Musings, thoughts, and ponderings about children, family life, homeschooling, and anything else that comes to mind.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Change. . . Our lives are defined by experiences and change. Some of which are exciting and desired, others which are challenging and heartbreaking. Our family is currently undergoing a season of change, one which we do not want to experience, but a change that my husband and I believe is necessary.
For the past fourteen years, my husband and I have attended the same church- the church in which my husband grew up, the church where we both became Christians, the church where our children were baptized and raised, the only church our family has ever known. But unfortunately, for a variety of reasons which continue to exhaust and anger me to even think about, we feel that "our" church may no longer be the best fit for our family.
Believe me, we have not and are not taking our decision to visit other churches lightly. It hurts; it breaks our hearts to even contemplate leaving our church family and close friends who have shepherded us and our children so closely. I am crying now at the thought of my son not receiving his 3rd grade Bible next year or not being confirmed at the same church as his sister, not attending Love Feast on Christmas Eve, Car Guy not graduating to a shepherd from a sheep in the Children's Nativity, not going on another mission trip to Kentucky as Curly Girl and I did this past summer, no longer watching Car Guy scurry around during the Easter Egg Hunt. Knowing that Promotion Sunday and the Youth Year Kick-Off are swiftly approaching and consciously choosing not to attend these events hurts deeply.
Yes, we are visiting other churches. For how long or if we will permanently leave our church, we do not know. My husband and I do realize that we can no longer exist with the constant church-related frustration with which we have been dealing for over a year now. We know that can't be afraid of leaping into change, and we don't want to miss out on blessings which God may have in store for us because we are afraid of leaving a comfortable situation to strike out for frighteningly unfamiliar territory.
Many tears have been shed and many questions have been asked and debated in our family regarding our current in-between church situation. All four of us have experienced internal tug-of-wars as we have wrestled with the why and why nots of our decision. While attending a church mission activity on Saturday, my children and I all greatly enjoyed being surrounded by familiar faces. All three of us had missed the warmth of seeing dear friends, and Curly Girl voiced all of our family members' feelings when she asked in the car on the way home, "Do we have to leave our church? Why can't we stay?"
My 12-year-old is certainly having the hardest time with our transition, but she is also the one having to repeatedly be the visitor in a new Sunday school class, when she had previously been the kid who comfortably stepped in her home church door several times a week. Over the past few weeks, Curly Girl has jubilantly skipped out of a new church so thrilled at the warm reception she received that she went back to their Sunday night activity, but she has also sadly walked to the car and commented that the middle school girls were cliquey and no one really talked to her. It's hard, and my heart breaks at the thought of even possibly uprooting my daughter at such a crucial time in her life.
But my husband and I also don't want to settle for less. Staying in a program with which we are thoroughly dissatisfied just because we are afraid of change is not in anyway acceptable. We also want to have a church HOME, though, not a building to just obligatorily attend once a week, but a place where we can peacefully grow and learn to love our new church family. We want to feel satisfied with our decision to go or stay at our long-time church. If we choose to consistently attend another church, we want to be there because we truly feel that we should be there, not because we need a fill-in church to attend while we hope the situation at our "real" home church resolves itself.
What we do know with all certainty is that we must have a church where our entire family can grow in our relationships with Christ. Unfortunately, I have allowed my frustration and anger at the human issues in our long-time church to impact my relationship with Christ. For the last nine months, I have used about every excuse I could think of to avoid walking in the church doors. It's not fair; it's not right, but it happened and still will until my family either finds a new church or makes a very deliberate decision to return to our previous one. One Sunday in June, my husband and I knew that we had to take a break to visit other churches when we all came home from church in horrible moods. The stress of dealing with some of the issues and people at our long-time church had gotten to both of us and, unfortunately, superseded worshiping that day.
In all honesty, I haven't been much of a practicing Christian since the holidays and have frequently contemplated my long ago thoughts of "Why bother? I'd much rather sleep in on Sunday mornings. Who needs religion anyway?" I will even admit that if it wasn't for knowing that my children need to be active in a church, I would have probably just shoved my Bible to the back of the bookshelf and tried to walk away. But I can't do that- I won't do that. It took too much hard work to get to the place where I was willing to tell people that I was a Christian. I don't want to go back to the frantic life of feeling like everything is up to me to get right or screw up all on my own. I'm a better person when I have an active relationship with Christ, and I desperately need to get back there.
Our entire family needs to attend a church where we can plug into God's love and light- where we can see these qualities lived out through the church's members, young and old, and exemplified by the church's ministers, leadership, and staff. Please pray for our family as we continue along our journey. We truly don't know where it will take us, and it is not a decision that we take lightly. Please also pray for our long-time church, as well as the churches we have and will continue to visit. Lastly, please pray for all people who do not have a church home. As our family has recently learned, life is much more peaceful and enjoyable when you are plugged into God's love.