This post is part of a new project that I’m working on. Visit Jess Alston’s website to learn more about the Dig Deep Podcast.
My trip to Italy felt like my Cheryl Strayed and Reese Witherspoon Wild journey (the book and the movie), pushing my body in ways that I didn’t know I could handle. One day in my journal, I noted that we walked 20,491 steps, the equivalent of 9.2 miles in 100-degree heat. My ankles swelled up so badly that all I could think about was each step, each ache, each moment that I had to push through the pain. And I wore lace up Fila tennis shoes with maxi skirts, a fashion combo I hope I never have to repeat.
The body of Christ became my body parts that stopped functioning properly. They were my eyes when my contacts clouded over, causing me to sink back from the group. They were my feet when my cankles felt unbearable. They were my mouth when I felt so worried about my teeth falling out, as I went while in the middle of my extensive journey to get a new smile. They were my brain when all I could only think on behalf of my spiraling anxiety telling me on repeat, I can’t do this, I can’t do this.
They were my heart when I doubted if God was really taking care of me in my life.
This week, I delivered the message for Dig Deep about the unity and diversity of the body of Christ. Once upon a time (last month), I told God that I would write him anything, but that I would never, ever speak.
So there’s that.
Here’s how I prayed at 5 a.m. on Tuesday as I swallowed my butterflies: God, use the body of Christ as my body this morning. This body that I have, right here, right now? It’s not made for speaking. Can I borrow what I need from them for these 30 minutes? Give me Jess’s brain for a touch of her wisdom. Give me my mom’s gift of teaching for just a few minutes. Give me Katharine’s spirit for a dash of her enthusiasm… (the list went on.)
Brandon told me that God made my mouth, that I am strong and powerful. That I can do this. That we can do this. I can’t stand up there alone, so please, if you’ve ever before made us one body, could you do that for me as I stand up to speak?
And, mostly, I prayed for words to come out. His words, preferably. Amen.
Here’s what my group discussion left me thinking about:
- Love languages matter. When we think about serving someone, acting as their hands, feet, mouth, eyes, brain, and heart, we often think about what we would need and appreciate. But what about the other person? Do you know their love languages to understand what would have the greatest impact on them? It might mean stepping out of your comfort zone to give words of affirmation when you’re more of a gift giver.
- It’s the unexpected moments that stick with you. We hold onto the memory when someone goes above and beyond the normal bringing of meals after a baby’s birth. It’s the people who don’t just drop the meal off, but stay and pray over you when your body needs an unexpected extra push to recovery.
- It’s always the little things. We’ve heard this saying before, but it holds a wealth of truth. When you stop and take time to make an easy connection, like I could pick someone’s kid up from there and drive him here, it can feel so simple that it doesn’t mean much. But it’s just the opposite. That one small act could change someone’s day, week, or even month.
The truth is this: We need each other. Always have, always will.
One body? It’s work. The messy and the beautiful kind of work.