My heart was beating rapidly, my hands were sweaty and my anxiety was high the Sunday morning I awoke early to attend a new church in Twin Falls. I really did not want to attend, I wanted to stay home and sleep. Sleeping was comfortable, attending church was not. I thought to myself, “do I really have to go?”
It had been almost 2 years since I had attended church regularly. I had become one of those that attended Christmas Eve, Easter and a few Saturday nights when I felt like it. though it was not where I placed my church membership. Absolutely not, I could not even fathom walking into those doors.
After Chad and I married and moved into our place together we began to attend a large church well known in the community. Shortly after we became members Chad and I became very active with those walls. I taught in the Children’s Department, wrote for the Children’s Ministry newsletter, co-lead women’s bible studies, lead a weekly mom’s life group and was a part of the women’s council. I just loved my days spent at church it was my second home, my extended family. I would do anything I could for them, extended myself thin at times, but I felt it was what I was called to do. It just felt right… until I needed them.
When I needed them the most in one of my darkest hours I was left alone. I reached out the only way I could one busy Sunday morning through text message. I did not feel as though I could talk. When no one responded throughout the hustle and bustle I let out my frustration in another message, it may not have been tactful, but it was another cry for help. Still no response. A few days later I received a phone call from one of the women’s council members, mentor and friend. She wanted to stop by to chat. I will never forget that day. The conversation began with small talk which then turned into the real agenda that she had for me that visit. Instead of asking if I was okay, instead of praying with me, instead of giving me a bible verse that could assist me through this dark moment … she made me aware of the wrong I had done that Sunday. Telling me how inconsiderate I was for sending messages like that on an extremely important day for the church. When I tried to explain how I longed for help that day I was interrupted and told that a letter is being sent to the Pastor in regards to the situation and was asked to not return to the women’s council.
Immediately my heart began to harden, I felt cold and unwanted. Not because I was asked to step down in my role at the church, it was because I was let down. Some may say that my expectations of these women were too high. I disagree. If the situation was reversed and if one of those women were in a dark place as I was I would have been there for them. I would not have let them down, I could never leave someone in the dark alone.
The church service that morning was incredible. Great worship was lead as we all gathered in the sanctuary. Genuine greetings came from those who we sat around that morning. The Pastor spoke of our value and our uniqueness as individuals, he spoke with ease and used real life scenarios while holding onto biblical truths.
Once the sermon was over he began to pray. You know the prayer that most preachers pray at the end of the service. “With every head bowed and every eye closed I invite those who never received Christ who feel led to take a leap of faith and begin a relationship with Jesus today to raise your hand.” But he did not stop there, he continued, “For those of you who may have distanced yourself from Christ and have fallen out of your relationship with your Lord and Savior and want to come back to your relationship, will you please raise your hand.” I felt the Holy Spirit tug at my heart and I raised my hand. He finished the prayer and then invited those that raised their hands to come forward for prayer. A lady walked forward and those in the congregation applauded for her. I smiled but I could not move. I thought to myself I did not need to come forward, this was between me and Jesus. I cannot open myself to be vulnerable to someone. I do not know anyone and I want to keep it that way for now. I do want to be let down again. I am not strong enough. Yet when the time came to pick up our coats, purses and bibles to head out the door I told Chad I needed to go up front to ask a question.
I am not sure I even knew at the time what the question was as I walked up stream from those exiting the sanctuary. I found the Pastor’s wife, introduced myself, told her of my hardened heart and how I made the decision to allow Jesus to reign in my life once again. She walked me over to another lady, the three of us spoke for a while and then the lady prayed for me. As I prayed and repeated the words she had for me I began to feel a softness, a warmth and a feeling of being wanted, not necessarily by the lady who prayed for me but by the thought that I am a person of value just as Pastor spoke about that morning, that very feeling that I have not felt in a long time.
Once we were finished praying she invited me to a ladies night and gave me some information on getting connected with those in the church. She was genuinely sincere in her words, I was comfortable speaking to her, as some of you know that is not normal for me at all. She gave me her contact information let me know that I can call her if I need someone to connect with in the area and offered a lunch or coffee date. I almost cried, I confided in a complete stranger and she opened her heart to shine a light in my darkness.
I had no expectations that morning, but if I did everyone of them would have been met. What she did for me is what I would have done for someone else given the opportunity. I believe in my heart that opportunity will come once again and I choose to be ready and willing to accept it with a softened heart alongside my Jesus, my Lord and Savior.
“Jesus did not come to earth to make us valuable, He came because we are valuable.”
Until next time,