The Church “Test”


epejc

This isn’t my church, it’s just a picture of a beautiful church that I liked 🙂

I just spent 45 minutes looking up online groups for Christian women, specifically Christian single moms.  I was sort of hoping to find a group that I could fellowship with online, one that would be casual and open and most importantly full of just “real” people interested in more than idle chat.

The church I attend, I enjoy very much but I am super shy so it takes a long time to make close friends.  Add to this the fact that I don’t work in the same town where I live, so I don’t know anyone in depth.  It makes it difficult to find close friends that are also Christian.  And on top of all that, there aren’t many single mom’s in my church, in fact I don’t think I’ve met another single mom yet.  It’s hard to find common ground to talk about with women who are happily married.

There is always the kids to chat about but I find that most conversations are superficial because 1.  They don’t know me  2.  They never see me in town because I work in another town and 3.  I am unable to attend most children’s functions because I have to work.  And I really suck at small talk.  (laughs)  But I am getting better at it.

I found many groups online and read through some of the postings and it seems there are a couple of main themes:

a.  The first theme was very clear and it dealt with, “I hate my ex and need help to forgive him for (fill in the blank).  This was a popular topic.

b.  The second theme was clear also, “How to overcome the negative stigma and judgments of being a single mom.”

c.  The third theme was overwhelming, “Debating about never going to church again because of the judgmental “Christians”.

Wow.

Talk about discouraging.  None of the groups I browsed were groups I’d want to spend much time in sorry to say.  It seemed they were filled with a lot of negativity.

First of all, forgiveness was a lesson that was easy for me.  Probably because of how much I needed it for myself.  How could I turn around and NOT give it to another?  How could I ever sit and debate about NOT giving forgiveness to another after Jesus forgave me?

The second theme about the negative stigma of being a single mom?  I realize that men and women alike become single parents for all sorts of reasons.  Some because of choices and/or mistakes they made personally and some through no fault of their own.  There is a negative stigma that surrounds single parents even today, I admit that and have experienced it myself.  I am a single mom of 2 boys by different fathers, trust me, I get that there is a stigma attached.  Do I dwell on it?  Nope.  It is what it is.  Do I want to spend my free time venting about it?  Nope, I have better things to do with the time God has given me.  But for the record, not all single mom’s are on assistance (I’m not).

The 3rd theme is the big debate about never going to church again because of judgmental Christians.  This brings me to:

The Church “Test”

 1.  Why are you going to church?

    If you are attending church for any other reason than a deep desire to worship God, grow in your own spiritual walk with Him, and ultimately be able to serve the Lord according to His will, then you are going to church for the wrong reason.

2.  What part of a service is your favorite?

Do you enjoy the music above all else?  Do you love the teaching most?  Or is all your enthusiasm saved for break time when you can go chat with so and so about everything else under the sun but God?

3.  Are you living your life as if it were an open book?

Pretend for a minute that at any second, a camera crew could roll itself into your life and begin video taping you.  Is your life an open book?  Are you ashamed of how you live?  Are there things that keep private that you would be ashamed of if people knew the truth?  If you are worried about being judged, live your life in such a way that there is no call for judgment.  Then it won’t bother you.


It was terribly difficult for me to step out of my safe space and find a church and start attending.  First of all, I know myself.  LOL  I am imperfect, a sinner, I have a very colorful past that not everyone would understand, shoot…I don’t understand it myself half the time.  I’ve been forgiven for a lot by our Lord.

I’m a shy person so walking into a new place, with a bunch of strangers, by myself…is HARD.  It took me a long time to trust the Lord enough to catch me if I fall, but trust Him I did and I did finally find a church to attend.

It’s not perfect.  I’m still a “newbie”.  No one knows me well though some are learning my name.  In all this time, no one has asked for my testimony or gotten beyond a superficial, “Hi, how are you?  What’s your name again?”

But that is OK.  You know why?

Because no one is perfect and I am there for God, not people.  I am there to learn more and grow spiritually.  I am there today because I want to be able to serve well tomorrow and I can’t do that if I don’t learn.

I’m sure I am being judged by others, after all, we are all only human.  No one has been rude, what they think of me in their own minds is private to them.  If it becomes public then Ok, we’ll deal with it then and get past it.  My focus is God right now and it’s up to Him what tests I’ll face and when.

Of course I want a church family that opens their arms in acceptance, who offer more than the small talk I’ve received so far, that really care about each others souls during fellowship time rather than chatting about the boys next baseball game or the movie that they just saw.

But no one is perfect and no Church is perfect either because… no one is perfect.

Make sense?

Don’t forsake your worship of God simply because the church isn’t perfect.  Examine yourself and your own motives and your own actions.  Be the best Christian YOU can be and keep your focus on YOUR relationship with God.

When I go to church I usually sit with my 7 year old son until the singing portion is over and then he goes to Sunday school and I am left sitting by myself for the remainder.   It is uncomfortable at times but during those times I am praying quietly and I feel His peace.

I hear the conversations around me and none of them have anything to do with God.  I don’t pretend to understand why this is called “fellowship”, like it’s somehow more important than a normal superficial chat at the water cooler at work.  Somehow I don’t think this idle chat is what was meant to define fellowship.  But it is what it is.

The point is…these people that surround me at church?  These people are important.  In all their sins and with all their faults these people are God’s children if they believe and because of that, they deserve my love.  If God loves them, then so will I.  They can judge me and say or think mean things if they choose.  I am able to forgive.

They may not know me well yet.  They may not know how willing I am to help them yet.  They may not know how much I love them yet.  And they may never know if God doesn’t will it.  But as I sit there alone, listening to the idle chatter around me, learning from the teaching, I am growing and someday, the Lord willing, I’ll be able to serve them or others in some way.

That is why I go to church.

I would still love to find a Christian group online for deep fellowship but maybe that is asking for too much trust in this imperfect world

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4 thoughts on “The Church “Test”

  1. letfaithgrow

    I can relate to what you are saying. I’m not a single mom, but I have been seeking fellowship in online communities as well. Churches have been difficult for me and my family. We have a attended a couple churches but we are still kinda new to our area so we don’t have one we call home. I keep praying we will find one but in the mean time I try to find fellowship online. That is one of the reasons I started blogging and reading blogs. I am fairly active on Babycenter.com’s community boards and they have a group called “christian mommies”. Sometimes I find it more judgmental rather than supportive though. Wish I knew a group to recommend for you. My situation is different, I’m 25, married, with small children but I’m here if you need to chat. 🙂 I love “the church test”!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tawni Post author

      Maybe we’ll just have to start our own group on Facebook or something, hmmmm…we’ll have to look into that.

      Thanks so much for your comments! You are always there giving encouragement and THAT is exactly what I was looking for in a group. Women helping and encouraging women, not sniping at each other or dwelling on the negative stuff.

      If you ever need to chat too my email is tawni.dawn@yahoo.com…shoot me off an email sometime and we can get to know each other better and chat more about this group we are both trying to find 🙂

      We all have problems and issues and things we are working on and things we are trying to overcome and that is fine. I want to listen and help and give advice if I can but I don’t want to spend this life in the rut of hashing the same things out over and over and that is what I ran into in the groups I browsed. 300 posts of the same themes over and over again and the replies weren’t Bible based, they were making excuses for each other rather than trying to overcome anything…or they were horribly cruel and judgmental.

      I’d like a place where anyone can post to get feedback that is A. Bible based and B. Love inspired (which is also Bible based) and C. deep into fellowship rather than 1000’s of meme’s and one liners.
      I love Scripture pics but they are a dime a dozen and I’d like to get to know the person behind the picture.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. GeoJono

    Tawni – My wife has had to deal with a lot of similar feelings. She’s an MK (missionary kid), so she often feels like she belongs to neither the American culture nor the cultures in which she grew up. We are approaching middle age and we have no children; that comes with its own stigma and makes joining conversations difficult sometimes as they often end up being about kids. And she’s an introvert which makes it a little more difficult.

    I think you said at one time that you are not on Twitter, and I don’t remember what you said about Facebook, if anything, but after reading your post, she said she’d recommend a Facebook group called The Women of Calvinism (https://www.facebook.com/groups/179426775503317/). It’s a closed group, meaning no one can read the posts unless they are a member of the group, and the membership is monitored (you have to ask to join and be accepted, though they say they will only reject someone if they are male). They also say that they accept those who are not Calvinist. There are tons of other groups on there as well. You may have to “shop around”.

    Anyway, I like your perspective on church, love for the remnant, and forgiveness. It’s always refreshing to see your posts.

    I especially liked your questions about forgiveness:
    “How could I turn around and NOT give it to another? How could I ever sit and debate about NOT giving forgiveness to another after Jesus forgave me?”

    Like

    Reply
    1. Tawni Post author

      Thank you Jono and be sure and give your wife a hug and a thank you from me too! I will definitely check out the facebook groups. I’ve never been on missions but I’ve moved around every few years with no place to call “home” so while our experiences are different, they are similar too. I’m realizing that there is common ground to be had with most people but we have to get beyond the surface to find it. I’m not on twitter but I am on Facebook. Online has so much to offer those of us who don’t do well face to face and the opportunities for evangelism online are huge if people can make safe connections. It’s something I really want to explore further. Thanks a bunch!

      Liked by 1 person

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