sweaty palms {an only God story}

wide open space. it felt good to see the kids take off in sprints. the park was absent of sidewalks and intersections and traffic. the soft ground was a comfort to our souls that were accustomed to concrete.

we’d only lived in san francisco for 10 months and our church plant was only weeks old. the city was still fresh and new and our family was experiencing many firsts.

wide open space clears the air as if more of it were present. we spotted another family who looked like they were at the park for the very same reason. little league baseball practice. it was the first so we were all a bit nervous to make new friendships and see what the season would hold. they’d spotted us as well and we all made our way across the meadow to say hello.

naturally, we paired off with the other family. ben talked to the man, our boys gravitated towards the kids, and i stretched out my hand to meet the woman. being the new folks and trying to start a church, we’d gotten used to making introductions of who we were and where we lived and where we had moved from. personally, i just hadn’t gotten used to articulating what we were doing in san francisco.

the easy part was over.

“hi, i’m shauna.”

“i’m stefanie.”

“that’s ben, and our boys, elijah, sam, and asher.” i pointed them out.

“my husband, scott, and our two, sydney, and nick.” she dd the same.

“so nick and elijah are on the cincinnati reds together!” we were happy to have common ground.

“i guess so.” she smiled. she was too.

the conversation continued naturally. stefanie talked about moving from hawaii. i tried to imagine why! i told her we moved from the midwest and that our roots were in the southeast. we talked about our kid’s school and ages.

then she asked why we moved here and what we did in the city. because we were taking turns talking it was her turn and she got to ask what we did before i could ask what they did. shucks.

my palms produced a sweat as she asked the questions. that had become a natural reaction.

maybe this will make sense, maybe this will make laughter. i tried to get a read.

“if i tell her will she understand? will i have to explain what church is? will she shut down? will it conjure up feelings of a hurtful church experience? will she want to know more? oh goodness. are you kidding, shauna? be normal. at the very least. just be normal.” these were the thoughts ping-ponging in my head. hence the sweaty palms.

“we moved here to start a church from scratch.”

her smile didn’t go away.

“what kind of church?” a common question.

“a Christian church,” i replied.

stefanie told me that they went to church in the city.

i took a deep breath. this was the first conversation i had had outside of our church meeting space where someone went to church in the city.

here i was all in knots and stefanie was as gentle and kind as ever. she seemed just as pleased to meet someone who went to church as i was relieved to have met someone who was familiar with my faith.

living in a city where we come from all over the world with different faiths and different cultures and different languages and backgrounds, i quickly realized i had much to learn and that would take time and a listening ear. but equally, others wanted to hear about starting a church and what we believed and why san francisco.

stefanie got all that though. our smiles said so much that day. our boys started practice and we started a friendship.

baseball practices and games took our families all over the city into open green space that spring. she and i kept coming back to that common ground we found in the meadow at golden gate park. common ground of faith.

talking about differences is extremely important. it’s how to move forward in love and understanding. it’s how to learn about who we are that make up humanity. while it’s absolutely necessary, talking about differences requires much out of me. after a while, i need common ground.

stefanie was fresh air for me. in a season of listening to others, paying attention to the city’s culture, and learning stories, it was breathing room on the bleachers to talk faith and family. outside of our church start.

they even showed up one Sunday at our young church plant to support us in what we felt called to do in san francisco. that was spring 2011.

now 2017, stefanie and her family have become some of our dearest friends and are a faithful part of our church community. stefanie and i are in small group together and she helps weekly in the church office. our kids are now in the epic student group and we’re still finding each other in the bleachers. to cheer on our boys and to take those needed deep breaths in a city where we are constantly learning and listening and paying attention.

only God can bring a family from hawaii {still wondering why} and a family from the midwest and intertwine their paths through something as common as baseball. only God can work through sweaty palms and a conversation between two introverted women. and if God can do that in us, He can do that in you.

what’s a conversation you’ve had with sweaty palms that attests to God’s presence and power?

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