When I was asked to facilitate a recovery support group at the crisis center where I work and volunteer, I hesitated. My life was full and confusing already. I said ‘yes’ anyway.
The first week, COVID was paying my home an uninvited visit, so I facilitated the group over Zoom. I introduced myself and then asked the masked faces to introduce themselves. Nothing. Undeterred, I dove right into the first step of recovery and the supporting verses from the curriculum. Nothing. Thinking the audio might be an issue, I resorted to writing key words on separate sheets of paper, holding each sheet up to the tiny lens on my laptop.
I wanted to believe the disconnect was caused by Zoom screens, my congested voice, or possibly, my illegible handwriting, but before that long hour ended, I’d figured out the reason behind the uncomfortable silence – every woman in the group spoke Spanish. Most of them knew a little English and some knew as much English as I knew Spanish.
I’d committed to facilitate the group under the assumption it would be effortless, but it would not be effortless after all. The leader’s guide had acronyms for English words – useless. The tabbed and organized supplemental material stuffed in a binder thick enough to stop a speeding bullet – useless. My conversational style of teaching that includes one question every five minutes – useless. The French I’d learned in high school, because I guess I thought I’d be spending large portions of my adult life in France – useless.
I’d need to employ small words and concepts, big gestures and facial expressions (with a mask on, Lord help me). I’d need the woman in the group with the best English to be a translator. I’d need the Spanish leader’s guide so I could write out acronyms that would actually benefit the women attending. All of this would burn far more mental calories than I had to spare. But when the center manager asked if I’d please give it a try, I said ‘yes’.
I’m a hopeful person.
I’m also a glutton for trying new things.
I’m also, like any normal person, highly motivated by positive outcomes.
Not sure what I thought these positive outcomes might be, but they did not include having my limits and weaknesses on display week after week while standing with a smile, a dry erase marker, and an infantile Spanish vocabulary. I love my ladies, let me make that clear. But I’m better suited for ‘jump in, jump out, move on’ kinds of things. At the very least, I’m better suited for work that doesn’t make me feel like a failure.
Nope. Not God’s plan. Instead, He places me in long game work where I can practice the plodding of diligence. I’m not the plodding type, but I value diligence, so last week, I prayed while driving, “Lord, I’m showing up in body with a little bit of heart. Please fill in the rest.” (And then I counted the remaining chapters in the leader’s guide next to me. Two more weeks of plodding.)
Ironically, grace was the week’s topic. It was a surprisingly easy topic to teach with only a body and a little bit of heart. We looked up verses that define grace (they looked up verses that define gracia) and I wrote the definitions on the markerboard.
Grace = not earned
Grace = paid by Christ
Grace = unending
I could have written, ‘Grace = Lord, please fill in the rest’, but I wasn’t sure it’d translate.
The discussion wasn’t electric by any means, but we were getting somewhere. Then my translator, a big-hearted woman who leaks joy, said, “God’s grace is…uhhhh,” she paused to find the English words. “Too much love!”
Too much love: the remedy for a lost perspective. Such good words to rally the wandering pieces of my fragmented soul.
When I live like God’s love is too much for me, I see diligence through the lens of hope. I see that plodding work is really planting work – and I’m grateful to do it. My work is obedience and God works the outcomes. In my weakness or strength (but especially in my weakness), I give Him my best and He makes it good.
I’m prepared for the lesson this week. Ironically, it’s about Gratitude. I’m sure I’ll butcher the Spanish language on accident, but I’m sure I’ll also hear some incredible stories and a beautiful prayer or two from the ladies. They call me ‘teacher’. Mmmmm…too much love.