She calls my name while I rush up the back steps of the retreat center, with that clipboard clutched to my side.
In truth, I expect a question about our next speaker or a request for someone to refill the paper-towel dispenser.
But, no. These are her words when I look over my shoulder:
“Jennifer, I’m glad you’re here.”
Her words wrap around me like a quilt, like a hug on my heart. I stand still in the warmth of it.
She’s looking at me now, with smiling eyes and a gorgeous smile, and I tell her that those five words have made my morning.
I feel like I’ve met the Savior on the stairwell; I’ve encountered love in the lobby. And I guess I have. Christ-love ascends the stairs. My heart swells with simple words of acceptance.
I swallow the lump in my throat when she speaks acceptance over me; I know that I’ve missed a hundred opportunities to do the same in the last few days, with my laser-beam focus on the clipboard.
How can it be, that love and hope can be held in a hammock of five small words? Is that all it takes to swell a heart? A package of a few words and an honest smile? Yet, I do hear it. I hear what she’s saying to me: “You matter simply because you exist.”
I want to live life more deliberately like that — letting people know they are loved simply because they “are,” not because they “do.” At its most fundamental, this is the way of our Maker–who declares us unreservedly accepted not on account of our portfolios or resumes or clipboards, but on account of His outrageously beautiful decision to love us. Just because.
Since Eden, God has spoken these words over us: “I’m glad you’re here.”
He declared us “very good.” We are sin-soaked, drowning in self-righteousness, yet God insists that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” He knew we’d mess up chronically, yet He did the unthinkable: He sent His Son to die.
On the cross, for the joy set before Him, Christ whispers forgiveness over us. He doesn’t wish us dead; He says — in the most astonishing way possible — “I’m glad you’re here, so glad that I choose to willingly die for you.”
While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
And here, 2,000-some years later, I stand in a stairwell, while this woman’s words ascend the steps like a love letter.
I choke out a few words, stammering gratitude: “Thank you.”
Her Spirit-enflamed words linger a long while, warming my insides. I carry her words, like a candle. Later, I see a woman leaning alone against a wall. I set the clipboard down, hold her hands, look her in the eye, and I pass on the Christ-lit flame of words: “Friend, I’m so glad you’re here.”
And in the embrace of words, I see how the candle-flame passes: With a few simple words of unreserved acceptance and Christ-infused love.
“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love … Let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
~ Hebrews 10:24-25
Friend … Yes, you. Have I told you lately: “I am so glad you’re here. I’m so delighted that God made you.”
Writing in community with Michelle and Laura …