I had planned for this blog to be out on last week. But life has been a little beyond crazy lately!! Lots of good things have been happening, but I do miss the nights where I could come home, watch a little TV, write a blog, read a few chapters in a book and get to bed early ... i don't have too many days like that anymore!
Anyways, I have a short series of blogs I would like to write in the next 3-4 weeks, all leading up to the big, life changing, EVENT!
Have you ever really stopped to think about small decisions shape your life? About how different your life might be if you had made a different decision about something? I'm not talking about a BIG decision (like college, jobs, marriage, childbirth), but just a small one. One that seems insignificant at the time. There is an older movie called Sliding Doors in which they show what happens to the one main character's life as a result of one tiny decision. She either makes the subway or she misses it. And the movie shows both options. What happens in either "timeline". Her life was dramatically different as a result of that 15 second decision. I have realized that I have made a few small decisions that in the end have resulted in life changing things for me.
So tonight, I want to share with you ... just 3 things about my church ... more specifically, just 3 things that have happened to me as a result of being a part of my church for the past 10+ years
I grew up in a very small church, and all but 2 1/2 years in my childhood were spent with my dad as my pastor. But in 2001, a lot of things changed. and one of the biggest changes for me, was that I started going to a very different church than I had ever known. I grew up in a very conservative church, a small Baptist denomination that took church and God very very seriously. Church and church events took up a very large part of my life as a kid. Being the pastor's kid brought a whole lot of pressure and scrutiny. Things that other kids could do without a second thought, those things were examined closer for me and my brothers. I felt more pressure than was actually probably there, some of that due to me being the oldest and being the only girl. Regardless, in my mind, that scrutiny was there.
So early in 2002 i started going to the church i'm still in now. A very large, non-denominational church in Latham. This church has changed my life in so many ways! It opened up doors for me that I otherwise wouldn't have known about, it made me question things and forced me to decide what I believe rather than what I was raised to believe.
There are 3 things in particular that I want to highlight that have happened to me as a result of my one (seemingly) small decision I made when I changed churches
1) youth group
after being in a church where everyone knew everything about me, it was refreshing to be anonymous It was comforting even to be able to go to church, sit in the back, sing songs, listen to a message and leave. But after a year or so, I started to realize I was ready to start making friends, to start meeting people and become involved in the church, to try to make a difference with my life. And so, one Sunday in the bulletin, I saw that the youth group was looking for adult volunteers to help out. Something about that sounds really appealing to me. I didn't know if I would be any good hanging out with teens, or if I would be a complete failure at it. But something made me call up the youth pastor at the time and talk to him about volunteering. Another seemingly small decision, but one that changed my life dramatically and forever. It took me a while to find my place with the highschool kids. I was so scared of them to begin with! It was hard for me to go up to them and make conversation for fear that they wouldn't think I was "cool" enough to talk to them. But after about 3 or 4 months, I realized that this was the place for me. I had made some good friendships with some of the other leaders and was starting to build relationships with the kids. And for the next 8 years, youth group was a HUGE part of my life! The teens that I met and grew close with in that time were amazing. Some of them stretched me more than I ever knew I could be stretched. We laughed together, we cried together, we yelled, we sang, we were goof balls, we were serious and I found the place where I was needed the most. I will always be grateful for those teens and those leaders who let me share in their lives, who trusted me with their deepest secrets and who came to me with their hardest questions. I will never forget them and will always be happy to hear from them or see them even if it's only in passing. (i wish i could tell ALL THE STORIES about my time in youth group, but they are enough to fill a book! and maybe one day i will sit down and write them all out but that may have to wait until my life settles down!!)
2) friends for life
it took a long time for me to make new friends. a lot of that was my own choosing. but getting involved with youth group and some connections i made there, led me to an amazing group of women that have become some of my best friends. we started out as a twice a month bible study and morphed into one of the tightest groups of friends that you can imagine. (no exaggeration on this). i have written about them in other places and at other times, but it bears repeating! we were together for over 4 years and got to the place we were completely open and honest with each other. we went through an entire year where all of us experienced some sort of dramatic pain and loss, and that year as awful as it was, brought us even closer together. even though 3 of them ended up moving away and our group disbanded so to speak, we are still close. there are things that still bring us together and so many memories we will never forget. some of them drove over 4 hours round trip to come to my dad's funeral - i'll never forget the warmth and love i felt when i was turned around during the wake and saw them standing in the back. i will always treasure their friendship. (another small insignificant decision at the time ... to join a bible study with some girls that i "sort of" knew through church)
3) lessons learned
this section too could be a whole book in itself but there are a few big lessons i have learned that i would like to share. the biggest thing that i became aware of when i started attending this large non-denominational church was how small minded and judgmental i had been when it came to Christians. I really did believe that the only "true" Christians out there were ones that were apart of the same small Baptist denomination as I. I thought there might be other Christians out there, but they were either "misguided" or "weak" and didn't have as much understanding as those in my church had about God and the Bible. At the time, I could not have identified this in myself, but it didn't take long for me to realize it once I started having conversations with other people at church. I realized that there were very Godly, very devoted, very smart and loving people ALL over the place that knew way more about the Bible than I did. Once I was able to drop my preconceived notions I had about all of this, I was able to learn so many new lessons from so many different people. My pastor and the other leaders in my church have taught me so much, no only from their messages on Sundays but from their lives and their conversations with me, from their actions and their decisions about things. Getting to know some of them as parents and not as "adults" taught me many lessons. I'm still learning these lessons. And oh so grateful that I am!
that is all for me tonight!! thanks for reading - please feel free to leave me comments or questions :)
i hope you all have a wonderful week!
only 3 more weeks of work!!