We sat at the front of the room. My mother, my father, my sister, my brother, and me. The walls buzzed with conversations, clanking of serving spoons, and the whir of fans. As I looked out over the crowd, spilling out of the fellowship hall, I felt my heart pushing at its borders and the tears rising up.
I could feel the love wrapping its way around.
The sight of so many people in one place, who had supported me, given to me, cherished me...it overwhelmed me.
For 12 years Good Shepherd congregation has been my family. From the very beginning, they opened up their arms and gave me a place to call home. Although always a blessing, that home was especially comforting in the last several years.
Walking in those doors, I knew I was safe. I knew I was loved. I didn't have to worry about my looks, or what people thought of me. I knew they saw and treasured my heart. These people grieved with me on my knees, lightened the dark places, held me up in my weakness. They found beauty in my flaws, potential in my mistakes.
They witnessed me broken and fragile, and chose to stay... right there with me.
Saying good bye this sunday was one of the most painful things I've ever had to do. But after experiencing that room so full of love, I know I'm not really losing anything... this family is for life. :)