I want to encourage you to use church as a resource. I know its not a happy place for alot of people and even those who engage in Church may be relunctant to fully go all in. But do it !
WAYS TO ENGAGE IN CHURCH TO FIND FAMILY
Join a team. It does not have to be a visible team like the worship team or the ushers. Perhaps your best friend is on the prayer team or on church admin team. Perhaps you are the undiscovered church spreadsheet guru, perhaps you put the sound in sound team.
Go to Events. Churches are notorious for having social events. Perhaps you’ll like Wednesday night small group meetings. Perhaps your place is at Game Night. Perhaps you need to be a Youth team leader and you like hanging out with the youths and picking up whatever it is “kids these days” say. Perhaps there is a church potluck maven in you and you make the best green beans this side of town. You never know until you show up.
Connect with people during the week. They say the church is the people and not a building. That means that when you leave you should still be fully engaged in community; you can still plug in. There are quite a few ways to keep in touch with church folks. Not just the standard Facebook, Instagram, etc. The Bible app is something I’ve found very helpful in engaging with church folks. I get to see what they’re reading in their word. We can join in and do the studies together. We can encourage one another. We can also just call people. I am not team phone but sometimes we just need to call people up, especially in the current moments in world history. It seems the world is just unhinged. It might be a good time to catch up.
GO OUTSIDE. Maybe you need to make a coffee date with some church friends. Maybe a hike, a bowling trip,something. Go outside and engage in life with people. It’s especially hard to do that these days when it feels like we don’t know how to be among each other in these weird times of kinda after the pandemic- yet still in a pandemic- whatever it is – right now.
I hope you can give yourself the time and space to heal from church trauma. I hope you can then reach out and seek friends/ community.
For some, relationships with family are simply irreparable. Last week we learned that God wants us to have a full life and not continue to retraumatize ourselves just because they’re family and we feel like they have to be in our lives.
For people who simply cannot reconcile, there is always a family of choice. Don’t feel sad or ashamed about having one. The bonds of family of choice and the bonds of friendship can be strong, healthy and help you to thrive.
But honestly, where are you supposed to find these people? The answer: everywhere. Making friends as an adult always seems like an arduous task. However, you have things you like and don’t like, you have interests, hobbies and life activities. There lies a place to find a new brother or sister. You can find yourself a walking buddy, a sewing circle, an Anime Con friend, etc. We were not meant to walk this world alone. You might find a family even in church, if you’re so inclined. Church is place that may be traumatic for some.. So perhaps you might want to find your family of choice somewhere else…at the Pilates studio, at the YMCA, or at the meditation studio.
Take your time. After your trust has been broken, don’t fall head first into friendships. While there are people out there who can support and hurt you, there are also people who live to hurt others. Find your tribe and avoid the others. Pray. Ask God to help you find some people to walk alongside you.
I know you do not want to hear this but some of you have to walk away from your family and make a family of choice. For some of us, a brief moment away (6 months, 1 year or 2) provides everyone with enough guidance and perspective to get their act together. For some of us, the family is a toxic environment that God needs you to step away from so that you can heal.
How do you Know When You Have to Go?
When you’re not valued as a person. I can give you some examples of when that’s clear. If you are biracial and you can’t go one thanksgiving without someone calling you the nword, that’s not just ohhh they are old and it’s a historical term. That’s someone who doesn’t love you. Who cannot support you being who you are. Who does not want you to thrive.
When there’s physical violence. Physical violence is a big no. If you are experiencing physical violence in your family life as an adult, you need to get up and go. Go somewhere. Go to the ER. Go to the Counselor. Go to the church house. Go to anybody house but the house you came from.
When there’s violence to your psyche. It is common knowledge that abuse takes many forms. While verbal, emotional abuse , harassment etc is hard to prove in court… you can feel it’s effects. God wants you to have peace. He wants to you to have an abundant life. Please ask for help. For some of us, this may be hard to identify. Sometimes these comments and behaviors have been happening our whole lives so we have no idea what’s happening. It may be prudent to set up a boundary first and see if the other person respects it. Show people how to love you and if they won’t … then go.
This is not an exhaustive list. I am sure there are more situations where it’s absolutely Biblical to get up and go so that you can heal. I hope that God grants you the spirit of discernment so that you can know when that is and reach out for the earthly help available.
Sometimes God’s plan for your life doesn’t make sense to anyone. It’s not just when its something unconventional like being a missionary and moving down to Guatemala or somewhere you’ve never been with a two year old. It can be something good and very ordinary like becoming a lawyer.
When I heard God call me, I thought the idea was crazy. I took the idea to my brother and my brother asked me if I was sure I was ok? When he asked if I thought I was mentally sound enough to withstand the immense pressure that is law school, I said…I don’t know. To be honest, I didn’t know.
But the call was crystal clear, I asked God for a full scholarship to a very specific school. I didn’t just ask, I made a demand. I was like if you want me to do this, do this for me and God came back… and came correct. How could I say no after that?
After the non- warm response from my brother, I enrolled and more or less kept it to myself. It wasn’t until I was in the middle of my second year of lawschool that my father exclaimed in surprise… so you’re really actually trying to be a lawyer. Perhaps he thought it was like all my other majors, attempted degrees and certificates… That I would try it and then drop it when my interest waned. Perhaps he was still holding out hope that I would go to medical school. And law was rebellion to the idea of being a doctor. Who knows?
Sometimes you are not in conflict with God’s plan, other people are ( even family and closest friends). In those times, perhaps its best to keep the idea to yourself. It’s better to guard your heart. Imagine if my brother had managed to talk me out of the path that was already laid before by the divine. Imagine if my mother’s snide comments could keep me from God’s plan. Sometimes the best plan of action is to keep your mouth shut and to keep in prayer.
What to do When You are Not Sure:
Ask God. The closer you are to God the clearer the communication about who you are his plan for you are.
Turn off the screen. Sometimes You need to be quiet to hear.
Go to corporate worship. Sometimes the presence of God is more palpable in actual church. You are not meant to be alone. Maybe your small group leader can speak life into you. You won’t know that if you ain’t at small group. ( I know I’m talking to someone now. lol)
Don’t Google It. Sometimes looking at the cost, or the list of what you need to do will choke out the seed of what God wants to do with, for and through you. Don’t choke the seed. Let God grow it big enough so that you don’t kill it when its time to make big moves)
Zip your lips. Right now is the season for the Lord to water the seed. Don’t tell your brother, mother, father, auntie, second cousin, etc about the idea the Lord gave you til its ready. Til the seed has been watered and nurtured far enough into growth that a stray comment won’t kill a dream.
I hope that helps y’all today. Go out there and let God pour into you and water those seeds!
I know that there’s some parents out here who are really upset and aghast that their child does not believe the same things, have the same values or walk in the way that they were taught.
I want to reassure you today that that is really perfectly ok. There are a few reasons why it’s okay:
They believe in a Higher Power.
No, I’m serious. They do. When you turn a light switch and it works, you believed the higher power of electricity. When you drive a car, you pray daily even if its “please let me make this red light” I truly believe everyone has a basic belief in something. It’s in our core selves.
Higher Power for some, is a Gateway back to God
For some of us, the origins of our parents became too much for us. When it was too much, we walked away from all of it. You’ve heard the saying, we “threw the baby out with the bathwater.”
But that gate is still open with our little beliefs in electricity, in gasoline, and sunlight. I want to reassure you that they may just come back around.
When they come back around, their beliefs, values, etc may not be what they once were.
We’re not the same we were last month. We’re not even the same we were this morning. We cannot operate on expired faith; we need new wine. So it may not be what you wanted but it’s faith. AND THAT MATTERS
As the last post for May, I just wanted to take a moment to get into some of what the bible says or presents regarding gratitude. I want to go into some bible stories.
LEPER (LUKE 17:12-19)
Leprosy was a serious thing back in the day. It was so contagious that lepers were not permitted to engage in society. Not even a little bit. They couldn’t go to synagogue. They couldn’t be with their families. They couldn’t even get a hug. And because of that, it mattered not who was Jew or Samaritan… or any other prejudices because they had been cast out from mainstream society.
In this story, we have ten lepers that Jesus healed on their way to go to the priest. Only one leper recognized what had happened and he wasn’t a Jew. He was a foreigner and a Samaritan. He knew his status, and in spite of that, he went back to Jesus to thank Him. The bible says he fell on his face. He was overcome by what Jesus had done for him; His whole life had been given back to him, just by being healed of a disease.
Today we don’t physically throw people out of society for having a disease, so maybe the significance of the story is lost on us. But one of the simplest things we can do to show gratitude is to just say thank you. Out of 10 lepers, only one went back to say thank you Jesus. Let’s be part of the 10% of the afflicted who say thank you when healed.
Ruth (THE ENTIRE BOOK OF RUTH)
Before I get into the story, I want to make a shameless plug for my own biological father’s book on the story of Ruth. And remember, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. You can find his book here:
Now that we’re done with that, the story of Ruth is very incredible. First of all, I would’ve left Naomi long ago. Secondly, I think it’s very rare for people to convert to another faith or travel away from their families for a stranger, and it was even rarer in those times. Then when given the opportunity to go back to her life as it was, Ruth is like no thanks, your people are my people and your God is my God now. If that isn’t an expression of living out life in gratitude to God and to others’ faithfulness towards us, I don’t know what is. The other thing is without Ruth, Naomi would’ve died. The sole source of economic stability for women back in those times was marriageability. Naomi’s days for remarrying were over and she might have been able to survive on people’s charity, but most likely she would have died. So Ruth’s gratitude was lifesaving. She also expressed gratitude to Boaz; the bible said she fell on her face—- like the leper earlier. Seems like gratitude involved a lot of falling on your face.
Let’s not throw people under the bus or leave them to die today. While you may think that’s extreme, it’s not. Today there are many without what they need to survive— many of whom are in very close proximity to you: either family or friends or geographically. I think one of the greatest lessons of the pandemic is that we need community for survival. Gratitude also means helping others and allowing yourself to be helped.
DANIEL (Daniel 6)
Let’s talk about Daniel. Daniel’s faithfulness to God was so famous that people set a trap for him. They knew that he openly talked to God three times a day facing a direction with windows open. They set him up.
Daniel remained steadfast. He knowingly broke a law the next day when he continued his prayer routine. He could have done it in secret. He could’ve been like you know what the king has been kind to me, let me not offend him. He did not do any of that.
Let’s not let our gratitude for others get in the way of our gratitude toward God. Let’s not let our fear of others get in the way of our relationship with God. Let’s go out and be blessed, and engage in a life of gratitude.