This writing has been a long time in coming. And even now I’m not certain I can fully get through it, but still I try.
My dad was a pastor. I remember the whole journey with him to that end – the “calling”, moving so he could attend school, four years of college, his first pastorate, and then the many moves and myriad of emotions that follows each and every portion of the journey. It definitely was not even remotely close to always pleasant. And, yet somehow – I still believe my father does every day what the Creator asked of him and I believe I am better for having been raised in that home than in the home of a newspaper pressman. (I love you, Dad.)
My ex-husband was also a pastor. Not because of this fact, but because of the gifts the Creator granted me with, I was involved on a daily basis with our local church of 500 people and loved absolutely every moment of it. It was exhausting and there were moments I just wished I could cuddle up with my kids rather than ministering to the masses, but as a whole, I did believe in what I was doing within the church. The divorce was unpleasant and many in the church did not understand – how could they, as I had been silent for so long about the reality of our marriage – and it resulted in my losing every relationship within that church at the drop of a hat. Since then, a very small number have been restored but mostly it is still a hurt that I feel may never heal.
I have been in this amazing man’s life now for 3 years and it has been a journey of peace and healing and love and mutual adoration and I am amazingly blessed by that. But, all along I have been ignoring my decisions/desires regarding church. THE Church and I were struggling enough – certainly church and I weren’t going to be good buddies anytime soon. (Do not confuse this with my struggle regarding my relationship with GOD, however.)
I have visited a few churches in the past few years. One pastor came walking up to my doorstep the first week following the Sunday I visited, promptly asked, “Whose kids are those?” and I got a look that reminded me I wasn’t worthy of being in his church. I never returned. I’ve visited a church that I disagreed with doctrinally, another one that reminded me of a fundraiser, and one final resting place, I believe, at least while we live in VA Beach. God has put me right back down at my foundational roots and while I thought I would fight like a wildcat against such a thing, I have found peace and beauty truly.
There is a minor grammatical difference between “church” and “Church” and yet it is a major life-changing difference. Thank God for the difference.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)