My faith journey began as a little girl visiting my maternal grandmother's church with a small congregation, all over fifty-five years old. This small church did not welcome young children and I'll never forget the way they looked at my brother and I as we tried to behave during service. I now know that my mother ran from organized religion as a result of her childhood experiences with that congregation and her own mother. As I grew older I spent summer breaks with my father's parents. They insisted that all of the grandchildren come to their church every time we were in town. Their church was also very small but the congregation welcomed all ages. The thing I remember most about that congregation is their kindness and the sense of peace I found in that small building.
Fast forward many years, I met my husband when I was nineteen, married by twenty-one, and became a mom by twenty-two. The moment my son was born I knew that I wanted to raise him differently than I'd been raised and that meant finding a church home. I asked my husband for permission to find a church and take our son with me. He agreed but promised that he would never come along or participate. That conversation was almost thirteen years ago.
I visited only one church before finding the one that God meant for us. During those early days I would sit in the chair, look at the "happy" couples and cry. One morning, after crying through every worship song, a lady in front of me turned around and handed me a stone with the word Hope printed on it. She smiled with such kindness that I knew I was still home. One other Sunday during those early years, an acquaintance sat next to me and said "that chair next to you may seem empty but it's not. The Holy Spirit is always here." That bit of encouragement gave me strength to walk through those doors again and again.
I will admit, those early years were very hard. I tried plugging into the community through volunteering but out of respect for my husband, I limited my time spent in church activities. In an effort to find community I would look through the church website for a small group or class that could help me navigate my journey as a spiritually mismatched wife but I never found that. I continued to go every Sunday but I sought community and a Biblical education on my own. I did that through daily reading in the Bible, tons of Bible studies and Christian music. Then in 2011, after I had read just about every book I could find on the subject, the Spirit led me to Winning Him Without Words. Through that book and the word of God, I learned that if I was willing then God would use me to positively impact every area of my marriage and home. I also found the community that I had so desperately needed. It's true that I've never seen either Lynn or Dineen in person but through technology, they have become my friends and mentors over the last five years. I may not respond to every blog post but I read every one and I lift up each prayer request. This community has become my church without walls and I know that it was a vital part of God’s plan for my life. Lynn and Dineen, thank you for your honesty, kindness and service to our community. Both of you will always hold a very special place in my heart.
Christy Edney is a follower of Jesus, wife of thirteen years and mother of two children (12 and 7). She serves her congregation as a Small Group leader and Stephen’s Minister. She is passionate about raising her children with an authentic Christ-like example, showing the love of Christ to all and teaching his Word.