Thursday, February 13, 2014

Re-Churching: Mentoring, Accountability, Courage, and More Obedience

It has been a long journey on my own. It has been a rough journey on my own. I do not recommend it.

I haven’t been mentored in my faith since… about high school. Shayna and I had been meeting with Rowena, but then she and her family moved a few months after we had started to meet. A few years later, a slightly older friend somewhat casually mentored me - more like just genuinely cared for and checked in with me. Then she decided to attend another church to support them.

Except for a few good friends along the way, I have largely been on my own: to grow, to learn, to search, to become more disciplined in my faith.

I believe I have finally found someone to mentor me for… who knows how long but definitely longer than a few months.

Lynn is a former member of the same local church, had been a Sunday school leader of mine, along with her husband, but currently her family attends another local church. We met last week and are working out a schedule to meet consistently.

The first meeting was like finding gold. The trust I had in Lynn previously still upholds. She sees me through the eyes of Christian sisterhood. I can finally be honest with someone and not find harmful judgement, but Christ-like admonishment and accountability instead. It’s good to breathe again.

It’s just the beginning, but I am excited!

A few things that I am struggling with:

- finding out that the gossip and rumors about me within a group in the church was worse than I realized, worse than I had hoped. It’s uncomfortable being disappointed in people, especially ones whom had claimed to be friends. I was trusting; I don’t regret that… entirely. I had a hand in this mess, certainly, but I was not alone responsible in all of it. At one moment, I was gearing myself up to confess my own junk, and then I saw who I was facing; I dropped my eyes from God, I know. What do I do now?

- wondering how I can worship God alongside ones whom have hurt me so deeply. Praising God isn’t difficult. It’s the reminders of the mess and feeling helpless, people-wise, to reconcile broken relationships. It’s the knowing that relationships around me are broken. I know that God desires reconciliation, good relationships - it’s His story.
My consolation, for now, other than God’s mercy upon me, is that I have already made several efforts to reconcile, before I had de-churched again. Though, I sense that God may move me to make more efforts, and I… am hesitant at the moment. And maybe that’s okay for now. But to be honest, I… dread it. I am ill-equipped, though I know if reconciliation happens, it will not be me but the Holy Spirit who does it - Glory to God.

- wondering how I… - this is related to the previous struggle - how might it be that I can once again feel safe within the church again, people- and building-wise? I grieve this quite a bit, that this church used to be another home for me, one where I could go and be safe, find relief. Is it me that has fallen so far that I can’t sense the Spirit there at the moment? I’m certain the Spirit is there, but I don’t sense it like I used to, in good and bad times.
Now, my thinking, from recent experiences, is that the church is where I go to get beaten up, spiritually. I’m in flinch-mode.
If I, a child of the church and Christian, do not feel safe to be vulnerable and honest in my struggles while in the church, how might someone coming in, Christian or not yet, be made welcome and find the comfort for which they are looking?

- I was naive. I didn’t know I would experience such pain within the church. I think people sinners, just as I am one, but I never really think anyone bad intentionally until they show me. I have never understood why someone would… tolerate (?) me when they think me such a jerk either. (Come on, I have jerk moments too, whether intentionally or not.)

- knowing now… not being able to deny any longer how bad gossip is within the church, even if just a group or not,... you know, I am not used to caring what people think or say about me. I’m not used to caring; ask those who went to high school or college with me. I usually did my own thing, a non-joiner.
However, this time, relationships were intentionally destroyed. I’ve forgiven and continue to remind myself that I have forgiven, the Spirit continues to work that in me, but the question is how to lovingly and respectfully participate in correcting the influence or spread of gossip in general, within the church or group or individual, participate in real healing. I am not entirely immune to the temptation of gossip, though I tend not to care, so what to do?

- how to build up my spiritual gift of discernment, because… it can get messy. It has gotten messy. Again, I am not used to caring. As an INTP in the MBTI (look it up or click here for my thoughts on it so far), I am quite independent; I can be detached. Hence, the tendency of not caring about gossip and such, even when it’s about me, as well as the initiative for continual independent search for personal spiritual growth. 
So, how do I engage brothers and sisters in Christ with discernment, as an INTP? How do I use it to build up others? This has been a question (aside from the INTP aspect, since I have only learned that recently) since I had returned to church 6 years ago.

And that’s only a few things. Scratching the surface. Actually, quite a few of these issues I have observed and been thinking over since 6 years ago. It’s just that now I find myself in the middle and involved in some of the mess.

Though, I remember 6 years ago. I had made a huge step and recommited to Christ. I had had enough of my own foolishness. Where else might one go? Also, it wasn’t me, but God gave me a desire for the church. I remember waking up on Sundays, excited for church. I miss that. I don’t understand it, I can’t rationalize what was going on in me, but it’s real.

I need to kick myself and be courageous again. I mean, I know that I can because I can trust God to provide for me, to lead the way, yet it’s still… it’s scary. People are scary to me.

Well, I can only lead by example, the way I have always expected myself to lead. It just stinks sometimes. And I know I will make mistakes, I know I still have areas of sin to conquer. I think I have so little in certain areas that I am wary about giving up more. I’ve recently made a difficult stand for me, because in my mind, I was walking in a certain direction, faithfully, and I have been disappointed. Sigh.

Continue to let God refine me more and more. Obedience is still mean - I mean, Jesus died by it, and I don’t know if I’m there yet.

And then, when it was done, Jesus conquered Death and was lifted up to Life.

Remind me.

[Joshua 1:9]