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In which God has restored church to me

I’m just now home from our Easter service. I’m feeling the need to write it out a bit, to figure out what I’m feeling by putting fingers to keyboard, to begin to untangle all of the emotions swirling in my heart, to shake them out for a good look.

I’m a wreck. A sobbing, crying, hands-lifted-high, had-to-take-my-contacts-out wreck. I feel like God has made something beautiful out of my mess and my dust.

Six years ago, Brian left full-time vocational ministry and, you who have walked this road with us, you know, it’s been a journey. We were so burnt out, so exhausted, so broken hearted and part of me, a big part of me, never wanted to darken the door of a church again. Brian embarked on seminary, he was being drawn more and more to denominational infrastructures as a way to guard against some of the abuses that are sadly common to our faith background, and me? I just stopped caring, stopped going, I decided to forget about Church and just follow Jesus. I stopped calling myself a Christian because I couldn’t identify myself with so much of what the church was doing or selling or preaching. We were worlds apart but we clung together to one truth: God is love. Love was all that held me, all that held us both, as we struggled to find out how we could navigate our exhaustion, our questions, our doubts, our frustrations, our histories, with the Bride of Christ. We went to church now and then but it was a chore, we never felt at home, I couldn’t seem to shut off the running monologue in my head, critical, wounded, bitter. Finally I gave up and just settled that God would work something out, that somehow he would show me what Church is and what it should be and how I could be part of it somehow in a way that felt intellectually, spiritually and emotionally honest. In the meantime, I turned to Jesus, I flung myself at his feet, and I found grace there, I found healing, rest, Love, peace.

I loved God. I struggled with loving His Church.

I still have a lot of those questions. I still get the hives when I see big churches with big splashy programs, any mention of a building project. Any talk of business plans and marketing money, gimmicks and light shows, make my eyes cross. Sometimes I still go to church and feel like running, pell-mell, tumble-bumble, into the fresh air.

But a year ago, we went to a local church here. And it was close to Easter and my heart, somehow, my heart just exhaled.  I didn’t know what it meant. I hardly know now. All I knew was that I felt like I was home, like maybe God had something for me here.

So we just kept showing up. The people were nice but it wasn’t like it was that different than anywhere else, really. We made a few friends. I hatched a master plan to make friends by volunteering for a thing here and there (it worked). Some months we didn’t go even once, other months, we didn’t miss a week. The tinies loved every Sunday, begged to go back, but that’s normal for them, they just love church, they don’t carry an ounce of the baggage their parents seem to cart around about the gathering of the believers. I got together with some women, sometimes we became friends, other times, we didn’t, it just wasn’t a great fit, we weren’t clicking but that was okay, somehow. Other times, I did find friends, find a moment of laughter and connection. Even more miraculously, perhaps, I found women that read my blog (if you can believe it) and somehow, even that was a gift. I could be the same person in every corner of my life, no more masks, no more hiding my questions, my journey, my realness. It was just all out there and life became seamless. I went to Bible study and not a single woman there said a word about The Bachelor, they prayed for one another, and it felt real, like everything I’ve been wanting and yearning for, a bit of a mess, and so full of Love. I made friends. I began to feel like I’d like to be good, good friends with a couple of them.

Today, I stood in the school gym and I realised, this is Church. God has restored me to community somehow, it was sneaky but now here it is, a gift.

All of my reading, all of my writing, all of my rantings and tears and frustrations were real. I felt lost in church, like I didn’t fit there, the whole round-peg-square-hole thing that so many of us feel about faith communities. And I laid it down, surrendered it and just said to Jesus, I have no clue, you figure it out, how can a woman like me be a pastor’s wife again, how we can even go to church again. I haven’t really cared to make a big deal of it anymore. But on a whim, last Easter, we showed up and somehow I kept showing up and God kept showing up and now it sort of feels like a miracle, like something sacred has happened in my life. Body of Christ, is that you? You’re not perfect, you kind of tick me off sometimes but I think I’d like to stick around, to keep doing life together.

And here’s the funny thing: I don’t feel like anyone but me now. In church, I was always my parents’ daughter, then I was Pastor Brian’s wife, then I was a phantom, here today and gone next week for good. I had friends, but I loved my armour more. And I never really felt like anyone knew me – even more, I felt like if they did know me, they wouldn’t like me. I was too opinionated, too artistic, too quick to question, too something, too everything. But somehow, for the first time, I feel like I’m on my own two feet here, like it’s my church, too, and my life is seamless.

This community recognises me, has welcomed us, they know my name, they even affirm my calling and vocation as a writer. And I don’t mean that to be weird or prideful, quite the contrary. I feel stupid and ridiculous when it happens, when someone says something about my blog here or that book I’m writing, like I’m a pretender, let’s change the subject. But maybe you can relate because when, for your entire life, you have this one thing that you do always, one thing that you feel good at doing, and then for the first time, someone in your real life, in your real church, notices and says, yes, you’re good at it, and we welcome your gift, we affirm it, we see God at work in you? Well. I have no words. It meant the world to me. I can’t remember too many churches that do that for women or for artists or for those of us that aren’t the typical Leadership 101 Jesus-as-CEO-types, at least, not for me.

I was asked to write the testimonies for our service today, a true honour and I could not take it lightly. I bang out a post here in 20 minutes but now I was agonising. I’ve spent the last two or three weeks with the stories of three families in our community, writing them out, crying over them, a bundle of nerves. Because even though I write here in this space, daily baring my soul to a few thousand souls, the thought of getting on stage, in front of 200 people I see weekly, sometimes daily, at dance lessons and the park, at Bible study and the grocery store, to talk, oh, it made my knees knock.

But today, I did it. In the midst of such soulful worship, such beauty, such creative expressions of the Resurrection, I was a wreck. I felt like standing on my chair and keening for restoration and for love. I felt a wind sweeping through me and I was crying and then I was climbing the make-shift stairs, looking out at the elementary school gym, perched on a stool like an inelegant fool, and the words came and God was honoured. It wasn’t about me. I was telling someone else’s story but it was for me, too. I feel like it was something holy, something new happening in my heart. I was overwhelmed with joy, with the Resurrection, with the truth of the Cross and the empty tomb, with what life in Christ means for all of us. I was so thankful, I felt like dropping to my knees, flinging my hands up, sobbing with gratitude and longing.

(This picture was taken by a friend.)

We covered an old rugged cross in blossoms, we threaded tulips and daisies and chrysanthemums through old chicken wire and when we were done, it was blooming with new life, beauty out of bedlam and barrenness . A lady turned around and gave us handfuls of flowers to put on the cross, and even the little kindnesses like that feel like a kiss on the wounds of being ignored and overlooked Sunday after Sunday.

I loved it. I loved every messy imperfect, celebratory, powerful, soulful, emotional and wild thing about today. I loved our pastors, our teachers, our sound guys, our choir, our children, our grandparents. I loved every person that came through the doors, this is family, I loved the folding chairs, and I loved the cross front and centre, towering with colour and beauty. I love knowing I’ll see some of these folks during the week, at the library, at the park, on Facebook, at Bible study, at dance lessons. I loved the songs we sang loud and I loved the sight of the tinies standing on risers, flinging their arms around with the action songs, beside their friends, I loved my baby in my arms, and I loved us all in some supernatural thing of wholeness and connection. Like somehow, when I wasn’t looking for it, when I gave up on ever finding it or even caring about it anymore, God made something beautiful out of my baggage, out of my brokenness, out of my church drama, my own sticky pride.

Jesus snuck up on me, surprised me with grace and community and family, a glimpse of something good, a restoration unsought.

post signature

church, Easter, faith, journey
  • http://mjbillingtonquebec.blogspot.com/ jilly

    As soon as I started reading this post, I thought, “I’m going to post the link to Beautiful Things!!”  And then, what do I see at the very bottom of your writing?  Ah!  I just recently discovered this song.  I ran to it this morning and let it pound out the truth in my ears. 

    This is a beautiful thing!  Thanks for sharing it!  

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      It is a beautiful song! I can’t stop listening to Gungor, haven’t been able to for years now. Their latest one “Ghosts on the Earth” is epic. 

    • Lisa

      Yes, exactly. As soon as I saw the flower-covered cross, it sprang into my head…”You make beautiful things….” So lovely. Thank you, Sarah, for sharing hope.

  • http://perichoreticlife.blogspot.com/ Michael

    That’s great! I hope you find that your writing takes on an added dimension with support and rooting with community. It is hard to go through the messy stuff, but there is still no replacement for being with fellow believers on the journey. Grace to you.

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      thanks, Michael – your’e right. It’s easy sometimes to send something “out” into the void but when your words are being read, out loud, in front of the people that they’re about, well, whew.

  • http://www.conversationsjournal.com/ Tara Owens

    Grace, grace and more grace. Thank you. Thank you for offering hope. For being true. For letting it be messy and real. And allowing for redemption. 

  • http://twitter.com/AnamCaraTO Tara M. Owens

    Grace, grace and more grace. Thank you. Thank you for offering hope. For being true. For letting it be messy and real. And allowing for redemption. 

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Thanks, Tara. Sometimes half the battle is letting there be room for redemption, keeping that door cracked open a bit, isn’t it?

  • Halland_tribe

    I am so happy for you Sarah, I know the journey you have been on, and I am happy for you, and a little jealous too!    

    • Halland_tribe

      P.S. This is Stephanie!

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Thanks, Stephanie! I understand the jealousy, I’ve felt it often. 

  • Krissi

    Thank you for sharing this :)  I find it truly amazing how God brings us slowly, graciously back to Him.  I went through a very low period of life last year and the Easter Service is what drew me back in too.  I had been before, and I found myself craving the sight of that cross covered in new life.  It was something I needed, in spite of the fact that I stood at the back, not talking to a single person.  Now this year I was IN the choir.  God has given me a reason to sing, a reason to dance – Him.  God is good.  We are not alone <3

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      That is brilliant, krissi. LOVE it. Thank you so much.

  • http://hippiehousewife.blogspot.ca/ Cynthia @ The Hippie Housewife

    Oh yes, Sarah, yes. Me too. So joyfully happy for you (and me!) today.

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Yes!

  • http://sacredeveryday.ca/ Jenn

    What an appropriate song! You give me hope Sarah….I worked today and felt a bit guilty that it didn’t even feel like easter, yet glad I didn’t have to pretend it did. Little by little I’m creeping back into community as well but I feel the same as you, that now I don’t have to hide who I am. I want to embrace the church but as me, no masks. I also love that even on days like today through the daily grind of a shift there is a spiritual undertone for me. In a small way seeing the physical birth of new life reminds me of what easter really is. As amazing as birth and new life is…we all know it can be a long painful journey to get there! Celebrating with you today the birth and new life of hope and new relationships.

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Yes! Sometimes I wonder if that desert season – in more ways than just church, let’s be honest – was also about figuring out my identity, shedding the layers of approval addiction and people pleasing that seem to attach themselves to so many women so that I would be ready for community again. I have no idea. And yes for hope! It’s still slow going for me, it’s not like it’s all rainbows and unicorns here! But I see the hope and it’s good.

  • http://www.leighkramer.com/ Leigh Kramer

    I love, love, love this! I felt a similar exhale the first time I went to my new church in January. And I feel this freedom to be fully myself here in this new place, even though I don’t know that many people yet. But the community part is still coming. Reading your words here gives me hope that come next January, I will see restoration as well. Truly, Sarah, I am so happy you’ve found this.

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Thanks, Leigh – I’m glad I”m not alone in the craziness. haha

  • http://loveiswhatyoudo.wordpress.com/ Jessica

    Thank you, Sarah. I love this so much. Ever since the big discussion on Rachel Held Evans’s blog about why some of us have stayed and some of us have left, I’ve been trying to put into words what it feels like to join with people who are not like you (or who might be just like you) in holy communion. I think I’ll just send them to your blog instead. Beautiful.

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Thanks, Jessica – yes, it’s always a discussion, has been in our house for 10 years to be honest! Even before we left ministry, we had profound questions about church and what it means and what it is and how to “do” this thing. But it’s holy and sacred and it’s some communion and gathering thing, I agree. So thankful.

  • Jessie

    Your story is so beautiful. It reminds me so much of my own journey back to church. Would it be ok with you if I share part of it with my church? So many people don’t realize what a struggle the journey can be. You put it so perfectly!
    Jessie

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Of course, Jessie, go right ahead. 

  • http://www.embracethisday.com/ Corrina

    What a beautiful cross Thank you for this post. So many are on that same journey.

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Honestly, that cross just makes me cross over to The Ugly Cry when it starts happening, all the people in there, just one flower at a time, threading it slowly, the bottom jammed with kids shoving broken flowers in there. GAH. So incredible. 

  • Linda

    You just gave me a lot of hope .. thank you. 

  • justamomandmore

    sarah. i cannot begin to express how much this post resonates with my heart. we left the church we grew up in nearly four years ago because we had questions and they were not welcome there and that was made well-know to us. my husband continued in ministry as youth pastor at another church and we left there because of our lack of belief in an eternal burning tormenting hell. we have been bouncing around since then looking for a place to fit. we are still searching. but your words encourage my weary soul. i will keep seeking in hopes that this will too ring true in my life with time.
    “God made something beautiful out of my baggage, out of my brokenness, out of my church drama, my own sticky pride.

    that god will make something out of all of this!
    thank you.

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Yeah, don’t even get me started about the hell thing. haha You remember those days here on the old blog? Yikes. But there are a lot of us, and we’re not hiding so much anymore.

  • Obscuritus

    So there’s hope for me- someone still wondering if I’ll ever find a faith(ful) community after living, serving and breathing “church” (in a variety of forms and favors) for over 50 years of life- half of which was spent in professional ministry. I am currently still in the “just following Jesus” mode.

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      And I think that’s okay. I wasn’t really planning on *ever* being active in an institutional church agin, it snuck up on me. I think as long as we’re keeping a door open, being open to the move of the Holy Spirit as we follow Jesus to take us sometimes where we had sworn we’d never go, that that is all that is needed But what do I know, eh?

  • rayhollenbach

    “This community recognises me, has welcomed us, they know my name, they even affirm my calling and vocation as a writer.”

    It’s wonderful news to read about your journey and especially your destination. I’m happy for you and your family, and I’m happy for the church as well, because they are the richer for welcoming you. It brings me special joy any time I read a post affirming the local church, because the church is a very popular target these days. The church is an easy target because it is so flawed. Yet we–each of us–are deeply flawed individually. Why would it be any different for the church?

    Jesus is not ashamed to identify with us–why are we ashamed to identify with other other Christians?

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. Grace to you, and peace.

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Thank you so much, Ray. You’ve always been such an encouragement and voice of wisdom in my life over these years. 

  • http://www.edcyzewski.com/ Ed_Cyzewski

    OK, if you wrote all of that in 20 minutes, you’ve really blown my mind. Even if you didn’t type it quite that fast, I love this post. What an honest and beautiful reflection on Christian community.

    Part of what clicks for me is that your story mirrors our journey in some pretty crazy ways. A similar span of time, a similar struggle with a pastor’s role, a similar fear of what people in my church would think of my writing, and similar struggles with the structures of the church. I even wrote about all of the same stuff today and had used the same square peg, round hole metaphor. And to top it all off, we have rediscovered community in a vineyard church! (though we had gone to an independent church for a few years). 

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      (Ha! Well, I think this one was about 40 minutes – it’s a bit longer than most of my usual posts. But yes, almost all of my blog posts are first drafts, straight out of the gate. I am pretty undisciplined as a writer….) And fist-bump over Vineyard!

  • brenda

    You write my story (…well almost. I’m not quite at the belonging part yet.) I am encouraged by the beauty of God’s faithfulness in your story. Thank you for sharing this…it has ministered to me. 

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Thank you, Brenda. So many more of us than we used to think, aren’t there?

  • Rebekah Gilbert

    I’m there now…wanting something more, real, authentic. Thank you for this post!

  • http://everydayawe.com/ Stephanie Spencer

    Thank you for sharing your story here. It is touching, vulnerable, & hopeful. I’m so glad God has restored the church to you. I love hearing stories of the Bride radiating the light it is meant to shine. (P.S. You normally write your blog posts in 20 minutes? That’s amazing. I got distracted by that side note. You are very talented writer.)

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Thanks – I figure if I’ve been so quick to be honest about the times that church has screwed me up that I needed to also be honest about the ways that it’s been beautiful for me. (And this one was about 40 minutes, I think. Almost all of my blog posts are first draft, straight out of the gate. And believe me, they could usually use more editing. Yikes.)

  • http://heatheragoodman.com/ Heather

    Yes, I know this. I’ve wanted to walk away from churches and even the Church (though how you can walk away from something of which you’re a part whether you like it or not, I don’t know). I felt rejected and hurt by churches I worked in, churches I volunteered in, churches I attended. I had found community to have it wrenched away. After being frustrated and hurt by some decisions our church leadership made a few years ago, we decided to stay anyway, partly because we didn’t know where else to go. Not too long ago, watching the congregation file to the altar for Eucharist, a sort of love sparked in me. I realized that these people, despite their flaws, love God, seek truth and beauty, and love my husband and me. I realized that I love them. So here we are together even when it doesn’t always feel together, even when I secretly judge them or get frustrated with them or feel distanced or hurt, even when I think I’m not at all like them, these suburban people (though I am suburban, much as I pretend not to be sometimes), but we are one, even as we have one Lord and Savior, one Spirit, and one Father of all.

  • http://www.CreeksideMinistries.blogspot.com/ Linda Stoll

    I’m new to your blog, but very much drawn to your writing … I see in you the me that was a few years back .. but didn’t realize how to express it all.  And I’m thankful for the technology that allows you to share your soul in such a winsome way with those of us who resonate with where you’re coming from.  Deeply.
     
    You have expressed the story that so many of us have lived through … the searing pain, the never-ending isolation, the wandering and the wondering.  And the rejoicing when one is finally reunited to the Body in one way, shape, or form.
     
    I so anticipate following your journey in the days ahead … and will be sharing the link to this post with those in my world.  I know it will offer hope.

  • jenyylee

    Sarah, I love that your church has affirmed your calling, and I pray too that the community I belong to will continue to move in the direction of recognizing the creative gifts that so many of the body of Christ possess and often deny or sweep under the carpet. To tell you the truth, I have just recently in the last few months reconnected with that “writing vibe” deep inside of me that I had neglected. My writing has been flowing so much more naturally now….and I think a huge part due to my Lent disciplines and spending time with the Lord.

    Thank you for blessing me with your writing! :)

    Thank you for sharing your journey – it is something that I have experienced with specific ministries and it takes much grace and humility to walk through and to entrust it all to Him.

  • http://thenewbec.wordpress.com Becca

    You put into words so well in many aspects what I couldn’t find the words for. Thanks for ministering to me today :-)

  • Vicki

    Sarah, I feel like you have given me hope in the journey.  The image for me in your story is of one coming out of a dark tunnel.  I find I am still somewhere in the tunnel and the darkness.  I found hope in your comment that they know you and are able to affirm your gifts and calling.  I am hoping my story can speak the same one day.

  • Chad

    I am glad you have come to the conclusion that we are all a mess.   I have heard the Psalms summed up as God is good and life is hard.  I have been a worship leader of a start up church, a production person at a mega church and now am a worship and production pastor at a medium sized church.  Church is harder than most think.  Small, medium, or large.  The problem is we all have different expectations and levels of commitment.  I have a question.  I hope this doesn’t come off wrong.  If your church grows/ more people want to fellowship there and grow in Christ, would you prefer (A) church planting, (B) building a new facility, (C) multiple services added on or (D) encouraging them to go elsewhere.  It is a hard question but I many are facing it.  I would like to hear your heart on it.  Thanks for the Gungor song.  We do The earth is Yours at my church.

  • http://www.kimvanbrunt.com/honestly-adoption-the-blog/ Kim Van Brunt

    Such a hopeful, beautiful post, Sarah. I struggled to know what to write here because we have left, too. We’re two years gone and I can’t ever see going back. It’s still a source of a bit of pain for me… I don’t feel like I have that much baggage or that I’ve been wounded. I just don’t get what we’re doing when we “do” church. I can get community in our small group of friends (which we do) and I can get teaching through podcasts. Going to church feels like a charade to me, like we’re playing at something and not really doing anything. We’re talking about how we care for the poor but we’re not doing it. We’re talking about worshiping Jesus but not really living it. It seems irrelevant, obsolete. Like a game or a system that keeps us locked into one way of seeing God, one way of experiencing Him.

    So, I’m still stumbling around, trying to find my way (in fact, you might read about it on Rachel Held Evans’ blog this weekend), hoping that Jesus surprises me, too. Not by bringing me back to traditional church (oh please Jesus no), necessarily. But honestly, I’m praying I’ll be open to the surprise if it comes. I’m praying my heart will see it and be able to accept it. Thanks for sharing how it happened for you.

  • http://www.theblahblahblahger.com/ the Blah Blah Blahger

    Wow, just wow.

    It’s pretty amazing how the Lord meets us where we’re at…glad you’ve finally found a home and fallen in love again with the Body of Christ!

  • pastordt

    Lovely, Sarah – filled with hope and life and love and messiness. LOVE that particular mix. 

  • Chrissy

    Oh Sarah, Thank you so much for this. Easter is such a hard time for me since we left our church almost two years ago. Reading your story gave me so much hope. There is nothing simple or easy about community, especially when so much is based on “us and them” thinking.  I wait now for the healing, to be able to find the community God intended, where what makes us common is not our shared belief structures, but the beautiful binding love of our God Father and we His children. 

    Your experience gives me hope that a community waits for us, that perhaps His hands aren’t done healing all of the wounds….

  • http://jewelsandtreasures.blogspot.com/ jewelsntreasures

    You bring tears to my eyes. Oh how I wish it could be me writing this post, experiencing it first hand. So I am a bit jealous. I’m at the point of begging God, my husband, etc. to leave the church. I haven’t felt that “freedom” yet to do so. So instead, I stay, and beg God to see my heart for what it is. I know no one is perfect, no church is perfect, but I still long for what you posted here. It gives me hope that maybe one day I may be able to get away from the routine of it all and actually join church whole heartedly again. Today I’m still too hurt, but I know one day God has it for me.

  • Kschmitt808

    Sarah, I just love reading your posts; what a beautiful, rich heart you have!

  • http://lawlisness.com/ Stacey

    Oh, goodness. I’ve been lurking a while but had to comment at this.

    This post has my words in it, except that I’m still living in the not-yet. After years of ministry, I still try to go (I have a tiny of my own these days and it’s somehow all become more important) but every time, I head home discouraged, angry even, and not too keen on trying again for awhile. I’m still stuck there. My husband and I want to pursue faith in good faith, but we’ve yet to find a place where we can do that. It was such an encouragement to hear about someone who’s had so many of my same frustrations and hangups . . . to hear you’re finally finding a home, or at least a home of sorts. A place that’s enough. Thank you, thank you for sharing. It brought hope to a heart that found herself missing church yesterday, even as she breathed a sigh of relief to avoid one of the most overly-produced Super-Bowl-ish days of the year. :)

  • Tez

    Wow! And in a Vineyard! Who woulda thunk it?!

    Just kidding! Very happy for you all! :)

  • http://www.lovewellblog.com/ Kelly @ Love Well

    This just undid me when I read it yesterday. And that song? It was part of our Easter service yesterday, the first time I had ever heard it. Seeing you post it felt like God underlined and bolded the truth for me. It’s the truth of Easter, yes? He makes astonishing beauty out of what looks like ruin to our eyes. He is amazing. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y75OVY76RWIIXARZO53BAPTHK4 Mark

    Aloha Sarah,

    Found you via a retweet from Rachelle Gardner.

    Thanks for such a raw and honest post – especially around Easter. Currently, I *do* have a church home, but I have walked in your shoes, and the journey nearly killed me.

    Thanks again, and I am a new follower.

  • http://www.leannepenny.com Leanne Penny

    I love this post, because I’ve been there too, feeling cautious and anxious about the expectations for the Pastor’s wife.  I didn’t fit in at seminary because I liked to watch occasional HbO and I used the word “Ho” to describe the women who were “friending me up” on myspace.  Oh and I liked beer, so I was “bad.”  Really?!  

    I have realized that the ministries my husband is in need to take us as a marriage and me as myself or it isn’t going to work.  

    I am glad you’re healing, and also that song forever has a space in my soul because it got me through my mom’s suicide 18 months ago.  

    Thank you for making a beautiful thing of your story in this space.

  • Micha Boyett

    I know exactly the feeling…Thanks for celebrating the goodness and the life and the hope of the Church. All those flowers alive in the old chicken wire!

  • http://www.kathyescobar.com/ kathyescobar

    so beautiful in so many ways.  that is resurrection.   

  • Dawn

    Thank you for sharing.  Seems like a lot of us are struggling with the same thing….JUST GIVE ME JESUS!!!  I don’t want the lights, camera, cue emotions, cue music and preach.  Seems like that the church is missing it – just let God do his work, stop trying to force the Holy Spirit into doing something on cue.  
    Your post was refreshing and encouraging, honest and pure.  Thank you agin.  

  • Jen Hatmaker

    Oh Sarah…Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. Love. I believe there is hope for and in the Bride again, too. Love to you.

  • Elizabeth

    Lately I’ve heard that song every time I get in the car-it’s soothing to me in frazzled times.

    The last 5 years have been the hardest when it comes to church. I’m still not completely recovered from some of it, but I know with all my heart that community with other believers is essential. We’re slowly finding our place in a new, small church, and it’s refreshing each time we gather with them. Easter was an especially sweet time. He IS making something beautiful out of the mess.

  • http://www.flatheadmama.blogspot.com/ Rebecca

    Have you read Healing Your Church Hurt by Stephen Mansfield.  It helped me so much, having also come out of my own church drama into a place where I feel at home and known and myself.  I know that trials will come but for now I rejoice in what has been given–a safe place to land.

  • http://sayable.net/ Lore Ferguson

    I. Love. This. I’ve followed your story somewhat sporadically. But today, my heart sings. I love this. 

    New life. 
    Doing life. 
    Broken life. 

    This is the essence of the gospel, and of the Church. 

  • http://hispenonmyheart.com/ Tereasa Mansfield

    I follow you on twitter.  So, I ended up here via the link you shared to Rachel’s post about Better Conversations. . .  Thanks for tweeting!  I had no idea there were so many of us out there.

    I am not against the church.  I am not especially not against the people in the institution.  When we stopped going to church, my husband told the children, “We are never going to church again.  From now on, we are the church.” Of course, his words meant so much more than many will interpret. It has been amazing to learn exactly what that means. Like you, we left ministry.  We didn’t stop there, though.  While seeking authentic community, we ended up in a cult. (oops.) Even that taught us a lot.  Leaving the cult gave us the freedom to finally break free from the institution.  I have never been happier.  I am glad you found something amazing.   it is neat to see where God leads his children!

  • Bbeat001

    Wow! You bless me Sarah….have to go but I will write more next time. I have a women’s fellowship in my house that is real. I started it 10 years and God has been faithful.

    …will talk…

    Bless you,

    Beat

  • Bbeat001

    I am from Uganda in Kampala. I am passionate about women and family ( and everybody). Above all I love Jesus!

  • beth

    Hi Sarah,  thank you for sharing this online.  My husband and I also left our church for very similar reasons.  We began a search for a new church family and ended up frustrated and finally gave up.  When we both lost our jobs in California because of  budget cuts, we moved to Indiana.  We arrived two weeks ago and have attended two different churches to start our search again. 

    My husband’s brother also recently moved and started searching for a church in a very small town.  We were having a conversation about our frustrations with the churches and he told me, “I feel like God is telling me they need my gifts and my point of view there to help them heal.”  I keep running this through my head, because my BIL is the most humble man I’ve ever met and this thing he said can only be because God revealed it to him. 

    Now I am trying to follow his example and search for a church that needs our gifts.  I know there is no such thing as a perfect church, but now I realize that if I did find a church that was healthy then that church probably doesn’t need us.  Meaning… we are needed where God can use our gifts and if a church seems healthy and whole then they have the all the gifts they need.  Because God showed us this we are trying to reframe our search and look for a church that needs our specific gifts, but this journey is very hard because I often switch to hoping for a church that has a solid theological base and loving congregation instead of a church that needs us.  I just have to keep telling myself that God can and will provide for both. 

    Please continue writing about this issue because you are the first person I’ve found who writes with this much honesty about an issue I’ve seen destroy two churches.  Thank you for your hoesty and sharing your raw emotions.  Your words make me feel like I’m not alone.