The caption on the InstaStory read,”Today I had some meetings, wrote some content, said farewell to a little piece of my identity for nigh on 8 years, and savored wine with my hubs. All in all, today will do.”
Not long after, the messages started.
“Not sure what’s going on, but I’m here.”
“Did you leave Orphan Outreach?”
“Here’s my phone number. I’ll miss you being around!”
I’m not a tapper-outer by nature. My mom used to laugh at me and say, “You’d ride a horse until dust is blowing off its bones.” She also taught me that the phrase was “hell in a hen basket” and that things didn’t amount to a row of beans, rather than a hill.
I honestly worried about those hens for years.
I’m still at Orphan Outreach, and pray to be there as long as the welcome is extended. I’ve not left social media (clearly, since I’m now writing this to you). And there was nothing really sexy at all about stepping away from an online community that been such a significant part of my life for years. An online community started by someone who wanted to demonstrate what happens when we gather to slay the dragons of fear and doubt and the unknown.
Yes, there be dragons. There are always dragons.
The community made a huge impact on my life (I honestly can say I’d not be where I am today without the encouragement and support and nudges). And I get rather teary when I consider the real, flesh-and-bone people in my life now who all met randomly on Facebook because of that marketing campaign to help an up-and-coming author see if his ideas about community would resonate.
They did, for sure.
One thing I know about myself—I’m built for marathons rather than sprints, and find such purpose in connecting and relating and moving forward toward lovely destinations. As most people know who work with me, just checking things off lists isn’t satisfying. Rather, it’s the deeper purpose of the things on the list. It’s no coincidence that influence and impact are in the subtitle of my book. They are deeply personal. You can call it being an Enneagram 4w3 or an ENFJ or an off-the-charts I in DISC or a Creative Architect in MAPP. (Gosh, I do love a good assessment).
I call it God’s design.
And so, I became a fixture in that community long after its original intent faded from view. Some called me mom. Some likely called me less endearing names, because, you know, humanity and all.
I’ve said that I can’t not see hope. That’s true. I will always see you as all that God has crafted. I will never see you as anything other than His delight. I will pray and cheer and never give up.
But I’ve learned that I can lose heart.
I don’t like to admit it. The bootstrapper soul that’s still rumbling around in me loves to misquote scriptures like “I can do all things through Christ” to tell me that letting go or stepping away is a lack of faith.
But then I remember that Jesus stepped back. He stepped away. He didn’t show up to be a superhero. No, He showed up to show folks the strength and depth of God’s love. He was a gatherer. And He also knew when gathering could overwhelm its very nurturing purpose.
And He says, “You don’t have to slay every dragon.”
Instead, Jesus says, “Take heart.” Literally, it means to gather up the courage He offers. Be courageous in the walking. And be courageous enough to stand still, to let go, to tap out. I think about the post-it on my friend Sarah’s mirror. “Strong God, I’m watching You do it.”
Let your hope be in the Lord: take heart and be strong; yes, let your hope be in the Lord. Psalm 27:14
Sometimes, we need to step back, step away, let go, tap out to have a better vantage point of what Strong God is doing. That’s a most nurturing part of gathering.
So, don’t lose heart.
Take heart for the long-road journey. Take heart that He is the author and finisher of our stories – all of them. Take heart that He will give your hands work to do. Take heart to let those hands simply hold His, knowing His hands are enough to carry it all. Take heart that He is true and trustworthy in His love and in His care. Take heart in the stepping back and stepping away too. Take heart that He is ever-strong. Take heart in the hope that rests securely in Him.