I walked through the doors of a new church with 11-month-old Leslie on my hip. I was 6-weeks pregnant with twins. We had just moved and I was a little in awe of visiting the new church.
It was a large church.
I had my “I really want to make new friends” smile on.
And then I chucky-cheesed on the carpet.
How’s that for an entrance?
Service was in full swing and heads turned my way. I’m sure stomachs turned, too. I turned around and left for the parking lot to make a quick exit.
Yes, I left the pile of vomit on the carpet.
Not cool, I know.
Two weeks later my baby girl was going through a difficult surgery and the pastor showed up to pray and comfort us. “I understand you are the young lady that visited us last week,” he said.
Um, yeah, about that.
“We hope you come back.”
He meant it and we did go back. My children grew up there. The carpet changed. The leadership changed — twice.
And I changed.
The 23-year-old girl that first tentatively walked through the doors of the “big church” learned to teach, to grow, to worship, to connect, to give grace, to forgive, to thrive, to encourage, to grieve. . . all because of that church family.
Our church family was the first to wrap around us when I found out I had cancer at 31.
They were there when Ryan was hit by a drunk driver.
They cheered us on when Richard started a new journey as a full-time student at 48.
And we became family to others. We got to cheer on friends in the harder places. We got to weep with those who grieved. We had the privilege of encouraging a friend who was new in his or her faith.
Now, this is where I need to be really honest. It wasn’t a perfect church. I wasn’t always a perfect church member. There were times that the church went through conflict. There was one time when it felt like it might not survive. But this same church was comprised of ordinary people who loved Jesus, and together we made it.
Sometimes we can get a little cynical about the church as a whole. We can scrutinize. Are they teaching God’s word properly? Do they feed the hungry? Why did that person say that?
But remember that the “they” is “we”.
It’s you and me.
Last year we moved to a new state. When we walked through the doors of our new church, I looked over at Richard.
“I don’t know a soul,” I whispered.
He grinned. “Me either.”
But we began to intentionally make friends. We intentionally walked through doors of a church where no one knew anything about us. We are reaching out to form community with lots of grace for the “new” and lots of grace for ourselves in this season.
Because we need each other. Word, we need each other.
There are–and never will be–a perfect church. But it can become an imperfect, beautiful family and that’s a gift. If you desire to heal or grow, you don’t have to do it alone.
We are in this together.
Just so you know, you’re my family, too. Thank you for showing up today and sharing in the conversation around the table.
I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.