by Elllen cross posted from her blog When Church Hurts
We’re half way through the 21 Days. By this time, if you are working on changing your brain and reminding yourself of how God sees you, you will start to notice that you are turning the corner and beginning to believe more of God’s truth than the lies you received from the abuse you have suffered. Keep up the good work!
When I think about what I wanted from my church, the list looks like this:
A place to give my time, talents, generosity
Learning more about faith and practice
A place to serve others
A place to live out my worship (giving God worth)
Funny thing is, when I look at this list, I can see that my church filled very little of this list.
I was not accepted.
I was not loved.
I did not have true friends (all abandoned me in my greatest time of need.)
I did not have support.
I did not have a place to give my time and talents during the decade plus that I was not allowed to serve – but they never refused my money.
I was not allowed to attend classes – only to listen to sermons – so my learning in the church was limited.
Again, I was not allowed to serve, and though I could attend worship services, I could not “live out my worship” – giving worth to God in tangible ways in the church other than writing checks.
I wanted so much to have the church BE the church with me – both in giving and receiving. I so wanted to function as part of the Body of Believers – the Body of Christ. Yet at every turn I was denied.
Those first few weeks that I was away from the church, I began to realize that I actually had all of those things in my life. It just wasn’t in the church.
I was accepted by many people – friends and family, Christians and non-Christians outside of my church. I started realizing this as I became more available to people because I wasn’t spending so much time doing church stuff. I had time for coffee with friends, time for phone chats, time to chat online, time for co-workers, time for family.
And I realized how deeply loved I am by many people – outside of the church.
I realized that I have had dear friends waiting on the sidelines for me to have enough time to spend with them, to care about them, to enjoy them.
And when there were difficult days, I had people who were quick to step in and support me.
And I realized even more that outside of a church with a multi-million dollar budget that spends untold amounts of money just to decorate for Christmas, I could give to the person who lost their job, or the person who was hurt in an accident and couldn’t work for a while, or to help my children, or to help a student who had no money on their lunch account, or to hospice fund raisers, etc. I could be incredibly generous to people who truly appreciate it – rather than giving to a “general fund” in which we were not allowed to know how money was spent and never got a “thank you.”
I realized that I could serve any time, any where, any one. And in doing so, I was honoring God more than I ever had by sitting in church being told I could do nothing.
And my heart has soared.
See, here’s the thing. For a very long time I looked for what I wanted in the way I wanted it and I couldn’t see that what I wanted was waiting for me all along – in places I hadn’t been able to notice because of the blinders I was wearing when I was so focused on the church.
Today, make a list of what you wanted from the church – wanted to have and wanted to give.
Then look around. Are those things already happening or available somewhere else? With someone else? Many someones?
Go! Be that friend. Be that servant. Be that person who blesses others with your time, talent, and generosity.
If you haven’t already, you will find that you are deeply loved and cared for. It doesn’t take a church to live out your faith in Christ.
Let me know if your heart finds wings as you look beyond the church.
More about Ellen: