I went to church today--not something that comes easily to me. I've lived here 4 years and just started going to a church last fall. Complicated issue--church. But it was one of the two issues my father had a frank talk with me about before he died. He understood my reasons for turning away from the church--he understood the excruciating hurt I felt when my church turned its back on me after a divorce I didn't want while embracing my wealthy ex-husband and later his new wife.
But dad knew he was dying and I think he sensed that he had become my church. I didn't realize it until after he died. I was lost. At some point my daughter gave me a set of CD's by Joyce Meyers. She was and is "real" and I started watching her on TV. Then I went to a conference of hers and bought a lot of CD sets. I have listened to them, all over and over, and God has ministered to me through those CD's. One CD addresses the hurt that can be dealt you by "a church" and she nailed me just as dad had. Dad and Joyce have both said that the church was imperfect ---How could it not be when it's made up of humans? But that it's still his "body" and everyone of us needs to be a part of that body. Joyce was blunter than dad and I was convicted--not condemned, but convicted --there's a huge difference.
It has taken me awhile to work up the nerve to enter the doors of the church in which I grew up. My father was the wonderful minister of it for 9 years. He married my second husband and me in that church. It was that church that I went to my first Christmas eve service without Dad a little over 2 weeks after he died(my husband was there with me). So it was that church that I chose "to go back to."
I had paved the way by going to the other church for a Christmas eve service three years ago. Both my children and their loved ones were there along with my ex and his wife and her family. We took up 4 pews. Christmas exchange had gotten complicated and thus it needed to be after that service. My husband and I were to go to my son's and have our Christmas with his family. To get back to my hometown and late service was going to be a hassle. At one point I sat on my bed and I felt my dad's presence. I looked up and said "All right Dad, I get it--it's been 14 years --it's time I got over it. I felt this load lifted off of me. I called my son and asked if it would be all right for us to come there. I think we shocked some folks that night. I had long ago healed up on the divorce issue and my ex, his wife, and I had a comfortable relationship. But I'm not sure folks there realized that. So I got a lot of looks! Hee Hee!
I looked around and I felt fine -- I looked at certain people who had hurt me and felt no animosity. I was at peace. God did that. He'd been working on that area a lot. I do believe I had to make peace with that church before I could build a relationship with another and that's why I've put this background info in.
So this past fall I started going to my "growing up years" church. I wasn't sure if I would fall apart. But I didn't. I looked at the pulpit my father had helped design and at the beautiful sanctuary and I felt at home. I introduced myself to the pastor and he shared that my dad had been his mentor--something I didn't know. He praised my dad as so many people do. He was thrilled to have me there. Over the months since then as I "sneak" in late, others have realized who I am and have welcomed me. I usually get there after the "welcoming and shaking hands" time, but before the offering. I used to hurry out, but now I make a point of seeing my "second mom" who sings in the choir. (A story for another time). I have talked to the pastor about joining and I do plan to. But I'm going to have to get some more "nerve." I don't go out of my way to let folks know who I am. I'm obstinate on that--they'll have to figure it out on their own (I'm referring to those who are still there that were a part of the church when my dad was minister).
Part of me being late is that I have two factions warring inside of me. There's the part that says I must go and then there's the part that is kicking and screaming, "NO!" Sometimes one wins and other times the other part wins.
Today the right part won.