8 months. Roughly 240 days. That is how long it has been since I found out the church I had called home was closing its doors. The church I had desperately searched for, longed for, and cried out to God for, was no longer going to be. Mind you it took me FOUR YEARS to find that church. Four years to find a place that felt like home, that felt safe, that I felt known.
I was delivering my baby when they announced the news. Long story short, I was notified via email and to say I was shocked would be an understatement. Because of the nature of the time I was unable to find out the full story, details, and the WHY. I was unable to fully process or participate in the final sermon.
My pregnancy was horrific and I was limited in how I could participate during my first year at this church. My goal was to do MORE once baby had arrived, sadly I never got the chance.
For the past 8 months, I have adjusted to being mama of two. Struggled through a journey of tongue tied baby, cranial caps, and preschool major meltdowns. I have grieved immensely for my church and I have wept over and over for the community that was lost. I have struggled to find peace and healing and a new place. I have left each new church discouraged and disheartened at the stage of THE Church today. I felt like throwing in the towel; like giving up on church and trying to do faith on my own.
But doing it on my own isn’t working and you know why? Because God created us for community. He created church so that we could become more like him in fellowship with others. He created us for relationship. He created the desire in me to be known. And my loss of church has left a hole in my heart. I miss God in the way I saw him through others. I miss the different perspectives and worship. I miss the community and fellowship and encouragement of people who were different than me but still rooting for me. I miss someone to walk with in the journey to the Jesus way.
So today I decided to try again. I found a local church and got my little family ready and we went. And you know what? I felt discouraged and disheartened and sad. The drive home I started my pity party all over again and asked myself “Why do I even try?”
But then I realized something. What if attending that church today wasn’t because it was supposed to be the ONE. What if we need to go through the “bad” apples to find the good one? What if every experience is for a purpose – whether I see it or not?
I needed to stop seeing every failed attempt to find a church as a personal failure and start seeing what each experience was teaching me.
Each church I visit teaches me something about who I am, what I value, and how I want to do life.
Each experience is an opportunity to meet Jesus, meet others, and to hear something from God.
Each experience is a way that I am showing up, taking action, and getting out of my rut. It’s as if I am saying, “I am here God, now what?”
Each experience may provide me with some message from God – whether it be deeply theological or scriptural based or just a “feel good” word of encouragement. There is something that I needed to hear, I just have to look for it.
So why the church we visited today was not the ONE we will call home. I did meet God there in worship. I reoriented my heart towards him and reminded myself of the purpose of church in the first place. And you know what – I did hear from God, I did find something among the mess, and I made a connection I wouldn’t have before.
So today I am choosing to reframe my perspective. To stop thinking that each church I attend has to be the ONE or it is not worth my time. To remember that Jesus is here, is with me, and is refining me in all of my experiences – even the ones I wish I didn’t have to go through.