Grace is when God gives us what we don't deserve.
Mercy is when He doesn't give us what we do deserve.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Getting out of my own way

May 10, 2003 I moved to Nashville from Huntsville.  

One of the first things I did was to find a church.  I was feeling a little emotionally and spiritually bankrupt after my time in counseling.  It wasn't that the job was so all together horrible, but the schedule of 24 hours on for 3-5 days and then 24 hours off for 1-2 days made it hard to get involved with a church because it was so rare to have Sundays off.  It was also really hard to make friends outside of the job because you had no consistency to make plans with people.  It was also hard for me to witness what some people were capable of doing to their own children.  

I really didn't put a ton of effort into finding the church.  I went to the ELCA website and searched for churches in Nashville.  Then I tried a few out until I found First Lutheran downtown.  I liked it and the people were nice, there was virtually no young adult group, but that didn't keep me from getting involved.  I got very involved.  I was on the youth committee, I did the food for fellowship hours and made dinners for our Room in the Inn program.  I joined in the Supper Club and that was wonderful for meeting a variety of people in the congregation.  It was a great place for restoring me, but it didn't fire me up to go out into the new week.  

By late August 2009 I was done.  I had been longing for more for quite a while and I was starting to feel really taken advantage of by the church.  IT wasn't the whole congregation and I am willing to admit that I probably should have said no more often over the years.  By the time I was saying NO, people were not willing to hear it.  

Despite the fact that I was longing for a church to both restore me and fire me up it took me close to two more years before I discovered Cross Point.  I tried several churches but this time I did something new... 

I went outside my comfort zone.  

Yes, that's right this nice Lutheran and Catholic girl decided to try all sorts of churches that weren't necessarily what I had grown up with.  

Some I tried were really not for me.  Some were okay, but just not quite what I was looking for. 

Through it all I was longing more...

It was the best thing I could do.  To go outside what I had known and explore all these different churches, because while none of them were right for me, it helped me get a broader sense of what I did and didn't want in my new church home.  Also, not having my church needs met enabled me to get to a point where I let the walls down on the "Everything is fine" facade and to really let a friend know what I was struggling with.  

She told me about her 2 year long search for a church and how it brought her to CrossPoint.  She told me all about her pastors and this new series they were starting on Shattered Dreams.  The first week I went, I liked it.  


I cried.  

(I still cry almost every week.  It's how I really know I'm where I need to be.)

BUT... I really missed the Lord's Prayer and the Creed too.  I knew from my friend that the did Communion but I didn't know how often.  What I am surprised by was more what I didn't miss.  I didn't miss most of what I had growing up.  I was happy to discover the worship music filled that void I was missing.  I was charged up for my next week.  It didn't take me long before I realized that I didn't even miss the Lord's Prayer or Creed at service.  I say the Lord's Prayer before I go in and then I am usually so overwhelmed by the music and message that none of the rest matters.  

I have been amazed by how after 28 years of church attendance, teaching Sunday School and all my church involvement all the books I have read... I hear these familiar stories and it's in a new and fresh way.  I am learning things about passages I thought I understood that make me understand them in a deeper and better way.  I am so glad that I was able to go out of my comfort zone, because that flexibility has allowed me to stretch and grow my faith.  It pains me to admit that I'm not sure I would have been as open to CrossPoint's differences from what I was used to had I not tried all those other churches and been without for so long.

What area of your life would benefit from your trying new things that might be outside your comfort zone?

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