DTR: Noun: an acronym, common in Christian circles, standing for “define the relationship.” A talk in which two people attempt to gain clarity in order to move forward–or not. (ex. Girl Y and Boy X went to go have a DTR on the swing because Boy X wanted to make his romantic intentions toward Girl Y clear; unfortunately, Girl Y didn’t feel the same, so she just felt super awkward and left.)
In case you’re wondering, I am not Girl Y. This is not going to be a post wherein I divulge my Cru Crush or my relationship history or anything like that. Now that would be super awkward. But, surprisingly, I have definitely had a lot of DTRs this summer. They’re just not the kind you might think of. Here are a few.
1. DTR with my community.
So, on Sunday the 7th, the beginning of Call to Arms Week, all the students and staff had what is called the Agape (the Greek word for the God’s love) feast at the church. We were told to come in comfy clothes with blankets and pillows. When we got there, instead of serving ourselves food as we normally do, we were told to serve food to each other instead as a demonstration of how Christ loved and radically served everyone He met. As a Christian, I am called to have a servant relationship with my community—to spend and be spent for others’ sake. Jesus constantly lowered Himself for others. In Philippians 2:3-8, Paul of Tarsus writes about the importance of putting others above oneself:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
This service was most exemplified when my discipler, Megan, came to me in the middle of the event with a foot basin full of soapy water and a sponge. She then proceeded to wash my feet (which were disgustingly dirty) and pray over me before her and the rest of the staff’s final departure. My guilt and shame over her washing my dirty feet is so demonstrative of how I often react to the fact that Christ has washed my soul of sin—but something I’ve learned here is that guilt is not actually a feeling. It’s a state of being. You are guilty of a crime, or you are not. Because I have placed my faith in Christ’s ability to take away my sin, I am no longer guilty of it. And so feeling guilt or shame is actually non-sensical for me. It’s not necessary. Jesus didn’t die on the cross so we could feel guilty. He did it so we could know Him and His love for us.
Of course, none of us humans can serve each other perfectly. All of us are inherently self-serving, but that’s where Christ’s sacrifice takes on its power, redeeming that community from its imperfection. Each member of the body is essential for the unity of the community despite our diverse races and ethnicities, sin struggles, religious backgrounds, cultures, interests, talents, and spiritual gifts. One thing I’ve definitely been doing since I’ve been here is figuring out how I fit into this particular community of Christians, and how that will affect my role in my Christian community at school. In order to do that, this week I took something called a spiritual gifts test. In the Bible, Jesus names several spiritual gifts that believers can have—for example, giving, serving, evangelism, mercy. Every believer has at least one of these gifts, which are given to them by the Father upon becoming a Christian, and even though we are all called to do things like evangelism and serving, some people have special propensities for certain areas. Knowing our spiritual gifts helps us to define our relationship to the body and use our God-given strengths to give Him the most glory. If you’re interested in taking the test, here’s the link: http://www.spiritualgiftstest.com/test/adult. Anyway, my results were:
- Encouragement--encouraging Christians to grow in their faith and strengthening them, uplifting them, and rebuking them when they waver.
- Wisdom/Knowledge/Faith/Teaching (4-way tie!!)–Supernatural understanding of God’s Word and application/knowing God’s Word really well and keeping it in memory/strong belief and confidence in God that allows one to take risks and live boldly/communicating and clarifying the details of the Gospel and the Word to others
- Leadership–to lead, assist, protect, and care for others.
The cool part is how I got to see these gifts in action, especially in my relationships with my sisters in Christ.
2. DTR with my sisters.
Once the staff left, the students took over project, and all of us were given project roles. My role is a Middle Action Group Leader!!! The way I explain it is that the Action Group Leader is a girl who leads her Bible study and disciples the rest of the girls in the group. My job as a MAG is to lead the Bible study of Action Group Leaders and disciple them. I am in a Bible study with the leadership team and am directly discipled by Amy, one of the Heads of Discipleship. I was selected with three other women for this position, and I am the youngest of all of them. I am extremely honored and humbled to have this position. I can’t wait to lead my girls, Kelsey, Dana, and Katrina, into becoming strong women of God on this project. They are all amazing and certainly have a lot to teach me as well. But to be honest, this job causes me a lot of feelings of inadequacy and emotional exhaustion from a demanding schedule and constantly pursuing others and pouring into them. Sometimes I just feel like I’m not spiritual enough to deserve this job--I don’t always have great quiet times. I haven’t shared in every second of my spare time. I don’t always love how my relationship with God is going. I’m not perfectly obedient. I’m prideful. I’m lazy. I’m selfish. But I also know that Jesus knew about all this when He died for me. He makes up for all my imperfections. He knew I would get this job, and He is going to use it in amazing ways, in the girls’ lives and in mine. So I’m okay.
So far, our times together have been awesome. Kelsey, a sophomore in Agricultural Communications, is one of the funniest girls on project. She is so bold and outspoken, and her vision for campus ministry at University of Illinois is inspiring. Dana is a junior studying Kinesiology at U of I and she is so energetic and passionate. She is so fun to talk to, really open, and can’t wait to share Jesus with the world. Katrina, our project cook, is also a junior at U of I who studies Dietetics. She is so loving, very compassionate, a great listener, and has such a big heart for Greek Life ministry. Finally, gotta talk about my discipler, Amy. She’s the epitome of a strong woman of God–not only is she kind, smart, and super-friendly, but she’s also enlisted in the US Army. She was deployed into Iraq and worked as a journalist for the military there for a couple of years before coming to project. Talk about bravery. I am awed by her. And most of all–these girls are gorgeous, inside and out. Seriously can’t believe with how great they are. I am so humbled to be a leader of women–my relationships with my sisters mean everything to me. Maybe the reason I love ministering to women so much is that I grew up with so many of them–so far I’ve been able to see 15 women come to Christ on the Boardwalk, praise God! I love seeing God’s character through their relational natures, nurturing and caring spirits, and inner beauty. And as I look towards my future, I hope these relationships remain forever so that we women can encourage each other to move towards the Lord. Yay for sisterhood.
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”–Proverbs 31:30
3. DTR with my brothers.
So, for those of you who don’t know me–I have no brothers, but instead four very girly sisters. I never grew up with many guy friends, not to mention close guy friends, and even in high school, I only had a select few (they were pretty sparse in theatre and choir, haha). A lot of times (not all, obviously) I would only let myself get really close to a guy if I was interested in him. I’m not a tomboy by any means and I never watched sports of my own volition. Ever. Needless to say, I never really had a great sense of what it meant to relate to guys. So when I got to college, one of the biggest things I learned–that I didn’t realize I learned until now–was how to relate to guys as friends. And not just friends, but close friends–brothers in my faith. I’m really enj0ying getting to know all the guys here. They’re super solid Christian men to look up to for leadership, and they treat both each other and us girls so dang well. They listen, they ask us questions, they take interest in what the Lord is doing in our lives. And best of all, they love us. In fact, they threw us an entire event just to show us how much they love us. Here is the post I put up on Facebook the day after it happened.
I haven’t posted a real status in a while, but I think the events of last night merit attention.
Last night, the men of Ocean City Summer Project took us out on a Creative Date. We were told to dress up. The men escorted us arm-in-arm to our cars, opened the doors for us, told us with smiling faces how beautiful we were, and drove us to the church. There we were escorted through the doors, given flowers (at this point I was nearly in tears and squeaking), and taken to our seats, where they served us a delicious home-cooked meal of salad, chicken fettuccine alfredo, and a strawberry-whip dessert, Frank Sinatra playing in the background. They read us a poem about women’s role in the body of Christ, taught us a game, and even set up a photo booth for us with props and everything so that we could take pictures. After that they took us into the church sanctuary, where one of the guys delivered a speech which basically said, “You’re beautiful and worthy. We men are so sorry if we ever made you feel otherwise. You are valued, treasured, and adored. We see Christ in you. Thanks for being such wonderful women.” Finally, the BROcean City Boys brought it all home by singing some songs about how treasured we were by the Lord and then ended the night with worship. This date was not a pre-planned project event. Not every summer project does this. They thought of and planned out this event simply because they wanted to do it for us.
To the men: truly, last night was an example of men loving women sacrificially as Christ loved His church. It was one of the best nights of my life. I love you all and I can’t remember when I’ve ever felt more treasured and beautiful and encouraged. The gentlemen of Ocean City Summer Project: raising the bar since 2013.
So, yeah. They’re great. I love them all. Seriously, so many awesome men of God. Can’t deal. Anyway, I am so thrilled to tell you guys about my baptism–happening this upcoming Sunday!!–and all that’s been going on at my workplace, but that’s got to wait till next time.
Here are a few ways you guys can pray for me :)
–Pray that God would continue to increase my heart for the lost and desire to evangelize
–That I would develop a heart for the world and be open to where God wants to take me, no matter the cost
–That I would continue to grow deep, meaningful relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ
–That I would rely on the Lord for fulfillment and strength as my schedule gets tighter
–That Kelsey, Dana, and Katrina would enjoy and grow from our times together, and that I would keep a humble heart as I lead them
–That I would be satisfied with the Lord’s love and content with where He has me in life
Love you all so much!!!