But I am an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God's unfailing love. Psalm 52:8
One thing that truly was my saving grace through my marriage break up and especially in those early days of being on my own with my boys was my church. At first, I feared facing people, ashamed of what had happened, but that fear was completely unfounded. I was surrounded by love, grace and support which I so desperately needed.
With a toddler and a baby under one, it wasn’t always easy getting out that door to church…in fact it was generally a jolly nightmare! Most of the time it felt all too hard as everything that could go wrong seemed to…every Sunday morning! It would have been so much easier just to stay home but I knew I needed connection...connection with God and connection with people. I’m pretty sure I was pretty much always late (sometimes embarrassingly late!) and half the time I would be nearly crying on the way to church because I felt so exasperated and pathetic…why couldn’t I just get it together??!!...BUT once I got into the presence of God in worship and listened to the Word being preached (even if it was only half of it out in the Mother’s Room!), it would literally turn my world around.
Being in church was (and still is!) such a great source of life, strength and encouragement. I would nearly always leave church feeling so much better than the way I came. Trust me, there were many times I actually didn’t feel like going to church. The temptation was to take the path of least resistance and just stay home and save myself the hassle. I could have listened to worship at home etc and yes that still would have been good BUT there’s something about being in the house of God that you can’t always get at home….and that is people.
When we go through difficult times, often our natural instinct is to withdraw. While it’s totally understandable and may be okay for a short period of time, it’s not healthy in the long term. The longer we withdraw the more we begin to feel isolated and alone…and when we feel isolated and alone, whatever we’re going through feels so much worse. We weren’t designed to do life alone! God uses people to show His love, care and kindness to us and help us through our most difficult times. When we’re isolated from people we actually do ourselves a huge disservice and can miss out on the many good things God wants to do through people to support, love and care for us both spiritually and practically.
What’s more, if we’re disconnected from church, we miss out on hearing and being challenged by the Word. There were many times I felt like whatever was being preached was a word directly for me...it was exactly what I needed to hear to help me exactly where I was at. Sometimes, and I know this from experience, when we’re going through dark times we don’t feel we even have the strength or will to read the Bible for ourselves. Placing ourselves in church where we can hear the Word of God, be encouraged, edified and challenged is so good for us. It helps keep us on track and most importantly, helps us to remember that our hope is in God.
I just want to encourage you that no matter what you’re going through right now…stay connected!! I know it can be hard but I can honestly say 12 years down the track, that I’m so glad I stayed planted in church. Psalm 92:13 says “Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.” God’s desire for us is to flourish and thrive, not just survive! You will find support, strength, grace, hope and love in His house.
Lastly, on another note, please be on the look out to encourage those that are going through difficult times. Just a kind word, an offer of practical help or asking to pray for someone can make such a difference. I know for me, there was a beautiful older man on the door at church every week that always showed me great kindness. No matter how late I turned up or how frazzled I was, he would greet me with genuine warmth and look after me and my boys, find us a seat and just help calm me. For him, it would have been a very simple thing, but for me it meant the world. And honestly, in the really tough times in those early days, his kindness may have been the thing that kept me going to church, especially on the days I felt like I couldn’t face it. You never know what your small act of kindness may mean to someone else. It’s God showing His love and compassion through you.
Jules M x