Attending church has been a part of my life since I was in my mothers womb. My first experience of God was through my mothers faith and prayer life. I saw her lose a car one day, pray and pick me up in another one the very next day. I’ve seen her keep lights on, heat on, food on the table and give me the opportunity to attend the best schools in Philadelphia, 8 to be exact, and a Jewish overnight summer camp (Golden Slipper Camp). I’ve seen people call my mom to pray and health reports have changed, financial relief happened and marriages stay together. For me I always followed the rules and regulations of the church culture, tried to tell the truth, Golden Rule, tithes and offering etc. but it wasn’t until my adulthood where I truly learned what and who God is to me.
After the death of my late boyfriend Rhyiad my strength in God was needed. Till this day I have no clue how I survived such a heartbreaking moment in life. The grace God gave me was unmatched. I had church people pray for me and encourage me to stay grounded in God because they understood the pressure I was feeling since they knew my experience and how he had passed away. Y’all these people would pray and tell me that “even though he didn’t make it into heaven, I still had to trust God”. Now any normal person would leave and never return BUT I’m not any person LOL. This challenged me to challenge their beliefs and I started to research the Bible and read books with different perspectives about death in general. Little did I know this was building my relationship with God and the craving for answers sparked an intense interest that has carried me through my adult life.
What I’ve learned is that people only know God as far as they have to trust him. People who don’t take chances or explore outside the four walls of the church are often close minded to the actual marvels of God. Also I believe a lot of people miss the opportunity to give God a chance because they are so focused on the people, which they should because we are Christ representatives, however expecting perfection from a human is pretty unrealistic and will almost always end in disappointment.
Fast forward I was invited to a “church” event. I was called up like I normally am and the Pastor began to tell me things that I’ve heard since I was younger. You're going to be a “prophet”, you're not common, your life experiences have called you to mature in the spiritual realm at a rapid pace etc. I began to attend a church and it became my safe haven for a couple of years. I enjoyed my time there, I even was ordained as a Minister despite me not even wanting to. I believe God places you in some areas so that you can see how grace and mercy works, to see how flawed WE humans are, and to teach discipline. My prayer prior to this was “use me Lord” , “I wanna know what it’s like to completely trust you” and “show me what love is”. Looking back God answered every prayer.
Dealing with a group of people anywhere is difficult but people will always use “church” as the standard instead of using God. I believe a lot of people are turned off by church because it forces them to have to actually read and research the Bible for themselves and forces discipline which most people struggle with. I guess I say all of this to say. I’ve learned that being a leader is hard business. People have a tendency to search for your weak spots and highlight those instead of your strengths. People enjoy watching the downfall of someone who is trying to do right and tend to adopt practices and accept advice that doesn’t require a lot of discipline, forgiveness and grace. This idea that church people are exempt from the struggles of the “world” is crazy! If anything, trying to do right is way harder than doing wrong and everyone falls short. I think one thing that the church has taught is to find people who cover you when you're down. Now this is not to get confused with lack of accountability or hard conversations nor lack of growth but it’s about choosing people who will cover you in public and cultivate and challenge in private.
Needless to say I have PTSD from my church experience LOL. I attend a new church and they are so kind and loving it makes me uncomfortable at times. They ask me to lead or join something, I'll do it and then run at the sight of any real responsibilities. Now I know my testimony can bless a lot of people but getting out of my own way is hard. Church for me provides a place where there are people trying to live better, treating the people around them with care and love and being comfortable with sharing their mistakes to help someone else. So my prayer is that WE give God a chance in our living rooms, cars, showers. I ask God to highlight every hurt and negative experience and cause you to see His hand in each situation. I ask God to destroy any connection that is destroying you and holding you back from your true potential. I ask God to help you forgive, heal and cast every worry, hurt and care on Him so that your journey through life can have less friction. Amen!