Hi everyone, Ann here!
My husband and I have been 'spiritually different' for almost five years now, and it’s become easier for us both. However, there is one thing that continues to floor me and I thought I’d share it with you today.
The act of giving my husband a kiss goodbye on a Sunday morning, getting in the car, and turning on the ignition to go to… church.
Hubby and I are like peas and carrots, we’re a packaged pair, and this whole walking out the door on a Sunday feels somehow wrong. Or is it?
Each Sunday morning I drive through the quiet city, and the minute I turn on worship music it sends an oomph to my heart. At that moment the disconnect between that music and the breakfast clatter I've just left feels stark.
I reach the church car-park and walk towards the hall. The sound of singing wafts out. It occurs to me every single week how weird he would find that.
And then I walk in.
“Do I need to be doing this?” I ask myself quite often. “Will I look back and regret having left him for so many Sundays?”
Last week I asked those questions again, just as I was getting out the car at the supermarket. A phrase came to mind: Lean not on your own understanding (From Proverbs 3:5-6). I paused, took a breath, and changed tack:
“God, I need to acknowledge you in this. Help me?”
Seconds later, I walked into the supermarket and right there in the entrance was someone from church. He said, “Great to see you, Ann, see you on Sunday!” Um.. Ok.
This journey of whether to go to church is one that has evolved over five years. Initially, 'church’ was a couple of Christian acquaintances on Facebook who helped me with my questions and thoughts. Bryce called them my ‘Christian cronies’, he didn’t mind. More importantly, I spent hours with God on my couch, scripture on my lap, with endless cups of tea. It was a time of learning.
However, the Holy Spirit began to urge me to go and be physically present with the Church where it gathered. It was a gentle but growing conviction.
“Mm?” I responded. “Yes, I suppose I am a wanderer, with a backpack on my back. Perhaps I do need to settle.” One thing led to another and I found myself visiting a church that met in a converted carpark building. It was a bit unpolished round the edges, and I liked it. Sitting at the back, I thought I’d be unnoticed. Yeah right. Not when God is in charge. Suddenly, the pastor says into the mic:
“I feel there’s someone here who has a backpack on their back and God is saying to them, now you can unpack. Make yourself at home!”
Hilarious! So I did. I tried to join small groups and such things. And it was at this point that Bryce expressed how profoundly he disagreed.
He never stopped me from going, nor did he question my faith; it was purely about how he felt about churches. I became extremely uncomfortable pursuing something he fundamentally disagreed with. Over the months, then, I repeatedly stopped going.
Ultimately, I could stop no longer, though. Why? Because God made it clear that He wanted me at that little church on a Sunday morning. The pull was unavoidable.
So church it is, and we've had to learn to cope. I’ve begun to get inklings about why God wants me there. There are specific people for whom I'm there. One of them is a fellow SUMite. We wave at each other across the room. If it's just for that wave, it’s worth it.
As I've grown attached to these people, I've started to invest in them, whether it’s speaking hope to someone at coffee time, passing a scripture to them, or being someone's prayer warrior. I never conceptualized that this was what church was about.
Finally, perhaps this one weekly act of walking out to worship God conveys something of importance to my family. Even though it feels oh, so risky.
So that’s me. Do you relate to this story at all? If so, where have you got to with it? Or, if you've been through this season, what wisdom can you share?
Thanks for listening.