I’ve really struggled with what place to pick as “My Happy Place” for this week. I have a list of places that I wrote down one day while brainstorming and I keep trying to pick ANY “place” from the list (there are tons of FUN ones), except church. It seems so perfect, actually TOO perfect with it being Easter weekend. Also, it really freaks me out to share such personal information on the internet (one of many reasons I almost didn’t start “A Happy Day”).
While at the kids’ school yesterday, I ran into a friend and she started asking questions about our church. She said that she and her family currently have a church home, but for various reasons, would like to come visit. As we started to chat, it became very clear what “My Happy Place” had to be this week. I decided I could write the post about our “church home” in general and not share where we go to church specifically. So, despite my attempts to run away from this topic, here goes nothing!
Keith and I were both saved and baptized before we were married. We could write a multi-part series on how we were saved, involved in church, turned away from God (and the church) for a while and then found our way back. I hope to share those stories over time, just not today. For now, I want to briefly explain how we came back to church and got connected.
Keith and I have been at the same Baptist church for our entire 13 ½ years of marriage. We started as an Easter/Christmas attendance only couple. We slightly upped our attendance to a few more times a year when his parents would ask us to go to church and lunch at El Fenix afterward (hmmm…maybe they were bribing us with Mexican food!?). Then in 2005, Keith’s mom took me to a Women of Faith conference (LOVE Women of Faith….this could be an entire post of its own) and I came home fired up about God!! I told Keith we needed to make some major changes in our life. We needed to go to church REGULARLY and get more involved by joining a Sunday school class (yes, I’m going old school instead of using a more trendy term like “life group”). My sister-in-law, Allison, and her husband, John, had recently visited a class and invited us to try it out. We visited the class a few times and ended up joining.
Going back to church and Sunday school class didn’t magically produce changes in our lives/marriage. We went through the motions of “doing church” for a while. Eventually we got really connected to some friends in the church and started making changes. We became very involved in the class and eventually took over as directors of the class for a couple of years.
I wish I could say it was “smooth sailing” from there…but it wasn’t! We continued to get more involved over several years. Then, we went through a phase of burn-out. We stepped down as directors of the Sunday school class, we stopped volunteering and we basically started skipping church every week. We would make every excuse possible to NOT go. “I don’t feel well….Cade has a cough….I don’t have anything cute to wear….We’ve been so busy, we need to slow down and rest today.” You get the picture! My kids had grown up going to church and loved it. But one Sunday, I heard the kids say “Yesss, we aren’t going to church again!” That was a huge wake-up call and helped us realize it wasn’t just about us! We had to get back to God.
Thankfully, we are plugged back in and super active at church again. But I have to warn you….it’s NOT easy! Some weeks are better than others. We go through phases of feeling distant from God, but other times we feel incredibly connected to Him. Sometimes we are just going through the motions again.
I could go on and on about our personal journey with God and the church, but I’ll stop rambling. Here is what I want you to take away from this post:
- As a previous pastor used to say “Just start where you are!” Start small. Go to church this weekend for Easter. I know that may sound intimidating, but Easter is the perfect time to go to church. You can blend in if you want to or if you want to meet people and find out more about the church, there will be greeters everywhere that can assist you.
- Just like everything in life, church takes EFFORT. You may not love the first church you visit. Put forth the effort to visit several churches.
- Don’t go to church expecting perfection…perfect pastor, perfect people, perfect music, perfect sermons, perfect building, etc. The church is full of broken people…just like the rest of the world.
- IF you already have a church home, but are not in a Sunday school class…take that next step! Go try out a few classes. Again, this will take effort, time and patience. You may try a class that isn’t a good fit. Don’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings (of course, don’t be rude…just be kind and they will be understanding). Keep trying until you find one that speaks to you!
- It’s not just about YOU. Sometimes you won’t “feel like” going to church. Go anyway! If you have to, go through the motions sometimes.
I know I called it “My Happy Place”, but church is less about the place and more about the people. We go to church to be with other broken people like us. We worship God together and study His word. We do life together. We look to God and the Bible to help us navigate this crazy, broken world we live in.
If you are local and would like to join us for Easter this weekend, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can give you more information. If you aren’t local, but have additional questions about church/God (or whatever) I would love to chat with you too.