Come Sit By Me

This post is a long time coming.  I’ve been sitting in this space for quite a while.  It’s taken long enough to get this down on paper, but the Lord thought I needed some extra time to chew on it because I’ve not been able to type for several days due to a shoulder injury.  I still can’t write my name well on paper, but typing is working fine tonight.  I will say as I finish this post up that I still don’t know where I land.  I am still confused about some of the things I’ve thrown out there, and I really can sit in any spot and say that I understand it...

All around us there is a stance to choose, a team to pick, a side to stand on.  Where do you fall? What do you stand for or against?

I find that in standing for something, you are often standing against something else.

It is most likely something on the other side.  This became increasingly clear to me when I entered motherhood.  I talk about this a little bit in my post Meet Me at the Top of Mountain Jesus.  If I stood for breastfeeding, then I felt like I stood against formula feeding.  I know the science that breastfeeding is wonderful and good and “better,” but I also know the HARD stories that don’t line up with that thought process. The mom that can’t produce enough or the baby that can’t break down ANYTHING on their own without an exorbitantly priced formula. The reality is what I stand for, really, is feeding.  As a mom, I have found it harder and harder to choose sides cause you just never know what is going on behind the scenes.  The political and social climate has also made this difficult for me over the last couple of years.  I have watched people choose a team and stand on the mountain of something important (something that I probably agree with fully); yet I have seen these people become what they are standing against.  I have seen judgement and slander be rampant all in the name of standing for something.  It makes me not want to stand for anything.  Really, I just want to crawl in a hole when the intensity comes to this.  I choose nothing.

I was talking to a group of girlfriends on the way home from a Beth Moore conference this last weekend.  I told them that I am not a picketer or a protester.  You probably won’t see me standing with signs anywhere on my own.  It’s just not in my blood.  One of the girls with me admitted it is deeply in her blood.  She comes from a family of politicians, and protesting has been a part of her life.  You are probably thinking that I am weak and cowardly at this point.  Maybe I am.  But what I struggle with is the others.  We just can’t see everyone’s heart and what they are feeling or thinking when they drive by that one sign.  If I knew everyone’s story that would see my sign, I might be a mighty protester.  The thing is, I know that the world has been changed by some of these statements, protests, rallies and pickets.  I can’t deny that.  Civil rights, sex-trafficking, equality, etc. have all been influenced, changed, and some made right by some of these intense statements.  The American Revolution was rooted in protest.  But I like Rosa Park’s way on the bus that day.  I like that she did what she needed to do for her and her fellow man.  While Mrs. Parks was indeed an activist, and I’m sure did her fair share of demonstrations, her quiet strength on the bus in her every day is something that I can identify with.

It’s funny, though.  I am fairly close with some boycotters.  One thing goes wrong, and they are out.  You do not want to be on the other side of a bad meal they’ve had because they will never grace the doors of the restaurant again. They will also tell you about it so that you never grace those doors either.  And if they have a bad run in with someone else, it takes a LONG time for that person to come in to their graces again.   You know these people.  I can understand some of it, but mercy.  There is a place that we frequent often.  It’s a Fort Worth icon.  And the food is great, but the owner is not a kind man.  I’m sure many would disagree with me. However, we have witnessed his treatment of the employees on numerous occasions be despicable. You could call him many things. Many.  And they would probably be true.  But we still go…once a week.  We have the right to boycott and never go back. I mean if everyone saw the way he treated his employees, they would probably not go back either.  I’m not sure we could shut the place down, though.  Maybe.  But every time I’m there, I say to myself, “Should we stop coming as a statement?  I mean, this is crazy.  It looks like we support this craziness.” But what I have discovered is that we are there for the employees he mistreats.  One employee in particular got chastised for praying with us one day.  However, recently he shared his story with us and spent a great deal of time justifying keeping a job with someone that treats him so poorly.  He is taking care of his mom.

I have to figure out how to stand for all the things I believe in as I walk out my daily life.  Yes, I am willing to make sacrifices to my day to day activities to be a part of the world changing, but I also have to be true to what the Lord has called me to.  I have to do what I can do each day in every interaction. And it can’t differ because of whom I’m standing in front of.  Above all things, He has called us to love and that cannot be prejudice.

There is this underlying feeling (which I referred to in my last post) that if you don’t agree or believe in something, you have to separate yourself from it lest it influence you, possibly poison you.  If you don’t like President Trump or believe in his policy or ways, you may think that sitting at the same table as him would be an abomination to everything you stand for.  Maybe many would see it that way.  But maybe there is more there.  Maybe sitting at that table matters. You may hate that table, see right through that table; but aren’t we called to come to the table?

One of my gifts in the Holy Spirit is discernment.  It has become more and more refined the more I walk with Jesus.  What that means is that I can see, hear and feel things in the Spirit that may not have been revealed yet.  That’s sounds a little hokey, I know.  But it’s real.  I usually handle it by throwing it out there to someone because it feels so off the wall and then following it up by saying “I just want to throw it out there. It could be nothing.” My husband says he has learned to listen when I say things like this.  And I’m still a broken vessel; I don’t always see and hear fully.  Though, sometimes I see enough, feel enough, know enough.  It’s enough to make me RUN in the other direction.  I struggle with how to see, know, feel something hard or difficult that is deeply rooted in the Spirit (and truths that confirm the Spirit), and still choose to engage.  I have been able to know things in the Spirit (discernment) for a long time, but only recently have I learned how to listen.  And sometimes I’m dead wrong, but a lot of times I’m right on.  Why would the Holy Spirit speak something to me just to have me sprint in the opposite direction?  I think there is definitely times that He is warning me. There are times when I feel like I should take a different road or not go to a store one day.  I’ve learned to ask the Lord why He might be telling something.  However, I’m learning, when He tells me something about someone, He may not want me to walk away, but rather pull up a chair.

I operate thinking that if I know something about someone or feel something about them that is contrary to the Lord’s way, I really should place some healthy distance and boundaries between us. And while I think that this may be necessary in many cases, I wonder if we often push away from the table that was meant to be an invitation into some greater glory.

When I think about Jesus, He pulled up a chair with many, many people that I can’t imagine He was pleased with or happy about their lifestyle choices.  But I’m not sure he cared so much about what He saw on the outside, but what was possible if He reached the inside ~ their hearts. The New Testament is full of stories of Jesus pulling His chair up alongside those that were less than His desires for them.

I was sitting in church last week praying about some things.  Some of them had to do with my girls and their intensity and their lack of listening ~ their sin.  Some of my prayers were focused on people who were leaders in my life that I am having trouble believing their motives are in the right place.  The Lord clearly spoke to me and said, “You can see fully and still love fully.”  He followed up by saying, “I actually call you to this.  This is my way.”

Not only can we see fully and still love fully, but we can also be fully.

My job challenges me to this every shift.  I walk into a room usually not knowing what is behind it.  In less than a few minutes, I have to assess the room; and then I have to engage this room fully in love.  It doesn’t matter what is on the other side.  And sometimes I can tell that the ones on the other side of the door are trying to figure out what to do with me.  They think that they see me fully, and they are pretty sure they don’t want to engage me.  I can see it all over their faces.  They are saying, “I am not pulling a chair up to your table.” We have choice.  Do we back away and agree that the table is not worth pulling a chair up to? Or do we pull up a chair, and as we look around seated there, we realize that our choosing to sit at the table was the invitation for others to pull up a chair.

I want to be the kind of person that pulls up a chair.  I know people that are pulling up chairs all over.  They are brave and not afraid to be fully and love fully where they can see fully ~ and they hate what they see.  And they are people that don’t just pull up one day and then peace out the next.

They pull up to that table every time they can because they have seen glory at the table. More than any mountain they stood on ~ the glory was at the table.

I think that we can be both table people and protestors, because I know some of these people.  What do you think?  Talk to me about protest and round table. This is me pulling up my chair because I have so, so much to learn.  



One thought on “Come Sit By Me

  1. Ami Reply

    Love this, Ashley – resonate with so much of it. Our recent experience has made us realize that there are times to protest (Jesus braiding the whip before He enters the temple to “clean house”) and then most often life looks like sitting with all of the people the religious found “unclean” when Jesus was here.

    What the Holy Spirit asks from each of us seems to be always land on sticking up for the underdog – the least and those power seems to acquire energy from oppressing…how we all individually do that looks different. Once you do have a voice about whatever the issue might be, we’ll sometimes it means your place at the table is taken away. About the restaurant ~ I guess I’d talk to the owner of the restaurant – use my “white power” and my voice and tell him the way he treats his employees makes you second guess coming back. 🙂

    Big sister proud of your voice – it beautiful ❤️

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