Back to Church… After 1.5 Years — Part 2

Today, y blogger friend, Julie, gives us the second part of her return to church after a while. Please read carefully:

“Yesterday, as you know, Ivanildo, I went back to church. What brought me back after being away 1.5 years? God. My Father brought me back when HE was ready. I had decided to go back a couple of weeks ago. My church-related terrors and fears had been reducing themselves as my strength and insight and resilience increased.

The Sunday I had planned to go back, my partner, seeing that I was in bad shape, swooped me away for a day in the Tropics. (Note:  I NEVER travel and we had never traveled together). Fabulous move that totally changed my life. Meanwhile, I get a call from church saying I needed to come back. The Friday of returning from the Tropics, I visited with the new pastor and got to know him a bit. His courage, his vision, his determination, and many other aspects of him really impacted me.

I mentioned that I was very much interested in a prison ministry and he and his wife (also a pastor) immediately responded in a very supportive way. I thought to myself, “Finally.”  “Finally.” And I realized the pastor needed much protection. Anyone with that kind of courage and vision needs a lot of protection. I know that I am a warrior and that I was needed on the front lines. I promised to come to Bible study and church. I made church pew dates with the church caretaker’s (my other best friend) daughters (ages about 6 and 4) and solidified the commitment with promised chocolate for them.

Did the church change since before when I was there? There were two elements that had changed drastically: There was a new, on-fire, singing, crying, skinny (he almost died a couple of weeks ago in the hospital) fully-alive, Holy-Spirit-filled, 41-year-old Oklahoma pastor named Lance Keeling… and there was a renewed Julie, not working to be anything but fully present. Other change? — A lot of new faces because of the transient nature of the membership (largely temporary American and European imports).

WILL I GO BACK? You’re d_ _ right I will!  (The HS hasn’t really gotten to my tendency to cuss yet :)). I am SO home. I pray a lot for the health and safety of the pastor because he needs so much protection from attacks. Not only am I back for me, but more importantly, I am back because I am desperately needed. That wouldn’t be enough if it were the only thing. It’s that God sent me back and prepped me to be ready for it all. I got spiritual attacks on the way home. It’s just that now I know what they are and I know how to handle them and recover. I think that if I’m getting attacked, I can only imagine what the pastor is going through.

There is a certain high that can come from being in church and listening and sharing — and then when I’m on my own, my old thinking patterns want to barge in. The thing is that this time they’re getting a good run for their money. I think there is something that totally gets in the way of people going to church and coming back:  shame. It’s so easy for us to feel stupid, ridiculous, think that we said too much or too little or the wrong thing. We have so much past conditioning through church and family and society that our minds are often ravelled in knots. If we all knew that it was common, then maybe we wouldn’t feel so weird and unworthy.”

Tomorrow Julie will talk about the actual experience being in church again…

Ivanildo C. Trindade