The small block room filled with quiet. A tense, hold-your-breath type of quiet. An oh-my-gosh-I-hope-this-works quiet. Silvia was about to sew the leather ends on her first completed camera strap.
A little back-story. Melissa and her friend Angela started a business called “One Loom” with the sole purpose of providing sustainable income to single mothers living in El Rosario. Melissa was here on her first trip to Guatemala to offer Silvia a full-time job and teach her how to sew each product that One Loom produces. The success of this trip would provide Silvia with both opportunity and sustainability for her and her children.
Mid-stitch, I noticed the quiet that had fallen around us. Both Melissa and I were staring intensely at Silvia, as if by the sheer willpower from our eyes we could make it work. I chuckled at our tense staring and asked Silvia if we made her nervous.
“As long as you don’t whack me in the back of the head, it’s ok.” She responded. “When I worked in the factory, my boss would get down close to my face and watch me work. If I slowed down or messed up, she would slap the back of my head and yell ‘Sew! Sew!’”
As I laughed and reassured her that there would be no head-whacking here, we all exhaled with relief… she finished her very first camera strap to perfection.
A few days later, Silvia confessed she hadn’t been sleeping very well because she had been so nervous she wasn’t going to do a good job. She worried over each stitch. She fretted over each measurement and placement. Her shoulders were tense and her mind was stressed. As she confessed her fear, Melissa jumped in to reassure her how wonderful she is.
“Silvia, you are doing an amazing job and we are so proud of you.”
“You were made for this, don’t worry!”
“We are here to help you, just relax.”
“It’s not like working in a factory. You won’t be punished if you make a mistake.”
As I translated this interaction, I felt Jesus speaking the same words to me. I am Silvia. I worry about everything. I fret over every good or bad deed. My spirit is often tense and my heart stressed. As I confessed these fears, Jesus jumped in to reassure me how wonderful I am.
“You are doing a great job and I am so proud of you.”
“I made you for this, don’t worry.”
“I sent my Holy Spirit to help you, just relax.”
“It’s not like before. I already took care of the penalty for you.”
In that moment, Melissa was the hands and feet of Jesus to Silvia. She offered grace and complete acceptance. She showed Silvia value for who she is. She extended comfort and peace. In the same way that Jesus offers it to me. The same way He offers it to you.
“…when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” –Titus 3:4-7