I once read that answered prayer is one of the greatest motivators to pray more. Today I want you to know I believe it, too.
Leaving for Louisville, my biggest prayer request was that God would help me openly and fearlessly get to know new people as I participated in Love Thy Neighborhood. Why? Because meeting people is usually so awkward! And I can be so shy! But LTN wastes no time in asking us to build relationships, as I was quickly reminded during our first training session. “You can’t feel loved,” I was told, “without being KNOWN.” Boy, that sounded good. I wrote the words down in my journal and drew a star next to them, but would I act on them?
“You can’t feel loved,” I was told, “without being KNOWN.”Well, each night of our first week, one or two of us guys (I live with four other guys in an apartment; we all sleep in one room, but that’s a tale for another time) shared his life story with the others. That meant going through, from birth to the present, all the significant moments of each life. Naturally, I waited to go last.
And I won’t lie; it was easy to share! Having read Proverbs 28:13 and having listened to the other guys’ stories, I spoke freely about all my pain and shame and struggle — things I once thought would forever go unspoken. But then again, maybe it was too easy, because two hours in, I began to feel like maybe I was sharing too much. No one else had shared for more than two hours, and here I was still with so much left to say! Courage quickly dissolved into disorienting insecurity. Were my teammates bored? Was what I was saying not resonating? I felt my momentum dying out and a growing urge to rush through the rest of my story.
But then again, maybe it was too easy, because two hours in, I began to feel like maybe I was sharing too much.
But when I told my teammates this, they immediately urged me to continue. To not rush. To share whatever I needed to. And I felt no condemnation. No begrudging looks. Y’know, in my head, I’ve believed for awhile that because of Jesus, God forgave me for all the junk in my life. But only by persevering through my real story, encouraged by these men who genuinely wanted to know me, even the shameful parts, have I started to experience the amazing closeness that can exist among God’s people. Yes, I spent more than three hours telling my life story.
But more importantly, by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, I shared things I’d never told anyone before, and through it all, I let myself be known.
The guys thanked me for my openness, affirmed me and prayed for me. The beauty is that I never expected to feel close to these guys in just under a week (none of them applaud my passion for the New England Patriots, after all), but I can unequivocally say that I feel like these four guys are my brothers. And that’s not even something I prayed for! I asked for openness and boldness, but God also gave me relationship — brothers to freely share my thoughts with, joke around with and confess my sins with. The Lord went above and beyond, and that sure seems like answered prayer to me.[starbox id=alex]