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