I was born a Christian.
That sentence might not mean the same to you as it does to me. I go into much detail about that here. The short of the story is, I was surrounded by church—becoming a Christian as a little girl, but I didn’t REALLY become a Jesus-follower until my recent adult years. Let’s say I had all the book smarts, but not the heart smarts.
When I first ventured back into church, I hid it.
My husband and I had been married for 12 years—and we had maybe been to church half-a-dozen times—and only when under obligation with family. We just weren’t church people. We believed in God and that was enough. We didn’t need church, and I was rather mouthy and vocal about it.
But then something started gnawing at my heart. No one pressured me, invited me, or even talked to me about church. My life was going incredibly well. Business was good and we were building a fancy home in a fancy neighborhood. And all the people were fancy and size-2-skinny and pretty. I was just a girl from a little hick-town called Fresno who carried a little extra padding on her size-10-body. In these new surroundings, I felt like Cinderella, wearing glass slippers on my dusty feet.
Life was amazing. And I was more empty than I had ever known.
I tried to make friends in my new country-club surroundings. And while there were a couple people I truly cherished—good soul people and completely unpretentious—the rest made me feel out-of-place. I tried to join a women’s social group, and I remember the queen-bee kept calling me “newbie” and making sure I fully understood I did not belong.
So while my husband was off golfing each Saturday and Sunday morning, I piddled around my big beautiful house. I would sit in the great room in silence and wonder how I landed in such a semi-charmed life. But again, my heart was empty and there was that gnawing.
That gnawing was an unanswered RSVP from God. He knew I had left “home” and been around the world, having a great time, going to parties, drinking others under the table, and living a life of luxury. I was the prodigal daughter—except I hadn’t crashed yet.
Well, the RSVP wouldn’t go away—so I made plans to come to the “event” on that RSVP. I waited for a day I knew my husband would be at a long day of golf. I was still in my robe as we kissed goodbye. No sooner had the garage door shut than I was racing to get into the shower and clean up to go to church.
That first day back is an entire chapter of information. In-short, I had found home. I had never been to a church (RHCC) like this. I didn’t fall asleep during the sermon. I was totally engaged. The stories were the same ones I knew from my book-smart-Christian youth, but something new was soaking into my heart. I was amazed. Afterwards I quickly drove home, changed out of my clothes, took off my make-up, and slipped back into my robe. When my husband came home he was none-the-wiser of my morning escapades.
This continued for a couple months. I hid what was going on because we married as the couple that didn’t need church and all that rhetoric. But eventually it was getting too hard to hide my Bible and church bulletins. So I broke down and with great caution told my husband what I was up to.
He wasn’t upset, but he was concerned as he said, “that’s fine if you want to go to church—but they will change you.” I was infuriated. Because NO ONE was going to change me and I told him so. And even more, was that I absolutely believed it with my whole heart and being. I.would.NOT.change.
I’m still right, and yet wrong in so many ways. Between my time of sneaking off to church and now, my life is so different. I’m not in a fancy home or neighborhood anymore, but I’m happier and more thankful than I’ve ever been. I’ve been through great loss—financially and physically, yet I have more peace and joy than I’ve ever felt. And no one at church changed me, I’m way too strong willed to be bent by any person—and trust me there has been some light coercing and light (and a rare harsh) judging from others because I don’t fit into their perfect ideals. But I am different from those robe/church crazy days. While I don’t seem too different on the outside, in-fact I now have more physical accoutrements that would make me appear less conventional, I am changed on the inside. Those changes have all been about heart work. Serious heart work. So, yes, I admit, I’m different. And it’s not because of any person at church, infact it’s much more mysterious and spiritual than that. And this change, I fully accept and welcome.
And here’s the biggest catcher: I’ve changed enough that my heart desires to play a bigger role in Kingdom work. I’ve started a company that hopes to guide others into heart healing – just like mine has been healed. And it’s crazy – because just like I’ve said over the last couple months – I’m the last person I would have guessed to do this type of thing. Some might call it a ministry – others will just call it girl-time or art-therapy or outreach. Either-way, people in the church or outside the church will understand the heartfelt message I have to share that speaks to the emptiness we feel. Because I know a thing or two about brokenness, feeling stuck in good times or devastating hardship, and getting all mixed up from the wrong messages the world bombards us with. And so this week I’d love to share with you this new thing that’s been stirring in my soul called createHEART (Create Heart, Inc). It’s live and moving into action! I’ll have groups starting this year at community centers, art studios, and churches. It’s my hope and prayer that what I’ve been gifted and learned will be easily passed on to the right people. Again, I’m the last person I would have thought to do anything like this. But I changed, in really good ways. I can’t keep that secret to myself.
Oh and that the guy I love so much—that I hid church from—yeah he’s been sliding into church with me. Even knows the songs. I’d hope he’d say I never pressured him—but rather he’s gotten that same RSVP.