body of Christ church

Feeling Disconnected from Church

10:15 AMHeather

I'm a church girl. Born and raised, from in-utero to current day. Throughout my entire life, despite multiple moves as an Army brat, I could count on the rhythm of regular church attendance. It became a constant thread of stability and predictability. 

Church is a good thing. Regular gathering in an assembly with others is something we are called to do, as followers of Christ.
But the truth is that living in a community of faith includes navigating some hurts and hardships along the way. It requires a determination and fortitude to keep finding your way past obstacles.

I first saw the tricky "underbelly" of the church when I was 12. My Dad retired from his 20-year military career and became the pastor of a small church in a small town. 

Dad was the 16th pastor in 32 years at that church.

I think that sums it up.

I watched and learned an important life lesson, if I was to continue to be a "church girl." 

The Church is comprised of imperfect people who are seeking to know, love, and serve a perfect God.

Church is not a place to find perfectly holy people. And finding a church home does not always mean you quickly find your place within it, or that your place won't include changes and shifts over time. If that's the expectation, disappointment is certain. 

To be perfectly transparent, I've been going through a unique season at the church I adore and love with all my heart. Changes have come and I couldn't be more pleased with how God has moved within my church family.  

But I am wrestling hard with feeling like a stranger in my own family.  With the growth and new members, I've shifted from a place of knowing everyone after 14 years, to feeling a bit unknown myself. I'm in a season of fresh discovery to find "my place" of service and connection. I'm in the midst of wrestling from a lifetime of having organizationally defined roles to discovering my roles of service and connection which occur organically.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

God has very clearly been leading me through an intense season of pruning.

So intense that I finally described this to my husband when I told him I feel amputated from the church. Not because of anyone's mistreatment of me. In fact, part of the sting here is being called to fully embrace that church is not about me at all. I'm working through a consumerism approach to church, seeking to have my needs met, to realizing my call to set self aside and live so fully in the gospel that I am focused on being a meeter of needs.

It is very ill-fitting to know that I am called to and made for community when I find that community feels painful or awkward. I've wrestled hard here because I do not want to be unattached to my specific church body or the Church at large.

I’m feeling amputated. So, now what?

When something is amputated, it should be put on ice to preserve it and then quickly reattached. So despite the cold I might feel, the ache of feeling "frozen out" in some ways, unsure of my place in relationship and ministry, I must be quick to seek reattachment here. For my own well-being and health in living out the gospel. 

I'm no medical expert, but reattaching a severed body part is a long, tedious process. It includes reattaching sensitive nerves, where pain is felt most. I should expect this to be painful.

But the most sensitive places must be stitched back together first, reconnecting the nerves to bring back feeling. I must surrender this struggle to my Father so that he can sew it all back together with his truth and love and grace. Layer-by-layer and step-by-step.

I must ask him to stitch me back into the body. I must allow him to do the work while I take the hard steps to first just choose community, one conversation at a time. Choosing to attend one event at a time, whether I know anyone there or not. Choosing to silence my inner introvert that would rather flee than fight. Taking hard steps of vulnerability and exposure. 

And in all of this, I must be held near to the body, in the capable hands of the One who knit me together in my mother's womb. I can’t give up on the body of Christ. I can’t despise the Bride of Christ. I must honor her as a whole, for she belongs to the Christ I love, and he treasures her.

The truth for every believer is this. Following Christ means choosing to be connected to his Bride, too, no matter how hard that work is. They are a package deal.

We must press on. We must press on to come to Jesus, and trust the Bridegroom with his Bride. I have to trust him to work things out. If I want to be reattached and find my place and thrive, then I cannot forsake the body of Christ. I have to keep asking God to stitch me back in, one day at a time, one brave step at a time, one obedient act of choosing grace at a time.

All of this, all the pruning and the cutting and the amputation even -- the wounds and the pain of it -- it's all a birthing process. I believe this season is a time of labor pains that are birthing new things. New ministries. New ways to love others better. New ways to treasure Jesus more than anyone or anything. New relationships. New dependence on God alone, learning to make people small and God big.

This is a season of fresh revelation and understanding of the gospel. It's a season of smashing the idols of man’s approval, false theology, consumerism faith, and performance mentality.

So I'm fixing my eyes on God. I'm tethering myself to him. For my own good and his glory alone. I'm going to allow myself to have the trash emptied and the idols removed so that I may walk into new lands, on whatever scale and whatever way God chooses. If nothing in my life changes -- if no circumstance changes -- then I will trust him. If everything changes, then I will trust him.

I will hold fast to the belief that the scars will hold value. I will lean into this strange season of being a church girl feeling amputated from the body, and I will choose to be reattached.

I will hold firmly knowing that the repair and healing is in the works. I will do my part in the process by staying near the One who desires to stitch me back into the place he has for me.  

I will be still on the operating table and I will not be moved. I might flinch and want to run, but I will not turn from him. I will allow the healing to come and beg for my scars to bring a story of hope for others who feel amputated in any way from the God they cannot understand or from a body of his followers where they can’t find their place.

I will say to my soul to quit asking, requesting, and expecting from the Body of Christ what only Christ himself can do for me.

I will preach that truth to my soul until I’m fully restored to the position he has for me. Then, I will sing my song of restoration for others who need to hear it.

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