The short story of how I ended up in my church family is that when I was in Cambodia, I got typhoid fever, and while I was lying in bed recovering, I was scrolling Twitter and saw that Brandon had recently posted that Midtown was planting a church in Lexington.
The long story starts my sophomore year of college and continues through the fall of 2015. That’s not what I’m writing about today.
Recently I pulled out all of my journals from the World Race and reread them from beginning to end, and found myself sobbing as I read my prayers from months 10 and 11 about what I hoped post-Race life held for me.
Because God answered every. single. one. All through this unbelievably close to perfect church.
In my re-entry packet I wrote that the most important thing was finding a church. “Community before a career” was what I told myself and anyone who asked what my “Month 12” plans were. I wanted both of course, but I knew that after eleven months of living and serving with people who loved Jesus and each other and the world, I couldn’t live without that. But I was so afraid that a community like F Squad could never exist in “real life”, that this was the best that life would get. I thought I’d peaked at 23.
It’ll be two years tomorrow, and these people are it. God outdid himself. Life finally got better.
Our sermon series right now is breaking down exactly what we mean when we call ourselves a “Jesus-centered family on mission.” Last Sunday it occurred to me that that’s also exactly what my World Race squad was. I told God I needed to find F Squad in America and he dropped them right into my lap.
Midtown loves everything I love. Living real life together. Ministering in small, ordinary ways. Loving the people around you in practical ways. Speaking the gospel everywhere. Equipping families to disciple their kids. Preaching hard truth about hard places in life. They even love orphans and foster care. Seriously. Everything.
Getting here was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but I did it because God kept promising me that it would be the best thing…and it was still hard for two months but I kept going and when I finally broke and told my Lifegroup as fast as I could in one long breath “The thing is that I have severe social anxiety that borders on agoraphobia and I CANNOT come on Sunday mornings,” not one person asked why I’m this way or how they could change me. All of them all at once said things like “How can we help? Can we walk inside with you? Or drive you there?” And the first time they ever heard me say more than three words quickly became the first time they saw me cry, because how could these practical strangers hear how irreparably weird I was and still want so badly to have me around them that they’d do anything to make me not scared?
They did exactly what they offered; for months people would either pick me up from my house, or wait in the parking lot and walk me from my car into the big crowd of strangers, and then stand around me like the Secret Service men so nothing could get me. No one thought I was ridiculous or ever asked when I’d be ready to go in by myself or hinted that I was any kind of a burden. Even today if I have a rare and random relapse and can’t go inside, they’ll still jump to help like this is a totally normal issue.
It’s still not easy or natural to talk to people I’m not already friends with, but it’s easier and I can do it now, because I want to love everyone the way my original Lifegroup loved me and welcomed me.
I still have no idea where life is going career wise, but that still matters less to me than my people. It does matter more than it did two years ago…but when I do get stressed out and sad about that, I’ve got people who care and want to see things get better.
A job that sounds adult-like at parties isn’t as important as friends who see me and know me and love me and want me, and pastors who love their church and are vulnerable and do real life with their people, and a place to serve that gets me excited to wake up on Sundays.
Most people hate Mondays because they don’t want to go back to work; I only hate Mondays because it’s the furthest day of the week from another Sunday.
I love you, Midtown Lexington. Happy 2 years going on 20.