Had I known the outrage and confusion my decisions would create, I might have suggested to God we keep circumstances as they were. But, probably not. I was so lonely spiritually after awhile without a church and desperate for structure. It's okay to be an island until you need solid ground and don't have a boat. I wanted something to stand on and people to stand with. And I was at the end of every single option I knew.
"Go to mass for Christmas eve," echoed in my soul a whole year ago.
Go. . . . . where? Having been around the spiritual block enough times I knew to listen sooner than later. I did. I sat in the very back of a quiet Catholic church and watched church play out. I had been raised to believe "these" kinds of churches just went through the motions, never used scripture and had some remote if any relationship with God.
My soul swirled in the reverence. The scriptures, beautifully presented, came to life before my eyes. Communion was an experience. (And yes I knew I couldn't receive communion at a catholic church. File that under "tell me I can't.") And I couldn't help but think, "What's the big deal? God IS here."
I would spend most of the rest of the year fighting with people about my decision to transfer to a liturgical tradition. I'm thankful today for those who disagreed with me, who questioned me, and even for those who blatantly condemned me to Hell (not kidding). They all pushed me to dig deeper, learn more, ask more questions and find that my solid ground was and is within myself, not just a church building.
I'm thankful for a year in my church home where I feel loved and welcome. Where I feel grounded. Those walls and people have healed me from the inside out just by being there. I have found God in different and unexpected, but no less powerful ways. And He's the same God.
Looking back, I can't believe the people who have stayed with me through this confusing, questioning and frustrating season. I in no way blame the people who didn't. I'm pretty sure I would have stopped having the same conversation with me in early January. But, many of the same people who were there in January still are. Those who listened to my heartache, dried my tears and encouraged my shaky faith the most, still do. Oh, we're not talking as much about church confusion anymore, but we're wading our way through the instability that comes with all lives. Together. And this heart is grateful for the heart friends who have remained.
I hope, after doing a lot of work, I've emerged stronger in my faith. More faithful to the One I love the most. A better friend. A more understanding Christian. A person clothed first with compassion even when I disagree.
So, I close the book on this chapter and take a deep breath in the new season of walking with God. My only resolution for 2012 is to not argue with those who don't care about me. I'll only fight fair with people who do also. I'll hear the hard stuff from those who stick around long enough to help repair the wound. And I'll walk in love with myself and with those around me.
Because at the end of this journey I'm not going to stand before God and defend other people. I'm not going to have to answer for my church. I'm going to have to answer for me. And I'm standing firm on what I've known all along.
She said to Him, "Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world." John 11:27