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!
*Are you interested in writing an article for Called Out? Do you know someone who might? Be sure to check out our submission guidelines. If you have any questions or are ready to submit your article, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ve loved what we’ve received, so please keep them coming! Look for our next Called Out article on September 30.