Halfway home from the church service, tears began to flow. I was not even sure why. At home in my kitchen, stirring the soup for our lunch, the tears brimmed again and I had to slip away to my bedroom for a bit. Can your heart hurt before your mind understands why?
As I have been on a quest for “my church” in this new city, I thought that I was open to differing doctrines. Willing to try denominations I never would have considered in my former “church lady” days. I said that my only motive for finding a church in my new town was for friendship. Period. I was just hungry for community.
Nothing terrible happened. No huge doctrinal heresy was proclaimed. The people were happy, warm and enthusiastic. I met a fun lady that I hoped to get to know better. The leaders were delightful and sincere. And they gave me a cool coffee cup! This gathering of believers will be doing great things for God in this community. I KNOW this. But some ideas were spoken that hurt my heart. I did not gasp out loud. But my spirit flinched. My internal radar beeped. And I knew that I could not go back. Back to my former self. Pre-recovery. My freedom has been hard fought and it is a continual battle.
|For freedom did Christ set us free; stand fast therefore, and be not entangled|
again in a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1
The tears that appeared on my way home were evidence of my grief. I was back to square one and would have to figure out how to be a churchless believer. This went against everything I grew up believing. I asked Hubs if the beautiful freedom that we have tasted in God, had actually ruined us for church. His answer as always, “There must be another way.”
In the meantime, while waiting for that “other way”, we have found another group of believers in a church 25 minutes away that we will attend whenever we are able. But probably not every Sunday. We are going to be that couple that I would have worried about when I was a strict church lady. The couple that couldn’t be counted on to work in the church nursery when I was a stress-filled pastor’s wife. The people that will not attend committee meetings or volunteer to lead Bible studies. Those ones with “sporadic attendance.”
I will be one of “those” believers. And that’s okay.
We attended the “25 minutes away” church for the first time last Sunday. I had written it off my list because of the driving distance. (I still hate and fear the TX freeway system.) But we will go when Hubs is not working. Last Sunday I stood and sang my heart out as my eyes kept happily glancing at Hubs holding our grandson, with our son and daughter-in-law on either side of us. Attending church with my family….what more could I want?
My heart is happy. Since the church is nearer the kid’s home, we went out to lunch with them following the service and had a great time together. Maybe a new family tradition is being born!! Happy Grandma!!
Remember when I said that my main motive for the church quest was friendship in the first place? God has started to answer that prayer of my heart. I messaged D, the fun lady from the other church, and asked if we could still be friends even if I decided not to attend her church and she said, “Absolutely! How soon can we go out for coffee?” We met in a near by restaurant and drank coffee for hours while laughing and comparing the crazy ups and downs of our walks with God. (Oops D, I forgot to warn you that friendship with a blogger could mean you’ll find yourself on the Internets. Hope that’s not a deal-breaker.)
God lives in the heart of the believer. I know He is in me. I also know the lessons He has taught me about Himself, and those truths have shaped who I am and who I hope to be. He has set me free from self-condemnation and man-made judgments about sin and righteousness. My freedom is an ongoing battle. I will probably always be a little bit over sensitive to reminders of the religious, overly strict ways of my church lady days. That’s why this blog is called “Recovering Church Lady”. I am still in the “ing” part of recovery.
I am so thankful to have found our community. Maybe I have been in too much of a hurry. It takes time to build relationship. But it is happening and I may not have to stand on the corner with a sandwich board asking for friends.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.