Monday, January 30, 2012
Finding a Home
I was brave today. I have put off finding a church home in College Station because it is so hard to go to church by myself. I have attended lots of church services with others, but not for me alone. But God was finally able to get me to hear Him—to hear Him say that it was not about me, it was about Him, and that I needed to continue His mission for me…to find a place to worship locally with other believers.
I have struggled to find my place in “the church.” I was raised “Protestant” which gives you great roots but no congregational home, as you move from post to post and are taught by pastors and chaplains of many different ilks. I grew to love Army chaplains, as their agenda is pretty pure—they just want you to know Jesus. But as the Army moved us about, we attended church less and less as a family. It was up to us to get ourselves to church, if at all, when we were teenagers. I chose the church I wanted to be married in because it was pretty, not because it was my spiritual home.
Once I was away from a military post, I couldn’t tell you if I was Baptist, Lutheran, or “nondenominational” but all of a sudden it seemed to matter. In civilian communities we had to “shop” for a church…sometimes Baptist felt right, other times Methodist, and yes, even Catholic. I could never get Bo to go to church with me. I took the kids to church by myself, and it was no small feat to get 5 children out the door on time in “church” clothes. I can’t tell you how many spankings or “disciplinary sessions” I had with my children before we entered the pews or the Sunday School classroom. Sometimes Sundays were the days I least resembled the woman God wanted me to be.
I have been baptized three times in my life—once as a little girl in the Lutheran church, once as a young mother in the Baptist church, and once as a widow in the Catholic church. Beneath each of my baptisms is my own yearning, I think, to know God and to learn to love Him wholly and purely. I know I am Saved by Grace through Faith, and that is the bottom line. I don’t struggle with my faith, but I have struggled with the church.
Church can be a painful place. I weep easily there. God gets to me. He convicts me, kind of fillets me, and He searches me for my sin. Realizing how I’ve failed Him brings tears, repentance, and I am grateful for it. Church is my hallelujah place; I can sing and not be heard by anyone but Him. I can lift my hands, break open my heart, bend my knee, bow my head. It’s not hard once I’m there—the hard part is walking in the door alone. Churches haven’t always known what to do with single moms. You don’t get invitations to join couples for dinner; you get relegated to the seniors group or the singles group, and I never really felt like I fit either of those categories. Sometimes jealousy rears its head the most on Sunday mornings; you are envious of women who have what you don’t—a spiritual partner.
But I guess what God is showing me today is that very little of that stuff actually matters any more. In fact, denomination doesn’t matter much either. It’s time for me to find a group of believers to join for worship. All that matters is my willingness to listen to Him and to follow Him, wherever He leads, and to recognize that I am not alone. He is my Father and Husband; He will lead me beside the still waters, renew my life, anoint my head with oil. He wants to see me dwelling in His house with others, and I need to be obedient and faithful instead of reticent and scared.
I was talking this over with Christi this afternoon, and she gave me such a sweet blessing. She told me perhaps I was meant to be a Titus mom within the church. The congregation I met this morning was full of college students. I think I was one of less than a handful of folks with gray hair. But I loved her idea…that God might use me to encourage, with integrity and dignity, so that these young believers might be reminded that He has good works for all of us to do, so we are fruitful at any age or stage of our lives. That’s grace, and that sounds good to me.