(this was originally posted on my church's blog a couple of weeks ago. I thought that by sharing this story here, you'd get to know a little more about me)
When I joined Good Sam, I was a lifelong Christian, an active Christian for good chunks of it, but I hadn’t forgiven myself or allowed God to forgive me for my past actions. So the identity tag of “Christian” felt like a lie to me.
Before I joined Good Sam, I was active in another church and could “do” church to a tee: be the sole Sunday School teacher, create and print the Sunday bulletins, the newsletter, serve on vestry, lead the way in inviting the local community to come to church. I was so busy “doing” church that the sum total I experienced in a typical Sunday service was a couple of minutes of communion.
In short, I was working my arse off trying to belong, all the while believing that I didn’t.
Because I had done some things I was ashamed of. That time in my life wasn’t pretty. Or healthy.
It wasn’t until I burnt out at “doing church” that we church-shopped for a new church home and found Good Sam. My hubby and I vowed not to get involved for a while, maybe six months.
We lasted three, and joined the choir. The end of the year rolled around and I ran for vestry.
I was well on the path of “doing church” again.
But that was the moment God, through Good Sam, transformed my life. While on vestry retreat at Mt. Calvary in Santa Barbara, I walked the labyrinth in the early morning before breakfast. I was on vestry with Thelma, who taught me how to pray and who knew how to pray a labyrinth.
I used the method she told me about where I reflected on my life, from birth to present time. I was approaching the center of the labyrinth, and realized that what I colloquially call the “dark time” in my life would be what I was reflecting on as I reached the center. Where God was.
|This labyrinth is at the monk's new location next to Mission Santa Barbara. The one I walked|
was at their original location in the hills behind the town. It burnt down in a fire three years ago.
I could quit the labyrinth or take the leap and step into the center and take whatever God was going to deliver. Think lightning strike.
I took the leap, and laid it all out there: the betrayal, the smashed relationships, the guilt.
And God loved me. There’s really no other way to express the warmth, the overpowering sense of love, the embrace and the gentle voice that said: “I was there. I loved you then. If only you’d seen Me.”
Since then, I’ve done my best to honor God’s gift of mercy, love and forgiveness to me. It took me a little while to figure out how and there have been some backward steps, but by continuing to lean in toward God and His love, by getting help in learning how to let my baggage go, by learning more about my faith through Education for Ministry, discovering the depths of my role at Good Sam, I think I am finally at the place for what God has called me to do next: to share God’s gift of mercy, love and forgiveness with someone else.
I see it happening through communicating the transformative place that Good Sam is to the outside world via the church's blog, and somehow, personally making an impact on someone who needs to hear what I refused to hear for so long.
Has calling yourself a ‘Christian’ ever felt like a lie? Why?