You can always kinda tell when people aren’t too thrilled with things in your life you are doing or a stance on something you may have acquired. They sort of back out of your social circle little by little and where you could have attributed it to them just being busy you really sort of know that it’s because of that thing. That life choice you have made that you know is one they don’t agree with and it is causing them to retract a bit because they probably want to ask you about it but don’t know how to, without barfing their differing opinion or they just would rather have an attitude about it, talk about it among mutual friends who share the same opinions, and not discuss it with you at all. I haven’t figured out which one is worse. Noticing that some people that I thought were close friends have backed off tremendously out of our lives or wondering if they are gossiping about us with each other and not in a place that they feel like they can ask “So whats up” when I KNOW it’s crossed their minds “How the heck did that happen”?!?!? So because I know my friends and I know darn well they have done both, I figured that because I love them anyway I would just go ahead and answer the questions that they are too afraid for whatever reason to ask even though they probably already know.
Yes we did… We did go back to Oasis.
Shock and Appall!!
I am sure if you haven’t heard from someone in this tiny little podunk town or if your circle is so big you hadn’t even noticed which, I am finding out is the case for a few people that I know, we went back about a month or so ago.
Why did we leave in the first place?
The long and short of it is this. James and I have never gone to another church together and I had never left the church I was going to. I grew up there from the time I was going into the 9th grade and I went with my parents and my family and that was that. When I got married, just as a husband leaves and cleaves, he also left his comfy Baptist church and came with me and my family to my church and it was fine. We were comfortable and we were safe and it’s where my family was and I loved that. Leaving that church was one of the toughest decisions I have ever made and what I would find out later was that God had a plan. He always does and we all know this. I will only speak of my own transformations because whatever God was doing in anyone else is their story to tell but I will say that for me, I was going to be broken of life long struggles and dependencies, the first being coming out of my comfort zone and leaving the nest. (you can read about that HERE if you want, as I wrote about that weeks ago if you happened to miss it)
Having The Gospel presented to us in a different way than we were use to blew our minds, stirred our hearts and grew our faith in ways that we weren’t even aware were possible. That is not to suggest that our upbringing in ANY church before this wasn’t life forming at all and to suggest or assume otherwise is just unfair and wrong and completely out of my control should anyone decide to feel that way. As I merged out of my comfort zone and began baby steps into SMALL GROUPS, the only bad word I simply refused to say, it became clear to us that our hearts were those of a servants and that we LOVED doing life and having community with other believers. We don’t have Christian Friends outside of church. We never have. Not ever. You would think that people who grew up in church for their entire lives specifically at the same church for so long, that I would have an amazing circle of christian women friends and yet, I had none. Every once in a while throughout different seasons we would attend a birthday party or something but really, outside of the 4 walls and usually just on social media I did not have those relationships that I realized I was starving for but pridefully refused to admit it. The days of attending church picnics as a single mother with a baby daughter and sitting alone among a sea of families, none of which would ever invite me to join them or going to a women’s bible study and being completely unacknowledged were going to be a thing of the past because I was now among a group of people who wanted me to be a part of their lives….and that felt amazing.
And then change happened.
The structure began to shift, new ideas began to flow within what we felt safe and comfortable in and we freaked out and we left. Well, that’s what it looked like anyway. Little did we or anyone else know that there were an array of underlying issues that apparently needed to be resolved during that time and boy were they!! I was completely broken from the chains of bondage that the mental illness I refused to deal with and continued to allow rule my life had me lost in. And during that time away I sought the right help from the right doctors and was able to be properly diagnosed and medicated thus allowing me to stop medicating myself with any damn thing I could that would ease the pain of the crazy I have always dealt with and never the right way. That The Lord would even direct me to such a path and more importantly that I would even ALLOW Him to and not just me, that my family would be supportive and that my husband would seek understanding and not be terrified in his ignorance of bipolar disorder is such a huge relief you cant even possibly imagine.. Perhaps you can, I don’t know.
Albeit disheartening that so many people were willing to just turn their back on us, AGAIN, I have also come to the understanding that I expect too much from people, specifically Christians, and that is stupid on my part. Just as a non Christian would get so angry with me for not doing what they thought I should and defriend me on Facebook, yell in my face if they were bold enough, condemn me for my actions and completely cut themselves out of my life if they felt like they needed to dictate our relationship and my choices in life so strongly, I shouldn’t have been so offended and pissed off that Christians did the same. After all, we are ALL sinners who need Jesus and we ALL have idiosyncrasies that could use more of Him and less of us and I am understanding that part too. The fact that upon returning to my “home church” and people told me to my face that they hadn’t even realized I was gone for the two and a half years, albeit hurtful and sort of sad, it was something I have always sort of expected from such a large congregation. It’s how it had always been and for many many years it was perfect for me! I loved being able to get lost in the shuffle and just be a recognized face in a crowd on Sunday mornings not having any accountability and no one to answer to, I did!! But that changed when we “downsized” and discovered our hearts had changed and we missed that.
We missed our new family that we had bonded with. We missed our friends we had made and began to do life with outside the 4 walls of the church, the ones who constantly were on the phone with us, in our lives while we were gone, through the chiseling, healing and rebuilding that was happening and the chains that were being broken. We missed the smiles and hugs, the community groups, the picnics and just over all feeling of family, SINCERELY. I had such a longing for it that I was almost miserable re entering a place where no one cared if I was there or not. Well, not no one. I should give credit where it is due and say that the Pastor is one of my biggest fans and has been a friend to me for as long as I have known him. And I know if he is reading this he is probably feeling an array of emotions and he probably didn’t even know I was feeling any of it at all because just like the people who are afraid to ask me what is up, I was afraid to tell him what was up because I know his heart and breaking it isn’t my intention. I love you and you know it. I love what the church has been to children my goodness! My daughter is so tremendously blessed there and loves you as much if not more than I do and that is SUCH a blessing to me and should be to you as well. Her husband loves it there and I know that having raised my daughter there and that she calls that home now with her husband, the time that I was there in the end is benefiting her. And that is awesome! That she is even IN church and starting her marriage off this way because that is where she grew up reminds me that I did right by her and I am thankful for that.
ALL of this to say that I am not angry, bitter or pissy about anything anymore and that is another area of growth I have experienced during this time of church pong. As it was all happening and it was confusing and I didn’t know HOW to even deal with all of it because it WAS so unfamiliar as I had said before, we had never left a church or built lives with other believers or wanted out of our comfortable incognito ALL of the things that were happening were new territory for us and we didn’t handle it the way someone else would have. Sorry? I guess?? I mean, how do you expect someone to deal with something new to them so perfectly and when they don’t, how do you turn your backs on them or rebuke them? Really, it doesn’t even matter to me anymore which is just another thing I have grown in to understanding and being content with. Everyone is going to do them the way they know how and life is going to go on with or without me in theirs. At the end of the day it is my responsibility to serve Jesus and no one else, and if people don’t like the way in which I do that and they have an issue with it, its not MY issue it’s theirs and I will love them anyway and not lose sleep about it anymore.
We are where we are and we know that it is where we are suppose to be. And in order for us to be there, and to be there to serve others and love unconditionally and be as in tune to Jesus as we possibly can be so that we can embrace these things safely and correctly,other things had to be removed. Hearts had to be healed. Minds needed to be renewed. Addictions needed to be broken. Walls needed to come down and new pathways needed to be cleared so that we could approach them securely. Untarnished and healthy so that we could run down them strong and not take anyone down with our junk. That is the big picture that I see when I stand back and look at the past year or so. I enter this new phase in my life healthier physically, spiritually, mentally than I have ever been in my entire life, not to mention 45 pounds lighter and happier than I have been for as long as I can remember. I am thankful for every single person who prayed for us during this time and I am thankful for people who stayed true to themselves and showed who they really are, good and not so good. I hope that friendships and feelings that were hurt will be mended and restored and I am open to giving and receiving repentance and forgiveness to anyone and everyone that I need to. And I intend on approaching the new year with all the healing and wellness I have obtained to benefit and grow and serve others to the best of my ability and completely transparent.
It is going to be amazing.