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Uplifting The Church - Pt 2 - A Personal Story

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

If you haven't already, please see: Uplifting The Church - Pt 1

I want to continue this series by telling you a personal story. During my time in one of the churches I attended, I had ample interaction with a certain woman. For the sake of her anonymity, I'll just call her: "Alice". Alice is, in my experience, a more rare type of person. Where many of the people I've known are often vengeful, a trait that doesn't belong in a Christian lifestyle, Alice is different. Refreshingly, even though Alice has her breakage like the rest of us, she's always trying to do the right thing and uplift people, a trait that does belong in the Christian lifestyle. And I learned this about her, just after a moment when we didn't get along well.

Closeup Roller Coaster

I do not use stock photography. This is my own photo and can be found here in my portfolio.

At one point came a time of crisis for my family when our housing status, financial standing and health were under serious threat. During one of the hardest times of our lives, we were actually met by a church community with resistance. It came in the form of cold shoulders, ignited and inflamed by insults, gossip and slander. But then came Alice. Along with some of the other church members, she uplifted us with words and gifts that brought hope and positivity.

But, back to the time when Alice and I weren't getting along as well as we could have. In a conversation, over the disagreement of something we were working on together, I felt wronged by some of her words. And, even though she wasn't aware of it, it became an extension of some of the negativity that came from others. It was at that moment I had a chance to put up a barrier between us, to stop the hurt I was feeling at that moment. I had a firm text written and ready to send, poised to stop what felt like an argument. But somehow, I felt a very strong influence to not send that text. And the next day, I found out why.

Days before that moment, Alice had told me she had a gift for my daughter, a children's Bible. And even though we ended our conversation the night before on what felt like a negative note, the next day in church, that Bible was sitting right in front of my little girl's seat. Alice and I didn't speak at first, both of us seeming to have a look of worry about what had been said in our previous conversation. But there it was, that Bible, stunning me, not only because of how pretty it is, but also because Alice had followed through. Feeling emotional, I rejoiced at the fact that I didn't send that text the night before.

Without my coaching, my daughter wrote a wonderful thank you letter to Alice. And, like that Bible that sat glowing at me on that table when I came in, that note was carefully and beautifully created. And then there was one more thing that happened.

Alice had spent months, patiently working with my daughter, trying to help her with a problem of shyness and not speaking to most adults. My child struggled even just to say "thank you" when Alice would give her a gift. But on the day that Bible was gifted to her, there was a breakthrough. My daughter spoke to her. It wasn't much, but it was a triumph, and the whole thing could've been shut down if I had sent the text I had previously prepared.

Silhouetted church courtyard

This image comes from my own photography portfolio.

That was part of uplifting the church. Through my struggle to replace self-defense with empathy, I found a reward. I had listened to the words of Jesus Christ and put aside my pride and my worldly desire to defend myself. I had listened to the words of Jesus Christ that told me to have forgiveness and compassion, when I could have made an enemy. And as I stood in front of Alice, ignoring what had happened between us during our confrontation, I told her what a great thing it was that she'd never given up on my daughter. As she and I smiled together over the moment of breakthrough, brought on by her patience, I felt the Holy Spirit rush through me. It didn't just uplift Alice. It uplifted both of us, in turn, eventually helping to uplift the entire church.

"God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them." - Hebrews 6:10 (NIV)

"For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!" - Galatians 5:13 (NKJV)

"Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." - Galatians 6:2 (NKJV)

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." - Jesus Christ - Matthew 5:16 (KJV)

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." - Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)

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