Hi everyone! My name is Laurel Hastings. I am serving in the administrative role on Mike’s team this year. In these first 3 weeks of being part of this 3rd year team, I’ve quickly learned that Mike is someone who turns every conversation into an opportunity to go deep, to pursue vulnerability, to discover things about yourself you never knew before. I’m going to share with you one of those experiences!
Last week, 3 of the people on my team and I sat in on a skype meeting Mike had with a group from Expression 58 church. After he finished, Mike asked us if we had any questions. The discussion which followed was one of those powerful, divine experiences. One where you don’t know exactly what is happening, all you know is that it is incredibly significant, you are being changed, and the way you live will be different now.
During our conversation we got onto the subject of spiritual discernment, the ability to distinguish between good and evil. There had been a moment the day before when Mike felt that one person on our team was feeling sad, even though she wasn’t showing it outwardly. Sadness isn’t a spirit, it is an emotion, neither good nor bad. But Mike was able to discern what she was feeling because the emotion was coming from agreement with a spirit. In this case it was the spirit of isolation. Isolation told her she was alone and disconnected from people here. She chose to listen to that voice, shutting out the voice of Truth. She felt alone because she believed that no one here really knew, or could know her. There were so many excuses for why we couldn’t know her; we hadn’t had enough time together, she hadn’t shared all of her story yet, etc. As Mike was talking to her, he said one thing that hit me harder than anything else he said:
Love doesn’t put requirements on intimacy.
What!?! I could feel the truth of that statement, but I realized I’ve lived my life doing the opposite... In order for me to share all of who I am with people, they would have to earn it, prove they were trustworthy, safe. “I’ll only be vulnerable with you if you can convince me I won’t get hurt.” But in reality, that’s not vulnerability at all. Vulnerability isn’t possible if there’s no risk involved. And it’s not my job to protect myself anyway. When I try to do that, I partner with fear and isolation. That desperate need to protect myself just shows a lack of trust in God to take care of me. If all of this is true, then that means I could know and be known by any random person I meet. That is completely different than how I’ve thought all my life. But it’s so right. Knowing someone doesn’t just mean you know their story, or have spent enough time with them that you know their personality, likes/dislikes, etc. It’s just about knowing who they are. Knowing the truth about who God says they are.
I have seen this playing out in our team already. We’ve only been together three weeks, but we have already gone to such a deep level in our relationships with each other. Each of us started this year making the decision to say yes to each other, to say yes to uncomfortable and scary vulnerability. We came into this knowing that there is a form of community and intimacy with people available to us, that is deeper and more powerful than anything we’ve ever experienced. And that was something we were all hungry for. We decided to risk being hurt, rejected, and having people think less of us for the sake of something better. Every time we are with each other, we have the choice to listen to fear and isolation, to withdraw and hide, or we can choose to follow the voice of Love and step into intimacy and connection, to come into the light and be fully known. There have been so many times already when one of us made that choice, and then got to experience our complete love and acceptance. You’ve never fully experienced love until you experience it in the middle of your mess. And you’ll never know what a wonderful, life-changing thing that is until you let people see the real, authentic, messy, beautiful you.
- Laurel Hastings