The local church raised me. My parents are great people, and they were active and present in my life. But they made a decision when I was young: they would raise their children in church. Part of that committment meant putting me and my two brothers in the capable hands of other congregants and knowing that those people were just as committed to directing us down the path of righteousness as my parents were.
Those people introduced me to the concept of salvation. Children's Bible Quizzing gave me a venue to learn more about scripture. At the time they may have been simple trivia questions, but down the road they were words I couldn't turn to the right or left without hearing. More recently, Women's Bible Study and the high school Sunday school class changed the way I related to others through the Word. And Tobie? Tobie reminded me that it's possible to overflow and be loved unconditionally whether you deserve it or not.
The local church has been far from perfect. There are disagreements and struggles. Often, I have cultivated a bad attitude or opinion about something when I should've been minding my business. I would get aggravated when opinions differed with my own. But down deep, my desire wasn't really to make problems. I wanted to know Christ more. I wanted to know Him as best I could. I needed to put Him in context with the ministry I was in or the situation I was facing. But underneath it all, I loved my church for giving me a place to do those things.
So leaving my church was the hardest thing I have ever done. Favorite and I felt it was the best decision we could've made at the time. I was sad to learn that the relationships I valued didn't necessarily translate outside the doors of our local church.
My desires for the local church are still the same. I hope people come to know Christ and serve Him deeply. I hope attendees serve one another with genuine concern and hearts that are set on Christ alone. I hope that my absence in the congregation means fewer roadblocks to truly loving one another.
But you should know I miss you. I want my heart to break with the things that also break God's heart. Right now, the fact that you're facing anything at all breaks my heart. The fact that there are difficult decisions to make in the near future hurts. The fact that other congregants may not make it out of this mess still a part of your congregation makes me cry. Because whether you believe it or not, I didn't make my decision based on me. I made it because my other members of my family may not have made it out with a relationship with Christ still in tact. And I don't want to see that happen to anyone else, either.
I hope you do rebuild. I hope you find your footing beside a Jesus who wholeheartedly believes in redemption and forgiveness. I found it in Him. I hope that you struggle with Him, but I hope He comes out on top.
Gone or not, my heart still breaks for you.
You were my church.