Tomorrow our church shopping will begin. And let me tell you -- I can dread nothing anymore. Finding the one place that teaches the way you believe, trains your children the way you teach, embraces your family like your grandma would and challenges you to become more; that my friends seems impossible.
I have really only attended two churches in my life, except for a mild switch over my high school years to follow my friends in a youth group.
As a child I attended a non denomination church in our hometown. It was a small country church with potluck suppers, hymns, river baptisms, and love. I learned more Bible from my Sunday School teachers and felt a greater sense of extended family. That pastor, Morris, baptised me and married me and blessed me on to Oklahoma.
Once I arrived in the land where the wind comes sweeping down the plains and I recovered from the shock that I would NOT be living in a teepee nor would I be allowed to smoke peyote, we began our church search.
We attended the Air Force base church for awhile, but we had to blow that Popsicle stand cause I could not get up at some UNGODLY hour to make their service. It was like 9:00 AM or some unholy time like that. I was 20 and NOT a morning person. IJ was 25 and he was accustomed to 5:00 AM cadence and super secret stuff like that. It embarrassed him to no end to SHOW UP LATE -- so we would just not go. It was not working out.
Then, by some divine intervention, I drove by a church one Saturday afternoon and saw a TON of guys out playing basketball -- and behind them was a sign that stated NEW SATURDAY NIGHT SERVICE AT 6:30 PM.
Uhm....did they say Saturday night? You mean I could SLEEP in all Sunday morning? And get up at 11:42 AM and eat lunch and never get out of my jammies if I wanted? SOLD! Sign me up.
What I did not know that next Saturday night as I entered those doors was that this church, this group of people, this experience would change my life -- for both good and bad.
I met some of my best friends that are still my BFFs even today -- Heather, Feather, Melanie -- I mentored some of the most amazing girls that inspire me even today -- Chelsea, Cass, Tiff, Jordie -- I was supported through diseases, miscarriages, moves, growth, and challenges. I grew up in this church -- they saw my journey: the good, bad, and ugly.
I am who I am today because of the support and love of these people. We actually even got out of the Air Force for three years to go on staff at the church. And oh what passion we had and were given. It was inspiring.
But I think when you open yourself up so greatly, you also allow yourself to get hurt more deeply. And while the church had been such a pillar of support and love for me, it soon became the biggest source of pain and hurt I had ever received. My main fault was looking to find Jesus in others instead of just looking for him. At the end of the day, you cannot expect PEOPLE to be your image of Christ. Only he can be. People are people and will inevitably fail, come up short, be immature, insecure, judgemental, or hurtful. Aren't we all?
So, we quietly resigned among pleas to stay and tears and long nights of turmoil -- Were we doing the right thing? Was this the right choice? I still struggle with it. But we had to regain peace. And the Christ I knew was no longer reflected in my church.
This was the single hardest decision of my life. This was my family. My friends. My life.
We wandered from this to that for a year - then we moved to Atlanta. Now, we have settled and we NEED to find a place once again. I would rather snort glitter.
But tomorrow I will load the crew up for one of the HARDEST things for me to do -- walk though the doorway of a new worship experience.
You have to find the right balance between being God centered but not having small animal sacrifices the third Sunday of every month. Having activities and groups but not a social club. Providing teaching and leadership but not like a seminary. But my biggest qualifier is a place that loves people for who they are -- the good the bad and the ugly. Because I have been all those things at one point and time. Aren't we all?
So tomorrow I am going to one of these. Check these three out. Let me know your thoughts.
And Edie? To answer you question about who my favorite Bible character was or who I thought I was most like or who inspired me the most or something like that...
Five years ago I would have hands down said David because I saw so much of myself in him -- minus the harp playin part. And the giant killer stuff. And the warrior. And the part about being a king. And the red hair. And the bear and lion killing. But other than that we were EXACTLY alike.
David made more STUPID mistakes than anyone I had ever seen: adultery, lyin, murderin, bad parentin, etc. But at the end of the day, he had a heart for God like no other man had ever had. And God, through all David's faults, forgave him and loved him. And I felt like if God could love David, surely I had a chance.
Now I would probably answer Joseph. Oh, he inspires me. I hope to be able to love likes he loved, to forgive like he forgave, and to accept like he accepted. Maybe one day.
Because, Edie, at the end of the day I truly believe that life is about others. And Joseph, through his forgiveness, shows how much one can believe in the potential of others.
So let me know which one you would go to first and why. Love you all.