Called Out: Church Families
By Alyson Sandlin
Church families can be wonderful, messy things. I have deeply loved all 6 church families of which I have been a part. The down side to loving something deeply is that you can be hurt deeply. It’s the risk of living in community and it happens. There have been a few moments in my life when it has taken all my strength and courage to walk back into church, to smile at people, to continue to love people. I always do, though (and not just because my husband’s job depends on it). I always walk back in because the hurt and the risk are worth it. As part of the body of Christ I’m not sure I could walk away now even if I wanted to.
In August of 2003 my husband and I lost our first baby. I immediately went back to work, but church was a different story. I wasn’t really mad at God – I never expected to be exempt from suffering – but I didn’t necessarily feel like worshiping Him either. And then the thought of facing all those people who loved me and hurt for me – I couldn’t do it. So the first Sunday after the miscarriage my husband went alone to church and I stayed curled up in my bed all morning. By the second Sunday I knew I had to face it.
I don’t remember much about that Sunday, but I do remember standing in the sanctuary during the worship service unable to do anything but weep. All around me my brothers and sisters were singing, but my tears were all I could offer God. It felt good though, as if I could somehow rely on those around me to offer what I couldn’t in that moment. Over the years my husband and I have reflected on that day and realized what a sacred moment that was. It is a picture of what the body of Christ truly is when we step in and even worship for one another – offer praises when others can’t.
Yesterday was another similar moment, but this time I was the one who was able to sing. Yesterday more brave souls gathered up their broken hearts and stepped into church to face the family and the God who loves them. Yesterday I stood on the front row and sang to God about how He was good and merciful. Maybe they were able to offer these praises to God, but my guess is that tears were all they had to offer. I offered my praises to my God, but also on their behalf.
It’s a good reminder for those days when I wonder what God was thinking when he set up this crazy thing called church. It’s not perfect, it can be painful, but it’s good and it’s worth it.
Alyson is a preschool teacher and preacher’s wife in Texas where they raise their 2 kids. She blogs at Sophie Sue and John Curtis, Too!
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Thanks for sharing your story. I struggle between putting on a happy face and smiling versus showing emotion. I guess I always want to be real but not to fault if that makes sense. I, too, had a similar situation at the Christmas Eve Service. The holidays can be so hard on a pastor’s family. I showed up to church with my cranky teething one year old and my busy three year old. There was no nursery workers. I was exhausted and nearly broke down. A kind compassionate church member took me aside and offered words of reassurance. I’ll never forgot that. We need to serve, but there are times where we are served.
Thank you for sharing this! I’ve always thought about how important it is for us to serve and to know our place in service, but I’ve never really thought about worshiping and standing in the gap for others who are unable to worship or vise versa. It really is a beautiful picture of what the church can be!