Across the Bridge
I talk a lot about bridges - and I have the tattoo for visual emphasis in conversations. This six week North America visit is crossing back across my first bridge to connect with people on the other side who know me and love me while also meeting new people who want to join my support team across my bridge while I live in Europe. I dumped a bunch of photos on my post last week with a series of city names where I stopped to share life with people who I cared about. This past week included a ton more new faces, but there were some really special conversations with people who were close to me in my past. I had dinner last Sunday night and this past Friday night with two different families who I once attended Westport Church with.
Westport is no longer a gathering entity, but "Westport people" are still so important to me (as I referenced in my Portland post two weeks ago). These two families have both moved to Colorado in the past two years, and I loved seeing them in their new context and knowing I was still loved and cared for - I texted the Tufts out of the blue and asked if Julia and I could crash at their house for two nights and they opened their doors with no hesitation; Brad and Erica made me a home cooked meal on short notice accounting for my food allergies with excitement to catch up on life. As a "TCA (third culture adult)," I lack the same ability to call a single place my own, but I have people who welcome me in with open arms. My Westport people are now all over the country (plus a couple others overseas), but my bridge to them is strong.
My Embassy people are another significant bridge in my life. I had a few minutes to sit down and say goodbye to Pastor Brandon, and with a sentence he reframed how I think about my mission as I return refreshed from encouragement from my friends and family. I want to love God and love others, and just like I had to recast the vision for my months in the hospital recognising that my primary "mission field" was nurses and doctors rather than students, I'm returning to Germany with a bigger vision of how God can use me to point people to Jesus. Yesterday my parents hosted an open house where I met loads of their coworkers, and someone made a comment there about how I maintained mentorship connections with graduates - I've thought about it before, but it reminded me about how I don't choose who I influence. At one point on our 5,000+ mile adventure, Julia referred to herself as "the chosen one" because she got to drive me around America and have life on life time with me. God has given me incredible people who want to be in my life - my pastors, my church family, my graduates, my students, my friends, my family.
There are still some people who don't want to be in my life, or rather don't want me to be in their lives, yet, as the sermon from last week pointed out, we as Jesus followers are called to "inconvenient obedience" that involves building bridges into places where we may feel uncomfortable. I'm grateful that I'll have support on my American end of my bridge praying for me, encouraging me, and supporting me as I build bridges and have conversations with new and different people in my European context. I'll be boarding a plane next Sunday (I'll have a scheduled post that most people will read while I'm in the air), and I'm going open handed to find what God will do in and through me.
This next year is it's own act of inconvenient obedience for me, and I've got a huge crew cheering me on as we watch what wonders God will do. I'm still hopeful for healing beyond what I can ask or imagine - and I'm asking for everything - so I hope you'll join me in specific prayers for my physical recovery and care for my body. I'm also asking you to pray for me to be sensitive to what bridges God is making a place for. I'm not praying for problems to disappear; I'm praying for the grace and love to encounter others with kindness and truth, to give the benefit of the doubt to those who haven't extended it to me, to turn hurt into healing.
As a last encouragement to those looking to grow as humans, particularly Jesus followers, I found this sermon linked here to be especially convicting and motivating. Julia and I talked about it after we heard it together, and we spent a good chunk of Tuesday in Castlewood Canyon Park praying and reflecting on how each of us could love God and love others. I still don't have all the answers, but I have steps laid out ahead of me as I journey across my bridge to my home in Germany with a strong connection to my home at the Embassy and to other people dotted around the world.