Change is hard.
I know, you’re probably like, Hey Ashley, way to state the obvious there.
There’s good change, of course, and there’s also bad changes. There’s also change that you’re just not quite sure how to feel about.
I find myself in that camp more often than not.
When it comes to spiritual change, also known as spiritual growth, that’s one that is particularly difficult to process. Spiritual growth makes you finally stop and look at that reflection in the mirror and take a long hard look at your life and your relationship with God. It forces you to celebrate the areas where you have grown and acknowledge the areas where you are still in desperate need of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Lately, I have been feeling a little bit stagnant within my church community and have been wrestling with a lot of feelings about it. I’ve been attending this church for just over two years and God definitely brought me to that place at the perfect time.
He sent me there in the midst of a season when I hadn’t stepped foot in church in about four months, I was fresh on the heels of giving up my second job that had me working seven days a week, and was in the middle of a school year that dealt me some of the most difficult students I’d ever encountered. He sent me there just ten months before my life would be shaken by the losses of my grandmother and aunt two days apart, molding me and growing my faith in such a way so that I wouldn’t be nearly as broken by those losses as I would’ve been had I not rediscovered Jesus.
This church seeks out the “unchurched” population and invites them in with open arms. It’s a place where seekers can go to have their questions answered, explore the Christian faith, and find a community that is waiting to embrace them. It’s a place with a multitude of missions partners, a thriving and inspiring children’s ministry, and an in-house bookstore and coffee shop that gives all of its proceeds back to the church’s missions.
When I lay all of that out there like that, I too wonder how I can feel unfulfilled by a church that offers so much to its people.
But I long for a place that not only caters to the unchurched and the seekers, but to believers who strive to go deeper into their relationship with Christ. I crave a church home that has a loving women’s community and a place for young adults in their 20s and the 30s can come to engage and learn from each other. I long for a church where I see others carrying in their Bibles and their notebooks, eager to hear God’s word, study it’s meaning, and apply it to their lives. I crave a church that regularly teaches straight from Scripture and offers a variety of sermon series that are relevant and applicable to my own life, not just the lives of some of the church members.
In talking through these things that I’m yearning for in a church home with my sister, she mentioned that perhaps my current church had “served its purpose” for me, for lack of a better phrase. Given that their target “audience” are the unchurched and those that are just initially seeking out God, I had to wonder, did that description really fit me still? I’ve come a long way since I first stepped foot into my church, but I know that I still have so far to go on this journey with Christ. There’s still so much I need to learn about God, about myself, and about this story that God wrote for me long before I was ever born.
I find pause, however, when considering the women that I have come to know in my small group. They are such a lovely group of ladies and I do so enjoy meeting with them each week. Maybe this potential next chapter in my story will have me remain in their group, or maybe it won’t. Even still, starting fresh in a new place is scary. Stepping out in faith to trust that God will guide me to a place where I can grow, learn, and root myself in a community of like-minded and supportive individuals is hard – especially for an introvert. The introvert in me is like seriously? You just made me go through a huge adjustment period a couple of years ago and you want to do it again?
Wherever the next few months lead me, I only hope that I am able to fully embrace whatever comes next with open arms and a clear heart, ready to take in what God has in store for me. In the words of Carole King and Gilmore Girls, where you lead, I will follow.