I set a goal for myself after VBS to attend church before August 14th. So, I went to church last Sunday. I made it the entire church service. I felt good about it. I was a little anxious, but I talked through all the worst-case scenarios in advance with a friend and role-played some conversations that could possibly happen. I’m going to pat myself on the back here, folks. I totally rocked it and met my goal!
Now for complete honesty…I went, but that’s about as far as it got for me. It was purely about being there. Not about anything else. I didn’t have much feeling or emotion. I was simply focused on making it through an entire church service. I brought my Bible, but didn’t open it. I stood and sat with the rest of the parishioners of the church. I didn’t sing and I didn’t pray. I was merely there. At first I felt wrong, like if I was there I should be doing it all. But, that’s not true. This is a relationship I’m working on here. I’m not going to fake it. I’m going to be as real on this journey as I possibly can be. And doing things that don’t feel right yet, or authentic, is not being real.
The hardest out of it all, is not singing, not worshiping. If you know me at all, you know that I sing. You know that I was once a praise and worship leader and that putting my heart completely in a song to proclaim my love of Jesus was nothing but basic nature for me at one time in my life. I can’t do it right now. I can’t sing praises to Him. It breaks my heart, but I just cannot actually do it. Not yet. I sat next to my friend, Jackie, and she processed with me a bit after the service (also I was avoiding the flood of people in the foyer.) She mentioned that she had noticed I wasn’t singing, and then she thought about it for a while. She had the absolute best words to describe it. She said it was like being asked to sing a love song to someone and not actually being in love. Exactly! I’m not there. I don’t have praises to sing, yet. I am still hurt, broken, and angry. When I come through this, then I’ll praise louder than anyone else. I miss it…I really do.
That was last week, but Sunday came again this past weekend. I went to church again. Once more, I made it through the entire service. I still didn’t sing, and I still didn’t pray. I did, however, open my Bible. Actually, I opened Rhea’s Bible. When Rhea went on deployments he always took a soldier’s Bible. Mainly because the conditions were so bad he didn’t want to ruin his good Bible. So, during the last deployment he left his Bible and asked if I wanted to take it to church with me. He always marked in his Bibles - highlighted, wrote notes in the margins, wrote prayers of his at the bottom of the page, etc. While he was gone, he asked me to do the same in his Bible. He wanted me to highlight the passages from church and Sunday school, and write my thoughts on them in his Bible, and I did. It just feels right to take his Bible with me now. I actually didn’t even consider taking my own, I went straight to his on my dresser. But, as I was saying, I did open the Bible this week. And one of the passages this week that we looked at was in Psalms. And it just so happened to be a passage that Rhea had read. It was highlighted, it was written around with his handwriting, and it took my breath away. I didn’t even read it. I just placed my hand on it. Like, he was here, he was right here. My hand was where his hand was. It was the day for me to open the Bible. It was real, and it was the right time. All the other times will come, too.
I can sit here and think about all the things I’m not doing. I can tear myself apart for not being further along in this journey. But really, this is very difficult and though they are baby steps, they are all really big and important steps. It is nothing to be rushed. My heart has to be ready. This is a process, every single week, of readying my heart. I have built up all these walls and guards around my heart. I am not ready to surrender it yet. When you have been there, when Jesus was your safe place, your refuge, your strong tower, and then your entire world crumbles and He didn’t stop it for whatever reason, it’s so incredibly hard to say, “Well, yeah I get it, it was just his time, Jesus. We’re still cool.” No, I don’t feel that way. But hear me when I say, I want to be a version of that.
This is truly a struggle for me. I never thought I would be a person who would struggle with their faith. I cannot tell you how many people, family, and friends who have told me to just trust in Jesus, to lean on Him. This is not something I can do in this moment. I just think that I was up to bat in my faith, and I got hit 50 times in a row over and over again with a curve ball to the gut. And now, I’m back up to the plate. I’m not going to stand there easily without fear. I’m going to jump out of the box and waiver. It’s hard to trust that the same exact ball isn’t going to hit you in the gut again. And I’m just supposed to trust. It sounds so simple to say it, and I truly wish it was that simple for me to do it. It just isn't that easy. But, I will be patient, and I will ready my heart for when it is time, and I am ready to trust Him again. I will wait until each moment feels right.