I was always a churchgoer growing up, Southern Baptist, hymnal singing, no hands up, no dancing, and not a whole lotta “Amens” being yelled out. I went to church through high school with friends because, at the time, my parents were not attending a church of their own. I attended youth group and went to discipleship training and rec nights.
After getting divorced from my first husband and marrying my second husband, lots of long stories there, I woke up one random Sunday morning, at 8 am, and decided, I am going to church today. My husband was at work, and the kids were at their other parents’ house, so I was going to tackle this alone. I didn’t know which church to go to, but I got dressed, texted a few friends, who didn’t respond, then decided to attend the church I pass by every day taking my kids to school. Growing up Southern Baptist, this church was nothing like anything I had ever experienced. One, they outgrew their tiny church so much they were meeting in the middle school cafeteria. Two, there was a fog machine, then a band, and some stage lights, Sweet Jesus, I didn’t know what to do! They sang songs I didn’t recognize, so I could only assume were contemporary and probably on the radio which is why I had never heard them before. So I sat in my seat, silently weirded out, smiling at people saying hi to me that I didn’t know. Don’t let me lie to you, I knew some people, people I hadn’t seen since the first marriage dissolved, but not any less awkward. You know, the whole divorce thing and then showing up at church, feeling judged and wondering what people are thinking and what stories they had heard about you that probably weren’t true? Ya, that was life for me right then, total weird anxiety moment. But, once the praise team walked off that stage, and the Pastor got up there, that was it. He spoke to me like he was living in my house and knowing all my secrets. All my anxieties and failures and he knew about all of them. Talk about a wake-up call. I had spent most of my adult years running from God, only to hear “you are not alone” from a Pastor on my first day at a new church that doesn’t even have a building. I was alone in that church on day one, but not anymore.
The next Sunday, I was bringing my Non-Saved, God-believing, lack of belief in organized religion husband with me. I was nervous. I knew God was pulling me there for a reason and I knew I needed to go back. The pastor was preaching what God was sending, and I needed to hear, and I know my family needed to hear it too. So, we went the next Sunday, and my husband loved it. I was shocked, overwhelmed, and filled with Joy all at once. Still nervous, because at any moment my husband could change his mind, I had faith that God would pull on his heart and that if we continued to go, our marriage would be strengthened and my husband’s faith would continue to grow.
Through vacation bible school in June, my step-daughters had accepted Christ, and we are still waiting for baptism for them. My son, while he believes in God, I continue to pray for his salvation. He asks a lot of questions and is very analytical, so I know he is going to have to see God in his life and see how God works in my life to fully give his heart over. He is my Isaac. Abraham had to lay is Isaac down and was prepared to sacrifice his son for the Lord. I know I must do the same. But back to the real story.
Our family continued to go faithfully, and I decided to attend the women’s beach retreat in September after only being a part of the church less than 6 months. Talk about a crazy idea. Me on a trip, with the church, and 50 ladies all part of the ladies group, whom I didn’t know. Oh ya, and the people I knew pre-divorce, friends of my ex-husband, so not weird at all. This would be interesting. But I went, and boy did He do some work in me. I shared, cried, and laughed without fear of judgment. I left refreshed and with 20+ new necks to hug on Sunday mornings (I know not 50, but still good, and who’s counting anyway).
“Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.” Colossians 3:16, NLT
By October, my husband was saved and baptized. I cried like ugly cried, through the whole service. Thankful for what God was doing in our lives, to our family.
Fast forward a year later, and we are still faithfully going. My faith grows stronger with every church service. I have come to accept the fog machine, the praise team, and the wonderful music. All the while I am learning more about the bible, my journey, and couldn’t be happier with our church tribe.
So when I found MY church, my family did too.