The Work of the Wesley by Akin Bailey

The Wesley is a place. It’s a place Sam asked me to come for lunch one day, and where Kohl understood my smile. It’s where Cris said hi in a hallway and yelled hello out of a car. It’s where Terri invited me to retreat, and Haleigh asked to be my best friend. Where Katelyn played guitar on the roof and Pete’s cupcakes didn’t turn out. The Wesley is a place where life happens, unhindered. I never let my life happen before. As I understood it I wasn’t meant to let anything happen. I couldn’t have emotions, because those are weak. I couldn’t be black, because people don’t like that. I couldn’t be a man, because they’re aggressive. The Wesley is the place where I learned that it’s okay to be who I am, a place of healing where I learned to laugh, cry, mourn, and rejoice. I think when life happens to us, sometimes we try to hide it and act like it doesn’t matter, like we can handle it without anyone else’s help. Sometimes we treat it like something we’re entitled to, and take it for granted.  I learned to let my life happen, and that that life is beautiful and ugly and happy and sad and, above all, that it is worth loving. I learned through the Wesley and the people there what it means to live life together, and that we weren’t meant to do it alone. I have never felt quite so wanted before. It was strange to think that anyone would want anything to do with me for any reason. I tried to hide every part of me for fear that I would not be accepted, for fear that I would not be able to accept myself and, therefore, have to take responsibility for Who I am, a man made in His likeness. When I came to the Wesley, it felt as though He stepped in. Everyone welcomed and wanted me expecting nothing in return. I remember expressly saying that I have nothing to offer, but they wanted me anyway. They wanted me as I was with no caveats; by accepting me as I was they dared me to accept myself, to simply be and to live without running or hiding from the truth.

The Wesley is the place where I learned Who God really is. It’s hard not to see Him there. In the care that everyone shows, in the intentionality of their words, in the life that they live. It’s a conspicuous communal life, where grace and truth abound. A life centered on the One Who gives life. God’s presence at the Wesley is permeable, felt as soon as the doors open. His spirit is woven into the conversations as His Word is upon our lips. Since coming to the Wesley, He has shown Himself to me in ways that I had never thought possible, and taken hold of me in ways that I do not understand.

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