Written by Sarah Comer
I was watching a commercial when a line jumped out at me. “Changing our direction from where we go to where we gather.”
I was so caught in that one line, I have no idea what the commercial was even advertising.
Changing our direction from where we go to where we gather.
I think I’m so caught in that line because it tells a part of my story so eloquently – a story that I’m not sure I’ve been able to put into words until this moment.
I’m the Connections Pastor at Real Life. What does that mean? It’s okay; I get that question a lot. It means that I connect people to people, people to ministries, people to group life, people to opportunities, people to Jesus. In my role, and through a variety of communication tools, I meet people where they are + help ensure that they’re connected to the bigger picture: God’s Kingdom.
This position came after a long conversation with my new pastor about all of my passions. He heard the words I was saying, but he also was insightful enough to see skills + passions God had given me. Being one of the greater needs of the church at the time, he saw the need to bring me to the team. I was overjoyed! I always felt a call to ministry, but I didn’t know what that looked like. Yet, here, I got to love people, meet people, + help meet their needs. That was my heart.
A few months later, this extrovert married an introvert. Slowly over the next three years, I felt myself transitioning – a little less extroverted, a little more introverted. Now? I rest on the line between the two. I love people; I love talking to people + have no problem introducing myself, but at the end of a Sunday morning – I need a Sunday afternoon nap almost like a life-saving surgery.
When that transition occurred, I got confused. I’m so busy all of the time. I love being busy. I’m busy doing things I love. Why is my soul tired? or How can I say I love people – how can I be a Connections Pastor – as an introvert? I struggled, and I tell you this because I want you to know that I’m not an impossibly put-together person. I wanted to be authentic + genuine because our church is built on that, but authentic me was learning that I had some introverted qualities that seemed to be growing stronger by the minute.
However, things got a little more confusing when I would go home to my apartment, take that Sunday afternoon nap, + still feel like I needed a break. I would schedule mental health days, go on a weekend getaway, or even just treat myself to a pedicure + would come back feeling just dreadful or the fix would only last for a few hours until something overwhelming happened.
I process things a lot, + this was something I just wasn’t understanding. To be honest, the guilt that I felt over being in, what I thought was, an extroverted position as an introvert made me want to avoid processing it at all. I didn’t understand, + I was scared to understand because I didn’t know what that would look like or mean.
Then came the day that we walked into our new house.
Changing the direction from where we go to where we gather.
One step in + I could see our future babies playing on the floor of the living room. I could see the laughs with our closest friends around the dinner table. I saw the celebrations over achieved goals, us hugging…maybe even crying tears of thankfulness in my office. I saw the big moments of announcements, discoveries, + private conversations. The good, the bad, it didn’t matter. What mattered was that I stepped in + saw so much more than floors and walls.
After we bought the home, I walked from room to room doing a prayer walk. I prayed over each room. If you were to step foot in my house, a blue piece of tape with a Bible verse might catch your eye, + you would know that even in that very moment of brushing your teeth, heating up your lunch, or sleeping, you had been prayed for.
Suddenly, almost like it had awaited this time in my life, a rush of a wave of passion took over me. The people that would step foot in our home weren’t just people, they would be people that we loved with our whole hearts. They would be people that we carried life with. They would be friends.
+ the people at church weren’t just people to connect. They were God’s children: holy + dearly loved. They were moms + dads, grandmas + grandpas, aunts + uncles, daughters + sons, sisters + brothers. This idea of loving people was so much bigger than an idea. It was a passion for living life alongside other people.
During that time of confusion, someone that I once admired made a statement that you weren’t blessing people unless you were “boots in the ground” with them, down on your knees praying right beside them for whatever was happening in life. I don’t agree with that statement as a whole, but I wanted that last part. This love I had for other people wasn’t surface-level, over-usage of the word ‘love’. It was a desire to be ‘boots in the ground’ with people, carrying each other through life + cheering each other on.
Those kind of passions revive a soul.
Suddenly my weekly visit to the post office became a gathering to check in on the manager + his family, to hear about their vacations, to care about their broken arms, to hear about the up + down roller coaster of managing a business.
My weekly grocery store experience became a gathering to engage in conversation with my cashier rather than accepting their services + asking them to move a little faster; “I’ve got somewhere to be.”
+ don’t get me started on my visit to the nail salon. That’s two solid hours of gathering. I learned about holiday traditions, their weekend plans, their relationships, their kids, their first car, their worst customer experiences. When the conversation stopped, I continued it. I wasn’t just coming so that they could serve me; I was coming to give kudos to their insane skillset of which I lack (pedicures + manicures) over a decent conversation with another human being.
Suddenly, my soul. It had life.
Certainly, I still get tired sometimes. Certainly, I still have introverted qualities. But being an introvert doesn’t mean you feel dead inside, like you have no passion for humanity or that you don’t deserve the same position as an extrovert. Outwardly, I didn’t believe that, but inwardly…I hate to admit it, I think I kind of did.
The difference in it all is that word gathering.
In our culture, it’s easy to go and go and go. Hustle has got to be one of the most overused words of our day. We build, we hustle, we go, we master, we stretch. + then we stop for a moment + wonder, “Why is my soul tired?” + this wisdom that we should stop hustling is one that is a fast debate with any hustler out there that’s doing it right. Why? Because they’re passionate. They know what brings their soul to life. If they’re doing it right, they’re hustling because they love watching their soul live + they love to feel it alive all of the time.
So, no. They don’t want to just stop. When their eyes are tired, their soul is not so much, + they’re ready to go at it again in an instant.
But it probably wasn’t always like that. It probably took a change of direction.
For me, that change of direction was from where I go to where I gather.
Whether I was going to the post office, the grocery store, or the nail salon, I was gathering. What once looked like brick buildings to a tired soul now looked like unicorns + rainbows to a soul that was living.
My apartment was a place I went. It was small + gross + ugly. My home is where I gather. I could cry just thinking of how much I can’t wait for every day in our home – yep, even the bad ones.
+ my church? My job? One of the greatest gatherings of my week. It wasn’t actually because I was introverted that I was struggling, like I once thought. It was because I was looking at it as a place to go instead of a place to gather.
Maybe you’re in that right now. When you walk in the doors to Real Life, is it a place you’re going or a place you’re gathering?
Life, for me, is better when I’m gathered with my people in all that life has to show off.
Life is better because I changed my direction from where I was going to where I was gathering.
Maybe for you it’s not gathering that makes your soul burst – maybe even just reading the word makes you want to hide in a toy box. But, it’s something. There’s something that will take you from 0 to 100 + make clear what you were once missing. That life where your soul comes alive? That’s a better life.
+ this better life is worth what it takes to find that missing piece. But the commercial was right; it all does start with something kind of hard: change.