Worship music has always been something close to my heart. Lyrics seem to connect me deeply to the Lord and I am prone to listen to the same song on repeat for a month (or forever) once I find it. I’m a woman who loves tradition and habit. But it’s not just music. I’m a professional observer, always thinking deeply about something or daydreaming. And I’m slowly learning how to observe and watch for the Lord’s kindness around me. This is what centers my heart.
As a teacher, I look forward to summer for multiple reasons. And as a native Californian, the sun in my best friend and sitting in the heat is something I welcome with open arms. So, it felt natural to me to open my home this summer to women and walk through a book I had started reading earlier this year.
Our patio table out back is one of my favorite places to be. It’s not fancy, made of wire and a tad wobbly with a few coats of black spray paint. But, it has become sacred to me and the Lord.
He met me there a few years ago while wading through a season of grief and He met me there last summer during nap times so I could voice my dreams again. I knew He had plans for this table again this summer as He placed a welcome sign to holy ground with new friends gathered around coffee mugs while kids ran around us with water guns.
“When the Holy Spirit in one woman recognizes and responds to the Holy Spirit in another woman, safe places become sacred places.”
This summer, I’ve been learning about how watching people is a form of worship. Watching them connect with God and watching them use their gifts. Watching them be moms with grace, patience, and vulnerability. Watching them take care of their neighbors’ pets and lawns. Watching them pursue other people.
At IF:Gathering 2018, Annie Downs shared about growing up with her grandma. How she would sit on the couch to watch her dance in the living room. And how she would chase her out of the house on the way to school and meet her in the driveway with a chicken biscuit.
This picture was beautiful to me. Not because I love a good chicken biscuit, but because it simplified God for me. People we will walk life with often need less direction and more adoration. Annie’s grandma simply watched her as she experienced the freedom to be herself while dancing unashamed. Her grandma met her in the driveway with what she had in the kitchen.
I loved to be watched as a kid. And it doesn’t matter if it’s the hundredth time down the slide, my son loves to be celebrated with clapping and excitement. Adoration is freeing and free to give. You’re letting yourself see someone without conditions. And in return, they are being seen for who they were created to be. Something in us says, “this feels right,” when we are seen and loved just as we are.
However, I’ll admit, when watching people, I’m tempted to choose pride over grace. I think we all are, but I’ll own the fact that I’m really high on the judgy scale in my humanity and thankfully I’m married to someone who can literally see the best in everyone so praise Jesus for that grace. I resonate with the prophet Jonah and want to sit under the tree in judgment (and insecurity) more often than embrace the dancing in the city that has been given another chance. Like with Jonah, God is constantly redirecting our eyes to His grace and His ways. And most often for me, God is turning my eyes toward other people so I don’t miss out on the joy of His work around me.
On Tuesday mornings, I look around my patio table and see women connect to God differently than me. I could quickly dismiss this God in them, try to fix what they have “wrong,” and forever know one side of Him. Or I could press in and get to the know the same God who created them differently, who relates to them in a new way and find gratefulness and awe there. As I experience the Holy Spirit in me recognizing the Holy Spirit in them, my guard comes down and the place moves past safe and into sacred. God is allowing me to get to know Him and His uniqueness. I just need to sit back with my coffee and watch His kindness spill over the table.
This is worship. Watching others in adoration, giving them the freedom to be who they are. Watching people receive God and relate to Him. Watching them dance. Watching them bring out the Holy Spirit’s work in each other.
“If by grace we have faith in Jesus, we are already holy. Look down at your feet, look around at your home, and take a long glance at your life as it is now: you’re on holy ground.”
Written by Janae Collins
Janae is wife to Kyle, mom to Logan. Read more from Janae on her blog.