I've been very humbled lately. Some of that is related to some upcoming things that I'll talk about in a future post (sorry to be mysterious, but I don't want to dilute its value). However, a lot of that is due to the season. Everyone knows this time of year is supposed to be joyous. We get presents, we get to see family, we get to watch any number of sporting events on TV, or we get to watch Uncle Whoever drink too much egg nog and it ends up on Facebook. For some people, this season is not so joyous--and I totally get it.
For me, it's a different kind of joy.
Just over a year ago, I hit a wall. My heart had been broken beyond what I thought could be repaired, and I didn't know what else to do. At some point, I literally threw my hands in the air, looked up at the ceiling and yelled "Fine! You win! What do you want from me?!?" I was talking to (yelling at) God. I did the only thing I knew how to do--Facebooked. I contacted a friend of mine who I've known since high school. She also happens to be one of the most Christ-like, non-judgmental people I've never met. One of the main reasons I stayed away from the church for so long was because I felt like Christians were too judgmental--and not a lot of fun. I knew she would happily help me and meet me where I was. I couldn't tell you where that was.
As it turned out, I was going to visit my family that weekend, while she was going to celebrate her baby shower. We happened to be going to the same town--not the town we knew each other from. God? I think so. Anyway, she took me to church with her that weekend, and I left feeling a little more uplifted than I did when I first came in. The only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to find a church like it when I returned home.
After my five-and-a-half hour journey back to Austin, Texas, I went about The Great Church Search. My scientific method? Google. My search keywords went something like this: "Non-denominational+churches+Austin, TX" Luckily, Google returned results in English. I clicked on the link for the very first church and read every single page. The one that really spoke to me, though, was one that mentioned "healing". Healing? I had done enough in the decade-plus up to that point to require healing, so of course my response was "Sign me up!"
I took on the role of "Miss Putoffski", until my parents came to town sometime in September 2012. My dad is a very holy man and was feeling a little antsy at the idea of not going to church that Sunday, so what perfect timing? Frankly, I was also out of excuses. We drove the 40 minutes to see what this church was all about. After entering and being greeted by no fewer than a half dozen people, I turned around right as the praise band was getting started. Just when I wasn't sure if this was for me, the band fired up How Great Thou Art--a song that my grandpa and I had sang solo many times in church (we each had our own take on it). I looked up at the sky and said, "Got it."
That was only the beginning. I can't say every day has been perfect, but I've found that there are a lot more meaningful things to do with life, other than Keep Up with the Kardashians. If you want to know the truth, I've found that there's a lot more joy, and a lot more to laugh about. While all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put my heart back together again, God could. He's the only one who ever could. I just had to let him. Some days, I forget that, but it's all about coming back around and trying again.
I have days where I say to myself, "Who am I kidding? I have no business doing this" or "People won't take me seriously because I haven't memorized scripture." The first one just isn't true. The second one is an ongoing thing, and what really matters here is that I am serious. I can also admit that I will not do this perfectly, and I hope others won't use that against me. All I can do is ask forgiveness, get back up and try again. I'm thankful to have people (spiritual mothers, if you will) I can be accountable to, people who encourage me, and still think I'm funny--people who have been there from the beginning, and new friends. If you ever start this journey, don't do it alone--make sure you have that support around you (particularly if you are funny--just kidding).
There are a lot more days when I say "Thank you, God, for insert-blessing-here…" It's a lot more fun to be able to do that.
It's also very humbling. When I look back at where I was just a year ago--that's not even counting a decade-plus before that--I am humbled this could have ever happened to me. I am humbled that God took a pretty crappy set of circumstances and turned them around.
I'm not here to get preachy, but as we celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas, I am humbled at this miracle birth and what it would later mean for Christianity. This birth became the ultimate sacrifice, as Jesus was went through a horrific Crucifixion, but arose from the dead and we are now set free because of it. How's that for taking something crappy and making it into something beautiful? By the way--did I mention that I was re-baptized on Easter Sunday of this year? I truly did not plan that, but I find it very symbolic, especially given what and where I had come from. For me, that is very humbling. For a very long time, I felt unlovable, and God sacrificed His own son so that wouldn't be true. That's the supreme happy ending. That makes me happy. It makes me hopeful. I don't know anyone else who would've--or could've--made that sacrifice.
This is not a pledge drive to try to get more believers by the end of the year. If you want to pursue that, awesome! But this is just my story, and I think it's a good one--even if I do say so myself. And if it's not a story for a party, I don't know what is.