Rewriting My Story Part 3

In the last two posts, I have shared how I’ve changed within the last 13 years. So now, just in case anyone is interested in what else I’ve been doing, here goes!

In January 2000 I came back to Medford to help care for my mother. It was timely for both of us; she needed help and I needed a break from the Work. I had been growing increasingly frustrated with the crazy lifestyle and the meeting belief system in general. Seeing what it was producing (or not producing) in the lives of the friends and workers was maddening; the lack of passion for God and for the Word, the lack of excitement for life in general and the small view of God/Jesus. I had already come to the conclusion that all the outward “rules” for dress and hair for the women were not scriptural and/or necessary, and yet, if I was to remain a worker, I would have to conform to those rules, and doing so, I felt like a hypocrite. I had a great co-worker that year but she deserved someone who was in it 100%, and that wasn’t me. The Lord so kindly gave me a gracious exit that year. This was the beginning of being at the receiving end of His kindness, mercy and grace.

I brought my entire possessions home with me then because I was 90% sure at the time that I wouldn’t be going back into the Work. I remember feeling relief more than any other emotion at the time. I no longer had to pretend to be a worker. I was fully aware of the disappointment my decision had on others who knew and loved me. (Ha! Maybe some of them were relieved too!) Some of the friends avoided me after I came home; mostly I’m sure because of the awkwardness but why should it be awkward? Why couldn’t we have talked about it? (Just like why didn’t anyone ask me why I left the meetings?) The workers in the field gave me a pretty wide berth which was fine with me. After I had been home a year, I made the final decision to not return to the Work. My mother was sad but she was very grateful I was home caring for her. I’m sure she secretly hoped I’d go back into the Work after she was gone.

She passed away April 2003. It was by far the saddest day of my life and the hardest overall I’ve been through to date. I took mother to meetings as long as she was able to go but after she was gone, I started attending another church now and then. I was attending fewer and fewer meetings. I’ve already written on this blog my reasons why. The meetings just felt so dead to me and there was no joy there. I knew something was wrong. I soon got involved in the throes of the battle about whether or not I could/would continue going to meetings. It took me about 3 years to make that decision.

I got a part time job while living with my mom to help make ends meet financially and from that time forward, the Lord has blessed me with some really good jobs. Each job just got better and better. I didn’t have to incur any college debts for which I am deeply grateful; that just seemed overwhelming to me at my age. I have been at my current job as the Office Manager for a performing arts center for a little over 8 years now.

I was able to secure a mortgage on a small condo in 2006 (the same year I made the final decision to leave the meetings) and was immediately offered a position on the Board of Directors for the Homeowners Association.

I was then attending regular services at a new church and was involved in all the women’s ministry events. I met some wonderful, godly women that way. I went to the women’s retreats and loved them. They were spiritual, helpful, real, fun and relaxing. Sort of like convention but only better. AND I didn’t’ have to wear nylons and heels!!

In the summer of 2010 a good friend persuaded me into getting a puppy. I was extremely skeptical at first but soon saw her wisdom. Not only did I fall in love with that little while ball of fur (she was only 9 weeks old when I got her) but she has taught me so much about love, and how to not be so selfish. She is a faithful companion and I love her to pieces. She is half Bichon Frise and half Maltese and her name is Gabby. I am totally convinced she was a gift from God.

I have occasionally foolishly spent time and energy the last 13 years dwelling on what I don’t have; a bigger house, more money, a spouse, children, grandchildren but of course, that accomplished nothing positive at all. The Lord has blessed me over and over and I have been spared some heartaches and regrets. I pray often for a quiet and peaceable life. Quiet and peaceable doesn’t mean boring and empty to me…it means quiet and peaceable!

Much of these years were spent on cementing my relationship with God as never before. I knew the friends and workers better than I knew Him and He was begging me for one on one time with Him. Leaving the Work and then the fellowship were the biggest leaps of faith I have ever taken. It has been humbling and exciting to see how God has caught me every time. I owe Him everything. He is my life.

In the final installment of Rewriting My Story I will write about the birth of this blog and what that has lead to. Stay tuned.

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8 thoughts on “Rewriting My Story Part 3

  1. I love the comment regarding the thought of “being right” instead of “being love”. The longer I journey the more convinced I am that God IS LOVE. The image of God has been manipulated by mankind to the point of creating mass confusion about the purpose of life, the purpose of harmony among mankind and the “simple message” of love the Jesus shared. Chrissy, I relate to your picture of the “church of the future”. Absolutely NO organizational structure but solely directed by the power of the spirit of love.

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  2. Has any of you looked at Hugh Halter and his ‘scattered and gathered’ church concept? He has a blog and several books. His approach resonates with me…about making a difference, a Christian difference, in our communities by doing ‘church’ differently and reaching those in need.

    The Tangible Kingdom is one of his books; AND is a book for pastors yearning to reach those in need. The name of the church is Colorado is Adullam, Hebrew for refuge.

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  3. Thanks for an addition to your story, Darla. I’d like to also comment on Lorraine’s post and do understand her curiosity. But I too am currently moved to remain out of any organized church. I think the meaning of “pilgrims and strangers” seems more real to me than ever before. For many years I had also developed a stronger relationship with the friends and workers than I had with God. I think I depended on them for my strength instead of trusting in God for strength. I really appreciate what you shared, Darla, about cementing your relationship with God. I think He often calls us OUT of a group so that our trust will be in Him and not in others. It’s not easy and trusting is often difficult. And when the timing is right He will place us where He wants us.

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    • Lorraine & Sherry,
      Thank you both for your good comments. Regarding why I don’t go to church right now….it began interestingly enough when I got my puppy! She was so little that I did not want to leave her alone so I stayed home with her from church for several months. (I have been taking her to work with me every day since day one!) After a few months, I did go back to church but found it really hard to go. My weekend mornings are my favorite time of the week as I have the luxury of being able to take several hours to just pray, meditate, read my Bible or devotionals, journal, write, work on the blog, and I absolutely love that time and cherish that time. I have the time to slow down and LISTEN to God and I end up having such a meaningful time I don’t want it to end by having to get going early to get ready for church. I don’t mean to imply that I don’t need solid teaching from my pastor but for some reason, I just have needed to stay home. I do miss communion but I can have that at home by myself. I listen to worship music sometimes and I end up feeling fed, satisfied and centered again. I need that time to process the week as well. Also, to be honest, I just love the peace and quiet of my home and I just don’t want to deal with the crowds.

      A friend here in town who also used to go to meetings told me that she was convinced that God must have a special understanding for those of us who have gone to meetings all our lives and no longer do and why we often have trouble going to church. That thought has given me great comfort.

      Sherry, I loved your mention of the phrase “pilgrims and strangers”….that does fit very well in this circumstance. I totally believe that one of the reasons God called me out of that group was so I could have a closer walk to Him.

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  4. Sharing your story has been such a help to me. I’m struggling with what to do if and when I leave the meeting structure. I’d appreciate hearing from about why you felt moved to not attend your current church any longer. Finding another group to worship with where the depth of endeavor and commitment match my own–one where I can learn more about Christ–has been much on my heart.

    Keep posting; it’s been such a blessing for me.

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    • The subject of not being able to find a church or be comfortable in one, is something that plagues a lot of us that used to attend meeting. My husband and I went to a church almost immediately after leaving the fellowship and loved it after getting over the discomfort of how different it is. After several years we stopped going for awhile. Then we went back and now we are on a hiatus again.

      We discuss it every now and then and have come to a couple of conclusions. The fellowship left both of us weary with their “must attend every meeting” policy or you’re considered a backslider. However, the church we were attending has sort of the same kind of unwritten policy, so I’m now convinced it is just a church-y expectation!

      The other conclusion we came to is one that is even more difficult to quantify. There is a feeling of legalism in all churches we have attended. Maybe not to the extent of the fellowship, but all seem to focus on some sort of externals including the attendance issue. There seems to be a lack of true reaching out to those in need, in spite of the different ministry’s offered by the church. There is an expectation the needy will come to the church instead of the church reaching out to the needy.

      So right now we explore, yearning to find true Christian believers that reach out to needy / broken people.

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      • I really liked your sentence “There is an expectation the needy will come to the church instead of the church reaching out to the needy”. I believe the “community” that followed Jesus while he was alive was nothing like the “churches” of today, that as you also say, all have different levels of legalism. The world is crying out for “community minded churches” that are united in helping the poor and needy. Unfortunately, the belief of being “right” has become more important than the belief of “being love”. I believe that at this time on the earth, you will find people “scattered” all over the globe, who feel as you do, and act accordingly to the love they feel for the world. This is the “spiritual church”. It is not physical, with seats and attendance times. In my heart I do not believe this is the church of the future, because mankind is evolving towards “personal, spiritual revelation of God”. I feel they won’t need a preacher, a pastor, a minister, these “churchy” positions. True religion is love. I know you will attract these other true believers into your life, because you desire it, and your intentions are for the Highest Good. Blessings.

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    • Lorraine, I truly believe that every persons’ journey away from the meeting system and toward God is very unique and different according to the Holy Spirit’s personal nudges.

      Unlike Darla, I could not force myself to attend a “church” for a very long time after I had completely quit going to meetings and now even tho I go most Sundays there are still mornings when I just can’t talk myself into it and I know that God is ok with it as it is replaced with time studying His Word and that is to me of greater value for my own growth toward intimacy with Him.

      As I am being led by the Holy Spirit I can make choices without the fear that they might not be right or the fear of what others might think of them or me. What a great freedom that is.
      I have not arrived at that completely but I believe it is true I even tho I have to keep reminding myself of it!

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