In this life, we all travel, we all journey. We all move along – like it or not. We all grow, we all change, we all contribute in some way. We can all be selfish, we can all be hurt, we all have feelings. Each of us has a belief system of one sort or another – formal or not so formal.
I grew up always having a belief and faith in God. It was just part of how I was raised – going to church as a child, Sunday School, Youth Group, the Bell Choir, singing in the choir. It was just what we did on Sunday. My family – Mum & Dad, my brothers & my grandparents – we would all meet at church. There were activities, Robby Burns night, youth group outings – it was part of me. My parents were married in this church, I was christened in this church, we were married in this church, our son & 2 of our daughters were christened in this church. There was never a question about my belonging & being a part of a church family.
When we moved, the 3 of us, to Summerside, PEI, I continued to attend the local Presbyterian and the base non denominational church – although not as often as I had when we lived in Victoria. When our 1st daughter was born, she was christened at the base church. I continued my journey of faith,
When we moved to Comox, there wasn’t a church I was comfortable attending near by. The nearest Presbyterian church was in Campbell River. We, the children and I, attended the base church occasionally. When our 2 daughters were born in Comox, we were able to have them christened at the church we were married in & where our son was christened in Victoria – this was not without its challenges but it did happen.
Then we were posted to Greenwood, Nova Scotia. The base church was our church while we lived there. It was fortunate for me as there was a Presbyterian minister at the church so it was comfortable and familiar for me. The children attended with me.
When we moved back to BC, there was a new Presbyterian church not far from us. This excited me. I was going to be able to attend regularly and close by. I attended this church starting in 1997. I began to get active in the church and eventually I was asked to become an Elder in the church. I was honoured that the congregation felt I could represent their needs and desires. I took this position very seriously as I was helping to govern our church family. It wasn’t always clear sailings. There were issues that came up that Session (the governing elders) had to deal with. There were disagreements amongst the congregation. There were changes in leadership that we all had a say in. There were groups and activities to be a part of. There were Christmas pageants and picnics. I told the children they were welcome to come with me but it was a choice. I never wanted them to feel “forced” into going to church. I hoped they would come because they wanted to not because they were made to attend. Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn’t. Hubby would join me at Christmas, Easter and where there were other special services. A fun evening family service was started with modern music, laughter, more relaxed atmosphere with a pot luck dinner prior to service. It was enjoyable and certainly refreshing. As with everything, there is change – some feel change is good, others feel change is not so good.
My belief system is Christian. I believe in God, The Father, Christ the Son & the Holy Spirit. I believe in the Crucifixion & Resurrection. I believe that God is always there for you, you just have to look & He is there. I believe God never leaves you, you turn away from God. The more you pray in your relationship with God, the more you hear Him & get to know Him. Having bad things happen in your life, is a part of life. God is a loving God who is rich in mercy & abundant grace. He can be there in the good and bad times, to guide, comfort & hold you. He never leaves. He welcomes everyone – children, the poor, the elderly, everyone – God knows no discrimination.God is there for you. It’s not the church, or the building or the sacraments or church ceremonies, God is there with or without those things.
That brings me to an event that hurt me very deeply. It changed how I believed in the organized church and church family. I asked our church to allow the christening of our grandson. While my son and the baby’s mother were not attending church, our son had attended this church, participated in activities such as yard clean ups & evening family services. He was not an unknown to the church.
You can imagine my shock & disbelief when my request was turned down. A church that wants to grow and expand. A church that would turn away a child? or that child’s parents? Our Lord never turned away a child, our Lord NEVER turned away anyone from being with Him. I was deeply hurt that a church could make that type of decision. I found this to be hypocrisy at its greatest. I felt my heart had been broken. I could no longer attend a church who would not welcome a new born child into its love. I know that regardless of the official christening ceremony, our grandson is a child of God & loved as such.
I left that church. I resigned my various positions and have never been back there. There is still a lot of hurt but eventually I will get over it. Perhaps this was a good thing. I have been away from “organized” church. I pray at least daily, often more. My belief system hasn’t changed. I continue to do what I can for others, “Do to others as you would have them do to you”(Luke 6:31) and work to be the best that I can in all that I am & do.
Looking back, I often left my previous church life, with a heavy heart. I recall driving home Sunday after Sunday and thinking “Why am I feeling sad?” or “Why don’t I feel inspired or lifted up?” This often haunted me. It didn’t feel right. I took a break from organized religion for a while. I needed a break – that didn’t change me or how I prayers or continued to BE a Christian. I just didn’t attend church.
Then I have ventured out to a new place of worship. A “new to me” church. A church that was so NOT what I was use to or comfortable with. A church that you celebrate with wonderful songs, uplifting, making you smile and clap your hands songs. Songs that lift your heart as you sing praises and celebrate all that is around you. I find myself leaving this place, humming to myself, singing a song that we sang, finding a smile on my face – not leaving with a heavy heart – it is nice. It is refreshing. It is good.
Now I am NOT jumping in and getting involved. I am taking things slowly and cautiously. I am taking babysteps. I do not want to be hurt again so will be guarded with “organized religion”. I must say, I like the new place and I like how it makes me feel. This is a good thing and I will go with it. I will follow my heart and listen to where I am being guided. I will try and continue to be a beacon of light for others by what I do and say. I will still be me as I am, growing and changing.
The hurt is fading as I move along in my life. I know that my God is with me 24/7 and that is a comfort. I am thankful that I have the freedom to write about the God I believe in. Thankful for the country I live in, the family & life that I have. Remember to give thanks to who ever you believe in – great Spirit, Creator, Allah, whom ever. We all have so much to be thankful for each and every day.
Have a grateful heart, forgive & be blessed.
Peace & Blessings
“Gratitude. . .can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” – Melody Beattie