About Impact

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Restoring Faith in the Church

I shared in my last post that one of the greatest challenges of this school year was dealing with some past wounds. I thought I would share one of the painful wounds in my life where God has brought a tremendous amount of healing in the last year. I’ve been hesitant to write about this because I don’t want people to get the wrong idea so let me make this disclaimer:

There are absolutely no ill feelings toward any specific churches or individuals. I grew up in a wonderful church and have been a part of some great congregations. I am well aware that I have hurt and wounded people, just as people and circumstances have hurt and wounded me.

Okay, now that I’ve made that clear, let’s get on with the story. 

As I look back at my life of growing up in the Church, most of the picture is beautiful full of amazing role models and giants of the faith that have had a tremendous influence in my life. But scattered throughout that picture are several dark scars that at some point overshadowed the beauty of the rest of the painting. Those scars are the voice of those who told me I didn’t look the part. Voices of those who told me I asked too many questions. Disapproving looks as I speak truth boldly when my “role” was to be silent. They are scars from losing jobs or not being hired because I don’t have the right body parts. 

Soon after I graduated from college, I reached my breaking point. I was done with the Church. I kept attending a local congregation because the Text says so much about community and being together, but I wasn’t invested. I just showed up. It didn’t take long before some good friends surrounded me and started to get me plugged into our local church. But even after getting involved and serving for several years, I didn’t trust the Church. I was skeptical. 

When I started working for Impact any healing that had come was about to be tested. All of those voices I mentioned earlier were back and they were louder than ever. I quit counting how many times I was told I was a sinner or going to Hell because I was woman devoting my life to doing ministry or because I wasn’t getting married and having babies. The hardest part was that some of those voices were of close, trusted friends. 

I’ll be completely honest. The last several years have been incredibly difficult. I accepted a new position that would require me to work even more directly with a church than I already was. I confess I was not happy about this, but I was confident of what God was asking me to do. Here is the great thing about following God’s lead: no matter how hard it is, it is always worth it.

I came to California super guarded. I was greeted with open arms, tons of acceptance and a Church that was eager to follow God’s leading. I came having lost sight of that Church. My perspective had been skewed. As I’ve dropped my defenses, allowed the people of the Church to be the Body and sat at the feet of some great teachers, I’ve rediscovered what God’s Church is. I’ve regained trust in Church. I have a deeper love for the Church than I have in years. 

The voices are still present, but I’m choosing not to focus my eyes on the scars but rather on the beautiful picture that is the Body of Christ. 

Monday, June 02, 2014

Resurfacing Monsters

After my last post and confessing my love of control, you can imagine how I feel about change. Like conversations, I like to prepare myself for as many aspect of a transition as I can. I did exactly that as I prepared to move to California. Now that I’ve been here for nine months and completed my first school year, it is interesting to look back and see how I handled the transition, the things I was prepared for and what I was not.

I expected the transition to be very difficult, while it has had its challenges, it really hasn’t been as hard as I expected. I knew there would be times when I missed family and friends. I did not expect to make such great friends here as quickly as I have. I did not expect to be welcomed accepted by the church staff like family from day one. For the most part, this move has far exceeded my expectations and been an incredible blessing, except for one thing.

I was not ready to have past hurts and insecurities resurface like waves crash into the rocks at the coast as the tide comes in. This has most definitely been the single most challenging thing about coming to California. Not long into the spring semester I started having horrible nightmares. I wasn’t sleeping well. I wasn’t eating well. Focusing was a challenge. Internally, all of those hurts and insecurities were like roaring monsters that I could not silence. I knew I had a choice. I could allow these monsters to silence me or I could allow God to do more healing.

I’ve decided this is a hidden gift that comes with the chaos of change and transition. There seems to be something about the shaking up of our “normal” that reminds us of our own monsters. The sudden awaking of our awareness makes way for another layer of healing and growth. I’m discovering when I allow that to happen, the insecurities fade away and the hurts have less control over me.

Now I’m not saying I’m a fan of change, but I’m learning to embrace it in new ways. And before anyone starts worrying: I am sleeping well, eating probably too well, and concentrating just fine.