Self Expression Magazine

Hell Didn't Freeze Over...

By Doulalovelou
Approximately 2 years ago I chose to leave my church home after a long, aching battle with pride & pain. I left wounded to the core, feeling rejected, hurt, and inadequate. I left because I no longer felt like I belonged and because that church, those people, were no longer a safe haven for me.
The 2 years since, I have been without a church home and with no real desire to find one. I have hopped from church to church, showing up on Sunday morning & leaving immediately once the service was over. Reluctance was my master and it kept me from going through the process of knowing and being known. Fear was my guide. Intentionally keeping people at a distance, not giving them the chance to hurt me or reject me. Community was an enigma. Something I wanted so desperately but wasn't willing to take the chance to get.
2013 was a weird year - a year of purging and releasing. Letting go of the things that held me back, ridding my life of things that didn't serve me. What a challenge it was to open my hands and trust that God was in control and that my hands could remain open in a daily act of surrender. I didn't have to take back control. He could do it all. I thought leaving Mariners was just a living manifestation of this theme of release.
2014 was better - a year with victory as the theme. I was determined to conquer - fear, addiction, insecurity... you name it, I wanted to destroy it. And victory came, more through God's power than my own of course, but I worked hard for it too. I swallowed my pride and walked further in to community, I risked being known - flaws and all. I took huge steps in my own personal healing and in coming to terms with my humanity and imperfection.
And now 2015 has arrived, with what I hope to be a year of willingness. This is the year that all my awareness gets put into action. I've spoken about my awareness before, many times. I'm overly aware of what is going on, not only in my life but in the lives around me. And I'm aware of God's presence and what it is He asks of me. The problem is this: MOST of the time, I ignore Him or choose to do only part of what He asks or do what I want instead. So the knowledge is there, but the willingness isn't. Until now. Or at least, that's what I'm hoping to learn and to DO this year.
So I've been praying for the willingness to be willing. And today, God gave me the chance to test it out.
Last night I had a little heart-to-heart with my roomies. I spoke to them about boundaries and how the past few years I've been in a season of selfishness. You see, before I left Mariners I was bone dry. I had given so much of myself that I had nothing left. And I was burnt out on church, on service, on grace, even on God. I wrote about my struggle with boundaries and self-care many times and God has been faithful in teaching me some profound lessons in these areas. But in that, I chose to keep to myself a lot, out of fear that people would drain me dry again or that I'd fail to keep my boundaries. I was extremely selfish with my time and was very intentional about how I spent it and who I spent it with.
When talking to my roomies, I voiced that I sensed this season was coming to a close. I have learned a lot about myself, my needs, my boundaries, and have found a voice to express them. I also voiced the fear that comes with opening oneself up to people again. I told them how I was reluctant to go to church because the leader in me always wants to get involved, which generally leads to a rabbit hole that ends with me in a puddle of tears on the floor... and not the good kind of tears! The frustrated, angry, depleted kind of tears. As I expressed this to them, I spoke about my time at Mariners and the hurt that still resided in my heart. I realized that there was still a bitterness there. Not towards one person in particular, because I've made a point to forgive most of them, but to the church as a whole. To the flawed entity that is Mariners Church. A church full of human people who make mistakes. And even though I know it is just a church and not a perfect system, somewhere in my heart there was still resentment. As the realization poured out of my mouth, I knew I had to do something about it.
While getting ready this morning, I flirted with the idea of going to Sunday night service at Mariners. This service is the one I was most heavily involved in and the one where I always felt the most at home. I jokingly texted my friend (who is well aware of my hurts & feelings towards Mariners) "I'm thinking of going to Sunday night service. Hell might freeze over." As I sent that text, I knew that at 7pm, I'd be walking through the doors for Sunday Night service.
And walk through the doors I did.
And Hell did not freeze over.
But, let me tell you, it was trippy because I was SUPPOSED to be there.

This was made evident by the fact that one of the people I had yet to forgive was sitting in the front row. Also by the fact that the message was about the law vs. grace. Solidified even more when the speaker asked the question "What would it look like for you to come out of hiding?"
Yeah, God, I hear you dude, you don't have to shout so loudly!!!
At the end of the service, I walked to the front row and spoke to the person I needed to forgive. In tears, I explained what had brought me to the service tonight. I apologized for holding bitterness in my heart for nearly 2 years and asked for his forgiveness. In turn, he asked for mine, acknowledging the humanity in the church and the seriousness of the wound. And with a smile on his face, he hugged me and said "Welcome Home."
As I walked out those doors, I sent out an overarching prayer of forgiveness to the entire campus, the entire church and made my peace. The tears continued to flow as I took the all too familiar route home.  I pondered if I'd be comfortable making Mariners my church home again and in my heart I heard, "Just be willing."

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