When we sit down together, paper cups of tea or coffee warming our hands - defenselessly shifting the coffee sleeve up and down, this way, then that -- coffee shop changing the soundtrack from blender humm to register bells to laughing chorus, you'll hear me say this.
"What's the nudge you think you should follow?"
It's the question of, "What's the most right thing you can do right now?" When you look at me with multiple choice anxiety, I'll move you toward choosing the best right answer. The thing you would do if you could live today over again. The thing that might be hard, or hidden, or holy.
I spend my days paying attention to and following those nudges, those promptings which are, I believe, from the Spirit of God. The little moments we have to stitch trust over our fear, the ideas of wonder that intrigue us just enough, the cocoons we have to wrestle out of to see our new creation.
What if I did that, said that, pointed that out?
What if I invited her, prayed with her, smiled at her?
What if I just simply called, stopped by, paid for it, apologized, planned it, leaned in, said nothing?
These aren't callings, they're actions; small pieces of the main point of everything. And I've noticed that they're all relational. There hasn't been one where I was nudged to plant a garden, take a trip, eat healthy, mow the lawn. It's more like making someone aware that they are not alone, forgotten, discarded, misunderstood. It's an act of encouragement, invitation, challenge, or community. Following nudges moves me toward people.
This is a story about my new friend, Allie, who showed me what following a nudge actually does.
It began during a recent time, I won't belabor it, just a couple months ago, when I was ripped away from my people. When the fact that I called them community, felt their heartbeat just like my own, was inconsequential in some young men's eyes and we were corporately told, "You just don't fit." (Enough of that old story, this is about today.)
I walked my son to school, feeling that pressure in my throat and behind my eyes. This wouldn't be a strong day. The walking lent therapy. The parents all -- converging together, kisses left atop the heads of their children -- lent hope. But I missed my people and I was lost. I began the walk home, knowing what the day had for me and willing myself out of the cloud so I could just be strong.
Ahead of me, up the block, a woman stopped walking, paused, turned around and walked toward me. Ah, she forgot something, maybe one more kiss on that young head she just left. No, she came to me and asked her first question, "What was your name again?"
And then the woman, who didn't even remember my name, on the very day that I missed my community so badly, invited me into a praying community of mothers.
I was stunned at the Spirit's care for me, at his amazing attention to me. It was so obvious what he had done and how she, obedient to his nudge just did the next right thing.
This is why I push you. This is why I tell you to do these things. Because the changes we want to see in the world are really all relational. The one force that divides and scatters us is fear. But love casts out fear and love is nothing if not relational.
"If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to one another." -- Mother Teresa.
This is the change that happens when we're intentional to act on what we know is right and then, too, to receive it as gift from God who loves to give us those good things like candy.
The thing that was right in front of me was this story. I went to the prayer group for the third time. I am following this story to see how God wants to write it. I leaned in not only to new relationships, but into prayer, asking God to let the discipline shape me and change my now healing heart.
Today I took hold of the good thing that he gave me when my new friend listened to his voice and said, "What if?" When she wasn't afraid of the hard and stood there together with me in the holy.