Saturday, March 28, 2015

Church Quest Resolved


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 now found a different 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.

John 8:36
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.

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27 comments:

  1. Where is the love button? lol. Today is a good day in the blogosphere...because we worship Him in Spirit and Truth and His joy cannot be contained. Rejoicing with you and in Him as we continue to press on to His high calling for us both, uniquely, individually and as two who walk with a Risen King...Oh this Emmaus Rd- It is full of glorious surprises!

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    1. Thanks Dawn. Our not-so-short chat today was great...Layla liked it too!

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing your heart. I too am Struggling to find a church home as I am the sporadic attender who gets looked down upon by the members. I do so long for real face to face friendship.

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    1. You are welcome Melissa, thanks for coming by. I am now seeing the view from the other side, the "attend when I can" side. Sadly I did not have as much grace for the sporadic attenders, as I am hoping I will get now, as one. Wow, really awkward sentence! Ha!

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  3. Susie, I'm right there with you. I haven't been in church since July when my world fell apart. Church on TV feels much safer for me. The tongue waggers don't know me there ;-) How sad. I'm so thankful you've found a possible place to belong.

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    1. Nan, I hope that you are able to find some trust worthy ones to reach out to while going through this tough time. We really only need one or two strong friends.

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    2. Oh, Nan, HUG. I don't know you, but HUG.

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    3. Susie and Sandi, thank you for your encouragement and hugs. The Lord has gifted me with several girlfriends who love Him and love me. They are faithful to pray for my restoration. I've been sensing a stirring in my spirit to find a place of worship again. I'm not ready yet, but I know the Lord is working. I actually enjoy attending church in my pajamas with a good cup of coffee. I'm praying that I will have courage when the Lord says, "Go here. This is the place I've been preparing for you." I know I can trust Him. Thank you again for the love.

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  4. Beautifully said. A twang on many of our heart strings who have tried to find the new normal in a church family that is strange..Blessings and joy wherever you be!

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    1. Thanks Marcia. There is plenty of twang happening here in Texas already! Ha! I know that's not the twang you meant, but I couldn't resist.

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  5. I love the fact that this journey has led you to enjoy worshiping with your family...AND that the lady you met must be a true Christian if she wants to be friends even if you don't attend her church. That is a big plus! That is something I've struggled with here in our community. We live in a very rural/forest community, with only a very small handful of churches to choose from. After a three year struggle to find our place in the worship community, we have started our own Bible fellowship in our home with a few like minded people having similar struggles. God works in mysterious ways. So thankful for how He is leading you. He knows your needs and will not leave you comfortless or friendless.
    .

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    1. Pam, some of my most favorite church moments have been in a living room of good friends! There is nothing like it! Blessings on you and your group.

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  6. " But some ideas were spoken that hurt my heart. I did not gasp out loud. But my spirit flinched. My internal radar beeped."

    Listen to that internal radar. It knows.

    But I find myself wishing you'd share what was said, why did you flinch...what have you been set free from?

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    1. Hi Sandy, if you read my pages in the tab bar at the top, it might help a bit. "Info on RCL" and "Why Recovering Church Lady" both explain my background and why there is a sensitivity to the shoulds and should nots that can happen in any church setting. It can be different for everyone so I like keeping it a bit general.

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    2. Thank you, Susie! I'll take a look.

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  7. That new church you attended 25 miles away and close to your grandkids sounds like a good choice for you. What a blessing to attend with your family. And your new friend D sounds like a good companion; coffee, chatting and laughing.

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    1. Yes Terra, I agree, I think we have found a beginning connection to this crazy state called Texas!

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  8. oh wow, Susie, how close this is. Close to what you desire but not quite, close to what WE'RE also experiencing but can't even put voice to. Close to what God's heart is for us. But what I love is how in tune you are with Him who dwells within you to know that close is not close enough. It just isn't. And all that work you've done, all the searching, and listening, and simply BEING with Him these last years as He loves and Loves and LOVES on you as you are is too BIG for you to lose sight of at this oh-so-close church. But...in the meantime, yes, to freedom we have been called. And I wonder, what is it that makes us who love Him so much, who long for Him so fully, can feel so second-class because we aren't regular attenders? It's inside us and around us...and insidious.

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    1. "..inside us...and insidious." What a perfect phrase! The temptation to be more harsh with ourselves than God is, it'a always right here on top. So easy to slip into. I'm not sure it is entirely man-made. We do have an enemy who loves to put anything in front of us that would make us be too ashamed to look The Father full in the face.

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  9. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! Glad to read this and be in the -ing w/ you! XO

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  10. Susie: When we have our heart flinch at something, we should listen. God speaks to us that way. Being with your family in church is a blessing.

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  11. Proud of you, Susie. ♡♡♡ Been there.

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  12. I feel like I've been out of touch with my blogging buddies for far too long...not reading, not writing, just consumed with "the work". I do have to tell you though that my thoughts go to you immediately as I hear about the wicked weather in your state this past week. I pray you are safe and well - and able to sporadically attend the new church :) God knows the heart, and church attendance does not a saved person make. A pastor I used to listen to years ago always said there was more sin on a pew on Sunday morning than a bar stool on Saturday night! But I'll tell you the thought that jumped out at me in all this was"Can your heart hurt before your mind understands why?" Wow. That has happened to me on numerous occasions...tears flowing for no good, understandable reason and your question perfectly puts my unformed thoughts into words. I suppose the answer is yes. Good to read your words again even if I'm several weeks behind. God bless and keep you through this stormy season!

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    1. Hi Tony! Thanks for coming by, late is better than never, right? We made it through the crazy TX storms and now it is June and we celebrate being here for a whole YEAR! Can you believe it? What a ride!

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