I’ve been “empty” for a long time. I’m married (32 years), have two awesome grown children, and I love my family deeply, but something was missing. I’ve lost loved ones (like everyone does), but the most recent loss of my brother-in-law, who was my best friend (5 years ago), left me so devastated, so mournful that I felt so lost, carrying a huge heartache that just wouldn’t lessen…the hurt was just as much five years later as it was on Day One.
I have suspected for many years that the “thing” that was missing was related to religion and/or spirituality in some way. I was raised Catholic and attended church regularly as a child, raised my children Catholic, but only attended church when I “had” to. A few years ago, I started attending my local Catholic church faithfully every week for about 8 months, then I fell off. I tried to connect with the Heavenly Father but, quite unfortunately, I just wasn’t “feeling” it.
I believe there is no such thing as “coincidence”. I’ve always believed that God has a plan for all of us…that everything happens for a reason; good and bad. What I didn’t know is that it’s His plan, and it comes in His time!
I’m blessed beyond measure…to some, I may not have much, but to others I have more than I need. I’ve always been sensitive, compassionate, empathetic, and have always strived to do the right thing… to be kind, be humble, and to pay it forward.
On January 28th, 2017, through a Facebook acquaintance, I found a local bible-based church (Granite United). I looked them up online and checked-out their FB page. “This looks kinda cool”, I said to myself, but I wasn’t fully sure if I wanted to step out of my “Catholic” comfort zone. Because I have a very outgoing personality, most people who meet me would never (in a million years) suspect that I have “pre-” social anxiety (getting all jacked-up BEFORE going somewhere that’s unfamiliar to me). While contemplating going, I became uncertain and anxious and I vacillated on whether or not I should go to the 4 PM service that was starting in an hour and a half. I was laying on my couch with my three amazing dogs, listening to Christian music and finally, I “prayed” on it. Next thing you know, I was up, dressed, and out the door!
The most amazing thing about my “story”, my “journey” is that I had sent a message earlier in the day to G.U.’s FB page, stating that I was interested in learning more about their church, what their service was like…that I was raised Catholic but was looking for something “different”. My message included this: “I just want to worship Jesus in MY OWN way; in MY OWN time”.
I walked through the doors of Granite United and was immediately approached by an older gentleman with a kind face, warm smile and a hug, welcoming me to G.U. I told him that “this is my first time, so ‘be gentle’!” We both laughed and he introduced me to a lovely couple (a little older than myself) and they welcomed me and asked me to sit with them. When it was evident that her husband and I were dancing around for the seat on the far end, I settled for sitting right behind them (end seat, naturally — thanks claustrophobia!). Before the lights were dimmed, I looked around and saw a myriad of attendees… teenagers, young families, older folks, etc., and I was impressed with the diversity of the group.
The lights dimmed and the music started. The treble and bass were so intense that I immediately lost myself in the beat and in my head, I shouted, “Are you kidding me???!!! It’s a ROCK CONCERT! Whoop Whoop!!” Geez…the pastor hadn’t even begun service yet and I was already “in it to win it”. While the band was playing, they’re kind enough to have a huge projection screen up front with the current song’s lyrics displayed (I almost want to say it resembled Karaoke, but I’m afraid that could be construed as a little bit insulting – so just disregard that I said it). I had my hands raised in the air and as a former singer, I was belting out the songs like there was no tomorrow. Hand-to-God, I felt at “home”… I felt at “peace”….everything felt “right”.
Here’s the part of the beginning of my journey that (to me) is so amazing, so “on-the-money”. The Pastor’s sermon was written JUST for me… I felt it in my heart. Fast-forward to mid-way through service…. there was a tall table beside the Pastor on which there were two over-turned buckets. He removed each of the buckets and seated side-by-side were two Ninja Turtle Chia Pets! Wha…What…WHAT?! The one on the left was stark naked, but the one on the right had green leafy sprigs sprouting out all over the place. The Pastor stated that the “naked” Ninja Turtle on the left, after four weeks of tending to it, remained as such because the Pastor decided that he was not going to follow the All-Mighty-Chia Pet Creator’s way (instructions)… he elected to do it in his OWN WAY and in his OWN time! However, the blossoming Ninja Turtle on the right, in full bloom, was because the Pastor tended to it (raising his bible), in GOD’S way, by GOD’S instruction and in GOD’S time. (Please reference paragraph 6 above to get the full affect as to how this impacted me!) Are you kidding me!? WOW! Can I get an “Amen”!!
I believe that I had committed myself to Jesus Christ a long time ago, but I did it alone, in my heart, but I truly didn’t understand what it meant to put him FIRST. Well… I certainly do now! Unfortunately, outside of my church family, I only have a handful of support from family members and friends. I knew that in becoming a Christ Follower, I would be faced with rejection, ridicule, judgment, etc. Hmmmm…. I wonder who THAT sounds like? I’m in this “all the way”. For those who judge me or look down upon me for doing so, I pray for them the most in the hope that our Heavenly Father, through his beloved Son, Jesus Christ, will soften and open their hearts and minds. I hold no resentment or ill feelings toward my naysayers because I am so filled with joy, love and peace now, that my heart simply won’t allow me to do so.
Matthew 18:20 ~ “For where there are two or three gathered together in the name of Jesus, He is there with them in their midst.”
Have a Blessed Day!