I went back to work on Monday after 2 rough health weeks.
I didn’t feel strong. I was anxious that I’d not get through the day. I was afraid to discover what my ‘new normal’ might be after this bout of illness.
In all honesty, I didn’t feel ready.
I didn’t feel motivated.
I just plain didn’t want to go.
But I did. Even though my employers are exceedingly patient, I put the pressure on myself to get back to work. And when I got there my spirits were immediately lifted. I was greeted at my car with a hug from my friend John who works there. He grew up In Regent Park. He lived a rough life for a lot of years. Then He met Jesus right there in the park and his life was changed forever. (Yes, Jesus does in fact dwell in Regent Park and can be met there. I know I’ve certainly run into Him many a time there)
John had sent me emails and texts and calls while I was away to tell me that he and the 614 gang (the church is called 614 based on Isaiah 61:4) were praying for me. He was smiling when he saw me, and it did my heart good. It calmed some of my anxiety. He helped take my scooter out of my car, as he always does, and we went inside. I got hugs and ‘welcome backs’ and smiles and affirmations that the community had been praying for me.
It felt a bit like a homecoming.
Every morning at 614 they do a 10-minute devotional at 8:50am. About 20-ish people show up every day (a cross-section of folks from staff and the street/neighbourhood) and they pray together. It’s beautiful. That day Monica was leading devotions. She too has an amazing personal story to tell of how Jesus changed her life. Before she began her devotional thought, she asked each of us to pick from a collection of stones she had with her. I chose a rough edged translucent kind of rock as opposed to some of the smooth stones available.
Then she read from 1 Peter 2: 4,5:
“As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
I held my stone. Touched it. Felt the rough edges. Tried to look through it.
While doing those things I was reminded that I am precious in God’s eyes. Even though I am sick, broken, rough around the edges, depressed at times, confused, unmotivated, weak, and tired, I am precious. I am loved unconditionally. I am important-just like everyone else around me. Just like you.
When Monica had finished sharing her thought for the day, it was time to pray. The group is asked beforehand if they have prayer requests. Before I could offer my thanks to them for their support while I was away, someone said they wanted to offer a prayer of thanks to God for bringing me back to work. That was followed by clapping and laughter and even a few cheers. They were thrilled that God had actually answered their prayers. I was so touched I couldn’t say much at all after that. I just embraced the love and was thankful to be there.
That little stone has been in my shorts pocket (yes shorts. Not pants:) all week. I’ve reached into my pocket a lot this week to touch this stone. It gave me strength when I didn’t think I had enough to finish the day. It reminded me that, even though I have many rough edges, even though it is hard to see through me, even though I’m far from perfect and never will be, I am loved.
And that’s all that really matters.