Last month I led my Young Disciples Ministry Team through a weekend workshop to give us time to remember who we are, the mission, goals, and purpose of our work together, and where God is leading us. In preparation, I sent each of them a single page reflection sheet. On this reflection sheet, I asked them to list one to three words they thought of when thinking of the different people on our team. I had a feeling this would be a cool exercise for us to get a glimpse of how we see each other on the team, but didn’t quite fully grasp how affirming and powerful it would ultimately be.
Our workshop began as many church team meetings would, with scripture. I read from one of my all-time favorite passages, Psalm 139 to lay the foundation of what was to come next. God knows us – our strengths, our weaknesses, our hopes, and our dreams. God has gathered us together on this team to work together for God’s good.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it…
For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end—I am still with you.
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
After reading this passage, I said the name of a member of the team and read to them all the words that the rest of us said about them, beginning with the phrase, “You are…” Each person had an opportunity to listen and receive the truth about who they are. They were asked to reflect on what these descriptions say about how God made them, or share what it stirred up for them. This was not initially meant to be an affirmation activity, but that is exactly what this ended up becoming. We were, in a way, forced to listen to the positive impact and powerful gifts we bring to our team, our ministry, and the world. We couldn’t shy away from receiving these affirmations, dismissing them to ourselves as polite compliments. We had to hear them not only as affirmations of who we are, but also as affirmations of who God made us to be in the world. It was an opportunity to receive the good. For many of us, we heard descriptions of ourselves that we had never considered. For most of us, it was difficult to accept that this is truly how people see us. Negative views of ourselves, our mistakes, or wishes to be a different way, were filters we needed to remove in order to fully accept that these descriptions of who we are is actually true.
Why is it so hard for us to believe that we are beloved and created to be a part of the goodness of God manifest in the world? What keeps us from receiving the goodness of creation? How are we holding ourselves back from accepting that we are good?
Take some time to reflect on who you are today. What are one to three words you would use to describe yourself? Send a quick text or email to three people you know, asking them to send you one to three words to describe you. Then receive their words. Accept them. Own them. Read the words to finish the phrase, “I am…” Soak it all up. Receive the good. Receive that this is who God made you to be in the world. This is who God needs you to be in the world. Write these words on a card and put them somewhere to remind you that you are God’s good creation. God’s goodness is for you to enjoy, share, and celebrate. Take all the time you need to receive this truth.
God of Goodness,
Sometimes we forget how well you know us. Sometimes we forget how precious we are to you. Sometimes we forget that we are expressions of your goodness in the world. Open our hearts, souls, and minds to remember how loved we are. Open our eyes, ears, and hands to receive the goodness of your world so that we can experience it, embody it, and celebrate it in our lives. Amen.