Christina Dillabough, Director of Communications
This week I’ve been at General Conference with hundreds of Christian people gathered to address important topics and decide how to be the Church in the world. Despite the hate and sadness that has often dominated the narrative of this Conference, I know the Holy Spirit has been with us. I am an optimist (but not always). I’ve wanted to stay faithful to telling the story of the abundant good that The United Methodist Church has accomplished through our connection so that new people might know God. I prayed that the legacy of this Conference would be the catalyst that launched countless new places of faith all over the world. But my optimism grew weary and yesterday I couldn’t bring myself to find the good in what I was experiencing much less write about it. Are you like me, struggling to find the light these past two weeks? If so, you need to know my story.
In the midst of this darkness, I made a new friend—a pessimistic pastor who finds God in dark places. I broke down into tears, overwhelmed as I spoke with him.
When I was 20 my mother’s surgeon broke the devastating news that she would only live another 3-6 months. Her cancer had already spread. My soul drifted into an ocean of despair and doubt in the goodness of our Creator’s plan.
Almost two weeks ago my 13-year old daughter had a tumor removed. During the three-hour procedure I clung to my faith (but just barely). Again, I was in a deep and dreary place. But this time, instead of suffocating in my anguish, my lungs were steadily and deeply filled by the Holy Spirit. My daughter’s surgery was a total success. Her tumor, was completely removed. And despite being bigger than a golf ball, it was not cancer!
Was it the prayer that caused such a miracle? Was it God’s plan that I return to this dark place to know that the Holy Spirit dwells there too? I don’t know the answer because I don’t understand the way the Holy Spirit works. But I know that I have a deeper faith and love for God because of it.
The topics that we are struggling with at this General Conference are polarizing. The debates have been spiritually and emotionally exhausting. The hurtful messages both in person and online are painful to internalize. But that is not the only narrative of this Conference. God has called us all to do something. Despite the differing views within our UNITED Methodist Church, our mission and ministry together have been a powerful reflection of God’s love.
I’m sharing my story now because if you are like me, you need to hear that God dwells everywhere, even in the darkness, and the Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways. The online conversations/debates have made their way into the lives of many people who are not United Methodists and many who might be struggling with their faith. What will that lead to? (God knows)