A Place of Belonging with People Who Believe

towel and basin

My name is Lydia G. (a.k.a. “The Lyd”). I started attending  my church (CC for short)  in 1973 and met Jesus as my Savior and Lord at that time. In 1976, I became a member of  CC. While going to college at HCC, AIC, and SC, I was able to attend my church, which I considered as my second home, at least once or twice a month.  For many years during my college days, I read through the Bible in a year from different translations. I also attended adult Sunday School  and attended many weekend retreats for college students, sponsored by CC and various college Para-church groups. Throughout the first decade of my Christian walk, I grew like a weed in my love for Jesus, His Word, and His body of Christ at my home church. The people there demonstrated the love of Christ to me and accepted me into their fellowship with open arms. They saw me from the inside and valued me as the person God made me to be. My cerebral palsy was never an issue with them. I have attended Bible studies at the church and in various homes and I have also led Bible studies in my home.

In 1981, CC sent me out as one of their indigenous missionaries to a Christian missions organization which served children and adults with disabilities and inner city kids, by providing a residential school and summer camp programs to teach and nurture them in the Lord. CC supported me financially and prayerfully, as I served at CBF for six years. CC members, youth groups and pastors also came to CBF to serve as work crews and to help with retreats and the summer camp programs. It was an honor and privilege to be called to be a missionary sent out by my home church.

When I came back to my “old stomping grounds,” and after taking a one year Bible correspondence course in two years, CC called me to serve on the Deacon Board. After two years, the Deacon Board chose me to be the Moderating Deacon to organize and lead the deacon meetings, in which we discussed meeting the various needs our members and regular attendees. This consisted of “who does what” in the areas of setting up and serving communion and other special church services and gatherings within the church. It also involved helping those within the congregation who needed financial assistance in the areas of food, clothing, utility bills,  and visiting people who needed encouragement and a listening ear. Most importantly, we prayed for the church body. I served on the Deacon Board for six years (This means, I survived six weeks of organizing and setting up 6:30 a.m. Holy Week services and breakfasts!). During my deacon tenure, God taught me how to be a servant to my brothers and sisters in Christ at CC, who I consider my family in Christ. It was truly an honor and a privilege to be called to be a Deacon at  my home church.

The 21st Century brought many trials, both nationally and personally. My dad suffered a stroke two weeks prior to 9/11. The whole nation was in shock and things would never be the same again because of what happened on that day.  My family had the additional shock of the patriarch of our family, who was taking care of our disabled mom, now becoming severely disabled himself, and my family would never be the same. During the last years of my parents’ time on earth, my sister and I moved them in to live with us, so that we could care for them. My dad passed away in 2003 and my mom in 2010. Not having to care for them any longer and knowing they were now in the presence of the Lord was a great comfort and relief. 2011 was a year of rest. It was an honor and a privilege for my sister and me to be called by God, no matter how heart-wrenching a time it would be,  to take care of our parents, with the help and prayers of my church family.

I thought 2012 would be a time to catch up on the things I had put on hold, while my parents care took top priority. .However, 2012 began as a year of tremendous struggle for me, physically, emotionally and spiritually . I suddenly had the time to realize that I could no longer do the things I enjoyed doing. I could no longer walk without a walker, then a wheelchair, or safely cook for myself. Getting dressed was more of a struggle and took longer because of the brace for my right ankle and another for my left knee and carpel tunnel syndrome in my dominate hand . I was having trouble sleeping, staying “regular” (which reminded me of my mom’s painful struggles), and I had no desire to eat (which was not at all like me). There were also the heartbreaking struggles of good friends dealing with cancer, good friends leaving the church, my next door neighbor dying, as well as others I grew to love and appreciate. Also, someone who I deeply cared about  was having trouble being successful in a new endeavor . Without my parents to care for anymore, all these concerns flooded my mind and they became too much for me to bear. BUT GOD used my sister and her oldest son and two dear sisters from CC and the church elders laying hands and praying over me and, yes, medical intervention and very compassionate nurses and doctors to get the help I desperately needed. It took nine months, BUT GOD never let go of His grip on me and the people He put in my life never doubted or gave up on seeing the “real” Lydia coming back from a very dark place. In retrospect, God used this dark time in my life to help me accept being served. It is truly humbling to be in a place where I need others to serve me. It has been a learning time, realizing how much I need God to sustain me and how much we need each other to pick each other up when life is sometimes too hard and we fall into a pit of despair. Raising each other up, encouraging each other and being willing to wash each other’s feet and be washed is what a church body does for one another. It is an honor and a privilege to be a member of the body of Christ at my home church.

And guess what happened in 2013 (starting in October, 2012)?! The “REAL” Lydia is back. God has brought me back from a very dark place with the help of my sister, my nephew, a caring medical team, and my dear CC family. After a time of God refining my faith in Him, while taking care of my parents and then going through a deep depression of my own,  I am back with a greater understanding of suffering. I have a better and deeper grasp of how God uses suffering,  in all of its many forms, to accomplish His greater purposes in me and in His Church. I care deeply about CC and it grieves me to see the suffering we are presently going through. I care deeply about the people of CC who are my Family of God. That is why I have accepted the call to be on the nominating  committee to recommend elders and deacons to serve our church.  I believe God wants to use me and the other members of the team in the healing process God desires to bring us through. God never gave up on me. He gave me my spiritual brothers and sisters at CC to show me how much He loves me through their example of Christ-like love for me. In like manner, God will never give up on us, His body of believers at CC. I will never give up on my family at CC, unless God wants me to go somewhere else or He takes me Home to be with Him. My desire as a member of the nominating committee is to work alongside rest of the committee and the congregation to find more servant-leaders who are “feet-washers” and will use their spiritual gifts to serve Christ and His body at CC.

“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped  a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him…’No,’ said Peter, ‘you shall not wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’ ‘Then, Lord,’ Simon Peter replied, ‘not just my feet, but my hands and my head as well!’…When He had finished washing their feet, He put on His clothes and returned to His place. ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ He asked them. ‘You call me “Teacher” and “Lord,” and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s   feet. I have set you an example that you should do what I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them’” (John 13:3-4, 6-9,12-17).

In Humble Service to Jesus and His Church,

Lyd

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3 thoughts on “A Place of Belonging with People Who Believe

  1. Hi Lydia, Glad you are back AND on the nominating committee. Lord willing, I will also be back at College Church on this Sunday. Grace & peace, Paul

    Paul V. Sorrentino
    Special Assistant to the Dean of Students for Case Management
    Amherst College
    AC # 2277
    Amherst, MA 01002-5000
    413.542.8149 (office) 413.362.9786 (cell)

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