Have you ever run into some one in your life that has pulled you out of your comfort zone, someone who has really made you dig deeper into yourself past all the mess? Maybe you have, and if you have not I hope someday you will. Its people like these that cause us to grow. If we don’t grow, obviously we’re staying the same and that is not what God intended for us. I wanted to change, but I didn’t want to grow and that’s what my Pastor, Mathu Thomason helped me realize. He helped me realize growth that was available to me, healing, wisdom, gifts, and joy that were all at my fingertips and everyday he challenged me and three other girls that interned under the children’s ministry to do the same thing.
You see, Pastor Mat, as we all call him, is someone who will sit in a room with you, ask you what’s wrong for an entire hour. You can deny that anything is wrong, but you really can’t fool him. And he never did this in a demanding or authoritative “tell me what’s wrong” kind of way. He did it out of love and genuine concern. He sat with me, not because it was easy by any means, but because he wanted to, he cared, God put it on his heart to help me and he did. And I know for a fact that any man dealing with four 18 year old girls, is dealing with prayers for a lot of patience and a lot of understanding. But he always loved us. Mat always had something to teach us, and he had a way of giving us a new way to look at things. He was not only a friend, and a pastor, but a teacher and a light.
I’d like to be able to say that when I was an intern in a church that I had a decent amount of things sorted out and dealt with, but I didn’t. I came into the internship with A LOT of baggage. Baggage of boyfriends, and brokenness out of failed relationships. Baggage of divorced parents and abusive family members. Baggage of insecurity of never feeling wanted or needed. Baggage of depression and anxiety that was normally just being bi-polar. Just baggage after baggage. I went in with baggage of a girl who wanted to be so strong, but was really torn in so many ways and directions than she could comprehend in one moment. Pastor Mat was never oblivious to this, and I wasn’t the only intern coming in with baggage. But pastor Mat loved every single intern nonetheless. He loved us all the same, with the same heart, and wisdom, and gentleness. There were 15 or 16 interns that year, all 18+. That’s 16 interns all with there own problems and baggage of life, and he had conversations with all of us, talked through things with all of us. I also need to add that he was not the only pastor that led interns. There was also Aaron and Caleb, the youth and worship pastors, who I could also confidently say are some real God loving men. But I interned under Mat, and through that year I can’t say that everything got healed and I walked out of my last day of interning a brand new woman on fire to change the world. Most interns did, but I didn’t. Sadly I was very stubborn and I see that now. To all the love I had around me, the grace, the friendships, and the safe environment to let myself open up and grow. But no one cared, they all still loved me the same. I wanted to ignore my baggage and move on, but Mat and Aimee helped me look at them and let them go, lay them down. And feel them leave.
Mat and his wife Aimee were by my side every step of the way. They even let me live with them. They showed me what a good marriage is and they showed me that it is possible to be happily married. They have a beautiful daughter who was around four at the time and she knew KNEW Jesus as a REAL person because her parents leaked Jesus. No joke, this four year old would pray for you, and with a child like faith pray for healing and wisdom. I kid you not, some people have been healed and moved through God because of this girl’s prayers. They raised her to see his realness, and they leaked His love, kindness, grace, goodness, and realness. I don’t want to make them sound perfect and un-relatable, everyone has there stuff. But Jesus leaked through Mat and Aimee that year to me. And I could never be the same after being under their guidance. I’ll always look up to Pastor Mat and Aimee, not only because they loved and are loving so many people right now, but because they loved me, in a way Jesus would. I saw many glimpses of Jesus through them. And even though after the internship, I walked away from church, and God for a time, the things that were instilled in me were too strong to be uprooted and broken. And they knew that, they believed in me, they believed in the God working through me, they had love for me when I didn’t. They stretched me, pushed me, and challenged me. Some days I hated everyone and wanted to quit, but Mat, Aimee, and I pushed through till the end.
I look up to him, not because of any worldly achievements. I mean he did graduate with a degree, is a hard worker, has a beautiful wife and daughter, travels the world, and has an awesome mom. Not to mention his parents’ house is the best zombie apocalypse hideout. But I look up to him because I want to love people genuinely and selflessly and like Jesus did. Mat, his wife, and those interns showed me what that looks like. I admire them because they are doers when it comes to love. They actually DO things. And it’s motivated me to do the same. Without them, and my encounters with them, I really don’t know where I’d be. If you ever get a chance to meet them, you’ll never forget them. So thank you Mat and Aimee, the seeds are growing and I can feel it.