You never know where life is going to lead, or where the events of any day may take you. Great blessings often come out of seeming tragedies. Live each moment with integrety and honor (without grumbling and complaining) there are blessings waiting for you at any moment. I have an unusual story to tell.
I use an air compressor in my shop, it is an important tool that I use every day. When it quit working a few days it left me scurying around trying to figure out how to repair or replace it. Being on a tight budget often makes it challenging how to replace things. I made a lot of calls, looked online, searched through craigslist trying to find options. I had a friend drop buy and we examined what might be wrong with the air compressor. We traced it down to be a overheated pressure switch. The wires inside had been fried. So I could get the compressor to work by bypassing the that switch. However, it then would no longer automatically turn on and off. Not a good thing. (However, I could still use it cautiously until we knew what we wanted to do about it.) I researched getting a new switch. I called the store where we purchased the compressor and learned that the air compressor was old and had been discontinued. They no longer had parts for it. I looked at getting a new compressor, but just didn't want to spend that much money. I also kept looking at used compressors on Craigslist. I finally found one that sounded like a possibility and I went out to look at it last night. It was a few years old, but it was a larger better quality one than my broken compressor. And price was within my budget, so I bought it. Now we have a working air compressor again.
But the neat thing about this situation was the amazing conversation that I had with the person (whom I'll call Jake) who was selling the compressor. Prior to and after my purchasing compressor we probably talked about an hour. Jake told me all about the struggles that he has had raising his teenage son and trying to motivate him to work. I shared about our similar struggles. Then the conversation turned to other things. I shared about how I finally found a church that accepted me for who I am, even after knowing the worst of my background. I shared about the men's retreat, put on by that same church, where I was one of the speakers and how I gave my testimony (which include many tears). I spoke for over half an hour. I also told about the warm reception I received, full of hugs and prayers. I'm also in a weekly small men's group at that same church where each of us share's our daily struggles and blessing to the group.
I continued telling Jake that "What is really amazing to me is that even after knowing the worst about me they had asked me to be actively involved. They wanted me to be one of the leaders of the planning committee that put on the aforementioned men's group. Other churches that I have been to have accepted me into their meetings, "come, have a seat" and gave me a semblence of acceptance, but that was it. None of them have even have considered that because of my past I have a valuable story to share. But, the leadership and many men of this new church (Dallas Alliance Church) have welcomed me with open arms and embraces. In addition they looked past my checkered past and saw the many blessings that have come out of those trying times. They also looked at me and saw my gifts and said, "we need you, use your gifts here."
In addition, going through 12 years of counseling in my past has drastically changed who I am. Part of the outcome of rethinking much of my life is that my religious beliefs are dramatically different than they use to be. As you might see by reading other articles on this website, my beliefs are now very different than "traditional christianity". In the previous churches that I have attended I dare not speak of what God has taught me because there would be explosions, angry words, they would try to "correct" (what they considered as) my "erroneous doctrine." (I've experienced all of those reactions) Consequently, with these other churches, I never shared much and really felt part of what was going on in the Bible Studies and church services.
You can't imagine how attractive it is to me, to have this church know the worst about me and still accept me AND they want me to use my gifts. They have even listened, with enthusiastic acceptance, of what God has taught me. What other churches have ignored or shunned, they have willingly embraced. I have never experienced such a level of acceptance.
As I shared all of this with Jake, he said, "that is how all churches should be" (the loving acceptance of people who are different and who have different ideas and the embracing of how the rough paths each of us has traveled has made us into the person we are today). I heartily agreed. I also told him more about the small men's groups, that have come out of the men's retreat, and how, instead of having strictly a traditional Bible Study, we each share the struggles, hardships, and the joys that we have each week. I have been looking for something like this for years. At last, I don't have to hide who I am and what God has been teaching me. It is such a joy to be accepted for who I am.
Although Jake is workin long hours right now, he indicated that he might consider coming to the small groups in the future.