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God lately has reminded me over and over that we are all so susceptible to the lie from Satan that tells us we are alone. This isn't true! God meant for us to share our burdens, and Satan hinders us by telling us we are the only ones, that people won’t relate or understand or like us anymore. Nope. Whatever it is, I promise there is someone who can empathize.
I grew up in a Christian home. We went to church twice on Sundays and then nights for AWANA. Even though my mom presented the gospel to me and I “asked Jesus into my heart” at the early age of 3, I hated church.
Why? I wasn’t a popular kid. I was the girl with the coke bottle glasses and not so fashionable clothes and loud mouth. Kids were mean to me in school and they could be just as mean, if not meaner, in church. There were definitely mornings I claimed to be sick just to not have to deal with it.
As I grew up, our church experienced growth. The growth just caused the cliques I wasn’t in to grow as well. I felt more and more alone and angry.
It wasn’t until high school that I started to find true friends, but by then, insecurity had a hold on me. Who could I trust? How could I know if they were really my friend? What if I do something that causes them to no longer accept me?
Just like I grew up in the same town and home, I grew up in the same church. I was there from birth until I moved to Maryland at age 22. The church had solid beliefs and doctrine, and despite bad experiences and people I’d just decided to stay away from, I knew what I believed and that finding a similar church in Maryland was a huge priority.
Grace Baptist Church was only the second church Sean and I set foot into, but I felt that it was right almost immediately. It seemed similar to my home church, but hopefully I would have a fresh start. No one that I would see as that mean kid and no one that would see me as that uncool girl. Just a fellow believer and sister in Christ.
I have gained so much since coming to Grace that I didn’t even know I was missing.
I didn’t know how hurt I really was from experiences at my last church. That was the place I grew up, and we all know how we are raised becomes our “normal.” I was used to the cliques and expected them, whether I was a part or not. Grace reminded me that the greatest of these is love. we are the body of Christ and need to act as such.
Sean and I always love it when people say they admire us for being the couple that doesn’t make someone feel like the third wheel, but the biggest compliment we have received since joining was a friend who told us “you are the most anti-clique people I know.!“ Not that we are against them, but we are a part of none.
Church growing up focused on rules and wrath and a list of “don’t’s.” It was all about what Christians aren’t supposed to do and the horrible consequences you will pay otherwise. Grace reminded me of the gospel: While we were sinners, Christ died for us.
It changed my focus to what I can’t do (save myself) and what I should do (love God and love people). No exceptions. No matter how cool or uncool, no matter wealthy or homeless, no matter a suit-wearing pastor or holes-in-shoes hiker. God made them. God loves them. He calls us to do likewise: Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for Me.
Furthermore, nothing we can do can make Him love us more or less! Do you know what that means? I don’t have to feel insecure. God who created the earth and my breath loves and accepts me regardless of what I do or don’t do. I will admit that I have to take this a day at a time. It doesn’t always feel like enough, but His grace is sufficient for me.
It doesn’t matter that people back home didn’t accept me and perhaps never will. If people here choose to do the same, I still have the acceptance of the King! Because he loves me, I can love others…whether they make me feel hurt and anxious or loved and accepted!