With January gone I thought I’d share how I was doing with being Rooted this year, my One Word for 2013. I managed to start taking steps with being Rooted at a church.
For the first 40 years of my life I went to three churches. The first for over 20 years, the next for a few short years and then the last for over 15 years. Though each experience was different there were common threads. I loved being in a church community, being a part of something bigger than my little world.
They were my home away from home. There was a sense of excitement the night before and I would wake up excited to go to church. I had a sense of anticipation. I look forward to seeing my friends and being challenged by a Bible based message. My life was transformed.
Somehow I lost my way and began what I call my church wandering years. I briefly attended half a dozen great churches. Admitedly, I have church and trust issues. This year I am trusting God to help me overcome these, to stop being the girl with church issues. My own poor choices certainly didn’t help and I’ve experienced both sides of a church scandal. Neither are fun. Then in my wanderings I managed to visit on days they were reading people out of church or trying to put a positive spin on an obviously awkward moment. I’ve disappointed people and been disappointed by people.
Even if I could convince you that I was justified with my issues; if I told you my compelling and horrifying stories, that is not what God desires. We are all flawed people, saved by the grace of God.
There was a moment last fall when I realized what the problem was – me! My heart was the problem. It is not enough to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we are called to be in community. The New Testament is all about the church body. Our gifts work better when they are working within a larger body, complimented by other spiritual gifts. We were not meant to live this life alone. I can testify that it is empty sitting and watching church on a computer screen at home. I would convince myself that I wouldn’t know anyone if I actually went, so let’s stay home today.
In December I went back to church number two, EV Free Fullerton. It was where I first found out about God’s grace and experienced an adult relationship with God. It is where my childhood faith became a relationship with Christ. I experienced healing and grace within the community of other singles there when I was in my twenties. It is a church with a rich heritage, pastored for years by Chuck Swindoll.
Mike Erre is the new pastor. We were on staff together at Mariners, church number three. He was new to California, a college pastor and dating Justina, his wife. Once he preached at “big church” it was apparent God had a calling on his life. He loves the Word of God. I had been listening to his sermons via podcast and when I heard he was coming to EV Free I decided that is where I should go.
Being single at a church is hard. I don’t mean to complain but in a sea of couples and families it is hard find your place. Especially if you are a 40’s plus single. I know I am not alone in feeling that way because I look at my other single friends and see them floundering. Couples without children or empty nesters often face this same struggle.
Sunday Mike was talking about how we despise getting old here in the US. The church isn’t that different. What I love about my church is when I look around it is diverse in age and ethnicity. It is growing and thriving. Young people have returned along with young families. The nursery is bursting, literally. But there is a strong foundation of people who have are part of the rich heritage at EV Free.
As singles we become marked as a bit weird for still being single. I could write a whole blog post on the crazy things well meaning people have said in my presence. I digress, this isn’t about that today! But I hope someday that I will get to experience church with a godly husband by my side. I told you, I am believing in big things these days.
Beyond being single, we have become a “me” society. We want it all customized to our wants and needs. Contentment is hard to find when we are being critical.
I hear all the complaints. (I’ve said more than a few of these myself.)
“I like the pastor not the worship.”
“I like the worship not the pastor”
“I want charismatic prayer and worship but solid bible teaching”
“I dont’ like that it is a seeker church”
“Talking about money makes me uncomfortable”
I wonder if we would be satisfied at the church of our dreams. The same things that may have kept us single, keep us from committing to a church. The allure that something better is just around the corner robs us of being content and joyful.
This time I am committed to approaching it differently. I want to extend grace and put my faith in God, not the leaders. When I sit in church I have started to pray about putting roots down and making this my home church. I pray for community and for friends. I pray for a place to serve and use the gifts God has given me.
I joined a Bible study and have inquired about serving. That is wher ethe roots will take hold and a foundation will be built.
A few weeks back I found myself excited to go to church the next day. I had a little glimpse of how I used to feel. God is restoring me as I open my heart and take my steps.
I look forward to the day I see someone I know at church. I can’t wait to go to lunch or breakfast with a group of friends from church again. It would be nice to be missed when I don’t show up.
Mostly I am grateful that the Lord is gracious to us. He is with us when we can’t find our way and that He longs for us to to seek Him. All in all, January was a strong start. I can’t wait to see where I am at in December! How are you doing on your goals for 2013. It’s not too late to start there are still 11 months left!
Today I am participating in Cheri’s link up, where she is sharing her One Word progress.0