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The Care Net Banquet

I’ll start this off by saying I’m introverted and prefer serving behind-the-scenes, but I have a natural talent for making people feel welcome and being in front of people. I guess that’s my acting career coming out. Speaking in front of people just doesn’t bug me. I’m very comfortable on stage.

I’ve decided to start volunteering at Care Net. God put that on my heart this past summer. Right now, all I have time for is to help with this banquet—a fundraiser and time of encouragement and fellowship.

I stand at the first landing of the stairs as a greeter, fiddling with my badge and welcoming people, then directing them down to the banquet hall. I’m only slightly dressed up—I brought an extra change of clothes that day just in case the Special Ed kids at work trashed my outfit. My hair is brushed, but still slightly frizzy from the rain. Oh well. All I need to do is smile.

Each person I greet with a smile, some lighthearted banter, and asking them how their day was—putting cheer into their hearts. None of them will know that this cheerful girl, serving God, struggles with depression, or that she’s had an exhausting week—an emotionally and physically exhausting last few months, honestly. Few will know that she—and God, mostly God—is barely holding herself together.

I feel I’m right where I need to be, though this gift of welcoming people is the one I feel least comfortable with. Most people would guess I’m extroverted, not introverted. But I figure gifts should be used, so I use this one, though it is not my element.

Eventually, I go downstairs and join the banquet. Most people here are middle aged, or older. I try to make some conversation with the people at my table. I chat with the woman beside me (who is typing stuff onto her smart phone). Finally, she turns to me with a perturbed look on her face and says: “Excuse me. I’m doing something.” I shrink into myself. I get it, I get it, and I wilt inside. “Shut up,” are her unspoken words. I feel like crying. Does she care that I’ve had a rough week? A rough month? That I’m exhausted? That I got bit at work by a kid today, leaving a huge bruise and red mark on my arm? That me being here this evening is a miracle?

No, she doesn’t care. She’s too busy on her phone. I try to keep from crying. It was a mistake coming here, I think. I should just leave. I take my white, linen napkin from my lap, preparing to slip away from the table. Another woman starts talking with me though, and I decide to stay. Soon, I am pleased with the laughter and tall tales and fun stories we are all sharing with each other.

By the end of the evening, I feel I am so very blessed to be with these Christians (minus that one woman). I make them laugh, and enjoy that they enjoy me telling them funny stories about my sweet, Special Ed kids. I love their stories, and that they enjoy having me there at their table. I enjoy hearing their stories, of where God is using them. I love the fellowship.

I realize, as the evening progresses with its songs, and speakers, and special events, that God planned for me to be there this evening. In fact, by the end of the evening, I turn to the woman who shared her testimony (who just happened to be sitting at the table next to mine), and I tell her: “I’m a writer. I want your story for my book. Would that be all right?” And she says yes, and we exchange names and emails.

By the end of the evening, I walk away, blessed by the fellowship of fellow believers. And I sleep that night—no insomnia—the whole night through, ready to take on another day of God’s work.

The fields are ready for harvest.