Brian went to church early, he’s studying the book of John with a bunch of guys, so I loaded up the tinies early, so I could grab a Starbucks from the drive-thru, but it was too early so we drove around, looking at cows in the fields. Joe thinks that black and white cows are boy cows, I’ve given up trying to convince him otherwise. I spilled coffee on myself. Sometimes it’s hard for me to go to church, I skip every week or so. I like my own time, too, I like my space.

We sang songs, I do love to sing in church. I can’t carry a tune but communal singing is going away from our world, and so I love to sing along, almost all of the Bible verses I’ve memorized are in songs. Anne spins and spins in the back of the church, her arms outstretched, Joe does jerky jumping moves, shaking and wriggling, Evelynn stomps, the music washes over them and they have this freedom to move that I envy, this connection with their physical self to worship that I can hardly remember. But my bones remember and somehow, my feet want to dance, its too bad I won’t let them. I watch my tinies dance, and every once in a while, I stretch my arms up and out, I feel my whole body expand with praise, with gratitude, with love, with hope, I’m singing out ahead of my own self. Even the rocks cry out, the trees clap their hands.

Evelyn wouldn’t sit still for a second, she’s at that 14-month-old stage when being held is an absolute affront to her entire existence, so she squirms and hollers and thrashes but the second she’s on the ground, she hollers to be picked up again. Joe accidentally kicked over my half-drunk coffee, Brian had to run out for paper towels to mop up the gym floor, right during the slow songs, we apologised too much, too loud.

I sat alone for preaching, all the tinies and Brian at Sunday school, I was unwilling to haul myself stuff elsewhere to sit with friends. Ten minutes into the sermon, I had to dig through my purse for my grocery list, I needed paper to write some of this down. It was good, good news, just plain Gospel, but when it comes from humble people, just like me, I listen more, somehow. I’m kind of over slick preachers.

One of our pastors, Adam, has discovered the American word “y’all” and thinks it’s the best word ever. (When we left our church in Texas, among many gifts that were given, we received an wooden cut-out of the word “Y’all” and we still have it up in our house, a prized treasure. I miss the word y’all, I miss the drawling sound of it, I miss the meaning of it – don’t even get me started about the wonder of “all y’all”…). Adam thinks that the Bible is a communal “you” so it’s full of y’all moments – when God uses the word “you” it usually means all of us, together, the communal “you”. The Canadians looked a little blank but I got it. Thanks, Texas.

At the end of his sermon, I didn’t have any space left on my paper, it was filled up. He was talking about the profound disappointment so many of us feel in this life, with this life, with pain, sickness, death, disease and so on. He talked about how God seeks to redeem those things but he is doing it thorugh his people. We’re it – which is terrifying and wonderful and beautiful and redemptive and powerful and holy and daily.  One of the things I like so much about church right now is that it doesn’t feel like a crowd, it feels like community, like we’re all bringing something, we’re all feeding and being fed somehow.

I like how I feel when I’m with these people, these people that love God well.

Adam invited people to stand if they wanted prayer. I never stand, asking. I always sit back, I always hang back, I always observe, I am satisfied with my quiet, solitary prayers, surely I don’t need anything from anyone else. I feel uncomfortable putting myself out there in these situations, half because I’m an introvert, but half is because I have baggage, I know, about all of this church stuff, and I question and I doubt and I cross my arms in my soul, I don’t trust any of you.

I didn’t think too much today, but suddenly, I was there at the front, admitting I need, I need, I need – something, prayer, God, hope, wisdom, all of it. I regretted coming forward.  I was so scared and exposed and vulnerable, but someone was there with me and they prayed and I cried and cried and cried. I guess I needed to cry about a few things and there was a beautiful woman there, ministering life to me, holding my hands, handing my tissues, crying with me. I came in ashes and mourning, I left with beauty and joy. It’s nice to admit I don’t have it – or much – figured out, that I need Jesus and I need you and we need each other, we’re all saving each other somehow.

Some of my greatest wounds have come from Church. And so I suppose it makes sense that some of my greatest healing would come through Church as well. Every small victory, every small weight of bitter baggage and hurt I unpack in the presence and fulness of the Spirit and in community, it brings healing and lightness to me. I keep taking steps towards the gathered Body, all of us, world-wide, once-bit-twice-shy over and over again, I feel hesitant, and every time, I’m reminded that this life in the spirit, it is a communal life, it is a life together, it is a life of y’all. 

Because the Church isn’t an institution, it isn’t four walls, it isn’t a downloadable Faith Statement with appropriate footnotes that you sign your name to, it isn’t a membership list, it isn’t Sundays at 10AM. The Church is simply us, the people of God, gathered together and sent out We’re a family, not an organization. You don’t get to be a Christian by yourself, I’m learning, and I don’t know if I was crying in church today because of the burdens we are all carrying, or if I was crying because someone was there to share the load.




In which you are loved and you are free
In which the doorbell is ringing
thank you for sharing...
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  • Brooke

    this is beautiful.  

  • Sarah you are making me cry. Again. This is so beautiful and so true. I can totally relate. I have to struggle so much to get myself to any sort of community gathering and yet I realized when I started doing the Hear it on Sun, use it on Mon link up that God has met me every time….no matter where I was and shown me some small beautiful part of his body. I feel like this past week I’ve been craving community so badly and just don’t know how to get past myself to find it. Your words are encouraging as usual. 🙂

  • Sortacrunchy

    I don’t know if it’s because of where we are or what we are doing or where we’ve been or what, but this makes me want to cry my mascara off, too. I will dance before the Lord with all y’all proclaiming His Name and the goodness of being WITH those who know His freedom and His truth.

  • Tears, tears, tears. I can’t even explain. I was anxious today at church – not at the gathering I normally go to, but at the earlier one I attended before my usual worship group. And all day I have been a mess and then God spoke softly, sternly and sweetly to me today. And now I read THIS and cry again. I am in much of need of grace, I am discovering – for myself and to give freely to others.

  • AnnGMorrone
  • I needed this today. Because sometimes I want to be a Christian by myself so badly. 

  • Tara_pohlkottepress

    yes. darlin’. yes.  we belong to each other.

  • Laura F.

    Beautiful. Just beautiful.

  • Dawne Piotrowski

    Thank you, Sarah. I, too, am continually drawn back to the gathered people of God. Hurts, wounds, and mourning, hesitantly but assuredly turning to joy and dancing. 

  • You is plural. Y’all is the more plural form. All y’all is the most plural form. I know what I am talking about. I am a Texan, born and raised. 

  • Big exhale. Thank you, friend. <3

  • Oh yes.

    The wounds, the joys, the sorrows, the encouragement that comes from the community, the broken Body of Christ that defines who we are as we walk together, with all our flaws and failures.  I hope it’s ok that I share my own late evening lesson with you …

    • Of course it’s okay, Linda! Always love your lessons.

  • Praise God, Sarah!  This is so beautiful & powerful, saving truth.  You had me on the edge of my seat to see where Jesus was taking you.  He is good!

    • I feel like I am often on the edge of my seat, too. What’s next, Lord?

  • Dre

    i recently moved up North from TX, and people just don’t get the ‘y’all’ thing…. it makes perfect sense. haha. 🙂 I don’t get the ‘yins’ thing. haha. thankfully i rarely hear that! great post. 🙂 love your writing. 

  • Carolyn Weber

    Yep. You gotta love the y’all. So identified with the tears here. Thank you for a beautiful reflection and perspective!

  • These words make me so happy this morning. I love the Church and mourn over the damage that has been done in so many hearts through the church. Thank you for being vulnerable during the gathering of people through asking for prayer and crying with the woman who prayed for you. And, thank you for being vulnerable with us and sharing how Christ is brining healing into your life through His Church. 

  • Jeff Bickley

    Beautiful, Sarah.  And yes, the church is one, big, beautiful “Y’all!”  (I’m from Texas, so I use that word frequently!) 

  • the Sooz


  • Fiona Merrick

    This is beautiful, Sarah. Thank you xxx

  • Tiffanyshea30

    Loved this! Thank you for sharing this. 

  • michaboyett

    Texas says, You’re welcome, honey.

    Also, thanks for this: Some of my greatest wounds have come from Church. And so I suppose it makes sense that some of my greatest healing would come through Church as well.

    I hear that and keep experiencing it over and over. It shocks me every time…

    • Another word I’ve stolen from Texas: Honey. I call my daughters that ALL the time. It makes me happy.

  • Well, bless your heart. Y’all is one my favorite words, means so much. Love this friend.

  • Kaylin

    You are so honest….so brave. I laugh, I cry, and I wonder what would happen if I too could share like you. My small intimate group of kindred souls would laugh and cry too and be amazed that anyone would dare put it out there but the vast holy hordes would NOT be amused! Indeed, they would clap their hands over their ears at the horror that someone, anyone could be so sacrilegously honest 🙂  Thank you for blogging. God’s very essence radiates through you.

    • Thanks, Kaylin. Once you get started, it gets easier and easier to be honest, I promise. 🙂

  • pastordt

    :>). YES. Thank you.

  • As an introvert and a former Texan, I can relate to this post on oh so many levels. Not least is the experience of trying to hold a toddler during church. (And, in my case, having to explain to her why now is not the best time to share her animal crackers with the priest.) 

    Anyway, when I was in seminary, my Greek professor was a staunch advocate of using “y’all” translate many NT passages where the “you” was actually plural. When we read the Bible by ourselves, we get accustomed to thinking its message is for ME when it’s really for US. 

    • Yes, that’s exactly what our preacher was talking about, too – Us vs. Me. in the “you.” So, so good. (I would like some animal crackers, too.)

  • Thanks for writing. Your blog is categorized in my Google Reader under the category- Top Ten must reads. Look forward to it every time.

  • Sarah . . . this, right here: “Some of my greatest wounds have come from Church. And so I suppose it makes sense that some of my greatest healing would come through Church as well.” Absolutely. Absolutely, friend.

  • gatornkids

    Sarah, I am seriously considering packing up my family and moving to Canada simply so that I can live life with you!  I want to be part of your “y’all”!  This post is refreshing, and honest, and real.  Well, aren’t all of your posts?  I am a faithful (somewhat addicted) reader and have been ever since I found your blog about a year ago.  Thank you for always putting things into perspective and helping me to push further and deeper in my relationship with God.  For reminding me of the important things that I so often lose sight of.  You continue to inspire and uplift me even if just through your day to day life…I appreciate you and thank you for your transparency….be blessed!

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  • kim

    “…and I don’t know if I was crying in church today because of the burdens we are all carrying, or if I was crying because someone was there to share the load.”

    My arms are pretty much crossed on the inside as well…and yeah, I take a break every week or so, too. I go and sit in enough services to appear okay, not raging or close to collapse…
    But, I too have found with a few – some of y’all near and some not so – someone to share the load…whether they read what I write or share their own humanity with me. 

    Thanks for being one who brings such tears to my life.