our joy obvious in everything. That tells me two things: first, such a choice is not in our nature. Otherwise, there would be no need to bring it up. Second, it assures me it is possible with God. This choice isn’t some fantasy, carrot-on-a-stick type of deal. This is real, and it’s possible. It’s possible to choose joy, this irrational strength and happiness, regardless of the circumstances.

 

So joy is a choice, and it’s one we get to make. We get to choose the illogical, the stuff that doesn’t make sense from an earthly perspective. We get to choose the joy that has a higher perspective.

 

We choose it.

 

Or at least, that’s what happens most of the time. 

 

Other times, it seems, it chooses us.

 

Now, I had seen this phenomenon, what I’ve come to call getting “hit by joy,” a couple of times growing up, but it kicked into overdrive when I reached BSSM, and, full disclosure, it totally freaked me out at first. If you’re wondering what it looks like, it generally involves a person laughing uncontrollably without any sort of stimuli. And while I would say joy is usually a deliberate, intentional choice we make, in this scenario, the only part the target really has to play in it is not resisting. In this case, it seems, joy chooses us.

 

It completely bypasses logic. There is no funny joke being told, no physical intoxication, no external triggers whatsoever. Instead, this illogical joy seems to reach into the very soul and spirit of a person and evoke pure, uninhibited pleasure.

 

This is getting hit by joy. Or, perhaps more accurately, plugging in more directly to the Source of it. At this point, it’s not a choice beyond mere agreement.

 

I saw many of my friends getting “hit by joy,” and quickly got over my initial shock when I saw genuine, irreversible change taking place in some of the targets. Pretty quickly, I wanted to experience this bizarre but attractive state of illogical happiness. I desired it, but I also made a very firm and intentional decision that it wasn’t what I was chasing. I didn’t go to California for some sort of Spiritual experience. I went for Jesus.

 

And so, the months went by, and friends around me would often get “hit by joy.” I can honestly say I didn’t become bitter or frustrated, but the desire remained without any visible fruit.

 

Then came April. The last month. The home stretch. The finish line. That final sprint.

 

As with most schools in the world, we had moved to online-only. School was still great, but staring at a screen for hours on end was undeniably draining, exhausting, and strangely frustrating at times. It took extra effort to stay engaged, to “lean in,” to drain out every last little drop of goodness from this school year.

 

Given everything our class had gone through, I think it’s safe to say there was a real temptation for must of us to start coasting. To relax. To appreciate what we’d been given and just make it to the end so we could all go home.

 

But right in the middle of April, during one of our digital “Revival Group” meetings, I felt God remind me that school wasn’t over. He still had plans. And He’s the kind of God that can take the last two weeks of school and do something truly special with them.

 

Then, a few minutes later, still in our meeting, I started laughing. No one had done or said anything particularly funny. There was just a strange, warm, happy feeling bubbling up inside of me that I felt compelled to release as laughter, and I wasn’t about to try to fight it back down.

 

Within a minute or two I was sitting on my floor with my roommate, both of us just giggling and laughing at nothing. I think “swimming in Father God’s delight” is about the best description I can come up with, though it still doesn’t feel adequate. It was just pure, random, unexpected happiness.

 

Finally, here it was. After eight and a half months of school, two weeks before our last day of classes, suddenly, I had been hit by joy. This illogical, irrational happiness that bubbles up from Jesus without rhyme or reason.God’s kindness still blows my mind.

 

I left that meeting and ended that day brimming with thankfulness but also anticipation. What might God do next? After all, we still had almost two full weeks left!

 

I had my answer a few days later when I was washing dishes and started cracking up again. Then, driving to the beach about a week after the first event, that same roommate and I again started laughing at nothing as we drove through the hills West of Redding. Yet again, I had been hit by joy.

 

I can’t explain this stuff. It doesn’t make sense. But I don’t think joy expects to be explained. It just expects to be enjoyed and appreciated.

 

And again, I believe joy is often a choice on our part. A choice to lean in to God’s strength that comes from it, and a choice to agree with a higher and happier perspective.

 

But every now and then, it turns out, we just might get hit by joy. Joy never really makes sense, but it feels a little extra wild when we don’t even see it coming for us.

 

But I'll be a target for joy anytime.


Final Exams

April 21, 2020

Graduation for BSSM First Year 2019-2020 (whatever that might look like) is two weeks from today. And the approaching end to the semester has pulled me into some reflection.

 

Reflection on BSSM. On COVID-19. On the state of the world. On the reactions from the church, the economy, and in particular my school. And a thought occurred to me.

 

In most schools, there’s one thing that always happens right before graduation: Final Exams. The last tests.

 

Now, BSSM is a different kind of school. The teachers try to pitch homework as “devotions” (with varying degrees of success), the assignments are more about personal opinion and deep thinking than multiple choice “right answers”, and even when they are graded, it is purely on a pass / try again basis. All that to say, BSSM doesn’t have final exams.

 

Or, except, perhaps this year, it does.

 

Now, I don’t believe God sent COVID-19, but I think He’s doing a ton of incredibly beautiful things around the world with it. And I’ve come to believe that one of those things is allowing it to act as a final exam of sorts for my fellow BSSM students and I this year. This virus has become our last test.

How will we endure through this season? How will we respond to the pressure? How we will process through all the disappointment? Will we give in to the fear that feels so prevalent in the world, or will we hold fast and remain anchored in the only Thing we can fully rely on? Will we frantically and fearfully look around for anything promising any degree of comfort, like family, friends, or the distractions of Netflix, and run to it, or will we decide to be comforted in God alone, and let Him guide our steps instead of joining the world in reacting to the chaos?

 

And beyond this test, as it is with all schools, is graduation. Now, you can think of graduation as merely obtaining a piece of paper and walking across a stage. But I think it’s more than that. I think it becomes proof of your ability, proof that you have overcome, and I think we’d all agree it opens doors that previously could not be opened, such as in the search for a job. In the Kingdom world, I think it becomes proof of your trustworthiness. It becomes an elevation process, a “levelling up” if you will. Graduation becomes the stepping stone to the next thing in God.

 

So yes, COVID-19 is a bit of a pain. It’s uncomfortable, and inconvenient, and uncertain. But for all my friends out there, especially those joining me in an unexpected online season of BSSM, let me encourage you that this is merely the final exam, the last test. And as we pass it, we can look forward to that next level in God.

 

We can look forward to graduation day.


BSSM 1.7 - PEACE

April 16, 2020

“What great adventure ever plays out just the way you planned?”

 

- For King & Country, “Wholehearted”

 

Well then. Life, am I right? Turns out it can get interesting real fast.

 

Back on the 10th, I fully anticipated my blog post about March to be filled with stories of my missions trip to Netherlands. Of people being healed on the streets, of churches being encouraged, challenged, and filled through the team’s ministry, of people coming to encounter the love of God for the first time, and being undeniably changed by it. Of the stretching and growing in my life that such a trip would naturally provide.

 

I expected to look back with joy on the adventure of travel, and the newly developed friendships that had formed in the 12-day trip to Europe, my first visit to the continent.

 

But then, of course, March 11th happened.

 

On March 11th, on a little over a month ago, BSSM leadership announced that all of its mission trips were cancelled. Not postponed, not re-routed. CANCELLED. For the first time in the 20-year history of BSSM, no student was doing any sort of travel to practically give out all they had been given throughout the course of the school year.

 

At the time, it was honestly a bit of a shock. Looking back, it seems like a laughably easy decision because of what the state of the world has now become, but at the time, COVID-19 didn’t seem like that big of a deal. Of course, I had heard of it, but it really seemed to only be impacting a few far-off countries. Surely it wouldn’t end up having much of an impact on me, right?

 

Wrong.

 

As you’d guess, the mission trip was just the first wave of changes that COVID-19 has brought to my life.

 

The next change was that school would look different. It went from small groups, to smaller groups, to online-only. Church moved from a thousand people in a room, to a house church with 25 of my revival group, to online-only. Outreach moved from missions overseas, to connecting with neighbours, to, you guessed it, trying to figure how to do something impactful online.

 

I can honestly say that my emotional state stayed pretty stable for the first few changes. When the mission trip was cancelled, I was sad, but quickly found comfort in the thought that I should be able to at least one trip (and hopefully more) during second year.

 

“What’s that? Second year, you say?”

 

Oh. Right. Yeah. Umm… Guess I should talk about that for a moment here.

 

Yes, friends. In case you had yet to hear, I am officially going back to Redding California for a second year at Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry. I am still going to be in Canada over the summer (hopefully somehow making boatloads of money; open to suggestions as well as donations), but then I will again load my Mini Cooper to the brim (or perhaps slightly over), and subject it to the 4600 kilometer trek back to Redding for year two.

 

My first year at BSSM has been amazing, challenging, healing, encouraging, and fulfilling. It’s also been different from what I expected, even before the chaos that COVID-19 ushered in. And I am fully confident second year will only get better.

 

And I’m hopeful that sometime during second year I’ll board a plane bound for Netherlands. From what I hear, second year in general has more opportunities for ministry travel, so it sounds like my general thirst for travel should be well satiated.

Anyways. That’s my spiel about me going to second year, and a long way of saying that a cancelled mission trip was certainly saddening, but not heart-breaking. I got over it pretty quickly. Not only did I have the hope for a trip to my motherland next year, I was also aware that God wasn’t surprised; He had always known this was going to happen, and was already planning to take advantage of it, as He always does. I started praying into the idea that our cancelled mission trips would cause the churches we would’ve ministered to to rise up themselves and start ministering to their cities instead of potentially becoming reliant on this yearly injection of fiery Bethel students.

 

And I actually started getting excited about what the church would look like going through this crisis. I reasoned that the restrictions on large gatherings would force churches to move to an Acts-like church model with house churches, splitting up large congregations to meet in smaller groups in homes. I figured such a move would likely be healthy for the global church, at least for a short season, as new people would be pushed into leading worship or sharing messages, and as a result new gifts and callings would be discovered. Hidden gems would be uncovered. Relationships would grow deeper as people were forced to connect with a smaller group.

 

And I hoped that the restrictions would allow the unshaken hope and joy of Christians to stand out even more, causing those around them to ask questions leading to Christ. I hoped that believers would reach out to their neighbours, and new opportunities for loving evangelism would naturally result.

 

I felt hope. I felt joy. I felt peace.

 

And then, the restrictions got tighter.

 

That’s where I started to lose peace.

 

I’d wake up, assemble my devotional materials (coffee, Bible, notebook, slippers, etc.), sit down, and start reminding God that all of my excellent plans for building the Kingdom during the COVID-19 crisis weren’t exactly playing out.

 

It wasn’t that I was scared of catching the virus. It wasn’t even, really, that I was frustrated by the restrictions themselves.

 

It’s just that I thought I knew what God was up to. I thought I knew how to partner with Him. I thought I knew how to help Him take advantage of the situation and see some real good come from it. I thought I understood the ways in which the global church would benefit, and how Christians would be encouraged and challenged to connect more with those around them who weren’t in the church community.

 

And then, suddenly, none of those things seemed possible, at least not how I had envisioned. There would be no house churches. There would be no hanging out with neighbours. All my grand ideas for what the church could look like during the pandemic evaporated.

 

And so, for a few days in a row, I found myself starting my mornings with Jesus with a good ol’ Psalms-style venting session. And, with His predictable patience, He let me vent. He allowed me to get all my frustrations out, even if it was the same sort of frustration I had processed through only a single day before.

 

And then, like the Good Shepherd He is, He started leading me.

 

First, I found Him leading me into simple worship. Not because I understood anything any better. Not even because I was any less frustrated. On the contrary, I felt Him leading me into worship right in the midst of all the questions and confusion. In the midst of me not knowing how to act or what to feel or how to respond, I felt Him guiding me to take all of that stuff, all those things on my mind, and carry all of them to Him in worship. To shove them all at His feet and dance around in the darkness of an otherwise-lonely morning in the downstairs of my house. This was an opportunity to engage in worship when it didn’t make sense, when I didn’t understand.

 

But as I followed His leading I was reminded, again, that worship doesn’t require any measure of understanding beyond the fact that He is worthy. That alone is more than enough fuel to worship Him forever. So I chose to make that the sole foundation for my worship, and refuse to let my mind’s wonderings constrain me.

 

That process of simply aligning my life and reminding myself of Who is on the throne brought some measure of peace all on its own. But then I felt Him lean in again, and ask a question:

 

“Am I enough?”

 

Now, I don’t think God was saying any of my ruined ideas for what this season could've been were bad or wrong. I don’t think He was saying my heart attitude was broken. I think He was simply poking at this thing inside of me that was agitated because I felt for some reason like I really should be helping God but just couldn’t figure out how. It seemed He was inviting me to put all of those thoughts away, and choose to be utterly satisfied and content in Him alone.

 

I believe God wants Christians to be concerned for the eternal state of the people around us. I think believers should be Kingdom-minded, continually wondering how we can best bring heaven to earth.

 

But in this moment I felt God leading me to put all of that aside, as good as it is, and force myself to let Him, all on His own, be enough. To push the reset button and decide that even if I never start a global Kingdom movement, never write a best-selling book, never tour the world playing worship music, never plant a church, serve at a church, or see even a single soul saved…

 

Christ is still enough. He alone is enough. As simple as it is, the concept is incredibly powerful.

 

Revelatory. Eternity-shifting. Mind-transforming. Soul-healing. And yet, so very simple.

 

God is enough.

 

When plans — good ones — disintegrate in my hands. When the church looks incredibly different from how it’s ever looked before in its 2,000 year history. When the best part of my ministry school — the people — become faces on a screen. When grocery stores lay down strips of tape six feet apart and the Walmart loudspeaker reminding shoppers to remain socially distant can be heard anytime I open a window.

 

When the economy essentially grinds to a halt. When it feels like even the Kingdom slows its advance.

 

He alone is enough. Even if I never get to do any of the things it feels like He’s called me to, He’s still enough. My own personal relationship with Him is enough. And that is where my Peace lies.

 

I’m still not entirely certain what this season is “supposed” to be for myself, Bethel, Redding, Cornwall, or the global church. I don't know how long this upside-down world will last. I don't know what the church or the world will look like coming out of it. I don’t know if it’s better for me to shut myself in my room with a Bible for a few hours or do a social media livestream sharing my story with Jesus. I don’t even really know what’s going on with the day-to-day of the COVID-19 news most of the time.

 

There’s a lot I still don’t know about this season or my role in it. But I do know that God is enough.

 

And He's all the Peace I need.


BSSM 1.6 - PEOPLE

March 21, 2020

Welcome, friends, to my recap of February. Allow me to begin with a story:

 

I arrived at school a little late one day, and all the good seats (the ones on the auditorium floor, where there is proper leg space) were taken. I ended up grabbing a random seat with another classmate who had also arrived late, and the school day commenced.

 

And, internally, I was a bit of a mess.

 

Frustrated. Irritated. And, I suppose, sad.

 

It took me awhile to figure out exactly what was going on inside of me, but I finally came to the conclusion that, essentially, I was sad because no one had saved me a seat, forcing me to scramble for one.

 

Now, let me be clear that I wasn’t thrown into some deep depression because of this, but I was still sad. I allowed myself to come to terms with that. And, more than that, sad because of something that felt very small and insignificant.

 

In the past, my tendency would be to brush such emotions under the rug, deeming them too silly to take seriously. After all, it’s just a seat for a few hours; who really cares?

 

But my time here at BSSM has taught me to value my emotions more than I ever have before. Not to be ruled or driven by them, certainly, but to notice them, value them, and understand what it is they are trying to tell me.

 

So, I leaned in. I owned the fact that circumstances around me had made me sad. And then I started processing. What exactly did this mean?

 

I knew it wasn’t as if I had been wronged. There wasn’t anyone to be mad or offended at. What’s more, I realized that this desire of mine (to have a classmate be intentional about saving me a seat) was entirely uncommunicated. There wasn’t anyone in the world who knew that I wanted this; indeed, I suppose I just barely come to terms with it myself.

 

I was then faced with a decision. As I was now fully aware of a small, simple thing that other people could do for me that would make me feel loved, would I choose to communicate it to those around me?

 

In retrospect it seems a bit silly, but stepping out to communicate that want honestly felt like a decent risk. First, there was the chance of straight-up rejection:

 

“Actually, I don’t really want to sit next to you.”

 

With the incredibly high quality people around me, that didn’t seem too likely, but it was still a possibility. More likely, I felt, was a subtle mocking and minimizing of my request:

 

“Pssh, you really care that much about where you sit? It’s totally not a big deal.”

 

Regardless, as I walked through the process, I realized I had been given an opportunity. An opportunity to practice “Brave Communication,” a concept our main Bible teacher, Dann Farrely, teaches on.

 

Perhaps it was true that this was a small thing, that most people would say I should just get over. Perhaps I could survive just fine the rest of the year without communicating this desire to my classmates. Perhaps it wouldn’t really end up bothering me that much at all.

 

But perhaps this was practice. Practice for when it matters much more, when something deeply impacts me and communication is more necessary and more difficult. I came to the conclusion that if I couldn’t communicate a simple desire like this one well, I likely wouldn’t be able to effectively talk about crucial needs in my future relationships.

 

So, I risked it. I created a list in my head of a few specific classmates that I wanted to connect with a little more, and asked them if they’d be interested in planning specific days to sit together, and save seats for each other. And they all laughed out loud in scorn and mercilessly made fun of me for days on end.

 

Ok, just kidding.

 

No, in reality response from everyone I talked to was more than just positive; to me, it seemed like they all had had similar thoughts floating around in their heads, and just hadn’t gotten to the point of communicating it quite yet.

 

And it made me wonder how many times in the past I have had simple little things that would increase love on both sides of a relationship with a fantastic person around me that I have just never bothered to communicate.

 

There is, as I’ve mentioned, some risk associated with communicating these things. But if we trust the person enough, that risk should be minimal. In hindsight, I know I never had anything to worry about. All of my closest friends here are such high-quality people that I know they would value my emotions, even if they couldn’t necessarily fulfill my request for some reason. I know I can trust them. I trust them to care enough to love me in simple ways that mean something to me.

 

This has always been part of God’s design. Living with people. In community. And, even more wild, for some reason He somehow designed it so that His love requires people to be complete. Check out the end of verse 12 of 1 John 4, which has been on my mind for much of the school year:


… if we love one another, God makes his permanent home in us, and we make our permanent home in him, and his love is brought to its full expression in us.

 

“… in us.” That means God’s love actually isn’t complete… Not without people. We don’t get to experience the fullness of His love without encountering it through the people around us. It is an irreplaceable part of the formula.

 

So. What’s all this mean?

 

For me, at least, it means I need to keep valuing my emotions. It means I need to keep digging at them until I understand the core desire or need that isn’t being met when I experience a negative one. And it means bravely communicating that desire or need to the those around me, and giving them an opportunity to love me.

 

Because it turns out that even God's love isn't complete; not without people.