In Faith Moments, Odalis Turincio shares her thoughts on living out her faith and how we can grow closer to God. Take a moment to join other members of our community every 1st and 3rd Thursday at 8:30A.
Good morning, welcome to Faith Moments. My name is Odalis. I’m part of the pastoral team at Cornerstone. I’m so glad you’re here. I’m really glad we get to have this time together to talk, to listen for God, and to share some moments and thoughts about faith. I’ve been able to get to do these for the last few months, and now we’re in December, which is wild. We’re in a little bit of a temporary space. I’m excited to have you here. Today, we’re going to talk a little bit about how people see us. I know that’s a little bit vague, but the Scriptures have this beautiful invitation for us to live in a way in which God is seen through us. I just had an experience that really struck me around this. I want to share and we’ll think about it together.
If you have a Bible nearby, please grab it. I would love to pray before we start. Father, I thank you for this morning. I thank you for this time that we have to consider you. I ask for you to be present. I ask for your goodness to make itself known to us. A goodness that fills us to overflowing from which we can share the love that we know you to be with those around us. Help us to hear you in this time. We are committed to you. We pursue you together. We pray these things, Jesus, in your name. Amen.
So pre-COVID is one of the many things that I’ve loved about working at the church and working in the building of the church, which has been a while, but it is the neighborhood. The mission district has always been a great place to work. There are so many different shops, restaurants, and delicious coffee on every other block. It’s a great spot to walk around, to have a conversation with a friend or a coworker, or to have some open space to sit, think or even pray, whatever it is. During COVID, I’ve really missed that. I have so missed being able to enjoy the neighborhood. We’ve been home and everything has been pretty shut down for a while. I was there a few days ago. As I was walking around the neighborhood, I just noticed how much has changed. I also realized how much I missed being around and being a part of what happens in the mission.
A few days ago I was there and my younger brother came by for an impromptu lunch. We had to walk around to a few places to find because unfortunately some of the places that we wanted to go to had closed permanently. Some had changed their hours in light of COVID and changes in that. It took us a little while, but eventually, we found a couple of spots to go to. We grabbed coffee and a quesadilla from one of the Mexican places there, and we just sat down outside and enjoyed lunch together.
As we were there in those two spots we talked about how I was really shocked. Because at both places and haven’t been to either one since shelter-in-place started, they remembered me from my visits before. They said things like, “It’s good to see you or welcome back.” In one of the two, they said, “Thank you for coming. We need you.” I was shocked, to be honest. I was really surprised for a few reasons. One is to hear a business be so transparent about their need and their gratitude for support just as a business. Especially a place that has always been super busy. There’s always a line out the door for lunch. It’s almost a relief that they’re still in business and people are starting to come back.
That was sort of the one side of shock registering in that interaction. It was how drastically COVID and the shutdown have devastated lives and businesses, all of that stuff. To see it in that way, made something that I knew on a surface level a little bit deeper. The second way I was shocked. This is sort of what I want to sit with is that in such a busy spot, I had no idea they knew me ever. I mean, I go in, I used to go in sort of off and on. I never, never really expected or registered that they would recognize me. That they would remember me from before. It was a warm feeling and it made me think, “Oh wow, they do pay attention,” and that was wonderful in and of itself.
The other side of it made me pause and ask, “Well, who is it that they know?” In some sense. I’m not meaning to go super heavy on this because I think a lot of us, and I know this is certainly the case for me, feel this burden of concern for what people think about us and how we come across. That’s not what I mean at all. What I mean is when they see me, who do they see in me? Which version of me do they see? Do they see the Odalis who’s in a hurry and just kind of needs to get in and out? Barely has the patience to get through and be cordial. Do they see the Odallis who has time on her hands, who’s patient, and who asks how they’re doing, how their day has been? Do they see the Odallis who’s just sort of not into being around people and just wants to quietly go about her day?
It’s not for the sake of who I am that they see, but what is it that they see in me? Who is it that they see in me? At the core of this question for me is, are they seeing Jesus in me? Are they seeing a life that’s affected by His goodness? It’s a question that really struck me because the Apostle Paul talks about this in actually a few of his letters. If you have a Bible handy, you want to be in the New Testament. He talks about it in his letter to the Ephesians, where he says, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Live a life worthy of the calling you’ve received.
Paul talks about it again in Philippians, where he says, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Finally, and most clearly delivered in second Corinthians, he talks about how God is doing a new work in all of us. Then Paul charges us, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.” He’s making His appeal through us. So the invitation in our circumstances, in our comings and goings, in restaurants, we’ve been once or we’ve been a thousand times, is to pause. For me to pause and ask myself the question of who is it that the people around me are getting to know through me? If God is making His appeal to the people around me through me, am I cooperating in that appeal? Am I living in a way that represents it well genuinely not putting on an act, but genuinely living that way out of a place of relationship with God?
It’s not about doing anything perfectly at all. It is about stepping outside of our own shoes for a moment to ask, “Am I representing the loving and faithful God that I’ve been getting to know in a way that other people can see?” Or for some of us, it’s a newer thing. So it’s pausing to ask, “Do I feel I’ve gotten to know God well enough that other people can see that I can start living into that?” At the end of the day, it’s not books, quotes, or posts on social media that really effectively communicate the goodness of God. It’s how we live our lives. It’s living in a manner that demonstrates the good news, that the gospel of Christ is alive in us. It’s reflecting His goodness in all our interactions, in our relationships, in the waiting and in the celebrating, in the pain, in the work, in the private and the public.
It’s in translating the love of Jesus into every interaction we have. Again, not perfectly, we’re never going to do it perfectly, but increasingly. I was really challenged by these encounters there folks. I didn’t think anyone paid any attention to me and they remembered me over time. It challenged me to pause and do a bit of an inventory. This is a question I asked of myself, “What are the places where I hope people don’t remember me?” Those are places for me to pause, check, and register. Then think, “Okay, Lord, what does it look like to live in a way that people see you through me?” If they remember anything, it’s that they remember something good, something whole, beautiful, patient, loving, joyful, kind, and gentle.
It’s not about being perfect or acting right. It’s just about reflecting His goodness in our lives. It’s about reflecting who He’s shown Himself to be to us. So as I paused to consider how I’m living this in ever-increasing ways. I wanted to invite us all to pause and consider that too. I think for some of you, this has come naturally. For others, it comes a little more difficult. Wherever we’re at the Lord is our help in doing this. When we ask him, “Okay, I’m going to this place where I have a hard time and I sort of want to disappear, help me to be present Lord. Or I’m in this spot that really frustrates me or this relationship that’s really difficult. God just helped me have a little bit more patience, just a little bit each time.” Over the course of our lives, because change takes time, He helps us. He helps us and it may not be the case for all of us.
This week, I want to encourage you to sit too and ask the same question of the Lord. Lord, where are the areas where I hope people don’t remember me or that some aspect of how I am slips their mind or whatever it is? Some version of this question that’s true for where you’re at. Ask Him to help you consider something different. Ask Him to help you to grow in those areas. I’m asking that same question of myself. Especially as we approach the holidays where I want to reflect His joy. I want to reflect an anticipation of His coming and I want to do so with patience and love.
Whatever those areas are, may He give you grace. Father, I asked you to be in those questions. God, I ask for the courage to ask that question, Lord. I asked for the boldness to live into what we feel your invitation is for us in those places. Jesus, we thank you for your love. We thank you for your light. We thank you for your coming and we look forward to celebrating it this Christmas season. We pray these things, Jesus, in your name. Amen. God bless you. Thank you for joining Faith Moments today. We’ll see you next time.