I came home torn and confused and frustrated and plopped on the couch with a long sigh. He looked up at me over the glow of his iPad and waited a moment before speaking.
“I knew this would happen,” he said with a smile. It wasn’t a haughty or prideful smile. I felt his sympathy and my eyes welled with tears.
“This is so hard,” I whispered and he nodded his head.
We have lived in Florida for a year and we have visited and tried out every church in the greater Tampa area. We found one we loved and we connected. We connected with the people and the pastor and the worship. It was everything we thought we were looking for.
It fit into the neat little puzzle of church that we were used to and I desperately wanted to stay there. But…
It was a solid thirty minute drive from our house and I saw Lee shut down every time we made the drive. I knew that this couldn’t become our church home. Deep down, I knew it wasn’t practical to drive that far, particularly because our children turn into rabid, psychotic baboons in the car.
I wish I was joking.
So I wasn’t surprised when Lee mentioned that we needed to start visiting churches closer to home again. We did, over and over we visited and nothing fit. Nothing felt right. I came home in tears every single Sunday.
Finally we visited a small church about seven minutes away. We’d visited this church earlier in the year. It was a recent plant and there were a lot of bugs to be worked out. Upon revisiting the church I realized there were still bugs to be worked out…but they were in my own heart.
It’s small, this church. Smaller than any church we have ever attended. I’m not used to that.
It’s a plant, something I’m also unfamilier with and makes me feel uncomfortable. But who said comfort was the goal, right?
It’s Baptist. I haven’t been in a Baptist church in a really, really long time. I have to get used to it. It’s not wrong, but it is different and I am learning to embrace the different.
But the people…oh the people. They are wonderful. They remember us when we walk in the door. They are excited to see us when we arrive. They know us and want to see us using the gifts and talents that we have been given in the best way possible.
They want to build a community.
We need community.
And so we have stayed and I continue to allow the bugs to be pushed and prodded and shaped into something more beautiful. Less about me.
But it’s still hard, because it’s not what I’ve known. I’ve lived in the unfamiliar for over a year now and part of me longs for the peace that comes with knowing and understanding. The peace of comfort. Peace.
Could it be that peace is a choice?
I stepped forward to serve in a way that I’ve always served – in the area that God has not only gifted me, but also that I’m passionate about. But they don’t know me. They know I say I’m gifted in this area, but there’s no proof to back up those claims and I…well, I’m prone to sit in the back corner and wait to be discovered. That’s what happened on this particular night. I sat in the corner and I knew I couldn’t stay there.
As I sat on the couch, knees pulled up to my chest, Lee leaned forward and spoke wisdom.
These are your gifts.
You have to use your gifts this way.
Sitting in the corner is not your gift.
You have to tell them.
You have to be bold.
And this month is the month of believing I can, so I made the call. It was uncomfortable, this business of boldly proclaiming my gifts. It felt snobby to so bluntly lay out how I believe I can best serve within the Church.
I felt like a diva.
But I also felt empowered. My husband has never before told me those things and I’d never thought of my abilities in the way he spoke of them. It was the first time I’d embraced my skills and I leaned into the embrace. You know what happened?
Relief. Not just my own relief, though I certainly felt freed from the inner angst that threatened to keep me tied in the corner. But, there was also relief from those in leadership positions who really want to use us all in the way that God desigend us to be used.
As it turns out, pastors and worship leaders and church leaders don’t have ESP. They don’t have some magical sixth sense that allows them to see the future and see exactly how each member of the body should be used.
Leaning into the embrace not only freed me up to be used, but it freed them up to know how to best utilize my skills. Bold living, humble serving – this is how we work together as a body of believers.
It’s actually not as scary as I thought it would be.