Skip to content

Longing

December 29, 2008

“How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
I long, yes, I faint with longing
to enter the courts of the Lord.
With my whole being, body and soul,
I will shout joyfully to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young
at a place near your altar,
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God!”

-Psalm 84

I am longing for a home.

This week has given Hugh and me the much-needed time to talk about church. We left our church six months ago. Hugh was adamant. I was devastated.

We quickly started attending a new church. Hugh loved it. I was devastated.

The new church, though filled with solid Christ-followers, never felt like a family to me. I could not fit in, despite my best, most-charming efforts. Hugh said to keep trying.  And still, I was devastated.

This week, after months of disagreement about church (for the first time in our marriage!) , we reached a conclusion: we will find a church we both love. Or, at least like.

Churchless and a little bereft, we made a list:

“How about the Presbyterian church those guys in your Bible study attend?”… Siler Presbyterian went on the list.

“Joe and Jim like Carmel Baptist. We could try it, maybe?” … Carmel on the list.

Added to the list were also several small church plants, a nearby Lutheran church, a Moravian church (although Amanda said she thinks the Moravian women may wear head coverings – uh, no), and a few others. Twelve in all.

Yesterday we bravely set out to the first church on our list. It was fine – other than Jon-David filling out the “Welcome” card. He wrote all his information (name, address, etc…) carefully in his best handwriting.  He also checked the box stating that he would like to talk to a pastor.

What will he say if they call, asking for Jon-David, please?

To be honest, I’d like to talk to a pastor, too. I’d like to ask if he can recommend a good church for our family… and does he think there’s any real hope for me actually finding a church home?

This morning I locked myself away in our large walk-in closet and prayed. “God,” I sighed, “I just feel so deeply discouraged about this church stuff.”

God didn’t tell me what church to try next week. He didn’t point out everything I’ve done wrong at past churches. As always, He was tender with my heart.

“Start believing I want good for you and your family, Jess. Hope again that I have a church for all of you. Look forward, not behind… and start trusting Me in this situation.”

I haven’t been trusting Him. Instead, I’ve been worried and guilty. I have forgotten that God has a plan and I do not need to be afraid.

I want to lay down worry and guilt and start believing the truth God spoke to me this morning: He wants good for me. I can trust Him.

Step by step, He will show me.

Day by day, my confidence will grow.

I am still longing for a home. But today, for the first time, I am no longer devastated.

Advertisements
10 Comments leave one →
  1. December 29, 2008 2:45 pm

    Jess, I sympathize with being devastated. The two times I’ve had to change churches during my married life, I’ve been completely heart-broken. So when I read this I stopped to pray for you and Hugh immediately. I felt very strongly that our Father had a word for me to pass on to you, so here goes.
    Jesus gets how homesick we sometimes feel since (of course you know) He left His home, too. Don’t feel stupid or guilty if you repeatedly feel like a church doesn’t fit. He has a home away from home that will fit your entire family like a shining robe that reflects His glory like a many-faceted jewel. I asked for a picture (because I don’t always trust that just words are from Him instead of my own mind), and He showed me a picture of His bride, trying on multiple wedding dresses to find the one that fit just right. The best part about it was that He knew the right dress was in among the others, she just had to keep trying and she would find it.

  2. December 29, 2008 3:07 pm

    I understand the need to find the right church home. So much of our lives revolve around our church – where we go, what we do, who we hang out with – that it needs to be a god fit for everyone. We’ve been at Carmel for years and love it, even to the point of doing the long drive back across town since we moved. I hope you will come check it out and visit the Neagle class (he’s an excellent, Biblically-knowledgeable *teacher*). But you have to find the right place for your family for this time in your lives. I’m praying for you!

  3. December 29, 2008 6:11 pm

    We too found ourselves leaving a church this year, and trying to settle into a new place. Its not an easy thing to do, and we still don’t feel like we’re completely comfortable there.

  4. December 29, 2008 6:19 pm

    I pray for your “finding the light” on a new church family. As a member of the Moravian Church I assure you that (at least in general) Moravian women do not wear head coverings except when serving as “dieners,” i.e., serving the bread and coffee or milk at a celebratory love feast, when they may sometimes stick a bit of lace on top of their heads to be traditional. We watched one of our ladies giggling as hers fell off and had to be readjusted last week. Our group has fun, and we enjoy the slightly different “Moravian flavor” of such things as congregations having a band (usually woodwinds) that will play victorious music at funerals and Easter and other appropriate occasions.

  5. December 29, 2008 8:02 pm

    We changed churches, painfully, in February. The first 3 Sundays I just stood there during the singing trying not to cry. But I was praying and I knew I was were God wanted me to be, so I stayed. My husband started attending bible study with me for the first time in our 12 yr marriage. I am getting to know people. My kids love it. And so, we have joined the church, on Nov. 3

    I still don’t feel “home” there…but my family does, and they are growing. I am adapting. I am exactly where God wants me to be. I hope you will find where God wants you to be too.

    Hugs – Kelly

  6. December 29, 2008 11:22 pm

    I have to change churches, too. I found out not so great stuff about leadership..the good thing is.. God is our home. Not a church. It is important, vital even, to have fellowship and community, but as long as we are staying in constant relationship with God himself, we don’t need to feel “homeless”. He is our safe haven! I am not downplaying you wanting a church that fits, just trying to give you a little encouragement in the meantime!
    Angela

  7. taylor k permalink
    December 30, 2008 9:25 am

    wow, your posts always touch me because we seem to go through so many of the same things at the same time in our lifes.

    i am looking for a church too, acutally i am just looking for a relationship with God…. but to find a home church will help alot!

    My 2009 resolution is to find a home church and to committ. I’ll be quiting my weekend job to do this.

    I am nervous, but i am ready.

    Good luck!!!!!!!!!

  8. Joanie permalink
    December 30, 2008 9:56 am

    Hi, Jess –

    I really enjoy your blog!

    I had to come out of lurkerdom because I’ve been right where you are, twice. Both times were painful. But God was amazing in the way that He led us to the place we’re at now.

    It’s actually a pretty funny story. A couple of months before we’d even fully realized that we would soon be “shopping” for a new church, I found myself trying on clothes in a JC Penney dressing room one morning. Typically, I’d still be in my robe at that hour, but for some odd reason I’d felt compelled to make myself presentable and hit the stores early that day.

    I had a clearance rack shirt halfway over my head, trying to figure out which end was up, when I suddenly heard someone call my name. “Oh, Joanie,” they cried. “That looks SO good!”

    I looked all around the fitting room, wondering who in the world could be watching me and knowing how “good” the slightly shop-worn (and cheap!) blouse looked, when I realized that, DUH, the person wasn’t actually talking to ME. Apparently, there was someone else named Joanie in the room next to mine.

    You have to understand, NOBODY my age shares my name. Growing up, the only people I knew named Joan or Joanie were already collecting Social Security. So I had to see who this person was. I opened the door and glanced around. A couple of women, obviously good friends, were laughing and talking up a storm by the 3-way mirror.

    We struck up a conversation, and in some bizarre segue (I can’t remember for the life of me anymore how it even came up, as I typically do not launch into such subjects with total strangers), we were talking about church. The other Joanie was soon telling me that I’d love their church…which happened to be just a mile from my house and is part of a denomination with which my extended family has long been connected.

    These ladies were so fun to talk with that we ended up visiting like old friends for another 10 minutes, about a bunch of other random subjects. At the time, I didn’t even really think much about what they’d said about their church. But a couple of months later, when my husband and I found ourselves in that very icky place of having to go “church shopping,” I suddenly remembered those two women and what they’d said.

    So we visited their church. The kids really liked it. At that point, after how battered and bummed we were from our two previous churches, that was about all it took for us to keep coming back – we had such low expectations that all we wanted was some place safe and bland where the kids would be happy, and this church fit the bill. For several months, I atually thought of it as merely some sort of holding tank, a church we could attend while we pulled ourselves together and recovered from the garbage we’d experienced at our previous place.

    But over time, something amazing has happened. What started out as a “marriage of convenience” has actually turned into a passionate love affair. It’s been a little over a year since that fateful meeting in the Penney’s dressing room, and I can honestly say that I have never been happier in church than I am now.

    I look back on how we ended up where we are, and it still blows me away. If it hadn’t been for that “chance” encounter, and for the odd fact that I decided to go shopping early in the morning when I’d otherwise typically be lounging on the couch, and for my mom’s old-fashioned choice in names, we probably wouldn’t have thought twice about the church up the street. I doubt it ever would have made it onto our radar.

    But that’s the God we serve. He really WILL lead us…and sometimes His leading is through the most mundane things. He can even use a random shopping expedition to get us where He wants us to be.

    Blessings, Jess! 🙂

  9. December 30, 2008 2:59 pm

    Did The Gathering go on that list? I keep hearing awesome things about it… Some great folks go there.

    Tough, tough choices. You should talk to Gina Wheeler, I know they are looking too. You all can compare notes.

    Hey I saw Valerie At Home left you a comment. Remember that was who I recommended you room with at She Speaks? Well, maybe this year, right??

  10. December 30, 2008 8:57 pm

    Jess, I live way out west so I can’t make ANY type of church recommendations.. I wanted to share with you though that when I found the church we attend now (and how i found it is a ridiculous story), I was SO uncomfortable. I was raised Catholic and this “contemporary evangelical” church was SO out of my comfort zone. However, my then 2 1/2 year old son LOVED it. Loved. it. Wanted to know WHEN we would be back.. Uh. how’s next week for you, buddy? We’ve been going ever since. (My husband wasn’t a believer so I attended with out him. I just knew God wanted us there). Now, after having endured two health crisis with this church family? I would ONLY leave if God told us CLEARLY it was time. That IS my home. Mind you, Jess, it was a year and a half before that first medical crisis (my husband was involved in a work accident) and I didn’t feel at home until after that..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: