I am the very first to admit that I don’t go to church on a regular basis. I grew up in the church, I believe in God and trust Him through all things. But I have struggled with my faith since college. . .after being super involved in my church’s youth group, attending conference events as a teenager and even participating in Annual Conference for a few years, I lost my way.
Part of it was due to allowing what others said about me; sadly it wasn’t my peers but adults. Sure, I was a boy crazed youth but I was involved with the conference because I had found a home there. Friends that while looking at us, you would certainly say we were a motley looking crew, were true friends. The memories I shared with them growing up made me who I am today. Flaws and all but I have to say whole heartily that they made me see what made me happy. We were dorks, ruling the summer camp, running to each other whenever a conference event happened; to share in old stories and make new memories. I loved and still love every, single one of them.
But between the questioning of involvement by adults and seeing the political side of church, I began to get angry and resentful of what had been one of the greatest times in my life. And then once college arrived, I realized that there was no “safe room” for me as a college kid. Sometimes churches forget that those college kids, the ones that had been there for every youth group event, mission trip, Sunday night firesides, Wednesday Bible studies and weekend retreats, still need those types of events, only they need to grow with them.
I walked. I left the one place that made me feel at home because those adults turned their backs on me. Was it fair? Probably not. I could have stood up, made my voice heard but I simply gave up. Then I moved away when I transferred colleges and man, I could barely keep up with school work and work. I was broke, I couldn’t handle my money and then I decided that being on my own for the first time afforded me the chance to act like a real, honest to goodness 21 year old in college. Sure, I partied but never went too far from my moral compass. At least that was still strong within me.
After college, I was trying to survive and was failing miserably at that task. I moved home and lived in my hometown for about a year and a half. At this point, I was struggling with who I was as an adult, still angry for things said and implied a half dozen years before and my parents were busy tending to my grandparents and working. So church was not a priority on my list.
I tried going back a few years ago. I found a nice church that was big, Methodist and I could finally go and be anonymous. For six years, while a teenager, I was known. Well known. Within my own church and the conference. While I liked that it was almost like a Cheers episode, where everyone knew my name, it was overwhelming. People gossip and while none of it should matter, it did bother me to a certain degree. My first boyfriend, my first kiss. . .my first drama, it all happened within the confines of church.
I started going back to church because I had just been dumped and I needed something. I was going crazy, I was depressed and I knew that getting back to the old me would be easiest by going to church. Of course, my ex’s mom was also a minister at this church. I loved hearing her preach. She has a gift and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing her words, wisdom and thoughts on the Word. Eventually, I gave up going. Part of it was the drive. While it wasn’t that far, the gas prices were not helping and I hated that I was alone. I am shy until I get to know people and I felt like such a loser being there, alone.
My parents will lecture me from time to time about not going. Fearful that I must have fallen off the wagon and in my own mind, they must have thought I was going to hell because I had turned my back on church. I never turned my back on God though. Something that they couldn’t understand.
As Stacey’s pregnancy progressed and we received bad news, then some good news and then devastating news I began to pray and pray hard. I needed to see God’s hand in this. I needed to see His will be done and for Liam to come out of this healthy, happy and down the line, driving his parents mad. I asked Stacey for her permission before I entered the first blog entry on November 5th. I didn’t want to overstep and do something that she, nor Jason might not be comfortable with but she said please. Please share and ask for prayers because that is all we have right now. At the time, we were expecting to see Liam arrive in December. Little did we know that Liam and God had another plan for us!
Even though there haven’t been many comments, your blog hits have shown me how much you all care. I always put on a brave face for my wonderful friends but knowing that you all have continued to read the updates brought me to tears. It has also renewed my faith in Him and that there are some really wonderful people out there. When I am feeling a bit down, I can come here and see that God is right here. Still here for Liam, Stacey, Jason and even little ole me.
I have had coworkers comment lucky at how they are to have me as a friend. I have blushed and then had to say that this is what friends do. We are there for each other, we call in the troops when things hit the fan and above all, we do things that even though we hate to do them (laundry anyone?) we do them because we know that it will help.
My dad and I talked last Friday (well, we talk everyday but) and he said something about church. I groaned and said, really, we need to go over this again??? Then he said something that I don’t think I will ever forget and cried as he was telling me. He said that he worried about me because I didn’t go to church but that through all of this going on with Liam, the constant requests for prayers, spending time at the hospital, doing things for them, that I was doing more than he sees some of the people who are there for church all of the time. And that he was so proud of me. I told him that I didn’t have to go to church to believe in God and that He has always been there in my heart.
So thank you all, seriously, I don’t like people asking how I am doing during this because, while I love Liam to pieces, he is not my child. I don’t have to make decisions that will affect his life. I am only a friend who cares deeply about him and his parents. People need to worry about them, not me. Because like I wrote before, it is not always about me. So thank you for being there for them. I am still waiting for an update. I fear it is not going to be a good one since it has been hours since their appointment with Liam’s doctors. I am scared to death but I know that He is with us. Please continue to pray for them. Because this little guy deserves to be home with his parents. They deserve to be his parents and we all want to be a bit selfish right now and ask for that miracle.
So thank you, I can’t say it enough. Thank you for your kindness, your love and your prayers. They lift us up daily.