I've been sick this week. It's funny how you can learn important things when life has to come to a stop.
This normally would have been a week that I was overdosing on church involvement.
Tuesday was our monthly church leadership meeting.
Wednesday was our weekly dinner and small groups evening.
Thursday was our weekly Worship Team practice.
Saturday morning is a Bible verse discussion small group.
None of it is happening for me this week.
Back when I left home for college, I was in a bit of a faith crisis. It wasn't a crisis of my actual faith - but it was a crisis of my connection to my church. My faith in God was solid but my reliance on my church had faltered. I didn't believe everything they were teaching. It didn't all seem to align with what I was experiencing in my personal relaitonship, in my prayer life, in my own worship experiences. So I withdrew from church altogether. Off to college, off of church.
It took 10 years before I began to consider looking for a church home again.
I tried a couple of places because my friends went there or because it was close to home but nothing felt right. So I went back to just talking to God each day and pretty much stopped looking. Then a guy I was in a show with started to tell me about this church he went to that he thought I'd really like. He invited me several times before I finally broke down and went. And I liked it. It was a Good Friday service so it wasn't an uplifting experience. But within a week of going... I had my miscarriage. And I needed to go back to this church because I didn't know where else to turn. And even though people there didn't know me, they still loved me through it. And months after the miscarriage, when my mourning was still taking over too much of my heart, a conversation with the pastor of this church helped turn me around.
I started going most Sundays. I slowly became more and more involved. Now I've been part of this church for 10 years. And I'm finding that I rely on this place, these people.
Don't get me wrong - I've certainly shared that my church family is very important to me. I don't know that I could ever capture the words to express what the people in my church mean to me, to my husband, to my kids.
But this week, I realized that while my church might miss me when I'm gone, they certainly don't need me. Anything that I do for my church can be done by someone else. I've always known that. It isn't a surprise.
But this week... being away from my church, my people, my commitments... I realized that I need my church.
I need God. I rely on my faith. But to realize that the things I do in my church really do mean something to me, really are that important to me...
I have to admit that I kind of cried over it this morning.
Here's how it hit me.
If I had to only choose one thing to be part of in my church, it would be Worship Team. There is nothing greater than singing, worshiping, praising. I love the time that our team practices and I love our Sunday morning experiences.
Not going to practice last night was really tough for me but I knew that I even though I was on the upswing in my illness, going out to practice and not getting home until 8:30 would just be too much. So I didn't go. And I missed it. A lot. There was a post on Facebook, as there often is, about it being a great evening. And my heart was heavy. Because I missed it.
On my drive in to work this morning, God made a great playlist on the radio. So many of my favorite worship songs so I had my worship time, my soul fulfillment. And it hit me. I wasn't sad because I wasn't part of that great evening. I was happy that the rest of the team had a great experience - whatever it was. I was sad because I hadn't had any of my soul nourishment this week. I didn't go to the monthly leadership meeting. I wasn't at dinner and at the last meeting of this session of this small group I had just started attending. I didn't have my time with my family where we sing and share and laugh. And I already knew I had a conflict with the meeting on Saturday.
My soul needed to be quenched.
The things I do in my church can be done by any other number of people. While I recognize that I am unique, I won't pretend that I do anything in such a spectacular way that I could never be replaced. If I were to stop going to church, things would continue on without me.
But if I were to stop going to church... I'm not sure how well things would continue on inside of me.
I need my church.