The Beauty of Hard Things, Together

It has been two years this summer since I’ve been on a mission trip. And almost that long since I’ve done a work day, or a service outing, or had the chance to volunteer time and energy for a worthy cause. To join alongside others and get our hands dirty, our foreheads sweaty, our legs weary, as we do something hard and important, together.

I had almost forgotten how good it is.

And then I decided to move. Without professional movers. From a second-floor apartment to a third-floor condo. On a day (little did I know) that would involve drenching downpours, tornado sirens, high humidity and blazing sunshine.

I needed help, and lots of it. And I worried, tossing in my bed the night before, that it wouldn’t all get done. There were so many boxes – how did I end up with so many, anyway? Did I really have that much stuff? Had it multiplied in the three years since I moved here? How would we navigate the stairs? And the city parking? And the biggest furniture pieces?

I was completely and utterly dependent on friends, many of whom came from you, our congregation. And what I discovered in the course of that crazy, wet, wild day – was that there is great joy when the church comes together to do hard things.

I was reminded, in the hours of shuffling boxes up and down stairs, of passing friends and swapping high-fives in the hallway, of loading and unloading trucks and trunks, of the delight of being together and joining hands in a hard task. I felt like we were back in the mission field, or at the rummage sale, hauling things together and still finding time to have fun. I have experienced this joy at home in the church building, afield in city streets and country roads, and abroad in Kenya, but I have never been on the receiving end of it. The one benefitting from the glad hearts and willing hands of church family, joining together to make light work of a big project.

It is a humbling and precious gift.

Most of all, I want to say thanks for it. Thanks to all of you who showed up, who hauled things, who smiled despite the heat and the wet and the stairs.

And thanks to those of you who sent good thoughts, and prayers; who brought lunch, who saved boxes and bubble wrap. Who sent cards or well wishes on my first home of my very own.

It is an awesome thing to be on the receiving end of the love and strength of the church. I knew that in theory, but now I know that from practice; from living it. And I won’t soon forget it.

And it has reminded me that we are made for this kind of work – for serving and loving each other. For getting out of our comfort zones, or maybe just getting off our couches, and finding ways to help others. That when we do so, in whatever way we can, acknowledging our age and stage and abilities, there is life to be found. Hope, energy, and joy.

I am looking for ways to pay that forward, in this season where we can once again gather (and work!) together. And I hope you will too.

With gratitude and deep love for all of you,

Pastor Jen

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