We can’t always pinpoint moments in our lives that have fundamentally changed how we operate in the world. And yet, as we get more separation from those moments, oftentimes, we start to see them with more clarity.
I was in sixth grade sitting in the choir loft of Thomasville FUMC one Sunday morning in late April. The youth choir was singing with the chancel choir during “big church.” My mom was sitting near the back of the church as she came in late after setting up for a luncheon, my brother a few seats away from me in the choir, my dad at home recovering from a back surgery. Towards the end of the service, I saw my mom slip out the back, and a couple minutes later someone was pulling my brother and I aside as the choirs were recessing. Our house was on fire.
They immediately told us that our dad was ok and that our mom had already gone to the house. After not a small amount of tears shed in the youth director’s office, we headed to the house as well. As we got to the house we already saw a small crowd of people nearby. As we went further in to the afternoon, more and more people gathered; almost all from our church. They brought us food. Some brought us clothes. Others were just there to comfort us. We had lost, conservatively, about 99% of the stuff in the house.
So, how has this event shaped how I operate in the world? Say my car got flattened by a crane dropping a beam on top of it, or my dog ripped a hole in my favorite sweater; my response, “it is what it is. It’s just stuff.” You can’t always control what happens to your stuff. I used to think that was the main thing I got from my house burning down; an ability to not be attached to earthly possessions.
However, looking back, I’ve found that I gained something much more important; something with substance. I learned to seek out Godly community. Jesus invited twelve people to work with him and gathered more as they went. This wasn’t ego-driven. He was setting an example for the eventual Church community. We were to rely on each other, in our highs and our lows, to find substance in Him. The rest is just stuff.