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.
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
I wanted to start off our foray into families with an exploration of biblically imperfect families. You know the ones I’m talking about. Starting with the infamous: Sarai and Abram, turned Sarah and Abraham… to Esau & Jacob. Let’s not forget Mary and Joseph. Can you imagine not having a conjugal relationship, yet somehow your betrothed is pregnant? Especially in a time when God had not yet been revealed to act in that way. Especially in a time when Holy Spirit was not a concept. Joseph is like a Biblical MVP.
If I were doing the canon bible edit job, I would probably have never included these stories especially not in the raw form. I would’ve somehow sprinkled in the “ they all lived happily ever after” part. But that is not the truth. There was no happily ever after. They did not suddenly get it. They struggled. They faltered. They did not just make it work.
On Sarai & Abram
In the story of Sarai & Abram, Sarai , who became Sarah, had a major wound. Her wound was that she couldn’t give birth. Imagine, everyone all day is getting pregnant and popping out babies and you’re just there. Years are passing and nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. So you have a bright idea. Your servant can have a child for you… it’s sort of the same, right? Uh nope.
Sarah’s wound, her makeshift solution, and Abraham’s acquiescence to the plan would be the source of strife for generations to come.
This story is usually told as a cautionary tale of don’t come up with your own solution and trust God’s plan. Today I want to use it for a different reason. Honestly, Sarah asked Abraham to send them away, which is probably a kindness. There are numerous stories in the bible about just how easy it was to die back then. Sarah was just hurt and angry. She wasn’t murderous or suicidal. She didn’t jump to any conclusions. It was a bad situation of her own making and she really did her best to make due and then when she reached her limit she merely asked to send them away.
On Jacob & Esau
Jacob and Esau were brothers. The way inheritance worked back in the day was that only one person would get “the birthright”. This entitled them to be the head of the family or to get more of a share of the possessions etc. The story is kind of weird. It’s not like Jacob was jealous from birth and wanted to steal it. His mother was playing favorites from the beginning; so she, inadvertently, or not, caused the rift between them. A rift that only continued to grow til Jacob stole Esau’s birthright. However, the story doesn’t end there. This Biblically imperfect family story actually ends with a reconciliation… many many years later, of course.
God doesn’t leave things at a low note. If you’re struggling with family relationships, I want you to have hope that things can change.