The Bride – Part 2

My Experience with the Bride 

The church is so very significant to me. It has become my family, my community, the very place that my soul longs to be. If you know me well, you know that Sunday mornings are my very favorite – the church gathered to bring God glory, all those beautiful people to love on, hug, and worship with… it makes my heart burst like nothing else. I love Sunday mornings because Jesus’ Bride is my people, my home.

I have not felt like this at every church I have been a part of.  Not every place is safe, healthy and working in unity towards the same purpose. The Holy Spirit knows where your hands, feet and heart fit best. When He leads you to that place (and He always will) stay planted there, thrive and grow. No church is perfect because it is filled with imperfect people, but its goal should be to operate in unity.

“Strive to be a peacemaker; above all else, love one another earnestly since love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

It takes bravery and courage to be authentic in a way that plants deep roots. Personally, I have had far more beautiful experiences than painful ones. True depth of community  takes work, forgiveness, grace, and commitment to serve, vulnerability to put your gifts on the table, and humility to allow others to minister to you. Over the course of my life, I have experienced the Bride in a way that has given me a fierce desire to fight for it.

When my sister was diagnosed with cancer while my family was on the mission field, the church gathered around us and walked through that season with us every single step of the way, not perfectly – because most people don’t know what to say when a child is dying, but our people, the global bride, in Brazil, the States and Canada were so generous, affectionate, and attentive to us. I was between the ages of  7-12 when my family experienced the grief of cancer and heart wrenching pain of death. There was not a single moment when we were not sustained by God’s people and God Himself.

When David and I decided to go into full time ministry, our local church gathered around us and supported us financially so we could go on the mission field. When we were in England, our church there made sure that every single need we had was met. They would bring us gift cards for the grocery store, meat from the butcher, they became our family, advocates for us through crises, and a safe place away from home. There are no words for how deeply their generosity and love impacted our family.

I have story after story about how I have experienced God’s faithfulness and love to me through the Bride of Christ. The church, globally and locally, has left a mark on me like nothing else. I know how powerful the Bride is when unified, and living in community, on purpose. It is the tangible love and presence of Jesus.

Recently, my family had a bit of an emergency. I ended up driving my husband to the hospital in the middle of the night, where they confirmed he had appendicitis and would need surgery. With no family in town, four kids at home in the middle of the night and David and I stuck  at the hospital for two nights, this situation had the potential to be very stressful and quite lonely.

But, here is why I absolutely love the Bride.

The moment people knew what was happening they gathered around us, they took my kids and loved them well – I didn’t even have to worry about them for a moment.They were having so much fun with our church family and friends that I could completely focus on what was happening at the hospital. Our people made sure that I had food and caffeine (two very important necessities for me) as I sat next to David for two days in his hospital room. As soon as the word spread people sent text messages, prayers, checked in on us, made sure all our bases were covered and offered help in every way. Because of God’s grand and beautiful provision of his people, there wasn’t even a moment that I felt alone.

The last day we were in the hospital one of my friends called to tell me, “We have made arrangements for you to stay somewhere else tonight, we thought David would be in the hospital one more night and we have been working on a surprise for you.” When we were discharged from the hospital I got David all settled in at a cozy, quiet, peaceful apartment – minus his appendix and pain meds in full swing. His friend met me at the apartment to be with David and keep him up on his meds while I went home to grab pajamas, a shower and a few other essentials from home.

Let me just back up for a second here because to comprehend the vastness of this story you also must  know what was going on behind the scenes:

David and I have four kids with wondrously large personalities and two insane dogs. We bought a house last year with white carpet… WHITE CARPET! Oh my heavens. That in and of itself was a huge mistake, because I LOVE to host parties and to have people over, but I was so embarrassed by that stained white carpet that I had shied away from having people over for a year. I always want people to feel welcome, loved and completely comfortable in my house. In every house we have lived in I strive for it to feel like us and be a reflection of our values and life experiences as a family. That’s when a house becomes a home to me… and I didn’t feel comfortable in my own house, so there was no way I was having guests over (except for in the few times where David encouraged me to get over it, and myself, and invite people in anyway).

There is a lot of wild that happens in our home, and this summer especially, there had been a lot of chaos with our schedules and business, traveling, camps, and two children with broken left arms (don’t even get me started on that). Starting a non-profit is like having a baby. It has turned my world upside down this year, David is very invested in his work and literally, this year we have been on about two dates… until we got to the hospital. We had some quality time there, a rather expensive date, but I will take it!

This summer we had some of my very favorite company in town for the 4th of July week – I loved their presence in my home, but was so aware all week that my house was not what I felt comfortable presenting to them. Which is when I decided, out loud and definitively to David, that I could no longer handle white carpet. We are definitely not white carpet people, and I didn’t even care if we had to live on plywood – it had got to go! And because my husband is so amazing, that very day, after our company left, he pulled it all up. That’s when I learned that we are also not plywood people. HA! So we made a plan to get new flooring for our house and began a home renovation project two days before I left for high school camp.

The night that I returned from camp, I decided that with the new color of the floors we had chosen, our ten million kitchen cabinets needed to be painted, because we weren’t two tones of wood kind of people either (I realize that I am sounding a little high maintenance, but let me reassure you – that I am usually quite go with the flow and free spirited… just not about white carpet and multiple colors of wood in the same room, I guess… now we know). I spent the next five days disassembling every bit of our living space and painting all the cabinets while David continued working on the floor. At this point, every other aspect of our home had been 100% neglected for a solid three weeks. To add mayhem to madness, to keep the kids occupied while I painted, I suggested that they swap bedrooms. I let them have at it (completely unsupervised) while I worked downstairs. It seemed like a good plan in the moment… but that meant that literally every single room in my house was torn apart and in its absolute worst state the night I took David into the hospital. Sigh, #winning.

Back to my original story.

I pulled up to my home to a crew of Summit View Westsiders already there. They had been working most of the day and had cleaned my house – my horrifically neglected, super embarrassing mess of a house, hung all my cabinet doors back up for me (and my kitchen looked AMAZING!), done all my 1000 + loads of  laundry (because my children are gremlins and I had not washed all my camp stuff yet), and literally cleaned everything. EVERY THING! The floors, windows, baseboards, carpet upstairs, power washed the front porch and entryway, wiped down all my counters, tables, all my bathrooms and my laundry room, they even folded the ends of my toilet paper rolls into perfect little v’s. You guys, it was like a Christmas miracle. By the next morning when we came home, David’s flooring project had been finished beautifully, even the trim had been put back in place and some of it replaced. We walked in and it was like coming home in the best sense of the word. Not to the chaos of a dismantled house under construction with piles of laundry, dishes and everyday life things scattered about everywhere – we walked into a place of peace, calm, organized, tidy, sparkling clean, absolute beauty in every sense of the word. Every single detail lovingly put in place.

That is the Bride. Sacrificial love that covers a multitude of mess. Love that is generous with time, talents, abilities and hard work not expecting anything in return, but pouring out for the best of another. It’s people putting themselves out there to catch you, to cover you, to remind you that you have a seat at the table – you belong. You are a part of something so much grander than yourself.

I don’t think I have ever felt more seen or loved.

I couldn’t be more thankful.

The Bride has flaws, it’s true. But it also has immeasurable beauty that reflects the face of God.

When I think about all the love that our church poured out on our family, I can picture the face of Jesus as He sees his Bride, all dressed in white, making her way up the aisle. Our collective gaze fixed on Him. We will see nothing but love and anticipation in His eyes. Every single effort, every moment of striving, sacrifice and love spent for Him on this earth, awaiting this very moment- completely seen, acknowledged and enveloped in glory and pride as our eyes lock. We, the Bride, are claimed, honored and beloved by the Almighty King Jesus.

Glorious. I can’t even wait for that day.

Keep striving church. Keep loving – even when it costs you. Keep running this race with all you have. Don’t miss an opportunity to extend grace, shed light, wrap up, cover, fill, pour out, to walk in truth and impart peace. It will all be worth it. He sees it all. No effort is wasted or unnoticed and he absolutely adores you for it. Gather together, press on and love extravagantly.

He is coming for us.

 

With anticipation, gratitude and love,

Rachel Anne

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Comments

  1. Rachel, beautifully written and beautifully lived! It makes my far away heart so happy to hear that your people love you and your family so well. Bride for the win!!

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