“I don’t dwell on it.”
I often find myself thinking about my grandmother’s signature phrase. Grandma went through a lot in life – the Great Depression, WWII, and all the armed conflicts in between. She outlived seven of her fifteen children. When we asked how she coped, she simply said:
“I don’t dwell on it.”
Her words became my primary coping mechanism. When pain whispered, I refused to dwell on it, ignoring my tears and the feelings that went with them. I thought I knew her secret to strength: shove things aside and keep moving. Race ahead and pretend it didn’t happen. Refuse to dwell on it.
But then life caught up with me. Traumatic memories played on an endless loop in my mind, storming my mind and heart like a mighty army.
I realized that I had not only started to dwell on them, but to dwell in them.
I finally had to deal with my pain. Healing made its way through my carefully curated collection of secret wounds, and strength surged through me.
I realized Grandma had refused to dwell on things;
I had refused to deal with them.
I am learning to allow myself to feel the hurt when it hits because I know strength does not come from arbitrary barricades but from enforcing guardianship of my heart and mind. I now see that, while pain has been trying to invade, my God, my loved ones and my own strength have stood outside too, ready to help me fight if I would only let them in.
I am now striving to be the kind of person who deals with pain but who abides under the shadow of the Almighty, and who dwells among those who are amazing enough to love me through it.
There is something truly amazing that happens when cultures come together. Perhaps it reminds us that we are not alone in the world. Perhaps it helps us to escape our own problems for the moment. Perhaps it even does something more –
it reminds us that we are a part of something greater and grander than the boundaries of our own region.
Last Sunday, Gateway UPC was honored to host All Nations Sunday, an international event right here in our hometown. The sanctuary decorated with flags from every country around the world; translation into English, Spanish, and Portuguese; an inspiring message about our place in the global church; and a song sung in eighteen languages – a glimpse of the kind of worship we will lend our voices to in heaven –
set us up for an atmosphere of international understanding and, most of all, international worship.
After the service, we enjoyed a global tour: Around the World in 90 Minutes. In an hour and a half, we explored tables decorated with items from every region in the world, complete with a smorgasbord of international foods. It was such a treat to see Mexican tamales, Chinese chow mein, Spanish paella, Nigerian jollof rice, Tahitian po’e pudding, Jamaican jerk chicken with coconut rice, Israeli falafel, Malawian mbatatacookies, to name a small fraction of everything that was available, frolicking together on the same plates.
Thank you to everyone who made an effort to be involved in our All Nations Sunday celebration, whether you helped decorate, cook, or you simply showed up. It was our honor to host you and we hope you will make us a part of your future celebrations in October. We hope to see everyone again next year! Please keep our missionaries, churches, and people around the world in your prayers.
God can still work miracles and is not limited by race, culture, language, or borders.
It wasn’t meant to last.
When Gustave Eiffel’s team won the heated bid to construct the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair, it was meant to be temporary. Still, for two years they employed their bridge-building skills to fashion the wrought-iron lattice tower, hoping their precision would combat any destructive winds. The temporary exhibit was designed with permanence in mind and soared 81 stories high.
Critics were quick hurl insults, labeling it ugly, daring, impossible, and rebellious, even to the point of circulating an “Artists against the Eiffel Tower” petition. They must have found some solace in the fact that it was at least scheduled for demolition in 1909. No one expected it to change the Paris skyline forever.
After all, it wasn’t meant to last.
And yet it did.
In World War I, it intercepted enemy radio transmissions and dispatched troops. The next world war saw Hitler’s unsuccessful attempt to demolish it. Today, it continues to inspire us, creating moments of international solidarity when its colorful lights reflect triumphs and tragedies around the world.
It wasn’t meant to last – and yet Eiffel’s team built it as if it would stand forever.
Your season may be temporary, intended to last but a moment here, but how are you building it? How will your legacy outlive you when your critics and naysayers are long gone?
Temporary seasons in lives lived with a legendary outlook cannot help but change skylines, worlds, hearts, and lives.