It’s funny that the very subject of today’s Sunday Offering is sort of what I modeled this weekly post after… an offering at church. You’ve heard me say the meaning behind the name before… “sometimes you have a lot to give, sometimes you have a little to give and sometimes you don’t even show up to church.”
Well, for me, that last part has been the truest of trues… for a very long time. I mean… very long time. I was raised in church. My dad was the youth pastor and then the associate pastor. As a young child, we went every time the doors were open. Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night and several in between. When he stepped out of leadership, we moved to a church closer to home and we still attended regularly. Real regularly. My first marriage was to a pastor’s kid and praise & worship leader. Their family was more into the modern way of attending church which meant… we went on Sunday mornings. No Sunday night or Wednesday night which was crazy for me… and also welcomed from me! We divorced 8 or 9 years ago and I bet I hadn’t been to church in a year once we got to that point.
So, realistically, let’s say… I haven’t been to church regularly in 10 years.
10 years! A person that grew up in church. Loves the Lord. Believes in His redeeming powers. And hasn’t stepped foot in His gathering place in 10 years.
This blob on the timeline is not a reason or an excuse but… my dad passed away 10 years ago. Again, that fact really doesn’t have too too much to do with why I haven’t been but also… I’ve dug deep into “self” the past 10 years. When your security is ripped out from under you unexpectedly sometimes you tend to start the digging.
I’ve been to therapy and counseling and lots of yoga and workshops and bible studies and book clubs and retreats… but not church. I have not been to church.
But my love for the Lord, my understanding of His path for me and my desire to walk that path has grown over these years.
Hear me on this… not my desire to go to church but my desire to follow the path that the Lord has specifically laid for me, Melissa Tate. The path that will allow me to show His love and what He has done in my life to the many people that I encounter. I don’t have to go to church to talk to God. I don’t have to go to church to know God or feel God or love God or see… actually SEE what He has in store for me and how He wants me to get there.
But I will say this… as I was looking over the past 2 years of life in my New Year Refocus (that I do every year in January)… I had written on both 2018 and 2019 goal for the year… “Find a church”.
How many times did I look for a church in 2018 and 2019? Once.
How many other times did I go to church in 2018 and 2019? Twice.
Y’all. That ain’t gonna get me to reach that goal. And so I added it to my 2020 goals again.
I know I don’t have to go to church to love the Lord. I know I don’t have to go to church to have a relationship with Him. I feel like the way I lead my life, the friends I keep, the community I build… they all resemble that of “the church”. I love my friends deeply. I cherish my time with them. I make an effort to meet with them and share life. I get involved with community events. I pray for my husband and my kids.
BUT… and hear me on this BUT… I keep adding it to my list.
Year after year. I add it to my list.
And today, I went to church. With the intent of “finding a church.”
It’s not far from my house. My friend goes there. They have a late morning service. And guess what y’all… I liked it. Like really liked it.
When I pulled into the parking lot there were men in bright green vests waving at me! Not telling me where to park but just telling me good morning. And when I opened my car door, there was music playing in the parking lot. And when I walked in a man said “Welcome Home.” And then there were ladies handing out coffee and tea and hot apple cider.
It was churchy. With all the niceness and the smiles and the “Welcome Home’s” and the free coffee. But it was also a look at the community I live in that I had no idea existed.
I am going to be real honest right now. Ew, y’all. Forgive me. It’s real real.
I don’t want to go to church with a bunch of people that look like me. I don’t. I don’t want to go to a church with a bunch of almost middle aged white people. I get that enough in my everyday life… remember my friends that I hold close and dear to my heart… almost middle aged white people. That’s not what heaven will look like. It’s not what the Kingdom of God looks like. My friends, it’s not!
There was diversity here. There was singing and teaching and community.
A different community than what I have built for myself in the past 10 years. This is where I’m going with this. Today, I realized, I do need to go to church. If the Lord put me on this Earth for community… I need to be in community. If going to church is the thing that puts me in that community. That place and time with different people. People I did not pick and choose and approve for my life (hello dear almost middle aged white friends of mine)… then I need to go to church.
I joined a small group. HAHAHAHA! On my first Sunday ever to the church. It just happened to be their “Connect Sunday” where all of their small groups have tables set up for you to see what they do. I have always thought of “small group” as like a couples thing. Like husbands and wives and you meet with them on Sunday nights and awkwardly eat snacks and talk about kids or carpool or something I have absolutely no interest in (sorry kids… you know what I mean). But also… Evan Tate. Can anyone see Evan Tate in that situation? I can’t. I can not!!!!
But their small groups are different. They are really like clubs. That’s what I’m going to call them. There was a Moms Fitness Club and a Robot Club and a Widows Club and y’all… guess what… a Recipes & Relationships Club.
There. Was. A. Recipes. &. Relationships. CLUB!!!!!
And I joined it!
We meet every other Thursday night at the Luby’s in Rockwall and exchange recipes and talk about food and memories and ARE YOU KIDDING ME… this is my life!
Here’s the deal. God knows what He’s doing. He doesn’t suggest things like “And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other…” (Hebrews 10:25) just because He thinks maybe it will help us. He knows. He knows, y’all.
Anyways… that’s my offering to you today. I hope it helps someone out there. Maybe you’ve been putting something off for 2 years that you need to just make yourself do. DO IT. Maybe you’re like me and the thing is church. TRY IT. Or maybe you just need to make the list… MAKE IT.
Happy Sunday friends… and also, you know what my favorite thing about today was? That post church nap!!!! If you know, you know. It had been a long time for that one!