I think most of us have had a few bad church experiences. Some are worse than others. Some people never set a foot in a place of worship again until they’re dead. This must really anguish the Lord. One of my sayings is, “We’ve got to be better than the bar.” I mean, I have got to find more support, love and encouragement in church than if I wore a too short mini-skirt and a too-tight tank top and bellied up to the bar with all my troubles and woes. It’s one of my finest sayings! 🙂 I never hung out much at bars and no one ever came up to give me a drink when I did but getting back to the point, it is so sad when people mess up God’s plans.
So I contemplate the word “wide” on Five Minute Fridays with a sense of trepidation. The word “wide” feels sad to me right now. Deep fissures have erupted in places that mean a lot to me. I don’t want to be too specific but if you know me and there is a pang in your heart as you read this, you have correctly identified one of the “wide” areas in my life. I pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance. Without the Lord, I’m sure to botch things and sadly still stumble even though Christ lives in my heart. I love the idea of how God’s forgiveness is “wide.” I even accidentally made a Guinea Pig Girl Doll to unintentionally demonstrate that. But I prefer closeness in most other aspects of my spiritual, emotional and physical life.
Many years ago, before I came to know Jesus, Mark and I were attending a church. Mark was on the “Board” at the church and they had monthly meetings. We got a new pastor and he said something one day in a sermon that offended me so much, I told Mark, probably during the service, I had it. I’m never going back to that church again. I didn’t care if he went or if he was on the board, Nate and I would never enter that church again. I meant it. I never did go back though I think I let Mark take our toddler with him a few times. Obviously, this created a lot of strife between the two of us and I never had closure. Eventually Mark left the church. It was awkward, I can’t remember if the pastor wanted to talk to us/me before the final departure. Regardless it never happened. Honestly I’m not sure if the pastor said the same thing now if it would tick me off given where I am with the Lord. I don’t think I made the right decision, I created the rift in a sense. The Hubs and I needed to be of one accord and we weren’t.
So this is what I pray, “Heavenly Father, could you fill this wide gap over here and the chasm over in this other place? You never disappoint and your ways are always true. Not with the spiritual equivalent of a gin and tonic but with something good and real and true? I pray this not only for myself but for the many I know and love who are also hurting. Amen.”
Cindy- Thanks for your transparency. I have made some rifts in my life time and left some churches because I felt misunderstood…so thankful for grace…I was reading 1 Samuel 12 the other day…the last part is good where Israel confesses their sin of leaving God and seeking a king to replace God…God recognizes their sin through Samuel’s words and reassures them that He still desires that they follow and serve Him. Amazing GRACE!
And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. (I Samuel 12:20-22)
Thank Kel! Sounds like you understand my perspective! I’m constantly reminded that the only one who won’t disappoint or lead me astray is King Jesus. Thanks for sharing Scripture too!
You are such a wonderful writer, and sewer (ew, is that how that is spelled??)…one who sews, and cook…loved the yummy muffins! Praying for the chasm to be filled. Love you!
My sweet friend, no matter how wide the rift, His Grace is a mighty ocean. Love ya!
Thank you ikceb! I know you can appreciate my post because you have been there as well. Different situations and people but yeah…
When I feel a fissure forming, especially in, but not limited to, my safe place, the church, I tend to retreat from the situation that is causing the rift because of the discomfort it creates. In these situations, my first line of defense is to think that the problem lies within me. It is much easier for me to “blame” myself, finding error in my thinking or my feelings, than to confront and initiate a discourse that may or may not go well. In other words, it is easy for me to self-protect, to my own detriment, than to confront. I have a friend who is helping me to learn to sit with my feelings/thoughts/observations, not judging them as good or bad or judging myself as good or bad for having them, which helps neutralize the fears that can cloud my ability to process things in a healthy way. I think the challenge on both sides of a rift is to give each other the room and the freedom to speak freely, knowing that we may speak imperfectly because we are imperfect beings, so that an open, honest dialogue can occur that has the potential to bring much more good than evil, much more benefit than harm. Having said this, I have had two different outcomes when I have put into practice what I have just shared. One, the situation was deemed unreconcilable and the rift remained, the saddest of outcomes. Two, both sides shared, were heard and found common ground to move forward, the best of outcomes. Relationship, whether with an individual or a larger entity, is work and involves risk. May I say that I am not a risk taker. It does not come naturally to me at all! I have to purpose to do some of the things I do, so that I can know in my heart and with good conscience that I did my best to be a person who builds bridges. I will pray for your situation because I know your heart is tender and full of love and peace. I will pray God give you the wisdom to know what to do and how to do it to bring closure. Much love to you my friend! P.S. If I have totally missed your point, please forgive me. This is just what came out of me and it went past the 5 minute mark :-).
No, you are reading it correctly. I’m not a risk taker in many ways. I usually only take risks if I feel safe. There are exceptions but you will never see me jumping out of a plane or scaling off the side of a building. I really appreciate your perspective and need to re-read this several times as it pertains to a few complicated situations/relationships. I’d appreciate the prayers and am honored that you took the time to care. ❤
Your heart is awesome.
Oh bless u, Denise. Truly!
Cindy, thanks so much for stopping by 🙂 Your comment meant a lot to me.
Thoughts on your post… His arm is not too short to save! Not too short to bridge these chasms no matter how many human hands went into digging the ditch. I love the part of your prayer where you said “You never disappoint and your ways are always true.” I’ll be keeping and pondering that in my heart for a while.
By the way — love your “about the author” section. From one woman to another… thank you for raising your sons right. 😉
Hey Amy! I love FMF’s even if the post is tugging on a hurting place in my heart. We try mightily to raise good olive shoots and if not for Jesus, we’d all be a hot mess. I look forward to reading more of your posts. I wish I would have blogged when my OS were younger, bless you for chronicling your life!
You’re a gem. Thanks for sharing your heart. I can completely relate to your post. Will be praying for you. Visiting from 5mF. Happy Friday! 🙂
Thank you Larri! I have a sister named Lorri so that was pretty cool to get your comment. It is a sensitive subject for many people and I wrote this post with the realization that I wasn’t alone. The Lord is victorious and we all need to remember this and be open to His voice. I’m trying to be attentive. Appreciate your kind words. 5MF is fun! ❤