Recently, a friend asked after my trip to St. Louis. This was my fourth time to the city, and my third time with this particular urban mission. Here is my response:
Which brings me to St. Louis. AWESOME! I love CityLights. And this time around was 1 bazillion times better than my previous trips.
A lot of that has to do with where I am at in my faith, in my life, in my relationships.
I spent the week at the International Institute of St. Louis building an urban farm. That was fantastic fun. Until Thursday when I nearly collapsed in exhaustion. Quite literally. But, I managed to push through. Lord knows how.
The best part was seeing Gerry and Sharie again. I have infrequent contact with them, but I know that St. Louis is a place where I will always have a home. Gerry hugged me and just kept asking, "What happened to you!?" It was one of the most affirming things anyone has ever said to me. Gerry took one look at me and saw transformation.
Now, being a strong J (and I mean strong J) on the Myers-Briggs, most might think I would not be able to function under Gerry's somewhat chaotic leadership. And seven years ago, I couldn't. I cried every single day during the summer of 2005 when I did CityLights. I was frustrated and couldn't even begin to deal with the lack of structure. Or the fact that everyone else felt that the structure was more a suggestion rather than a hard and fast rule. And Gerry's response to people's constant tardiness just led to more melt downs on my part.
This time was basically the same. The structure was established but not followed by anyone. Gerry was Gerry. And Gerry wasn't always gracious about people showing up willy-nilly whenever they felt like it. And Gerry's leadership style in general does not communicate to most people what the expectations are and all of the whens, wheres, and hows.
A fellow staff worker (and my best friend) at one point asked me why I was having such an easy time dealing with it. She was freaking out. Which is completely opposite of how we normally function. I have a plan and stick to it no matter what and struggle immensely when either there isn't a plan and I'm captive in a situation in which I do not have control or when something derails my plans. My best friend, on the other hand, tries to have a plan and things almost never happen the way she intends.
So, there we are one afternoon, and my best friend is amazed at how peaceful I am in the midst of constant chaos, and she asks my how I can possibly function in this setting, knowing I'm a hard-core J, and I didn't even have to think about it. The answer was right there, and I didn't even realize it. I said, "I trust Gerry. I know that no matter what happens, I am safe with Gerry. I know that I am secure. I know that nothing bad is going to happen to me when I'm in Gerry's company. I trust Gerry implicitly."
Which then also illuminated to me why I'm so much more able at 29 (again) to accept questions in faith (even my own) that I had to have a hard and fast, unbending answer to when I was 18 or even 25. I trust God. I know that I'm safe and secure with God. I know that nothing bad is going to happen to me because I belong to God.
Now, I realize that stuff happens. And I realize that we live in a dangerous world. But I know that there is NOTHING in this world that can possibly threaten who I am, and so, I'm okay with the questions, because I know that the questions and not having answers do not change who I am and cannot threaten the essential me-ness of me.
And that's pretty awesome in my book.