So, I finally decided to go with Christen last Friday, when XA was having a big potluck. I honestly didn't have very high expectations, but it's like I got sucked in. The people are so incredibly warm and sincere and welcoming, and I've always said that I've never felt the need to share my faith in a big community like that because I've never felt pulled or called there. I never felt the need to go to church and learn more about my faith, or to purposefully surround myself with people who share it. I always knew that it was what I should be doing, but I never felt called be in that place. I didn't feel like I needed to go to church to have my own personal relationship with the Lord, so, as soon as I had any say in it myself, I didn't.
But XA feels so much different than any church or youth group or fellowship that I've ever been to (and indeed there have been many!). I feel so comfortable there, and I feel like God pulled me there on Friday night for a reason... that I really have so much to learn from and grow with these people. Tonight was the first time I went to EXP, and I was touched more deeply by the words that Oneida (who is one of the staff members at XA) spoke to us in that little room than by any sermon I've heard in a any big sanctuary in any big church, ever. I felt like she was speaking and teaching God's Word especially for me... it blew my mind. In those moments while I was listening to her teach about evangelism (which I've always been sort of shaky about) and about our roles as God's children, I felt such a profound sense of everything that has happened in my life since I moved to Tucson and I felt so aware of how God used it all to bring me to that one place that I found myself in tonight. It really is amazing. I'm not particularly sure how to clarify it, but it made me see that He really does have a purpose, and that I was always meant to come back to that place where I could completely, and without reserve, immerse my life in my walk with Him. For me, just having faith and just having a personal relationship with God has always been enough. Tonight, I realized that it isn't, and I am so incredibly excited about that :).
It really is a wonder... how, if you allow yourself to be receptive to God's love, He works amazing things into your life when you never expected it. There are things that I've found to have fallen into my life recently that I never realized I needed... and in all of these things, it is so easy to see the beauty of hope and how far grace will go. And with that comes a peace that I have never felt anywhere but in the Lord.