So one of the key reasons that I have made this trip to Atlanta to visit the Worship School at this time was because of the 10000 Fathers’ Family Reunion. All the coaches come together with a bunch of students past and present and whilst I have been out here I have been trying to connect with some of the different tutors, spend time, and have conversations with them.
On Thursday morning I had the opportunity to meet up with one of the coaches, Dave, who is an amazing communicator, and he showed me this TED Talk called ‘Embrace the Shake’ where an artist shared how he developed a tremor in his hand which made it impossible for him to draw a straight line. He ended up leaving art school and quit art for two years. He couldn’t forget his love for art, though, and was challenged to think what would happen if he embraced his shake. So, he started creating these incredible pictures made up of squiggly lines but when you zoomed out to look at the big picture, it was an amazing portrait. He started to operate out of his limitations and embraced the challenge.
The session with Dave was a real privilege and has given me lots to chew on. I have been learning that by being aware of my weaknesses and areas of challenge I am not defined by them. There was a point when they held me back and crippled me, but now they are part of the beautiful story of grace in my life, and are a part of what draws me to be in relationship and need to be with other people. God changes our perspective.
I spent some time with Megan preparing her house for the Reunion Party by hanging curtains, sweeping the yard and cleaning some tables. I was aware all of this time that the busy-ness was about to hit, and soon there would be people everywhere. I was very glad that I got an hour just to rest and refresh before meeting up with people. Pacing is so very important and I have learnt it is a key part of what I need to do.
One of the other things that came up with my chat with Dave was the importance of having a pre-game ‘warm up’. Communicating and being with lots of people takes a lot out of me, so I need to make sure that I am preparing well for these times, doing everything that I can do to be in the best possible place to be present with the people. This has been one of my biggest challenges over the years and now that I have noise reducers, this has changed for the better. I have learnt that hard way that relationships only grow, flourish and deepen when you are present and investing in them. I am still getting a handle on it. Still learning.
So a lot people arrived, but I was so blessed by people’s friendliness and welcome. The hospitality here has been unrivaled and so beautiful. It was rather overwhelming coming to a reunion where I only knew a few people as I had only ever met students from the Europe School. So many people welcomed me, chatted with me and just let me join in.
One thing that I really wanted to do whilst out here was to connect with people that I could write songs with. Although I would have loved to spend time writing whilst I am in the US, my main focus has been building relationships. It was really lovely getting to meet some people that I had only emailed or chatted to on Facebook.
It was a beautiful night of song-sharing and the theme seemed to centre around the cross. There were a few songs that were very emotional and moved me to tears. I love songwriting, and I was reveling in the beautiful gifting of the students who shared their songs. After the worship night, we all headed back to the Keyes’ house for the party. I was slightly dreading this, as being more introverted I am so much happier with a one to one conversation that a lot of small talk. Having over sixty people in the house was a little unnerving and as I walked in the kitchen I felt that sense of panic hit. There were people everywhere, engaging and having a good time and I wanted to go hide in a cupboard. In the past that is exactly what I would have done. But I forced myself to make a conversation, and then went down to their basement where it was quieter (basements in America are BIG).
I went up to a couple of groups and stood there, but no one engaged me and I felt so overwhelmed and stressed. So I sat in a quiet corner trying not to look too much a loner praying that God would send someone willing to talk to me. At this point a lovely girl came downstairs who I had met briefly earlier that day, called Caroline. She suddenly saw me, breathed a sigh of relief, and said, “Thank goodness, another introvert!”
It was such a blessing and we just sat and shared our stories, laughed, and just had a great time. It was really precious – a real God moment. God is so amazing in His provision – we ended up chatting for an hour and a half. How incredible is our God.
I feel like I am learning so much on this trip – growing and being stretched. I am also getting to a point where I am ready to be home, and yearning for my family and familiarity. As I blogged the other day, it is good to be stretched – but you need recovery time.
Many blessings from Atlanta,