|2001: My core group of friends, up to... some good.|
It’s been rough. I’ve been crying. My heart’s been aching. I don’t have a clear view of what’s next. It’s scary. I’m scared.
Why go back to the same church that hurt me and let me walk away?
Why not go to another church? Why not stop going to church altogether?
One word: obedience.
Let me tell you about that mean word, obedience – it’s brutal. Obedience doesn’t come naturally to me. I am a very strong-willed person, born as such. “Obedient” is not a word people would use to describe me…
But someday, they might.
The glory will be to God on that day. God’s will be done and not mine (‘cuz a lot of you would die – j/k).
PK called me strong and brave for coming back, though I know that he knows that it isn’t me; it’s God’s strength that I am borrowing. It is God who put the possibility of this kind of strength in my nature.
|1996: 12 of these people were a part of my church family.|
Of the church family, only my mom and I remain.
Why not go to another church?
I have visited with other churches, some of them seem quite genuine and wonderful and Spirit-filled – and I believe that they are Spirit-filled. I have prayed about it; I still pray about it. “God, couldn’t I go here? My friends are here. I like the worship here. I like the people here.”
I have never felt peace about going to another church. There was no sense that I would be allowed to go to another church and be well.
Instead, I sensed the Holy Spirit telling me to look around me. See these people? See this church? You are not needed here. This place does not have what you need.
Understand this: no church is perfect. As I’ve heard it from Uncle Mike, “There’s no such thing as a perfect church; if there was, I’d ruin it.”
I would ruin it. Why? Because I am a sinner. There is no perfect church because they’re all full of imperfect people.
Yet where God is, and his people are loving and obedient, there is grace and mercy also.
Why not stop going to church altogether?
I did that recently, for 2 ½ years. I had no intentions of going back. I knew I ought to; I didn’t know if I would. I am not always obedient in all cases.
I am a Christian. I sin. I read my Bible. I struggle. I pray.
And I love God. When one loves God, one wants to be with his people. One wants to be where he leads.
When I love someone, I am motivated to become a better person. It’s the same with how I love God, only God is worthy of trusting that he will not lead me wrong, that he wants my true best.
I have wrestled with God. I have wrestled with the idea of not believing in God anymore. I tried to imagine my life without God.
God is still present, and he is leading me to the church where I was hurt, and the church which will heal me.
|2005: Mom and I after a church choir Christmas concert.|
I was in the choir that year, the "young one."
I’m not at a certain church for anyone else but God and myself. I made that choice a long time ago, maybe around 2003 or possibly earlier. People come and go; God will always be there, so I need to be where he wants me to be.
People may see my return as a “default position” because my mom is there and I do have a few good friends there. Those are the reasons many people go to a certain church (and I’m not saying that is wrong necessarily).
Yet, if one takes God and obedience out of the equation, I have many choices. I have friends in several different churches, friends who’ve known me for a very long time. I have some confidence that even if I chose a church where I knew no one, I would find a new friend. God has been faithful to provide for me thus far.
Do I love seeing Rachel and Zac, and Sonnie, and Royce, and Genesis, and even Derek? Yes. But I don’t have to go to church to see them. I can hang out with my friends away from church. I wanted to be there for people like them and I couldn’t.
|2010: Tad, Matthew, Sonnie, Adam, Shelly, and Genesis.|
Matt and Genesis are still with this church. I miss the rest.
|2013: Me and Rachel - the crying laughers!|
And, there would still be the matter of those whom have hurt me, deeply. I could really do without seeing those people. I could really do without the feeling and the public crying.
My mom would love to be the reason that I choose a certain church, but she knows me and we’ve talked about it. She understands that she cannot be my reason, that no person can be my reason. It isn’t in my nature; I am generally unmotivated by people in this respect.
Someone who knew me might be asking, “But didn’t you go to a certain Bible study because of certain people?” Yes and no. Yes, the friends I was starting to make at the time went to this Bible study. No, I went because I knew the teacher, trusting him and knowing that he had great knowledge of the things of the Bible; if he hadn’t been a good teacher, I would have left eventually. Yes, I needed friends at the time, but I more wanted to learn about the Bible.
Others whom have known me will know that I speak the truth. I have been to Bible studies where I had friends, only, there was no study. There were friends. There was the Bible. There was a lot of chit-chatting. There was a hurried reading of a few Bible verses before the scheduled time was over. After a few times of this pattern, I would stop going.
I have always sought out Bible study groups that studied the Bible.
There may be one person who could influence me to go to another church, but I don’t know that he will be a church-goer and I am and will be a church-goer. I will go where my future husband goes.
Obedience is my default position for choosing a church. I want to be where God leads me.
That is all.
I did not write this to condemn anyone who might be going to church motivated by family and/or friends. I understand why that may be and it’s wonderful when God allows that to be the case.
I would simply urge you to pray about where God wants to lead you, and then pray about trusting him more…
… and then do it. Take a chance. Go.
He may want to lead you to another church. He may want to lead you right in the church where you are. He may want to lead you to start/ help start a new church.
However it may be, it will be tough and it may be scary. It will also be exciting and rewarding. The rewarding parts may not come for a while, but it will come. I know this because it is promised in the Bible.
Jeremiah 29: 11-13 [NKJV] – For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
Trust God to lead, follow knowing that he will not lead you wrong, and when it gets tough, call on him for he is present. How can it get any better than this?