We recently moved from California to Oregon and it’s been a bit of a challenge for me. I have moved so many times, I was certain this one would be a cakewalk but I was surprised by my inability to adjust as quickly as I’d hoped.
I moved into a beautiful area, bought a new house, there were promises of wineries, possible snow and tons of rain so I was thrilled at the possibility of 4 seasons, the magic of the falling rain, wine tasting and a snow man in the winter.
But with all this comes making new friends, looking for a new church, finding new restaurants that cater to people with food allergies, getting acclimatized to the lifestyle etc.
So we started church hunting. Oh yes, this is the joy of my life.
I would rather walk on hot coals than church hunt.
I am, ironically, a pretty shy person.
I have to push myself to get out, make friends and get involved and I do, mostly because I fear of being that mean little old lady in the neighborhood with a house full of little white dogs, a few egomaniacal cats and a couple big dogs tossed in for security.
I am a bit of a Misfit when it comes to churches. I LOVE Jesus but I have a very hard time “trusting” his children. I don’t feel comfortable in conservative churches, I don’t feel comfortable in liberal churches and it takes a special kind of church and Pastor for me to let my guard down and feel welcome but I keep on looking.
So if church hunting is so painful, why do I do it?
I am not of the mindset that I have to go to church every Sunday.
I love Jesus but I’m pretty sure he loves me, even when I’m in my PJ’s sipping tea or rocking with the worship band in a church.
I don’t subscribe to the threat that if I don’t go to church every Sunday I’m going to hell. Its quite busy down there, I’m sure Satan has his hands full. He doesn’t need me poking around compulsively cleaning or pointing out his faults.
I am at a point in my life where I am Recreating me after cancer.
I am learning to fully love the new me, the me that has visible & emotional war wounds, the me that has limited energy & needs to learn to navigate around it, the me that has had to re-learn how to do certain things, the me that has looked in the mirror and saw a stranger looking back.
In some ways, I don’t know myself anymore. This process of Recreating me is helping me to understand, to find my voice, to find my inner strength, to follow my gut, to accept my different-abilities and cherish my talents.
I am trying to figure out where I want to serve, who I want to be when I grow up, what legacy I want to leave my kids and what is next for this chapter of my life.
So I have come to terms with the fact that I NEED a church family.
When I say NEED, I mean for me to be 100% content I NEED to be a part of a church family that LOVES EVERYONE and shuns NO ONE, a church that FEEDS the emotional, spiritual and physical needs of those INSIDE and knows how to balance the needs, wants and questions of those they reach out to.
I am not seeking a church because I want to spend all my time with “perfect Christians” but instead, because I have a heart for the broken.I relate to those who feel unwanted, unloved & pushed aside.
I KNOW there are people so hurt by “religion” that they walk away from Jesus, thinking they are one and the same and they are not!
The hurting, the addicts, the abused, those who call themselves “MisFits”
They are not Misfits!
The people in their lives who make them feel this way are the “Wrong Fits!”
I want to show them what unconditional love feels like.
I want to share an honest and pure testimony of the Unconditional Love of Jesus that comes from a place of humbleness, compassion and the purest of hearts without condemnation or guilt.
I am no bible scholar nor do I do well in bible studies.
I question, I seek, I analyze and this pisses some people off.
If bible studies were a team sport, I would be the last person picked for the team and even then, I would only be chosen under protest by the Team Captain.
I don’t meet Jesus in the pages of a bible.
HE meets ME where I am.
My greatest lessons of love were on some of the hardest days of my life.
The night I was puking my guts up from Bulimia. I had just eaten a piece of fruit and I hated myself, I had to get it out. All alone on a cold floor in my empty apartment and I started bleeding a lot! I had ruptured my esophagus and Jesus met me where I was and never left me.
The day I downed 78 laxatives because I just ate an apple & I felt fat. I passed out in my father’s arms and while in the ER, being pumped full of 10 bags of IV fluids, as I sat on a plastic toilet, I kept going in and out of consciousness and they told my parents, “IF she lives, we need to get her into a eating disorder unit.” Jesus met me where I was and never left me.
Or the day I was hanging on to my recovery, wanting to be a good Mom, not wanting to force myself to vomit after eating breakfast, so I sat down with my 3 yr. old, on the carpet outside the bathroom. I wanted to go in but instead I read him a story, holding on to the carpet, white knuckling it, praying “Lord don’t abandon me now” and Jesus met me where I was and never left me.
Then the day I sat in a recliner chair in my house, just home from the hospital where my breasts were removed after an 8-hour double mastectomy because of cancer. I’m allergic to most meds so all they could give me was Tylenol and my husband had to siphon the fluid from my chest using these little hand grenades with rubber straws that were sewn into my raw chest wall. It was agony, he cried, I cried, I wanted to die but Jesus met me where I was and never left me.
I believe God wants to use me to help others.
I believe that my life circumstances, my struggles, my deepest pain, if shared with love, a compassionate heart and understanding, could be the foundation someone needs to help them find the courage to live their lives fully not fearfully.
I want a church family because inside those walls are broken people, hurting people, people who question if God loves them, people who need others and I can help them, People who have something to share and I can learn from them and outside those doors are people who wonder what its like to be inside.
They want to know if God really loves them, if he will really meet them where they are, if he will promise to never leave them and I can tell them YES he does and YES he will, and I know this because in the midst of my hell, on days I wanted to die and tried to, Jesus met me where I was and he never left me.
I am no bible scholar and I am no “Misfit.” I just need to find the “right fit”
Somewhere there is a place for me, a church home, somewhere I will be needed and welcome. The road may be long and the journey may be daunting but I will not be alone because no matter the circumstances, Jesus never leaves me.