"What is that?" asked my friend, a little annoyed as I lifted a basket of brightly wrapped gifts out of the back of the van.
"It's just a little something for each of the women tonight," I said.
"Really? You had to bring gifts? You know everyone wants to do something for you, something to make life a little easier, and here you are doing something else for them."
"It's just something small," I added a little defensively, part of me wishing I'd left the basket on the bench at home and the other part wondering why this was even an issue.
My friend sighed, looked me straight in the eye and said, "You know you're going to have to explain."
"We'll see," I shrugged and smiled.
"You know," she grinned, "underneath that quiet facade, you're just a rebel like all the rest of us."
My friend was a little more right than she knew, and I was suddenly acutely aware of God in the moment tugging on my heart, longing to set me free, but it was going to cost -- humility, honesty and words -- words I didn't have because they were just too deep to speak.
As the eight women I've laughed and cried and studied Scripture with for almost two years sat together around the table, I reached down and picked up the basket, praying for God to calm my heart and help me find the words. "I brought something for each of you tonight," I began, "just something small, and before you get upset, I want to try to explain." I took a long, slow steadying breath and continued, "First, I didn't bring these gifts to frustrate you, but to bless you, to celebrate our friendship and thank you for challenging me every week to dig a little deeper, lean a little harder, trust a little more. You know that I struggle to share my heart, not because I don't trust you, but because sometimes putting what I really feel into words makes it all seem too big, too hard. Sometimes I'm afraid of being swallowed completely by this life God's allowed, and all I know to do when life gets hard is to step outside my own myopic little world and focus on somebody else. Doing something for others, for even just a few minutes feels good. It's a break from all the overwhelming medical stuff -- five minutes with no meds, no food labels, no symptoms swirling in my mind like puzzles with too many missing pieces, no diseases with impossible names, no doctors' appointments or tests, no icky preps -- just a chance to breathe and think and be, which really means," I almost whispered, "that I did this less for you than I did for me."
Oh, Lord, wow. Hard words, necessary lesson. Thank you for drawing me deeper, revealing a glimpse of holy reciprocity, giving the way it was meant to be experienced. What joy to witness the beautiful, mysterious symbiosis of Your children, the sacred harmony of giving where each shares what he has and no-one has need. Such truly, totally, infinitely amazing grace!
Cindee Snider Re lives in Sussex, WI with her husband, their five children, two cats, and two Shichon puppies. She enjoys quiet evenings, long walks, good books, homeschooling her kids, and lots of good, strong, hot, black tea.