Occasionally I think back to IMPACT's mission statement which was hammered into our heads during orientation week. "To equip young adults to become Christ-centered servant leaders." And what I always come back to is that little blip of two words: "Christ-centered." Recently, we've had the delirious joy of the inevitable(?) coupling off. I question my own choice of words because I don't think that it has to be inevitable, but at the same time I really understand the emotions that are tied into those situations and how difficult it can be to follow one's head over heart.
We were warned during orientation week to think of one another as brothers and sisters because spending nine months with a lot of godly persons of the opposite gender can be very confuddling in terms of guarding our hearts. And God knows (because I've told Him about this occasionally), I am not immune to those struggles. But I keep coming back to the thought that I can't give in to those feelings because they are not the point. IMPACT is heaven brought to earth in the form of genuine Christian community, but it is also a training ground for the future. We are leaders who, because of our experiences here, will be incredibly well-equipped to begin and contribute to similar communities around the world. 26 + 19 + 13 + however many people were in the first class and it's only growing from there.
And the devil is in the distraction. It's a balancing act, no doubt about that. How do you have this incredible fellowship between young men and young women without any romantic interest, especially in a culture where we are conditioned to think that all close relationships between genders are destined to have some element of eros to them. It's hard to hold on to phileos when people at home are nicely but frustratingly asking, "So have you met anyone there?" Well gee, folks, yes, I have met plenty of people here. If you're insinuating anything other than formal introduction, obviously I need to refresh your memory about what we are seeking here. Keyword: what. Or if not what, still also not who, but Who.
When Meredith, Grace, and I slept in Liberia that second night at SIFAT, we ended up talking about relationships, and I mentioned my present stance. If I am going to love anyone, let it be God. Let Him be my lover, my husband, as the Hosea passage I mentioned in my last post says. That is the perfect romance. If He has anything more for me, my deepest thanks to Him. But it will be in His time, and I find it hard to believe that here at IMPACT in a learning community is His time.
Let us get to know each other deeply and well, but not as potential lovers. As brothers and sisters who have each other's best interests at heart, and with the understanding that the best we have to offer is not ourselves but Christ in us. As the song goes, "How good and pleasant it is / When we dwell together in unity / And praise the Lord."