This June marks six years that I have been back in an organized church environment. I have learned so much about hearing God during this time and know definitely that I heard Him in the years before as we made decisions that brought us along the path God wanted for us.
During these years, I have gone from the ages of 46 to 52. My children have been in middle school, high school, and now college. In fact, I will have an empty nest as of this fall because my younger son is graduating from high school. I’ve mentioned this before.
But, that’s not what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about how I became and am becoming comfortable with who I am in God’s kingdom. So, back to six years ago. When we decided we wanted to stay at the church we’re at now, I knew I needed to become involved so I could exercise this spirit in my heart which had remained dormant for so long. (Holy Spirit) I wanted, no needed, to make friends, and I wanted to take my faith seriously for the first time in a long time. So, I attended every service and Bible study I could. I took notes on everything I was learning. I had coffee, lunch, or dinner with people I wanted to get to know. I took food to a place where college students gathered. I worked in Vacation Bible School. (This all happened over the first couple of years.)
I did get to know people well during these years. Found my tribe, as the expression says. Not only did we spend time together inside the church. We spent time together outside the church. I had the friendships I craved, and I knew I had people in my life who loved me for the complete person I was–daughter of God, writer, science fiction and super hero enthusiast, technologically comfortable, baseball mom, homeschooler, mother, wife, bread maker. The complete person. And I felt like I was making a contribution at church too.
But, then, the people in my tribe started moving on. (I don’t fault them. Life happens.) They either didn’t have as much friendship time as they used to have, or they moved on completely (to different churches, different jobs, different states). It hurt though. It hurt when getting together didn’t work out, and it hurt when I felt alone and didn’t fit in. I was at the age where I felt like I needed to look to older women for guidance, but none of it seemed to fit my situation. I didn’t feel like I had anything to offer to younger women either. I didn’t feel like I had anything to offer anyone.
Before everyone assumes I stopped trying, I didn’t. I still participated in church life. I decided to learn something new in an attempt to make friends. I wrote and wrote through my confusion. While the writing helped some, I still felt odd and wondered if there was something wrong with me. I wondered if people saw a big X in front of my face which I couldn’t see that denoted my worthlessness to God. Heavy thoughts, I know, but thoughts I was trying to work my way through.
This is when I started hearing God’s voice with more clarity. I had been working my way through things from my past and learning more about this Lord and Savior of mine. God had become a constant presence in my life despite the pain. In fact, I understood better that this life would have pain even though I was a Jesus follower. It didn’t stop me from trying to get rid of the pain though because, who among us likes pain. I can tell you I don’t. 🙂
Anyway, I had been working my way through all of this by writing, by praying, and by memorizing Scripture, Psalm 139 having become a particular favorite. God was preparing my heart to hear Him in a big way.
One morning, I was in a room with several women, and as women generally do, we were having a conversation. These were women I looked up to and tried to emulate as I respected them and the contributions they made to our church life. I don’t remember what led to this remark, but one of them suddenly turned to me and said, “I guess it’s okay for you, but baseball just bores me.” I looked at her in shock. I know I must have looked like a deer caught in headlights. I also know she didn’t know about my struggle to be comfortable with the complete person I am. They returned to their conversation, and I was trying to figure out what to say next. The sentences, ‘Well, football bores me.’ and ‘I hate politics.” floated through my head. I decided neither of those would be kind, and I wasn’t in the mood for the fight they would get me in. (I live in a politics and football loving state) I really was tempted to say them though. Very much tempted.
This all happened in a matter of seconds, and in the next moment, I heard another voice. ‘I know your heart,’ it said, ‘the non-typical church woman heart that you have. Remember, I made it.’ It was God, and He was speaking to me. In my head, of course, but still speaking. Psalm 139:23-24 came to mind. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” And that was what I had longed for. For someone to know my heart. To love the complete person that I was. I was almost overcome with emotion as I thought of what I had written a while back. God broke the mold when He made me. He wants to work through me and not around me. He wants me to serve where He chooses and not where I think I should serve just because it is in a certain place. These were all comforting thoughts to me, and I knew they were from God.
I took the thoughts I learned that day and decided God was leading me in a new direction. I signed up for a couple of new things He was leading me towards, and I became more comfortable in my own skin. To touch the person who is alone or who feels alone with God’s love is much more important than fitting into a crowd even if it is fitting into a crowd of Christian brothers and sisters. May God give us all courage and bravery to realize this truth!
Praying God’s blessings on you all today!