Monday, September 24, 2007

my church...my family

I had a huge breakthrough last Sunday while sitting in church. I truly felt like I belonged and that I wanted to be there.

Here's the background information that will help explain this:

I had attended my home church -- FG -- ever since I was a little girl. I had grown up there and I loved it there. It truly was "home" for me. As I grew up and became baptized and officially joined the membership when I was 16, I started to get very involved in numerous areas within the next several years.

I taught Sunday School, was a youth leader, a co-librarian, regular pianist, a singer in one of the worship teams...church was pretty much my life. Especially after I completed Bible School. I was living back at home with my parents (just down the street from the church, conveniently) and I spent several evenings a week at the church -- for meetings, events or practices. I was a part of that church, and that church was a part of me. Whole-heartedly.

Then...along came Les. We started dating, we got engaged, and we knew we had to make the decision of which church to attend together -- my church, or his.

There were a few things that made the choice obvious. First -- most of Les' friends (which included some of my friends that I had met in Bible School) who were our age also attended his church (being MG) whereas I wasn't really plugged into the college & career group at my home church. I had younger friends who I was a youth sponsor for, and I had other friends who were married with kids already. But perhaps the biggest factor which made the decision for us was Les' work schedule. Les works 2 out of 5 weekends. He's usually home in time for us to make it to MG church pretty much on time. BUT...FG has their church services first and then Sunday School. So, if we had chosen to attend FG, we would only have been able to go there 3 out of 5 Sundays. Not enough to be able to stay involved and to regular participate in church activities.

So it was with a broken heart that I agreed to leave FG and start attending MG with my new fiance. This was -- hands down -- the most difficult part about getting married. Giving up MY church was a huge sacrifice for me to make. I had to say good-bye to the youth kids who had become such a major part of my life. I had to give up my church responsibilities. And I had to give up my church mailbox.

It really felt like a break-up. I had to let go...period.

This was something that took a lot of getting used to. Don't get me wrong -- I was welcomed at MG with open arms. But something was missing. It just didn't feel like "home" to me. Anytime I went back to FG for a visit, it would hit me hard all over again. During congregational singing, I would look around at everybody and get flooded by memories. Tears would well up. Every. Single. Time. I felt like this was where I really belonged and that would never change.

I went to MG every Sunday trying to go with a smile on my face. I figured if I didn't at least give it a chance, it wouldn't work. But it just didn't feel right to me. I had friends there and I ocassionally played piano or sang -- but I just didn't feel inspired.

God slowly worked on me throughout the years, and last summer He brought me to the point where I was ready to transfer my membership. I didn't take this decision lightly. I only wanted to do it when I thought I was ready. I was very thankful that Les never pressured me to join his church membership. He knew I would do it when I was ready for it.

You know how I knew when I was ready? When I started refering to MG as "our church" and not "Les' church." I don't know when that change happened. It was obviously a gradual thing. But once it happened, I knew I was ready.

However -- even after I transfered my membership, things didn't just immediately feel the way they did at FG. Part of me still felt that FG was my "home."

I can't even really explain how all of this felt. I just knew that it was a struggle for me to feel completely and 100% a part of MG.

But last Sunday something changed. This time when I looked around MY church during congregational singing, tears welled up in my eyes for the new memories I have made.

I have friends there. Friends who love me, support me, and encourage me. Friends who play with my children and let them know they are loved. Friends who teach my girls in Sunday School (Malia went for the first time yesterday and when I came to pick her up, she HUGGED her teacher and gave her a kiss...how sweet!). Friends who ask me to play piano at their wedding (in 3 1/2 weeks...YIKES!!). Friends young and old.

And I also have Jesus there.

I have realized that FG can always have a special place in my heart. It will always be my first home church. Nothing can ever replace that. But I have also realized that I have finally truly moved on.

On Sunday mornings, I can now honestly say, "There is no other place I want to be than at MG."

5 comments:

Sheldon said...

woo hoo. We've finally succeeded:) Great post Andrea. It's great to see glimpses into your past and present. I'm not sure what I would have done if you and your family would ever have gone to FG (full time) instead of MG... It would have been much more lonely...

ValleyGirl said...

You are a very, very fortunate person.

Pamela said...

I can relate. Both Con and I grew up at MG and because neither of us knew any other church it was hard find a new church that felt like "home". We knew that leaving MG and connecting with other young families and going to a church with programs for kids was important to us and for our kids but it took years for us to finally make the decision to leave. We've been gone for 6 years now and have yet to become members at our new church...even when we were told that our memberships would "expire" from MG last summer. I really think Con still thinks of MG as "home" and even though he has become more involved with the church and made friends, he still loves hockey with "the old gang" and I don't know if that will ever change.

Louise said...

That is awesome!!
So happy for you Andrea!

Jenn said...

I can identify with how it feels to leave a home church, although for different reasons.
I'm so happy that you reached the point you are at now.