Shaking the Dust off
“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” - Matthew 10:14
The speaker at the physician conference was talking about how impressionable young people can be. “If you told me that my talk was horrible, I might feel bad, but I’d get over it in a few hours. If you told a teenager that their work was terrible, they might be devastated for days or weeks.” The concept of resilience coming with experience seemed foreign to me at first. I still so very much dread rejection. And when I feel like someone hasn’t accepted me, that can stick with me. I still the teacher who gave me a B. Never mind that it was twenty years ago now, in junior-high PE, or all the things that I’ve achieved since then, even with the sting dulled from time, I remember.
I’ve been learning a lot lately, growing. I’ve always struggled with the part of the Lord’s prayer, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” There are some errors that I haven’t forgiven myself for after decades, and clearly some injuries that I still nurse in that time. If I want to life this life Christ set before me, if I want to experience God’s love and redemption, I’m going to have to learn to truly let go of my own failures, and let the trespasses of others float away as well.
This time of travel and fundraising is a particularly vulnerable time. People welcome us into their homes, shower us with love, listen to our passion and share their lives with us. With some reunions after all these years, there is pain that we have grown so far apart. With others, there is joy that we have grown closer even though we’ve been on different sides of the world. When people invest in us and our ministry, it feels like such a precious gift, the beginning of a beautiful partnership, a blessing from God. But when people are not in a place to support us, sometimes that feels like a rejection that clings to us.
I’m impressed by Jesus’s direction to shake the dust off the feet of disciples who have had a bad reception. Instead, when I trudge through difficult times, I feel like I carry that as a burden on my back, or as mud caked around my shoes. It creates a sucking sound and holds me down with each step, adding to dejection. I want to think of it as dust instead. And not the kind that can get into my eyes or clog up my lungs, but a fleeting dust that slips from my feet, drops to the ground, and doesn’t trouble me anymore. Because I have so very far to go. And Jesus has covered my inadequacies and shame. Why should I keep going forward with fear of rejection and memories of failure?