A few months back, I was doing Strategic Concerns at Waterford (Strategic Concerns are what we call announcements. After all, no one wants to listen to announcements...) and had the chance to meet a woman who told me a bit of her story about what God had done in her life since she began attending Summit. I cannot remember her name and probably wouldn’t be able to recognize her, but for now we will call her Martha. Martha started coming to Summit in early 2012 after hearing about it from someone who attends the Herndon campus. As Martha tells me this, she stops and says, “I cannot begin to tell you how messed up my life was at this point.” But as fractured as her life was, when she came to Summit, she found herself feeling at home. After all, Summit was a mess, too, and rather than feeling like church was a place to hide her problems, she found herself in a community where it was OK to not be OK.
Before long, Martha was fully plugged into reGROUP, which is in many ways Summit’s best environment for authentic community. She began shining light into the darker areas of her life and finding that God could bring about real transformation in her life. At this point, Martha again interrupts her own story to remind me how “messed up” things were for her and says she hopes one day to be in a place where she can share her whole story with more than just her reGROUP community.
She goes on to tell me that in the last two years, she has seen tremendous healing in her own life and in her relationships. She said that when she first started attending Summit, she and her husband would go to church at different times, because they both needed Summit but didn’t want to be together. And now, while they are still a work in progress, they manage most weeks to go to church together. This, for her, is a big victory. It is not a total victory yet, but it is light-years ahead of where she was.
Martha concludes her story by ambiguously reminding me how "messed up" she is and by telling me that God has been using Summit to save her life.
She was so excited to say this. In fact, if anyone had been watching this conversation but not hearing, they might have thought from her expression that she was telling me about how her kids had made the honor roll again and she had managed to pray for three hours that morning, after which she had 10 minutes of meaningful eye contact with her husband over an unhurried breakfast. That person, only watching and not hearing, would have missed that Martha’s happiness didn’t come from her great life. Her happiness came from her Rescuer. A Savior who was using the community of Summit to clean her up from the mess in her own life.
I hope to hear Martha’s whole story one day. If I do, I’m not sure if I will learn that she is the same kind of "messed up" as everyone else, or if she has indeed pushed the limits of what "messed up" is, but I am eager to hear how God continues to bring healing to her life through a community of messy people who are being saved and transformed by a God who is bigger than any mess we make.