When Your Church Becomes Your Ex-Boyfriend

So it occurred to me that the way I was handling transitioning from my old church to my new church was not unlike my old ways of breaking up with a boyfriend and finding a new boyfriend.

First, a disclaimer:

THE CHURCH IS NOT A BOYFRIEND.

AND ONE SHOULD NOT BOYFRIEND-HOP, ANYWAY.

AND I SHOULD HAVE BEEN WISER WITH GIVING MY HEART AWAY TO MEN IN MY LIFE.

With that said, it was a mighty startling thing when I saw words typed to my first pastor, like “I don’t know how this works. Can I still talk to you if I need to? Can I come and visit?”

I felt like a scared teenage girl not wanting to let go of the boy she so “loved,” though knowing it was in her best interest.

That pastor understands my insecurities and assured me I’d be welcome to visit anytime.

“But what about talking to you?” I asked, feeling my needy arms clinging to this human. “You know me so well. You were my first pastor when I became a Christian. Can I email you my prayer needs once in a while?”

And the pastor informed me he’d be taking my name out of the membership list and my name off this duty and that duty as well. He was grace-filled about it all.

It felt like such a loss.

And so I step into our new church. It’s so different. Smaller. Less ceremonial. Little to no ministries. No fanciness. It’s in the storefront of a strip mall in this tiny town.

It’s so different.

I’ve started to organize groups here. I’ve started a prayer group as well as their first newsletter. The church is only 3 or so years old. It isn’t as established as my former church. I don’t have the roots there as I do in the former one.

I like to know where I am and to feel safe. I like to know my surroundings and for my surroundings to know me. So when the Lord put it on my heart that, for my family’s spiritual sake, we needed to change churches in order to enter a new season of life, I resisted at first.

And it’s been a hard transition. I better understand why it is needed. And it’s not because of any fault of the first church. The second church is just different in how my husband and I feel it nourishes us.

But change is hard. This people-pleasing girl is having a very hard time with it.

At my old church, I struggle with going back and joining the praise team or helping out in worship. I am paranoid people are thinking I am conceited and worry they talk about me and our choice to move.

At my new church, I struggle with worrying that other people think I am too eager. After all, who am I to walk in there and after only two months start two different ministries? Besides joining the one other singer in helping out with worship music?

And then I recognize those old lies I’ve heard for so long:

The enemy hissing, You think you are so important, don’t you. Well, you’re not. You’re a drama queen. Stop drawing attention to yourself. It’s not about you. You’re so selfish. You want all the glory. You don’t do this for any God of yours. It’s all so you can look good. And that first pastor? He thinks you’re weak, misguided, a hypocrite. You should never show your face around there again.

And I want to then hide and cry in bed, fear and worry overtaking me.

But.

I know some things to be true:

– If I feel worry and fear, that is not from God. It can be used by God, but it is not from or of God. 

– my former pastor is NOT my ex-boyfriend and neither is that church. I’m not breaking up with anyone because I continue to serve the same God over at the new church. 

– there are seasons in this life of ours. Ecclesiastes 3 says so. 

– When God calls you to do something, go somewhere, say something, you do it – even if it’s hard. 

– I serve people WAY too much. I ought to be serving God so much more than I am. 

I was in my prayer closet the other night, praying about this topic. I opened my Bible and decided to read whatever random page I came across.

What I read was Isaiah 31.

“What sorrow awaits those who look to Egypt for help,
    trusting their horses, chariots, and charioteers
and depending on the strength of human armies
    instead of looking to the Lord,
    the Holy One of Israel.
 In his wisdom, the Lord will send great disaster;
    he will not change his mind.
He will rise against the wicked
    and against their helpers.
 For these Egyptians are mere humans, not God!
    Their horses are puny flesh, not mighty spirits!
When the Lord raises his fist against them,
    those who help will stumble,
and those being helped will fall.
    They will all fall down and die together.”

— Isaiah 31:1-3

Those Egyptians were mere mortals, not God! Oh, these pastors are mere mortals, too! Those parishioners are mere mortals, not God!

Woe to me; what sorrow awaits for those who look to mortals for help.

And haven’t I always done that?

For most of my life it was looking to boyfriends to define me.

It seems that after becoming Christian your insecurities don’t go away. In fact, because you have given your life to God, the enemy thinks he can trap you easier – and you make a better target. He would much rather steal you from God than steal one who doesn’t believe. They’re easier targets, anyway.

So my need to feel validation from men did not stop when I joined church, when I was saved, when I followed Jesus.

Thankfully, God is merciful and just as well as loving and compassionate.

He has promised to provide me with everything as long as I look to Him.

As long as I look. As long as I seek. As long as I knock and ask.

He wants to be invited; he wants to be wooed.

So.

I will seek to please the Lord. I will ask Him if I am saying things, doing things “right.” I will ask Him if I look pretty in this dress or if I sang that song well. I will ask Jesus if He can join me in conversation and listen to my lamenting. I will not focus on emailing pastors when in need. I will go to the Lord. I will not rely on my husband to fill every need; I will go to the Lord.

When your church becomes your ex-boyfriend, you are in deep trouble because it means that you are relying on Egypt for help.

And so I’m grateful for being a work in progress, for God being a God of second chances…and thirds and gazillions because He is loving and good. Grateful that God gives me a swift kick in the pants every now and then because there is no way I’d be having these realizations without His wisdom and strength. Grateful for the growth I feel every time I go through the refining fire.

And grateful that God will always take me back because I will always run back to Him. Grateful for His mercies and forgiveness, which are far more than I deserve.

Nobody should become more important than God.

No church, no pastor, no congregation.

Would you mind praying for me as I enter this next season of my faith walk?

How can I pray for you today?

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On knees, head low, arms high…

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