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The last time I went to my Women’s Small Group at church somebody noticed I could sing.  I was immediately asked if I would lead the worship time in a future group and if I had considered joining the worship team.

It was so hard not to look behind me to try and see who they were really talking to!  You want me to lead a small group in worship?  Lil ‘ole invisible me?

I was flattering to say the least but a very large part of me wondered if they really meant it, if the leaders would actually follow through and arrange a specific date for me to lead the worship or if it was just one of those vague, polite niceties I’ve heard all my life that frequently equated to nothing more than a carrot on a stick.

Besides, they don’t really even know me, I’ve only been attending this church for about six to eight weeks and this small group only started last month so they don’t know me from Adam – there’s no way they could be serious… right?

That was the second time this small group had met.  The first time I had a last minute nail client and wound up being a half hour late to small group so I snuck in while everyone was worshiping (this small group is focused on prayer and worship).  Afterwards we prayed for each other and I saw a little snapshot of something relevant and felt I needed to share that with the gal we were praying for.  Feeling very brave and wondering if they would even allow me to speak since I was so new I stood up from my chair and moved a few feet closer to where the gal was sitting in the middle and I waited for the person who was speaking with her to finish.  It took a little while and my courage began to lag, I wondered if maybe I didn’t need to share after all but one of the leaders had seen me and knew I had something to say so she motioned me forward.  Nobody there even know my name.  I shared the details of the picture I had seen while we were praying for her and went back to my seat.  Afterwards the gal said it was very helpful and encouraging to her and I wound up having some light conversation with the leaders.  In our next small group meeting that same leader, having only met me at the previous small group the one time before, asked me by name if I had anything to share with the gal we were currently praying with.  I did not and said so and the leader was content with my response.  Later that night I was asked to lead a future small group in worship.

I walked out of there on Cloud Nine.  I had value to these people!  I wasn’t invisible!  None of these people knew who I was or my background or what’s going on in my marriage or job or anything about me but they looked at me and saw what God sees when He looks at me!  I knew then that God really had heard my cry to serve Him with the gifts He’s given me.

But still, was it really going to happen or turn into just another one of those “someday” things?  Proverbs says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” and I think that’s where I’ve been for a long time now, heart-sick, and it’s made me untrusting of others, especially spiritual leaders.

This church has really been challenging me in several areas – Do I really accept what the Bible says as truth?  Do I honestly believe that God talks to me at every moment of the day and not just in the sanctuary on Sundays?  Do I trust God and take Him at His Word?  The Sunday sermons have been solid, Biblical teaching backed up with lots of verses and scriptural examples.  Most weeks I walk away somewhat shell-shocked from acknowledging that I’ve allowed myself to live out a different truth than what I’ve always said I believe.  My head will go “Oh yeah, that’s what I believe” but my heart does this funny, cartoon-like explosion thing when I realize “That’s not what I’ve been taught my whole life and that’s not what I live”.

My small group only meets twice a month (I really wish it was once a week, the worship is amazing!) and our next meeting is tomorrow.  Yesterday I received an email asking if I was still up for leading worship this week and besides a keyboard what else did I need?

Wow.  Talk about God coming down and meeting me where I am at.  This is real!  This is what the Bible talks about when it says God’s mercies are new every morning.  I feel like He is healing the wounds caused by other churches – and my own lack of faith – and I’m receiving a fresh start to learn and believe the truth along with my heart’s desire, an opportunity to serve Him with the gifts He’s given me.  I am so excited!

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Well, I did it, I told my husband Saturday night that I would no longer be attending the church we’ve been attending for the last 7 years.

Deep Breath.  Hold it.  Let it out sloooooowly…

It was a huge step for me, I’ve thought about it for a long time.  Over the years I’ve prayed about it, I’ve sought the advice of people I trust and I have even discussed it with my counselor and I honestly believe this is the right thing for me to do.

I’m not going to bash that particular church, it has done a lot of good things for a lot of people, ourselves included.  When we first moved to this city 7 years ago and started attending this church we were a lost, hurting family.  We went to every service we could, attended every class that was offered and served/helped in multiple areas both as a family and individually.  We grew spiritually and I think that each family member’s character changed for the better.  It was definitely a good thing for us.

But time changes everything and almost three years ago I approached my husband with several concerns I had regarding the church.  He did not share them but tried to be supportive of me.  After roughly three months of discussions between both he and I and us and the pastors my husband said we would leave that church… and then changed his mind at the last minute.  Since then I have tried to put my concerns aside and just move on but it became more and more difficult.  Also, many of my friends started leaving the church, all of them hurt and wounded in some way by the words and/or actions of the church leadership.  As I heard bits and pieces of their stories I could see there was a common thread and that many of them shared similar concerns to mine.  So in June of this year I brought up my concerns to my husband again.  He still did not share them and was much less supportive this time around.

To be fair, this church is still doing good things for him.  He has received the support, encouragement and accountability that he has needed in these last two years to battle his pornography addiction and is currently co-leading a small group of other men who are all fighting the same or similar issues.  He is still growing and changing and I am glad for him.  But this church isn’t right for me anymore and it was a difficult thing to take that step from “I don’t want to be here anymore” to “I am not going to be here anymore”.  However, I did take that step and the peace that came with that decision was overwhelming.

My husband wasn’t very happy about my choice.  He verbally fought me for almost an hour.  I don’t normally think well on my feet and I would rather hurt myself than confront anyone about anything, but I know God was with me because my voice did not waver, my hands did not shake and I was able to answer his every question calmly, clearly and coherently.

My husband didn’t speak to me for most of the next day, Sunday, or for Monday either, but on Tuesday he started acting like nothing had happened.  It’s fascinating to watch him and wonder what’s going through his mind, what’s going to happen next…  Does he have “a plan” for trying to get me to stay or has he actually accepted the fact that this decision is the result of the last three years of me struggling with my concerns at this church and that I’m actually going to go through with it and attend another church?  I guess I’ll soon find out.

In the meantime, I’ve found a little community church just down the road from my house that I’m going to try out first.  The salon I work at opens at 11:30 am on Sundays and so my current criteria for trying out churches is whether or not they have a 9 am service and how big are they?

Let’s just say I’m not going to be interested in attending any large churches for a while….

What I’m looking for and hoping to find is a church that focuses on loving God and puts all their efforts into helping their members have a closer relationship with Jesus and less on obeying a set of rules, no matter how biblical those rules are.  The way I see it, obedience is the natural fruit of love but forced obedience rarely, if ever, produces love.

And so it begins!

So it’s Sunday, I’m home sick and watching The Avengers.  Loki makes this statement:  “I am Loki and I am burdened with glorious purpose.”  Glorious purpose.  Glooooooooorious Purpose.  Uh huh…

In reality this is true and we should all be making this statement every morning when we look at ourselves in the mirror.  “I am BluEydButterfly and I am burdened with glorious purpose.”  because each of us really does have a glorious purpose, although the trick is to believe it… and sometimes we don’t even know what it is so discovering that glorious purpose is required as well.

Another statement Loki made a short time later also caught my attention.  Yes, I know, besides being really cute his character makes memorable statements, who’da thunk it?  But what he said this time was:  “You were made to be ruled.”, which I actually, totally, 100% agree with.  The Human Condition craves rules, boundaries, guidelines.  We want someone to lead us.  Why else would every country in the world create its own government?  This is, however, more my opinion and a lead-in to my next statement rather than trying to get everybody riled up over the ugly world of politics.  Sorry to get your hopes up but maybe another day…

OK, now let’s combine those two statements.  What if my “glorious purpose” is simply to choose who my ruler is – or another way of saying it might be, who am I going to serve?  What if it really is that basic?  Regardless of your religious beliefs almost everyone on this planet recognizes that there is good and evil in this world, although everybody seems to define them differently these days…  I personally believe in the God of the Bible and use the scriptures to define good and bad. I’m super-summarizing the verses here but the Bible says that “God is love”, 1 John 4:8; that other people will know I am a Christian “by my love”, John 13:35; and that the two greatest commandments are to love God first and people second, Matt 22:37 – 39.   These verses all define for me, in the simplest terms, good and evil.  To love, with TRUE love (which would take an entirely different blog to define), is good.  Fake love or to be unloving – either one – is evil.  This is the bare bones core of my belief, this is my heart.

We all choose, every moment of every day, what we want to think, say and do.  Are those things kind, loving and helpful?  Or are the things we think, say and do mean and hurtful?  If they are good then I am serving my God.  If they are evil then I am not.

Obviously I am not trying for any deep, contemplative discussion here.  I’m not even talking about Salvation or Heaven.  This particular blog post is to capture simplicity itself, nothing more.  Why?  Because I believe faith should be simple.  Because I believe faith IS simple and we just over-complicate it.  Let’s get back to basics people!  We’ve lost so much to complicity, we’ve fought so many wars over inconsequential details and we’ve destroyed so many relationships in the name of this god or that one… so often without even knowing what the god we serve is really, truly like.  My God is love.  He loves me.  He loves you.  And because He loves you I love you.  Because He loves you I will do my best to help you when you need help or be sad with you when you are sad or be happy with you when you are happy.  This is my faith, my “religion”, to use what feels like dirty word…

Many Christians have lost sight of this and because of their distraction have given Christianity a bad name.  A very bad name.  So bad I’m hesitant at times to say that I am a Christian or that the God I serve is Jesus Christ.  Not because I am ashamed of Christ or the Gospels, oh no!  But because I am ashamed of the people who call themselves Christians and do not love anybody but themselves.  Because those people have the loudest voices and society believes that they are Christians… but they’re not.  Not according to the Bible.  And yet I am a Christian, there is no other way to describe it because I follow Christ and Christian literally means “Follower or disciple of Christ”.

All of that to say – I AM burdened with Glorious Purpose and my choice is about whether or not I will LOVE others as God loves me.

How about you?

Yep, that last post was me venting.  It was 100% true, I cried as I wrote it and again when I re-read it but now it’s over.

I still want to love and be loved like that but I remembered something in the last day or so since I blogged “Damn My Heart”:

I married my husband KNOWING he would never be all those things to me.  I married him KNOWING he would possibly never be ANY of those things to me.  Why I married him is a whole ‘nother post and would probably give some psychology student out there a doctorate but to sum it up – due to my upbringing I was super insecure and had a HUGE unworthiness complex.  One of my main reasons to accept my husband’s proposal at age 19 was that I deserved to spend the rest of my life with someone who was not able to love me the way I wanted to be loved.  Yes, I had so much self-loathing all through my childhood and high school that I punished myself with a life-long marriage I knew I would not enjoy.  Mothers, PLEASE be careful how you treat your daughters!  If nothing they do is ever good enough for you why would they possibly believe they deserve a good man and happiness for the rest of their lives?  I’m living proof right here, been there, done that, have the wedding ring…

Before I go any further – if you are one of the “lucky” few who know who I am and who my husband is please DO NOT go talk to him about my last post (or any of them for that matter) and try to “help” me.  You are not my Robin Hood.  I blog to sort things out in my own head, you’re here to “listen” and pray for me if you pray.

Since I lost my job at the beginning of September I have had such peace in my heart, knowing that God is in control and that everything will be OK.  I really believe that God spoke to me and said “This is not about you, it’s about him”.  (Him being my husband.)  In spite of not having my own income, wondering if we’re going to lose the house and how the utilities will get paid this month I have been almost deliriously happy with going to school for my new career and I am trusting God to provide for me more than ever before.  The peace and joy I have are amazing!

Why won’t I trust God to change my husband?

For some reason my heart believed that my financial woes were smaller than God and therefore He could fix them but my husband was so much of a project that not even God could turn him into Prince Charming.

I was wrong.

I have seen an incredible amount of change in my husband in 2013, he has worked really hard to not just be a nicer person on the outside but on the inside too.  He has met my every demand to improve our marriage.  We are communicating better.  Our children like him more now than they did a year ago.  I could list a lot more things but I need to wrap this up and head off to school so in short – God IS changing him.  It’s me who is impatient and wants the “just add water” to get an instant Prince Charming.  I need to be more grateful for the changes God has made and stop complaining that my husband hasn’t reached the finish line yet.  It took him about 20 years to become the jerk I married, it’s taken another almost 20 years of marriage to change away from being a jerk to become the nice guy he is today, it may take another 20 years to get my Prince Charming but if I quit now somebody else will get the Prince Charming that I have prayed for and and cried for and waited for so long.

I still want, desperately, to be loved desperately.  But my heart is in a better place today.  I’m choosing to trust God to fix my husband so he can meet my needs.  My prayer for most of my marriage has been that God would either fix my husband or kill him and get him out of my life and my children’s lives permanently.  (I have told my husband this so stop freaking out, he knows.)  That prayer sounds a little harsh but every day my husband stays alive is a message from God to me that He is not done with my husband yet and it gives me hope.

Take hope, God is bigger than my problems and He is bigger than your problems.  Everything – and I mean everything – will be OK.