I’ve been on the lookout for a new church, I’ve been hungry for a spiritual home, and while I’ve found some that I really like and enjoy I haven’t found one here in Arizona that I was ready to call home yet. I tried an Episcopal church and while I really enjoyed the tradition and ceremony, I was easily the youngest person there that wasn’t in the youth group. I’m hungry for a community of believers my own age, that I can grow with. I usually end up in small groups with women either much older than me, or younger than me, so I feel like I know nothing when it comes to life experience, or I know way too much. While it is always fantastic to go through life having someone pulling you up, as well as someone you’re pulling up, you still need that person to walk alongside you. It’s something I’ve seriously been lacking in my life. I’m the oldest in my friend group, I’m craving it. I’m also extremely picky about things I need in a church, so needless to say this hasn’t necessarily been an easy adventure.
On the same note, I’ve started to do Rachel Hollis’s 5 to Thrive #last90days challenge. Rachel Hollis is a blogger whose book I’ve been meaning to read for a long while. One of my good friends, Katie, posted about her challenge for the last 90 days of the year. You have to do the following every single day for the last 90 days of the year:
I added a few things to this list: wash my face every day, brush my teeth every day, bible study from the First5 app & take my antidepressants each day. Also, I decided I want to go to church every Sunday. Whether it’s one super close to my house, or the one I decide I want to call home, for the last 90 days, I will go to church every Sunday I am able to. The ONLY exception is the Sunday I am in Cincinnati and even then I may find an Episcopal service to pop into while I’m there. Regardless, one of the things Rachel has talked about in her vlogs is that this is about making a promise to yourself and keeping that promise. If you try to do hard things and just constantly give up on yourself, that’s what you’ll always fall back on. This is about making promises to yourself and PROVING you can keep them. I’m proud to report that so far, I’ve been 100% complete every single day. I even went to a new church today, and I think it’s the one I want to call my own.
Here’s the thing though, not a single person talked to me, except the person in the welcome area. No one introduced themselves randomly, no one came up to me and asked me to sit with them, none of it. And before you gasp, I know 100% that it was God.
Something I’ve been working on with God is making Him the focus. Like, I really want to be in a relationship, and in a relationship with someone who values God like I do. But how can I expect to truly be able to do that relationship, or be in a relationship, until I’m back on the right track with God? I can’t. It’s something He and I have been speaking about a lot lately. That whole make a promise and then fall back on it. I have every intention of getting closer with God, but I don’t actually do it. I walk into a new church and wonder if maybe my future husband is there. If I look cute enough. Are there any guys that catch my eye? Which people seem fun? Who should I become friends with? And while a community is so important, don’t get me wrong, God should be the main reason we go to church. Sure, we encounter Him every day, but embracing Him in worship is about HIM and Him alone. I find myself wanting to impress others, and end up not authentically connecting with the Lord in my worship. I find myself dressing to hear people tell me that I look cute, I find myself asking about churches by saying “Will I meet my future husband there?”. I’m not proud of that, but it is something that crosses my mind. Even today, I had to remind myself as I watched people worship that it wasn’t about that. It was about me and God. He reminded me of that today when He gave me three empty chairs on either side, and no one greeting me. Because I wasn’t there for them. I wasn’t there for people to tell me they like my singing voice. I was there to worship God and grow closer to him, and hopefully find a place I can be planted to do that for the rest of my time in Arizona.
We grow in the awkward, uncomfortable moments. Standing there, waiting, hoping someone would talk to me, I grew. I remembered why I was there in the first place. Worshipping with not a single song I actually knew (a shocker), reminded me that it’s not about singing the best, it’s about worshipping with passion. No one telling me that I have a nice singing voice reminded me that other peoples validation isn’t something I need. That I know God has gifted me a voice for worship but that doesn’t need to be noticed every time I sing. It reminded me of the times I just let myself be free in worship, let myself seek God. Let myself cry, let myself talk to him. I needed to not be welcomed. I needed to figure this out on my own, with Jesus by my side, reminding me where true north was.
I made no new friends today. I left with a small group contact who I immediately reached out to, and a new coffee mug, and to be honest, I’ve never felt better.