Wednesday, January 2, 2013

reclaiming my identity from a mega church

Before I had Judah I worked at McLean Bible Church for over five years in the DC area, the church has several campuses and over 13,000 members. I worked full time in Women's and Small Groups Ministry as well as volunteer with the Student Ministry. The place was my home, I spent well over 80 hours there a week, every part of my being identified with where I worked, I hung out with my co-workers and some were my roommates. When ever I went somewhere I associated myself with my job, not only did I feel that my job was part of who I was, but I also felt like my job was part of my faith. I didn't know how to sustain my faith with out being associated with McLean Bible Church. It almost felt like working in full time ministry put you closer to God, which is not the case since we are all sinners in need of a savior. For years I felt if I did my work with excellence, was always sharing my faith, helping to transform people into fully devoted followers of Christ and making sure that people knew they mattered to me and to God then I was living a life with a heart fully dedicated to Christ. I was doing my job and the outward appearance of my job was to be that perfect believer, the one who has it all together, who wouldn't drink that glass of wine at parties in fear of what other people would say, that person who wouldn't get angry and flip someone off  in public or that girl who would not go alone in the same car as my brother in law to drive across the street with him because I was not allowed to be alone in the car with a married man. I had certain rules to abide by to make the outward appearance perfect because I worked at McLean Bible Church. It wasn't all bad. I worked around some inspirational people, spent most of my nights pouring over my bible and reading books by AW Pink, Tozer, Piper, John Wesley anything I could get my hands on to make me a better disciple of Christ. I truly loved my job, my friends that worked with me there and I loved my relationship with the Lord. 

Before I was married Scott mentioned a few times that I should consider leaving McLean Bible Church that we should attend his home church or find another church together. But I felt lost with out my core values and lost with out being associated with my church and my work. I didn't know what I would do, I didn't know who I would be with out my job. 

After Scott and I got married we found out shortly afterwards that we were going to have a baby, a honeymoon baby. After much prayer I decided to leave McLean Bible Church. Leaving the church felt like I cut my arm off. .Most of the relationships that I had formed in the five years that I worked there all seemed to have disappeared when I needed them most. I felt that I only mattered to God if I was working at McLean Bible Church. I felt that since I worked in ministry for over five years I wasn't allowed to have questions about my faith, struggles with in my heart and I didn't need help, I was told by a certain person in leadership who I trusted that "I should know better".

 I so desperately needed help.
I still felt that McLean Bible Church was part of my identity.
My faith was rocky.
I was lost and I felt abandoned. 

Two years I struggled with this, not knowing what to do after the church that is part of my identity hurts me deeply. I felt like I was missing part of my heart because I was no longer working and serving in full time ministry. Yet after all this hurt,  I felt like I couldn't McLean Bible Church away from identity. It was part of who I was and I had it written all over my social media. 

I decided in November that I am going to reclaim my identity that I am going to take the words McLean Bible Church out of my social media. I am not McLean Bible Church. I am Jessica Judkins. I am a child of God, I am a hopeless encourager or I should say hopeful since I love to give people hope, I am a mother to a wonderful son named Judah, wife to my handsome nerdy husband Scott, fiber artist and owner of My Charming Colors. 

I am reclaiming my identity. 
I am not who McLean Bible Church thinks I am. 
I am who the Lord thinks I am. 

His daughter, beloved, treasured, apple of His eye.

The Lord has taught me over the past two years that He will never stop loving me. He has also taught me to have compassion on those who are struggling with their faith. He has taught me to give people hope and to never give up on them, to never condemn them because they are having questions. He has taught me that their is much freedom in loving others where they are in life. 

....reclaiming my identity as Jessica Judkins....

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  1. It's great that you broke out of that. You are God's child no matter where you are! Love your new perspective!

  2. This is so encouraging Jessica. I have a similar story and your post sparked a need to re-evaluate where I am and where I want to be after leaving all that I have ever known. Love your heart mama. You are beautiful inside and out.

  3. I love the journey you are on friend... as I read this I think about the church universal and how often I have heard this said by people who are in full time ministry

    " I felt that since I worked in ministry for over five years I wasn't allowed to have questions about my faith, struggles with in my heart and I didn't need help... "

    I wish all churches would learn to minister first to their own people... to be good to staff... care for staff... allow their own leaders to wrestle - because it is often in the wrestling that the greatest truths about our God and our identity in Christ are discovered.

    The faith you have developed in the last 3 years has been incredible friend. I have watched you wrestle, and doubt, and struggle and come out fighting with SUCH a stronger faith and more beautiful life. You are a constant inspiration to me. Love you to the moon and back friend... thank you for sharing your heart.

  4. I know it's probably difficult to write about, but I really enjoy reading your experiences at the ministry. It's something I know so little about, and it's interesting to hear the perspective of someone who's been on both sides. You're a strong lady, Jess.

  5. Glad you reclaimed your life. I am sure your son is loving you been focused on him. I am still in the process of finded myself.


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