Sunday, June 16, 2013

sweet encouragement


Over the past three years I've really struggled with going to church and having christian friends. The first two years of my marriage was hard, harder than what most couples ever have to experience. I felt very hurt by the church and by some believers who I thought would walk along side us during our marriage but disappeared. Feeling abandoned on top of the hurt just made me want to have nothing to do with church and I labeled all Christians as "those people" "the ones that you can't trust" and "the ones that hurt you". I hardened my heart towards God and I spiralled down into a secret dark depression that only my husband knew about. I tried out a handful of churches in the area during these three years, but every single Sunday I would wake up sick to my stomach. I hated Sundays. It was the day that I felt that I was being judged by my christian husband for "not attending church". He wasn't judging me, but I knew his heart hurt. His heart hurt over seeing his wife struggle and trying to make sense of the hurt she experienced and his heart hurt feeling like he couldn't go to something that was such a huge part of his life. I encouraged him to go to church with out me. I begged him to. But he said he was afraid of people asking him questions about where I was. I would tell him "tell them the truth! I hate Christians, they all hurt you and I hate the church". Scott insisted that we go to church as a family. Which was in a sense was his way of loving me but I took it as his way of trying to force me to go to church with him. 

Scott allowed me to struggle. He allowed me to wrestle out these feelings I had in my heart. He allowed The Lord to break me so I could see that The Lord was my only hope.

Last fall I signed up for a women's bible study that I didn't follow through with for several reasons. My main reason. I didn't want to trust "Christians" again. I didn't want to get hurt. One of the leaders of the study, Sarah emailed me all the time. Scott grew up with her and her family and I knew from him that she is a very sweet person. She immediately friended me on facebook, sent me emails or texts asking me how I was doing and just really snuck into my heart with out me even knowing about it. So when I found myself in a crisis of faith a few months ago knowing that whichever direction I turn could lead me to life or to destruction, Sarah popped into my heart. I emailed Sarah and told her everything then asked if I could join her at church. Over the past month or so Sarah has encouraged my heart in so many ways. Never before have I felt so accepted by other believers and I feel so encouraged. Through Sarah's persistence in trying to build a friendship with me I have come to see that the Lord hasn't given up on me. That He knew how much encouragement my heart needed and He placed the right person in my life who wouldn't give up. 

Before we went to church today I put a bunch of cherries into a mason jar with a note letting her know that I actually look forward to going to church and that I am grateful for her sweet friendship. Her friendship and how she has unconditionally reached out to me and my family is sweeter than all the cherries that we picked from the orchard yesterday. I wanted to encourage her just the way she has encouraged me. 

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)
therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing

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2 comments:

  1. I've been dealing with this for a few months. I've gone to the same church for the past 10 years. I never built any close friendships. And every time someone does text me, I know that they are just being told to do so by the leaders. It just doesn't feel genuine & I always find an excuse for not making it to Sunday services. And it only gets worse the longer I stay away. But I feel the same way you described, stick to my stomach. Hopefully, soon, I'll be able to go back.

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  2. jess-i had no idea about all your hurt from church and the christians around you. my heart hurts wishing i could have been there to walk along side you in that! its hard to be alone, especially that lonely feeling you have even if you're surrounded by others. i really miss having a church home too-a place to actually feel known, not just attend. i'm praying that as the months go by you'll continue to let your self be known by this new community. miss you!

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Thank you for your comments! They encourage my heart and I read every single one of them. Please be encouraging and don't just comment or email me when you want to correct me on my grammar. When I get the "grammar correction" emails or comments they do hurt my feelings. I wouldn't want your heart to feel the way mine does after reading them.

Please check back as I try to respond to everyone who leaves a comment.