Today at church our pastor Rob talked about making room for Jesus in our lives. The Spirit really moved me through the words God spoke through Rob and God's word. Rob even used the illustration of our son running laps around the chairs in church, with me chasing after him, and how Zachy paused every so often with his hand up and extended towards me with a "come on, mama." There were tears for many, including me.
The Holy Spirit began preparing a response I felt prompted to share in front of the whole church, unrehearsed, raw, ripe with tears and a shaky voice. Here's what He's teaching me and I shared (paraphrased, but hopefully still true to the first raw response I shared just an hour or so ago).
Ever since becoming Zachy's mama, I've been learning to "make room" for him and who he is. I've struggled with my own pride and expectations, fears and definitions of belonging. I've learned a lot and still have more to learn, but so far, when I'm able to embrace Zachy for who he is, we both enjoy life a lot more.
As many know, Zachy has gone through seasons where he needs to help his body take in and process all of the stimuli that comes with being at church by running laps around the border of all of the chairs. Sometimes he only needs four or five laps, other times it's much closer to or over ten. Until two weeks ago, he's always wanted to do them by himself, checking in with us as each new lap began, but running the lap on his own. This was a huge accomplishment in and of itself, especially since he didn't walk independently until a few months after his third birthday.
But two weeks ago, he invited me to join him. So lap after lap, around and in front of our entire church, he led the way, pausing at the corners, looking over his shoulder and calling for me to "come on." We went around and around. I got sweaty. He smiled with such joyful worship and enjoyment in the Lord and the music, I couldn't help but be proud to be running around worshipping with him and enjoying something with him that he loves so much.
You see, to be invited by Zachy to do anything he treasures is a rare gift. Part of his developmental delays means that even as he nears the 6 1/2 year age marker, he still generally prefers to play by himself. He goes deep into Zachyland and is hard to draw out sometimes. When he actually wants you to participate in something with him that he's doing, it's truly an honor and a gift. We pretty much drop everything to join him as often as we can (after all, he may quickly change his mind and we may miss the opportunity).
I'm so thankful to be part of a church and community that "makes room" for Zachy to be who he is and embrace his gifts (like bringing joy through his running worship). Without explanations or apologies, our family can continue to be who we are when we're at church and we don't have to pretend to be something we're not (organized, quiet, chair sitting folks).
And I think, as our pastor did, that this is an incredibly beautiful picture of what Jesus wants in our relationship with Him. With His hand up (not down as many of us picture, as Rob said) and out, calling for us to "come on," without explanations or apologies for who we are or who we're in the process of becoming. With joyful abandon to follow in His footsteps and enjoy His peaceful presence.
How can you, we, I "make room" to delight in Jesus and who He's made us to be? How can we "make room" for His delight in us and be proud of who we are, without explanations or apologies? Without shame or being embarrassed. How can we live in the freedom to run around the room with reckless abandon and hearts full or worship, thankfulness, grace, peace and joy in practical ways every day?
I think we can begin by stopping with the apologies for the things that make us unique and boldly offering our whole selves, regardless of the mess or chaos that might hold for the moment. I think we stop worrying about what people think and start focusing on the great delight we bring to the Lord when we don't hold back a single thing. Even if that means we run around the room while everyone else stands nicely at their seats (which is works, too).
What if we practiced "making room" for each other and seeing each other for who we really are? I think in doing that for me with Zachy, especially, I've seen more and more of who God and Jesus really are and that is the most important part. And I have learned that I'm safe to come as I am and belong fully and completely in God's presence, family and church body, just as I am - no apologies or explanations needed. The same is true for all who believe.