Monday, June 29, 2009

BELONG

1 a: to be suitable, appropriate, or advantageous (a dictionary belongs in every home)
b: to be in a proper situation (a man of his ability belongs in teaching)
4: to be properly classified

We've been visiting other churches this summer. J has joked that we are "cheating" on our church,
but this is not something we've taken on lightly and it's not been terribly easy, thus far. There is a lot of tension within me about this decision. A big part of me is excited to search for community, especially community for my daughters. I want them to feel connected, loved and accepted and I think this could be an opportunity to seek a better fit for my own beliefs and personality.

But I find myself wondering if I will ever really belong in a wider group of believers. We've been at our current church for nearly a decade and if I don't belong there now, what makes me think I will belong somewhere else? Do I really even want to belong? Do I want to be properly classified? Will I ever be suitable, appropriate or an advantageous addition to an existing group of people?

Making matters even more complicated is that whether I want to or not, I do belong in at least one sense: I belong to this family. And I want our church home to be the best place possible for all of us. I want us all to feel safe, encouraged and challenged to grow there. But all five of us have different needs and desires. I've been trying to honestly express my own wants and needs, think about what I think my children need and listen to J's needs. At some point, we'll have to just make a decision and trust that God will use whatever place we are in to do his work.

As I've said in a recent post, I've been feeling alone lately. While it's not terribly pleasant, I don't really mind this feeling and I do think God can and is using it to shape something in me. I sense big changes on the horizon for our family and for me individually, so maybe being alone is a way of preparing my heart for this. But is it ultimately preparing my heart to belong? I'm not sure.

It's difficult to talk about these feelings because I don't want my friends to feel they are failing me. I just think there is an ache in my soul right now that comes from not completely belonging anywhere. I don't feel judgment about our current church or either of the churches we have visited so far. I don't think of this as a shopping expedition. But it is something difficult and unnameable. Being me, it's easier to process all of this in written words instead of in my head. If you've ever faced this type of decision or survived this type of season, please let me know. I'd love to hear your story. If you simply think I'm crazy and selfish, I'm not sure that's what I need to hear right now, but you can tell me anyway. . .

4 comments:

RBM said...

S, I did go through a similar experience as we searched for a church here after the move. It was pretty painful and heartwrenching, though perhaps not for the same reasons as your search. I will try to call and chat with you about it sometime.

Chris and Tiana said...

Did I ever tell you that Chris and I almost looked for a new church last summer? We ended up deciding to stay and I'm really glad we did, but at the time I felt very much the same way- I felt alone, like I didn't belong, but it's tricky to leave a church where you're already an established member. As long as you know that even if you change churches, I'm not letting go of you as a friend! And also, just so you know, I consider you to be very "advantageous" to our church and definitely to my circle of friends :)

Kirsten said...

Glad you are leaning into "alone" and pray God speaks to you deeply there. Your heart and thoughts are rich and I hope that you continue to write and wrestle with them.

Chocolate, Vanilla and Caramel said...

When we changed churches, I had been at our previous church 10 years, and my husband even longer than that. I had started attending the church when it was only 150 people and watched it grow to over 2,000. I met my husband there, we got married there, had our first child while we were there, plus I worked as the senior pastor's assistant for several years. When it became clear through a lot of circumstances that God had a new church home for us, I wondered if we would ever find a place we really belonged, especially after having had such a history there. But I am happy to tell you that it IS possible! Our new church has been a wonderful fit for us, and I feel much MORE connected at our "new" church (we've been there for 2 years) than I did at our old church. Of course, we don't know nearly as many people, and it's definitely taken time to get to know people and feel plugged in. Sometimes I wistfully think back to the days in our old church when we knew everybody and we part of the inner circle. We will never have that in our new church, but we really love our new church home and our kids are thriving there. I hope and pray that God guides your new search and you find just the right place!!