Archive | She Is Beloved RSS feed for this section

Death Without a Funeral

26 Oct

rockpile

It’s a death without a funeral.*

There’s been a recent death in my life.  It’s not a person or a pet, but a church.  I have said goodbye to my old church.  This move, orchestrated by God, has caused a loss of community, a loss of purpose, a sense of being displaced, and a sense of identity loss.

Who am I now and where do I belong? It’s like looking to the sky to see God as a cloud leading me somewhere new and on the darkest of nights trusting His pillar of fire to watch over me.

It’s moving on.

A final goodbye.

Don’t look back.

Just keep moving forward.

Leaving this church is one of the most painful experiences of my life.  I came in those doors so wounded and torn up by the world after not going to church for seven years.  I experienced healing, was challenged in my faith, and I grew.  I became strong. 

And because of it, I’m now strong enough to leave.

God is telling me that it is time to move on.  And like Abraham, like Moses, like so many who have gone before, I must follow where my God has called me.  Whatever the reasons for leaving a church—any church—the main reason should and must always be a calling from God.

I wasn’t sure I should blog about this, but as I googled “leaving a church” I didn’t find any helpful information.  I didn’t find people grieving the loss.  I simply found articles with bullet points on knowing when to leave and when to stay.

It goes so far beyond a bullet point.

We want to fancy it up with church talk.  We want to wrap it up in a pretty bow, like because God called us to do it means it isn’t hard.  Because God called us to do it, we didn’t scream our hearts out on the living room floor every day for a week.  We pretend leaving our ministries doesn’t rip us all apart.  We wear these “holy masks” and say everything is just fine.

But everything is not fine.  Goodbyes are hard, particularly this one because, for me, it’s a tearing away.  I feel like I’m losing a piece of myself.  I know the reasons God is moving me, yet I feel like some sort of refugee.  I’m bewildered, don’t know how to fit into the new mold of a new church, and I’m so lost and lonely.

I know I’ll be OK.  I know I’m grieving right now, but just as the dying leaves fall from the trees only to bud in the spring, so will I.  There’s just a long winter of the soul ahead—a time to rest, reflect, and snuggle up with God.  Sometimes a winter has to come to force us to look at the One who truly gives life.  I trust Him to provide what I need in this transition.

I tell myself the truth. Day after day.  And it hurts less and I haven’t cried in a few days now.  I’m finding sustenance and joy in God, almost like I had to become wounded like this to feel Him again.  Almost like my heart had to split wide open with this wound to start beating again.

To quote C.S. Lewis, “There are far better things ahead than what I leave behind.”  I am choosing to run towards the better things ahead. 

And when I need to, I bow my head in grief and scream out to God to ease my pain.  I struggle as I grieve this death, this death without a funeral. 

This is my funeral, my final goodbye, my laying to rest. It’s in these words I find peace and on my blog I place a gravestone.  I build an altar here, dedicate it to God, and remember this holy moment.

*I borrowed the title “Death Without A Funeral” from singer/songwriter Jason Gray.  The song can be found on his latest release, Where the Light Gets In. You can watch a video where Jason talks about “Death Without a Funeral” here or listen to the song itself here.

Advertisements

She Is Beloved

21 Jun

If I ever did get a tattoo, it would say, “Beloved.”

So I’ve been busy, and I actually mean it!  No, not languishing away on my couch the victim of depression or hiding in bed because of anxiety, not even my formerly broken/still healing foot is holding me back…all that much anyway.  I’m busy in the Lord, which is so much better than being busy for busyness’ sake.

When I started going to Bethany Church in November, I never knew how it would transform my life–not only locking me into community with God’s people, but giving my sad life more purpose than it has felt  in years, than it’s had since I left the church in fall 2004. 

Oh, I’ve tried to pursue other interests, passions, and loves away from the Church, but they’ve all fallen short.  Yet some sustained me for a while, yet nothing truly satisfied.  I was spiritually dehydrated, emotionally broken, and physically falling apart because I held onto bitterness, unforgiveness, and oh, how I raged against God!  I rejected the arms of the One who longed to provide me comfort.  It may not have changed my circumstances; it would have changed my response to those hardships.  Still, God is picking up all the broken pieces, gathering them into His heart, and using them for His glory.  I love a God who can make beauty rise from the ashes.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for years know how I longed for community, yet made excuses for why I couldn’t go to church.  Believe me, the horrible panic attacks upon entering a church building didn’t help.  I want you to know that I understand those of you who have given up on church.  I know what it’s like to sleep until noon on Sunday mornings and feel a small pang of guilt for not going to church because it seems like the “right” thing to do. (All the while Keith Green’s lyric, “Jesus rose from the dead and you can’t even get out of bed,” played in my head.) I know you’ve been hurt, scarred, and the last place you want to go on Sunday is to church.

Go anyway.

And if you’re just not ready, know that God will come find you, His little lost lamb.  He will come to you, cradle you in His loving arms, and led you back to the flock.  I am praying for you, beloved, even if I don’t know your name.  I am praying for you because God knows Your name, for it is engraved on His palms. (If you want me to personally pray for you or encourage you, please shoot me an email.)

He is calling your name, “beloved.” Not only are you precious to the heart of God, but so is His Beloved Bride, the Church.  I am beloved.  You are beloved.  And she is beloved as well. 

Hear His voice, respond to His call, and come home!  The door is always open and our light will never burn out, for We are the Church, the Beloved Bride of Christ.

We are the beloved ones!

Amy’s NoteI am writing this to myself as much as I am writing it to you because I want to remember why I need my church, fellowship, and other Christians with which to “do life.”  If you want to pray for me, please ask God to protect my little heart and strengthen my spirit, that I may be used as a conduit for His glory and honor and renown.  Thank you, faithful prayer warriors! 

%d bloggers like this: