Thoughts from an ex-(church)insider

I love people’s stories. How they got here and there, who taught them how to tie their shoes, thoughts and dreams, memories of childhood. It what makes people unique and interesting to me.

A big part of my story is growing up in the church. A massive part of me was raised there. In the hands of loving volunteers, outdated felt boards, and lots of stale fishy crackers and apple juice.

I’ve always been on the “inside” of church. Admittedly blinded to those who did not grow up this way. I lived for perfect attendance, earning my gold stars (literally) and not skipping a day to see what (you) anyone else was doing. It’s all I knew.

My church friends became my life and I forgot that people did anything else with their Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. I truly would stare at people with judging eyes as they pulled out their cars to wash them on a (gasp!) SUNDAY MORNING! CHURCH DAY!

Due to several moves, I have now experienced being an “outsider” at church, and it has challenged my worldview drastically. It has taught me to truly accept people and invite them into my life. A life where church is a part, but not the whole thing. Not even close.

Everyone’s story is beautiful. Christian, non-christian, if they go to church on Christmas, or not at all. To invite people over for dinner and listen to their stories. No judgement, no agenda. To not be exclusive to people “like me.”

“People know when they are dear to you” (Jen Hatmaker’s famous line)

You can’t fake this. You can’t love people with agenda’s. You can’t love people “if” and “when.” You can’t love people just because they share your worldview and upbringing. It’s not fair to only love those who are familiar. Love is for the now. Love is for the least of these. Love is for people who are different than you. It’s for everyone.

I love the church, I really do. I plan to attend it as often as I can. I give to the church and I am proud of the role my church plays in it’s community.

What I won’t do: Be a part of a clique or club where only christians are accepted and loved. I won’t get so wrapped up in my little circle that I forget my neighbors, people who really are just like me. I won’t use big “christian” words when they may offend. I stand by my upbringing and am proud, but this has been a process of unlearning some legalism and learning what it is to truly love God and love His people.

Thanks for letting me share, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Words to meditate on today:

From May Sarton’s writing in, Journal of a Solitude.

Imitate the trees. Let go. Cut off excess..prune. wait. watch. grow deep and high to see the sea.