I have a secret. I used to be afraid of saying the wrong words in church. I would fumble over my lips as though just learning to speak. My tongue wouldn’t work properly, the word came out wrong, and nine times out of ten I’d feel like a babbling fool tripping over my words. Take me out of church (and away from church based events) and I could talk about anything. I’m generally a relaxed person and don’t typically have a hard time making conversation with people, but when it came to Sunday mornings, I was so uncomfortable. And, if I’m really being honest here, there are certain people who I had an even harder time talking to. I don’t know what it was, perhaps a job they do, the elegant hairstyle they adorn. Maybe it was way they can recite any bible verse while I fumble in my brain trying to remember where it was that I read a scripture that I know would work in the conversation (but only because I thought it would make me sound smart like I’ve got it together). And I fumbled. I looked at the clock wondering how much longer I had to endure smiling, how much longer would this sermon last, how much longer is this bible study, and all the while praying my stomach doesn’t make a weird noise and cause people to look my direction. I was uncomfortable in my “church clothes”, and wondered why I put that outfit on before we left. It seemed alright when I put it on, but as I wished to escape the setting I longed for my jeans with each passing minute. I’d check my breath, “I need a mint”, I’d think. I was a scripture fumbling, jeans longing, AND head to the ground so no one could smell my breath girl. Great. Just great. Fifteen minutes in to any situation and I as already crawling in my skin.
Why do I tell you this? I tell you this because over the last year woman after women has stood in front of me telling me her heart. She has one and three quarters of her feet out the door of her church and just one last toe in the front door. She has been hurt by other women, not necessarily because they said or did something awful, but because she showed up looking for companionship and received little more than a smile and handshake.
Let me tell you, dear sister, as you read this. I felt like you. I have wondered why, in a place that’s suppose to feel closer to God’s love, do I feel so lonely? Why, in a place where I can come freely to the cross do I not feel like I can freely be me? How am I suppose to be knit together with love with people who I barely know? Is this truly all there is?
You heart is heavy. I feel you. I can’t say I’m so much further ahead in they journey. But, I have begun to feel more confident being me when I’m in church.
Your last toe in the front door gives me hope. Your heart wants more. You are desperate for that joy that you’ve seen on the face of a few others, but haven’t found yourself. You want your heart to be heard. You have hurt that needs tending to, fears that need to be acknowledged, and a desperate need to feel like you belong. You seek fullness in your life, but have yet to experience it.
So, let me take you on a journey over the next month or so. Brick by brick let’s take down that well guarded wall we have around each of us. As we do so, let’s allow God’s love to soak into our souls a quench a thirst that only he can satisfy.
Let me share with you what I’ve learned along the way in hopes that we may bond together the way God intended. Promise me you won’t take your toe out just yet. Promise me, that you’ll find a friend, a sister, a neighbour, someone who you trust to start this process with. And in return, let me give you this promise:
to be of one mind and join with you in God’s body,
full of sympathy toward each other,
loving one another
with tender hearts
and humble minds.
I won’t seek revenge if you’ve hurt me.
I’ll tell you privately if you’ve hurt me, in hopes of reconciliation,
then I’ll pray a blessing on you for being the kind of friend that I will love through accidental or intentional hurts.
I will not speak evil about you, or share your stories about you behind your back,
I will not make up lies about you,
and I will work hard to live in peace with you, even knowing we do things differently,
fully acknowledging that God has made you different for a purpose that may not always make sense to me.
I will celebrate our differences with you.
(summarization of 1 Peter 3:8-12)
And just in case you feel like sharing this promise with others, here’s a copy for you below.
Let me pray for you.
Father, thank you that even though it feels as though we are unnoticed be others that YOU have noticed us. Thank you for crafting us to be exactly who we are. I pray that you would soften the hearts of women. Allow us to see each other the way you see us. Knit us to together in love. Build a strong body here on earth that would be a reflection of your kingdom. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Enjoy your week. And may you walk in a little more confident Sunday morning, knowing that there’s more to this than Sunday morning clothing, and fake smiles.