Before we move on with the enneagram series, I’ve got some non-related “stuff” to journal out here.
My friend Daryn, who sometimes comments here, has a beautiful adopted son, Jake. Jake is also of a different ethnicity (Daryn, please correct me if that’s not the right word. I’m not wise in the ways of this stuff.) than his mom and dad. Their family is currently looking for a new church home, at least in part because they don’t want Jake to be the “lone brown boy,” in Daryn’s words, at their current place of worship.
Feeling different, feeling like the “lone _______ person” in a group that is supposed to be a fellowship, a community, is a painful thing. It’s a big part of why I am also looking for a new community of believers. For at least a year, I hadn’t felt like I truly “belonged” in our previous faith community. Because I don’t wear my “differentness” on the outside, it was simple enough to blend in. But “blending in” is not belonging.
To realize God is calling you elsewhere is not a fun or easy thing.
Asking a friend who has confided that they are looking for a new church home if they’ve “prayed and and considered it seriously” is kind of insensitive if you know this person well enough to know they don’t make big decisions without prayer and consideration. Are you expecting them to say “Oh, wow, duh! I knew I was forgetting something!” 😉
Leaving a local church, for someone who was a “committed member,” is difficult no matter what their reasons. It’s a tremendous act of hope to believe that a situation painful enough to make what was once “home” feel like foreign ground doesn’t exist everywhere. It’s a leap of faith to believe that there really could be a place where you and your family can all feel that you belong. Not “live happily ever after and never have any conflicts or problems”–I don’t know too many people who aren’t aware that where there are people, there will be conflicts and problems.
A community of believers is not “the church.” The church has no building, no borders, no membership rosters, and no committees. The church is the living, organic body of Christ across all the man-made, artificial dividers we put up. It’s something you live, not something you join and forget about. (Or join and work your holy hiney off at, either, for that matter.) Earlier this year I struggled long and hard over whether or not I actually believed what my friend Bob calls “the institutional church” actually served any purpose or had any real relevance. Eventually, I did come to believe there can be value in belonging to a local community of believers. Note that I said “can be” not “is.” The TARC bus can take me from Indiana to my workplace. Can I jump on any TARC bus and be assured of reaching my intended destination? Um, no. It’s a little more complicated than that.
In the last two years, I have spent a lot of time unearthing my personal values and beliefs, in the context of the Gospel. Working on my personal rule of life and mission statements have really sort of shown me what direction I need to be heading. Ultimately, I realized that the spiritual TARC bus I was one was not really heading in the same direction God intends for me personally. My mission lies somewhere they aren’t going.Â If a community of faith is more or less the company of believers you are travelling through life with, it isn’t necessary that you all agree on everything all the time, but it is pretty much essential that you’re all heading in the same direction, towards the same landmarks.Â After nearly a year of prayer, honest observation and consideration, I realized that wasn’t the case for me there.
So now our family is on our little pilgrimage to find a company to travel with, a caravan of faith in this foreign land, that’s heading for the same destinations we are.Â This is somewhat complicated by the fact that I’m not exactly sure where Chris is going.Â To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure Chris knows where Chris is going.Â I’m walking in faith that God wouldn’t have us heading in totally uncompatible directions, and in fact that part of the reason we’re together is that our intended path covers mostly the same ground.