I have been struggling with the content of this blog post for a while. It's honestly just an intensely personal conversation I have been having with myself and never really intended to post it. But I have decided that, that is not an authentic choice to make. So here I go ...
I have always known my faith and my heart. Seriously, I cannot remember a time when I did not know the God that I still know today. My parents raised me in a very open minded, loving, Christian home. And they raised me to treasure my faith as well as diversity in all things. The amazing thing is that my Dad is a member of the clergy in the South. Yep, the South. I know not known for open mindedness, but we do exist and thier are more of us then you might think! However, right along with all that open minded love came a swift helping of reality delivered courtesy of closed, minded church politics. In fact, most of the churches we called home often fell short of being truley places that mirrored the grace and love that they procclaimed to be. I have many beautiful memories of lovely people and vacation bible school, but I also have heartbreaking memories of churches that act in ways unimaginable and honestly left me with a wound.
While my faith in God never waivered and infact grew stronger in those heartbreaking moments, my faith in the authenticity of Church suffered greatly. Then somewhere in my mid-college years my mom happened upon Church that seemed a breathe of fresh air. That Church had a really great minister and I went to talk with him one day. Regardless, of what question I asked of him, or detail of me I "unpacked" waiting for a gasp of some kind ... all I found was grace, honesty, and funny guy. Shortly after that I did what we call in my faith "moving my letter". It just basically means I joined the church. I told him I wasn't sure that I would ever be able to open myself up enough in church to be as authentic I felt worship requires us to be. I will never forget what he said, "You don't need to do anything but walk in the door, sit on the back row and slip out. If it's what you have it's more than enough to qualify as worship."
So I slipped in quietly, sometimes frequently, sometimes less so, sometimes even on Wendsdays, but always quietly. I always felt grace and peace and slowly my wound became a scar. I started to feel like maybe I could find a true "chuch home" again. And then started to try to connect and serve. Trying to find a way to fit in the more active body of the church proved challenging. I was committed and really wanted to serve where I felt I had experienced so much healing. I volunteered in the nursery, taught some english as a second language courses and such. But shortly after I got married at the church I found it really hard to plug in. There were not programs that supported my young family and I found many of my ideas about how engage more with young families were quickly dismissed. At a time when I needed the church the most to help support my new family, I felt completely isolated with a deep desire to serve and grow in my church but no visable opportunity.
One of the things that I had deeply wanted to see begin was a moms group. I had heard so many wonderful things about Mops and Mom 2 Mom groups. After submitting several emails and white paper to my church leaders and women's ministery to no avail ...I dedided to do the unthinkable ... go into a new and in my view very conservative and theologically disperate church. I was terrified, which now seems silly. The moment I walked in I felt down right ministered to. Somone greeted me and showed me where my children would be loved and cared for while I enjoyed coffee and breakfast with new friends along with *gasp* adult conversation. It ROCKED. It is truley a place of grace for me and my little family and place where I see opportunity to serve. While I still love my home church I still can not find a place to easily serve or a comfortable place for my little family.
So here I sit my heart somewhere between two churches full faith and looking for ways to ensure my little ones have a solid church foundation. Have you ever experienced something similar?
James 2:17-18In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.