Since graduating from high school I really haven't been involved in a church. There are several reasons for my absence, but really no excuses for the amount of time that I did without. When I was younger I was quite involved in my church, I'd be there Sunday morning and night, Wednesday night, and then for anything else that was going on. I must say that I believe church really helped guide me through adolescence. I wasn't a kid that dreaded going to church; although I remember dreading some of the clothes that my mom wanted me to wear on Sunday mornings. Close to graduating my conviction to my church began to drift, and then after graduation I let go of it completely. For me, going to that church didn't move me like it once would. It really felt stagnant and I kept asking myself, "What's the point?" There were several other things that morphed my view of this church too, but overall it didn't feel like "my home" anymore.
I moved out of my parents' house directly after graduating high school, which gave me complete control of my time and actions. I also took a Religions of the East class my first or second semester of college. My first couple of years in college ended up being a time of questioning for me. I wanted to connect dots and draw my own lines to my own conclusions and make things make sense in my head. The more I attempted to answer my own questions, the further I was separating myself from the God that I grew up with. And pretty soon after that I was comfortable with the separation.
Fast forward to a few years later. My once happy-go-lucky soul was broken. My pretty much smooth sailing life hit a rough patch that turned almost everything upside down. My parents told me that they were getting a divorce. To be honest I knew it was probably best, but the surprise and shock of it affected me more than I wish it would have. For the period of time after the news I experience emotions and questions that I hadn't ever had the displeasure of experiencing. I felt lonely, afraid, depressed, broken….I could go on, but to sum up my emotions, I felt empty. Looking back, I am so thankful that Dave was already in my life. At the time we were actually planning our wedding (what a coincidence, huh?). Dave gave me a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen, but I was too embarrassed to turn to him as much as I needed to. I had never been an emotional basket case before and I didn't know the first thing about dealing with this on my own. The divorce added so many questions and doubts to my already questioning soul.
That hasn't been that long ago, although I feel like I have grown so much since then. I was 21 at the time of the news, but I was still a kid on the inside. I know that I didn't handle the situation the best way possible, and I would go about it differently if I could. Although through all this, a lot of my questions were answered. Maybe because I had no answers and was afraid to turn to anyone else to try to find them. I let everything bottle up inside me, the good and the bad. Once I got over being sad constantly I realized that there was a conviction in my heart. I realized that my soul was still broken, even though smiling wasn't as tough anymore. I knew what I needed to do; now I just needed to get myself to do it. I told myself that I needed to find a church. What I didn't realize was how difficult getting up and going somewhere on Sunday morning was going to be. There were so many obstacles in the way. Like sleeping in, or going to brunch, or the awesome Sunday morning cooking shows on PBS. The news of the baby made my conviction even stronger. 6 months passed and then one Saturday night I told Dave that I was going to church in the morning and that we needed to decide on one to go to. A few weeks prior to this I had made a post on facebook about finding a church, so I had several recommended options. There was one that I was thinking about going to, but when I looked up info for them it said they weren't having a regular service instead a "getting to know you" luncheon. This wasn't appealing so I immediately thought of Embrace Church, which is a place that I had been meaning to visit for…oh, too long. I found their info online and told Dave that he had to wake me up and help me out with actually going through with this.
We went and we both really enjoyed the service. Not just the service, but the music and the style of preaching and the couches and the breakfast. Both of us had grown up in your more traditional style churches and we had reservations about casual church. After church when we were in the car, we both agreed that the casualness didn't seem like any big deal, and it actually complimented the comfortable atmosphere that the whole place gave off. Everything is kept real simple, which I enjoy. You are encouraged to worship in your own way and nothing at all is forced. So far we have continued to visit for a couple of weeks. It is starting to look like a trend. Next weekend we'll be out of town and the church service is being held in the evening, and I really would like to get back in town so I don't miss it. Now that's a feeling that I haven't felt in a while.