In 1994, I became the head coach of a college volleyball program. Ever the consummate professional, on hearing the words “You’re hired” I flung myself across the room to awkwardly bear-hug my (now, rather unnerved and alarmed) new boss.
David and I threw boxes and a queen-sized bed into the U-Haul and moved to the pink cherry blossoms of North Carolina…and depending on your era, my life was a sunny Bruno Mars/Karen Carpenter/Neil Diamond-type song.
Except when it wasn’t.
I labored hard and long in my new career. It took my heart and attention and all of my energies. It wasn’t just a job; in my mind, it was a calling and a mission. I wanted so desperately to earn the favor and respect of my peers and athletes. But mostly, I wanted to win.
And then I had babies.
David retired from teaching and coaching football to stay at home with the boys, while I hauled a breast pump through airports and worried about the next victory, and the next big recruit. Both were so very difficult to come by those years, largely because I had the experience and wisdom of a gnat.
I rarely went to any church gatherings outside of Sunday morning worship.
At first it was because I was ‘really busy’ and wanted to guard time with the family. But, after a while it was because I really ‘didn’t fit’ anywhere, in my opinion. No one seemed to understand or account for my ‘very special’ situation, and so I pouted around the fringe of real fellowship, and then just stopped ‘trying’.
Of course, I felt justified in my lack of communion. It was obvious that I was the odd woman out. There were clearly no real places for me to connect. I was completely atypical from all the Southern stay-at-home moms who gathered midday for Bible study…what the heck? Didn’t the leadership know that some of us worked? I was disconnected from the body, and I blamed the body for my apathy.
My problem had deep roots (pride), but they were hidden and blind to me at the time. Those seven years of non-communion with the body of Christ slowly took a toll, and I eventually ended with a serious bout of spiritual and physical depression. My heart was dry and tight. I felt knotted up, a shell of my real self, and so very tired.
Looking back, I wouldn’t trade those years for anything.
For it was then that I came to really know Jesus and cherish his church. God’s spirit unearthed my smug sin and revealed the loveliness of his people. He watered the seeds of faith he had planted in me long ago. Best of all, he let me in on my true calling: to forever champion the church and encourage her saints in faith.
Friends, are you involved in any regular communion of saints beyond Sunday worship? Are you slightly miffed that there is no place for you, and so withhold yourself from the body of Christ? If so, can I tell you what I needed to hear back then? I might not have received it well (most certainly not), but it would have been truth.
You are in danger: Your mind is darkening and your heart is getting dry. Your soul is ripe for the enemy’s lies, false worship, and life-stealing temptations. You are rooted in what, exactly? Your own strength? Your own wisdom? This self-path is taking you where you do not want to go.
Get yourself in a regular small group: Thinking you can go solo only extends your streak of spiritual stupid. What is feeding your soul these days? God’s gathered people are his means of truth and grace and protection.
Stop whining, Kim: For the love of all things holy – listen to yourself! You are a Christian. Who would know by your words?
Don’t wait to be considered: Your situation is not so unique that everyone needs to stop what they’re doing to accommodate you. Jesus died as a ransom for you – you’ve already been considered with the greatest care and cost. Consider caring for another.
You are not the only one: Do you really think you are the only one who feels out of place? Are you the only person who doesn’t fit the mold (whatever that is)? Come on, now – get over yourself already. Aren’t we all a bunch of rag-tag misfits that Jesus (miraculously) has called saints?
The kingdom is here: You have been placed where you are by God himself to make visible the invisible kingdom of God. No one can do it exactly like you, because they are not you. But equally true, no one can do it apart from the church.
You are going to be thankful for this: God’s always doing something before you know it, and he is faithful to finish what he starts. Turn to him even now and listen for him. Find your joy in him, and can give you a new heart for his people.
The church is far from perfect, friends, but isn’t that the beautiful part? The world expects perfection, but we follow the one who died for us while we were still eons and eons from perfect.