Holy Week

It is Holy Week. Though, as I told Aaron last night, I am not feeling very Holy Week-ish.

Last night at our church plant gathering, a fellow mom shared with two of us about her frustrating day. She shared something that resonated very loudly with my soul when she shared of her struggle during the Sunday morning service. (I will summarize the jist of what she said in the first person because it’s easier.)

- - - During the worship, I wanted to cry out in my frustration and let the tears flow. But the church being what it is, it’s more conservative and reverent, and I do not feel free to weep and wail whether they be tears of frustration or tears of joy. It’s like I couldn’t release what was on my heart. - - -

She didn’t conclude that the tradition of worship practiced at this church is right or wrong, but she definitely shared a struggle that I have wrestled ever since our move from Nashville to Philadelphia.

My last Sunday at our church in Nashville – Midtown Fellowship – Aaron wasn’t there. He was already in Pennsylvania and moved into our place as he had taken the BAR the previous week. I was at church with my dear friend, Rebekah, and we were going to be leaving for the long drive after church. It was also the first Sunday of the month, and if you’ve ever been to Midtown, the first Sunday of the month is communion. I love (love love love) observing communion with my church family at Midtown. It is a beautiful season of worship and prayer where kneelers are set up at the front. You are invited to get up to partake in communion whenever you’re ready. Families enjoy communion together kneeling before the Lord. Some spend long minutes crying at the kneelers while others comfort them in prayer. I’ve spent many a first Sunday of the month over the past three years in tears in my seat before taking communion, wrestling and rejoicing through many different seasons. On this Sunday in August, I was already emotionally fragile: pregnant, moving, and hadn’t seen Aaron for ten days. I held it together through the sermon and most of communion. During the last song, I couldn’t sing the words anymore, and the tears started trickling. My other dear friend, Tiffany, was on the other side of me. She put her arm around me, and I was done. The floodgates opened, and the two of us boo-hooed our way through the rest of the service. I think Rebekah joined in, but I couldn’t really see through the blur of tears. It wasn’t a public display. (Obviously if you were standing right behind it, you might have noticed the shaking shoulders.) It was a time for which I am so thankful. I cried before God in the pain and joy of all that was before me: reuniting with my husband, leaving our home in Nashville, welcoming a new baby, preparing a new home in Philadelphia. Fortunately for me, I was in a place where I could cry to my Jesus and be encouraged by my sisters in Christ. I am so thankful that I had Midtown in my life.

Thus, I miss Midtown. I came from a community in Nashville where I was encouraged to be real. I did not always realize how rich that blessing was until I left it. During discussions, the point was not to find the answers or to have all the answers or to buy into any answers or come to any consensus on a “right” answer. It was important to embrace the struggles, the questions, the doubts, and the uncertainties as part of the journey. I could be real in diving into my sinfulness, ugliness, and shame, and I had relationships in which I was safe to explore the messiness. I still have those relationships – fostered via telephone calls and emails now instead of hours on the couch at each other’s homes. At this time, I do not have those relationships developed here in Philadelphia. I realize that relationships take time – especially real, messy relationships. I struggle to find that they even exist here. I know they do, but my frustrations sometimes blind me to realities.

I believe theology is important, but when you can’t hear what someone is saying because you’re too busy trying to answer the question instead of listening to the person asking the question, you are missing out on the relationship.

When I can’t cry out my frustrations and joys before the Lord during worship, I am even more frustrated. I find myself spiritually shriveling. I turn inward instead of outward. I feel things – loneliness, self-pity, arrogance, self-righteousness – that focus all of my energy onto myself. I have my arms folded across my chest, and I’m pouting. The joy is gone. The gospel isn’t real.

Ugh, isn’t that ugly? I have found myself focused more on myself and less on others the past few weeks. Selfish. Of course, I’m not feeling “Holy Week-ish.” Fortunately I have friends who pray with and for me through this junk – even if those friends live 800+ miles away in Nashville.

I know God wants us here in Philadelphia, and he is on the move. I’m struggling with that reality. I want to feel safe to struggle with friends here in Philadelphia. You probably even want me to wrap this up in a more positive light. Sometimes – probably often – being real is uncomfortable. This is even uncomfortable for me to write and post, but here it is. Jesus loves me even when I struggle. I am thankful for his grace, love, and mercy and know he will show himself to me as I seek him through this season of struggle.


Comments

  1. good post sister! (see, i do read it)..i enjoyed reading this and wanted to thank you for the challenge it has brought to me. love you. see you this weekend!

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