Sunday night worship services at Sanctuary might just look a little different than a typical church’s Sunday service. We spend about half of our time openly sharing as a community, sometimes requesting songs that fit, praying for one another, often sharing deep pain, and laying it all down before the Father. Sometimes it’s quiet, other times someone gets upset and lashes out, and we deal with that as best we can. We then spend a bit of time studying a particular passage from the Bible together and try to make some sense of it in our own lives.
This past Sunday, while Gil was doing an excellent job of concluding the very challenging book of Daniel for us, one of our dear friends, who may have had one or two beverages before joining us, asked if he could ask a question for the second or third time of the night. Gil was struggling to find a way to graciously decline his “question”, but that wasn’t happening. The microphone was already in his hand, and he immediately began berating Gil’s teaching to the rest of us. After a few minutes of this, he eventually put down the microphone. Gil then thanked him for sharing and proceeded with his message on the book of Daniel.
At this point you may be asking, what is the point of this story and how can this silly short little interaction add any meaning to anyone’s life? Great question.
I had almost completely forgotten about this interaction when Dwayne approached me at our Monday drop in. He said he had an appointment set up for the following day to meet his dad for the first time in about ten years. Historically, his relationship with his dad was extremely abusive, and any other time in the past he would attempt to meet with him, he would feel belittled and find himself going back in time to the scared little boy that he used to be, trying to do anything he could to please his dad. But Dwayne was excited. This time was going to be different.
“Were you there last night when our friend said all those horrible things about Gil in front of everyone?” he asked me.
“Yes, I was there” I said.
“Gil didn’t even flinch! He even thanked the guy for what he shared and then just continued doing what he needed to do. I couldn’t believe that he didn’t let all of that negativity affect him at all.”
Then he paused for a moment…
“I think Gil didn’t let it get to him because he knows he is loved within this community, and he is able to understand where all those harsh words were coming from. I want to be able to do the same thing. I know my dad probably hasn’t changed. He’s probably going to say all the same sort of things that used to hurt me so badly. But I know that this community loves me, and I know that what he is saying comes from his own hurt. So I’m not going to let it bother me anymore. He can say whatever he wants. He doesn’t control me. I am loved!”