I (Amy) just returned home from a wonderful weekend retreat in Atlanta for all of the RUF wives across the nation. The guys (aka campus ministers) get together for a week of staff training and fellowship each semester/2 times a year, so this was the wives' turn! It was great-- No husbands. No kids. Nice hotel. Some in-depth training on eating disorders & sexual struggles to help counsel girls in our ministries. Time to be with the other RUF wives. Time to be renewed and refreshed by the beauty of the Gospel. Go shopping. You get the picture. :) Ahhh.......
There's really only 120 other women out there in the country that really know and understand the daily struggles/pressures of being a RUF wife and what that looks like on an experiential level. So in that sense, the weekend was fabulous to not feel like I had to explain myself or try to explain what my husband actually does. (though I don't mind explaining it, but you know what I'm saying...)
Our understanding of each other went alot deeper than that. Everyone around RUF (campus ministers, wives, & staff) holds such an amazing amount of commonality on what I'll call "major" things: things like who God is, what we believe the Bible to say concerning salvation and EVERY area of life, how we ought to LIVE in light of those truths, how we relate to others' struggles, what we think of our culture and how we ought to interact with it, etc. Though there are very obvious differences in personalities and preferences among the wives, it was amazing to me how much union we have. So much so that I, knowing relatively few of them that well since we're all spread out at different campuses across the nation, could traipse across the country (alone!) and immediately jump in with them and feel the freedom to be ME.
Do you know what I mean? I didn't have any of the "uh-oh, what will she think when this comes out of my mouth" hesitations. I didn't have that little nagging worry in the back of my head that I might not get their approval when I made that joke. No, instead I could be silly & funny without fear of rejection as well as honest and transparent about real struggles. And they could, too! You just felt deep down like you were talking to people on your "team," people who view the world and the things in this world in such a similar way to you that it was incredibly refreshing.
Do you have that in your life? I think it would be safe to say that most of us DON'T and we long for times of feeling understood. (unless I'm the only one!) I'm so blown away by this and it's exactly the type of community that I long for in our RUF, in our churches, in our families, in our friendships. I think because all of the wives really "get" the depths of their own sin & brokenness, they're able to relate to each others' struggles, whatever they may be. The group of wives was a community that seeks to listen and understand a problem/struggle by asking questions instead of throwing out a quick-fix Bible verse or a piece of unhelpful advice. It's a group that loves Jesus and believes in His redeeming work in our hearts and in this world, yet we are OKAY talking about heart-breaking things that we wrestle with in our lives. We know that everything sad will come untrue ONE day, (come quickly, Lord Jesus!) but that just isn't now. (just look at your television screens with Haiti to see that.)
It is just a great feeling to be KNOWN, to be listened to, and to be understood and accepted. Wouldn't you agree?
I praise God for RUF and the awesome connectedness that I have with these people as we labor in far away places all over the country, for it is a sweet, sweet reunion when we're able to come together!