I recently had the honor and privilege of sitting through a church service at Hillsong Church, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. One thing I absolutely adore about this church is that the pastor, previously atheist, constantly differentiates between Christianity and religion. I can appreciate the way he sees religion as a failing telephone game but Christianity as the sword of inspiration and leadership.
I had separated myself from the flock for the last six months or so due to travel, accessibility and, to be quite frank, priorities. The day that I returned to Hillsong I went for my daily meditation and scripture (which I have not ceased) before leaving the house. I told God that I was lacking the motivation to attend and that I needed Him to make the message specifically for me. Granted, I recognize the selfish and childish nature of this request but, I was feeling increasingly removed from religion. I pause here for a specification; I do not view my spirituality and religion to be synonymous as I am certain some of you do. For the purposes of this blog I am using my understanding of these words. Spirituality, for me, is my unwavering belief in God my creator and His universal law of love for all. Religion is how the people with spirituality choose to gather and practice their discipline. As of late I have found religion to be increasingly narrow minded and “hate” driven so I have struggled with church. The pastor of Hillsong United reminds the congregation often that, not only is there a difference between the two but, it is our obligation and responsibility to demonstrate Christ’s love and grace as Christians and to begin to heal the misnomer that has become associated (even by myself) with religion. Moreover, I specified that I needed to hear from another like-minded individual this morning. I never anticipated what He would send.
During meet and greet, the superbly uncomfortable 3 minutes that you turn and say hello to the perfect strangers around you while you wait desperately inpatient for those long seconds to tick away off of the big screen, I told God that I was refusing to move. In my head I told God that if someone didn’t reach me from the crowd I would refuse to acknowledge or engage. Specifically, I considered the people behind me and planted my feet firmly on the ground with toddler-like dedication to avoiding those people. It was at that very moment she reached through the crowd and yanked my shoulder back. She had the movement of assertion and certainty but the face of love, humility and respect. She introduced herself as Elise but what I heard was “warrior daughter” and what I saw was a woman on the gold metal pedestal of an Olympic platform.
Having never met this woman and knowing nothing about one another she began to recite the comments of my heart to me. Verbatim and word for word she quieted my frustrations and even some deep pains that I had shut off and shut down….way deep down. She spoke to me of the way God viewed me. She described my children standing with God, one in each hand. Protected by Him as their father while they currently have no earthly fatherly presence. She spoke of my past, my present and my future as though we have never spent a moment apart. But for me it was less about what she said and more about her power in which she said it. So many of us hear that still small voice and refuse it for ourselves. She not only heard it in regards to someone else but she acted. She reached for me, a stranger,through a crowd of friends. She spoke to me of things she had no certainty of outside of that voice. To me, she put her armor on, cut through the field and waged a war of radical honesty with what should’ve been unbelievable guidance and no discernible fact.
Through my tears I could see that those irritatingly long seconds on the screen had screamed by but I wasn’t done. I needed the rest of that she had to tell me. Knowing this to be true she leaned in with a hug and offered that I might meet her at the close of service. After service she and I met and spoke with one another in great depth. I learned that she was from Belgium attending a church more than two hours away from home by a mini van with a “small army of fellow Belgians,” specifically due to God’s calling. That is a leader among her peers, a well armored war wager, a warrior daughter. It was as though someone had wrapped their arms around us, one on her shoulder and one on mine for the introduction of a lifetime. I could hear the still small voice saying, “Warrior daughters, you are among like-minded and equipped peers. Grow, encourage and counsel one another. Your promises are coming in magnitude. You’ve put in the work so don’t quit right before the blessing. Patience. Be still. You are not alone. You are never alone.”
This message echoed through my core and hasn’t silenced since. I have spent the week thinking of and praying over the woman in my life and I can’t help but be humbled by how many of you are steadfast, powerhouse, warriors and how humbled I am to have your guidance, strength and leadership. My gratitude for you has consumed and inspired me this week in multiple directions. I continue to consider how many of you must be thinking of and feeling the same things as me. I want to pour into, to encourage you all. I would like to reflect to you what I see in you and how intense my respect if for each of you. My current and consistent prayer over you all is that you might find the belief in your strength and beauty that I believe about you.
The pastor’s message struck home as well. The message was no typical Jesus loves you message. The message was a stark reminder of grace and gratefulness. But it was the level at which gratitude was spoken of that really struck me.The pastor, Richard, was preaching on the fact that we should be grateful for what God has designed for us as opposed to what we have already received. Because we cannot receive things that we are not ready to receive or that we will not believe we are deserving of. And then, when we receive things, if we can’t receive them with an attitude of gratitude people are less likely to give. He spoke of gratitude for the way God already loves me. He spoke of gratitude for the design God already has for me. Being grateful for the promises that God has promised me and being grateful enough to wait patiently for that fulfillment. He spoke of being so content with gratitude that your heart has no place to operate from outside of grace for others. He acknowledged the dirt and filth that we all carry but our absolute obligation to dig through that dirt and find the gold in others as much as ourselves. To receive with gratefulness everything about us that has already been designed as perfect and wonderful.
This message gave me great pause. Those of you that know me know that I am innately happy. Always presenting with excitement, energy and love. But this message made me wonder, am I genuinely grateful for the things I have not received but that have been promised to me? There are things that I believe God will position in my life, eventually. But am I waiting to be grateful for those things upon their arrival? Or can I be grateful in anticipation of them? Allowing myself to extend such gratitude in the form of grace for others. This is my focus for this week and all the weeks moving forward. I have added into my morning rotation a gratitude of something that is not in existence for me (yet.) Something that I am waiting in excited anticipation of but with gratitude of the promise and the faith that I know it will be provided. I want to inspire you to also live into the faith promise for you. Be grateful for something that you know can and will be aligned and forwarded to you. Because faith really is just belief in what has already been designed and promised for you and our willingness to receive it. I wish you happy receiving of all you deserve. Know that I am happy alongside and for you!
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of these powerhouse inspirations in my life. I want to build and encourage you all. I have included SOME photos of the woman in my life that have chosen to step into the void, to lead and to inspire. This is by NO MEANS a representation of every warrior woman that I have met or love. This platform wouldn’t allow me to add all of you but here are a FEW photos of other warrior woman peers. I wanted to include some faces to make this personal for all of you and to remind you in no uncertain terms that you are not alone. You are fighting along side some of the most incredible and inspirational woman the world has to offer. Reach if you need a reminder greater than the beauty that follows in this slide show because I am here to hear you and I want you to KNOW that you are among these knock-down, herculean and mighty show stoppers. Pictured or not I am talking to and I love YOU!
I’m excited to say that we are in a stationary position again for sometime and I will be returning to blogging with you. I hope to inspire, uplift and share throughout all of our adventures. If there’s a specific topic you would like me to blog about drop a comment below and I would love to share with you and learn from you all! If you are a warrior that needs a reminder drop me a comment or an email and I will be thrilled to share with you the vision I have of your beauty and grace! Writing with a heart of gratitude for YOU! XX