Press in and hold on

April 24, 2014

On Friday I stepped foot in church after more than a year.

It went okay so I went back on Sunday making for a grand total of the most I’ve attended church in over three years.

You might be thinking whoop-de-do so she went to church. NEXT! But it’s actually a big deal for me because I used to go to church every Sunday and loved it.

But then I dated a pastor for almost ten years. For more than half of those years he was in seminary, training for the ministry. Seminary is no joke. It is an intense experience that consumes you mentally and emotionally. Someone once told me to ‘hold on for the ride’ when they found out he was attending. They never warned me I should be prepared to get traded in for a younger model when it was all over.

You know, it’s one thing to be an unconventional person when you lead a private life, but it’s something totally different when you’re considering life under the magnifying glass. I drove myself nuts with so many questions: will people approve of me having a pretty high-powered job? What if they don’t? Will I have to quit? Then what will I do? I don’t even like children’s ministry. What if the way I dress isn’t conservative enough? What if I can’t rock a doily? What if I don’t even want to try? I mean, I labored over it. But then when the option was removed from the table, I wondered if my questions had made God angry with me.

It took a couple years to realize the whole church thing wasn’t working for me anymore. The physical act of going and sitting there left me jittery, exhausted and empty. I tried going to other churches, even just Bible studies, but left feeling the same. So after a lot of contemplating, I stopped attending. I felt like a failure, like I had let God down.  I went through a whole cycle of emotions: guilt, fear, anger, sadness; finally just not caring about any of it anymore. Completely burned out, I spent months going over detail after detail in my mind, coming up with all kinds of reasons why God must have thought I wasn’t good enough.

I mean, I like an eff bomb.  No really, I do.



Feeling like I was inches from death last week made me want to go to church. Friday was a communion service and I told Chris I actually felt like I desperately needed it, which was an interesting and palpable realization. So I rolled up in there and braced myself.

What I got out of the message was this:  We should approach God without fear or reservation, no matter what is or has been going on in our lives. He wants us to get real close and let it all out. We have freedom of speech there. He wants us to draw near and not shrink back because He is filled with mercy and forgiveness, grace and love for us.

You know, I really needed to hear that again because I’ve been walking around for a long time feeling like a total disappointment. I hope someday I won’t even feel a residual tinge of this anymore, but for now I’m just happy to be feeling more like my old self. Correction: an improved version of my old self. I know I’ve been saying that a lot lately, but only because I’ve been noticing it so much. The past year has been a shedding of the superficial, of everything I was shielding myself with. It’s been a slow and steady return to my true self, my free self, and it feels great.

But for the record: I do still like an eff bomb.

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  • Reply Erika April 28, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    I am with you on the eff bomb. If I am going to use profanity….it is my choice. BUT–I am a believer and apologize often to Him for my language. 🙂 I just love this though…a few years ago, I had the same experience. And I think that is just how God is…He just wants us. The messy us…and always delivers what we need to hear. Pretty wonderful if you ask me.

  • Reply Judy Carpenter April 27, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    I was brought up in church. I have beliefs and a lifestyle that wouldn’t be accepted by those I went to church with. And I live in the middle of the Bible belt. All of these things have caused an estrangement for me. I’m not sure if I can ever overcome it. I’m glad for you that you have found what you need.

    • Reply This Free Bird May 7, 2014 at 3:15 am

      I really understand, Judy. That is intense. I guess the best I can say is God knows you and, I believe, accepts you – whether the churches around you would or not. I hope you know that.

  • Reply Dancing Branflake April 25, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    You have this way of just speaking right to me in a clear, profound, and beautiful way. Thank you for sharing this journey with us. I love Church, I always have, but I know what it’s like to feel like a failure and to be exhausted.

    • Reply This Free Bird May 7, 2014 at 3:13 am

      I was hoping you’d read this, felt certain you would understand. Thanks. xo

  • Reply Lori April 25, 2014 at 2:32 am

    I am not going to go all preachy on you because in the past 2 years I have been to church twice ~ let’s hear it for Christmas eve candlelight service Seriously though ~ I am glad you went back on your terms when it was the right time for you. I love a good eff bomb too! xo

    • Reply This Free Bird May 7, 2014 at 3:12 am

      Werk those holiday services! HAHA!! I totally hear ya.

  • Reply lena April 25, 2014 at 1:35 am

    I strongly believe that if there’s a God, He’s down with a well-timed eff bomb. And you.

    • Reply This Free Bird May 7, 2014 at 3:11 am

      Thanks kiddo. I’m pretty sure he can handle my mess, too. xo

  • Reply Priscila Peters April 25, 2014 at 12:11 am

    I hear you. I went to church on Sunday after several years. But, I strongly believe that you don’t have to go anywhere to be close to God and be able to talk to him. It shouldn’t matter where you go, just be real with him whenever or wherever you are.
    I feel the closest to God when I am with the animals volunteering at my local shelter. It just makes me feel good because it feels right.
    I gotta say, these photos looks awesome.

    • Reply This Free Bird May 7, 2014 at 3:10 am

      I agree, you can totally talk to God or feel close to Him anywhere. For me, I really like to go to church and hear the Bible taught. I want to understand the scriptures and know God better. It was great to be back! But I also feel very close to God in nature. It.is.AWESOME! And yes, the pics are cool, too. If you come to CA we’ll go to the beach and hang out!

  • Reply lindsay glacy April 25, 2014 at 12:05 am

    I hope you don’t mind me saying this… i love you. There is freedom in truth.

    • Reply This Free Bird May 7, 2014 at 3:07 am

      I don’t mind at all. When you sent DJ to help me move that time, you have no idea how much it meant to me. I was in a really sad, dark place and that simple act of kindness gave me a lot of hope. I really love you guys.And yes, there IS freedom in truth.

  • Reply Jen April 24, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    I’m so glad you went back and had a positive, new experience. I dated a guy through high school and college before he went to seminary…he was already a youth leader in high school so I can kind of relate. I could go on about the personality of someone who chooses this career path. You definitely need to be prepared to play third, fourth or even fifth fiddle. Anyway, it’s a unique experience. I also had a personal experience that left me feeling like my spiritual beliefs were better served outside church walls… Not sure when I’ll make church a regular routine again. But I do still feel like my faith plays a big part in my life. Thanks for sharing about your experience and your beliefs!

    • Reply This Free Bird May 7, 2014 at 3:06 am

      It was definitely an experience. I’m not sure I’m one for within the walls either, but either way it felt good to be back and hear a great message that filled my heart. Very grateful.

  • Reply missgiven April 24, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    Good for you. He does want us to get close and who better to understand us than our creator. Pray to him using his personal name, Jehovah, and keep on asking and it will be given to you.

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