this is a bit long so make yourself comfy!
I just finished reading this book today, by Jake Colsen.... wow what a book! I have been hungering for something deeper, been unsatisfied with what the "institution" has had to offer, and have been left feeling unfulfilled.
I have grown up in church. We went to one when I was a child that really was a family, we were close and relational and God was moving. It was a great experience. I cherish those memories.... it makes me know that it is possible.
What I have done as an adult is make church...the institution... an idol. I have looked to the church for my answers and my growth...programs for my kids that would help them learn grow and identify as a believer. When it wasn't up to my standards I wouldn't hold back to let anyone know how wrong they were doing things.... even gave suggestions on how to do it better. I have written programs, directed programs and bad mouthed programs. I have sinned in church. I have sinned in my home. Yet for most Sunday's in my life I have put on nice clothes did up my hair and make up and did my best.... which included yelling at my girls to put something on that matches and has NO holes....to get out the door in time for us to take our positions in the pews...all with smiles on our faces but anger and resentment growing in our hearts. It didn't matter if the week had been long and the children overtired....off we went cuz that's what we did and what we believed was right. At times when it was all too much we would "skip" and feel like teenagers skipping out of a boring class. Somehow guilt always crept in when this would occur and so next time we were tired and on the verge of not feeling good I would crack the mother knows best whip...even at my husband and march us all begrudgingly out the door. Had to keep up the appearance!
I think back to one of the churches that I spent most of my youth at and some of my adult married life at.....so much of my time there was proving that I somehow belonged...when all the while I did not. I don't see incredible growth in me when I look back to that time... just resentment and frustrations at unmet expectations. Now this church is going through yet another period of pain and I found myself wondering at it all.... disillusioned and annoyed.
The past year I have been in the depths of suffering I would have thought self inflicted because somehow I fell out of favor with God....thank goodness I met Super Mom and her husband as they walked J and I out of the condemnation we had hovering over us and introduced us to a deeper understanding of the Father we had always hoped was there. We stopped going to church. We tried several....all the while we felt more and more frustrated with the institution. Then we started to realize something....... the less we relied on the church to see us through the more we had to rely on Father. The more we relied on Father the stronger we grew together. The stronger we grew together the more we can see the evidence of Father working everything to good in our lives. Amazing.
We had to leave our parents and our spiritual parents to get through this stage of our journey with our Father. He wanted us to learn to trust in Him. To live in relationship with Him and that that was more important than what anyone else thought.
Now I don't condemn the church or the institution nor would I tell anyone to leave. I would and do say...ask the Father what He wants from you day to day and learn to live in relationship with Him.....everything else will fall into place in it's perfect timing! wow that is a hard one to learn. Even if it takes us to our last breath to learn it He will never stop loving us. He cannot do anything outside of love because He is love.
So will we go back to church? I don't know at this point to be honest, we are thinking about a home church but are not being anxious about it, hard to explain and I am not trying to step on any toes...was I angry?..absolutely ...am I still? no..... I am coming to peace with where I am on my personal journey and where our Father is leading us..... do we need fellowship? absolutely and I have it everyday with my husband, family, those I work with and my dear dear close friends that I can share everything with. When we get together for a coffee... that is fellowship. When we all get together at one of my friends house tonight....that is fellowship. Don't limit your understanding of fellowship to a building....cuz you will most likely find it empty...He is what you are longing for and in Him you will find what you are so hungry for.... He will bring others into your life that will help you in your journey and you will help them in theirs...just live each day in relation to Jesus and you will find that joy even in the suffering. I am.