One of the struggles I continue to go through hits me every Sunday morning. I have grown up in the church, and going to church on Sunday morning has been a part of my life constantly and consistently. Not being a part of a church and having a place to call home is extremely difficult. My heart aches because I want a family and a home. I want a place to belong. I want to be known and to know others. There are a lot of places I could go to church (and I have been over the last few months), but going to church and being connected and a part of the life of the church are different.
The church I was removed from last May was only about 60 people so we knew the names and faces of everyone. I was known, not well as people were not that interested in really connecting and having community but they knew my name and some basic factual things about me. The church I have attended the most over the last few months and have tried to make some connections in is about 900 people. I feel lost, I go in alone, and many weeks no one even is able to call me by name.
I know others struggle with this too. I have heard and talked to a lot of people who ask questions such as: Am I ready to go back to church? Do I even want to be a part of the churches that are out there or am I done with organized religion? If I do try a church, what kind should I try and how do I walk through all the maze of making that decision and finding the courage to actually visit? How do I trust again? Should I just attend services or should I actually get involved? Do I need to just receive so I can heal, and if so will others be willing to allow that and help me in it? Is it safe? How do I know who to trust? What is the right timing?
Every Sunday morning as I think of going to church and trying to decide where to go I mourn for the loss in my life. It is a weekly reminder of the loss, grief, pain, and confusion in my life. It is a weekly reminder that others are in churches where they are celebrating, connecting, being known, and sharing in community and I deeply want that in my life. It is a weekly reminder that those who hurt me, rejected me, and abandoned me are still gathering and sharing together but I am not allowed to share with them in that. When I go to a church and they offer communion it is a reminder that I am in broken relationship with others and despite all I have tried and the humility and repentance I have expressed trying to reconcile the others continue to leave things broken…and that leaves me not knowing how to approach God’s table and share openly in relationship with him or fellow believers.
I feel like Sunday should be a day to celebrate, worship, walk in unity, and share in grace but deep inside I still mourn and suffer. I know this isn’t what God wants, neither my suffering nor the brokenness with others. Every week I take steps forward to move past the pain, the grief, and the loss but it is a process and it takes time. Until I one again am a part of a community where I find grace, mercy, love, hope, and am known for who I am there will continue to be a part where I mourn on Sunday’s. I am so thankful though that in the midst of that mourning I can stand before God knowing that I am walking faithfully and with righteousness now. I am growing deeply in my walk with him. I am making relationships and building community with others. I am moving forward and not letting my past define me and keep me in bondage. I am believing in the one true God who brings me hope, promise, love, and accepts me just as I am but challenges me to be so much more.
So, I do mourn on Sunday but I am learning that even in the midst of mourning I can find hope, peace, and the promises of walking with God.