Needing to talk with other Christians
I am a Christian, although possibly the world’s most reluctant one. I have spent a huge amount of time thinking about why I am so reluctant to claim the word ‘Christian’. It’s because of what that means in the wider world – I used to associate it with judgement, hatred, small-mindedness, anti-science etc. Quite frankly I still do associate that with some of the louder Christian voices. Historically the church has a hideous reputation, all the atrocities committed in Christ’s name are incredibly off putting when you are thinking about becoming a Christian.
One day I found myself saying to the Jehovah Witnesses who knocked on the door that I wasn’t a Christian, but I probably would be in a year or so. After I closed the door I caught myself and wondered why that would be. At the time, as now, I was getting a huge amount of comfort from reading Christian books. It was when I was really very ill and spent a huge amount of time crashed out on the sofa, feeling utterly worthless and sorry for myself. I started investigating churches and gave myself to God in a very charismatic evangelical church in January 2016. I think I needed that drama the church provided to push me into making that step, but I really couldn’t stay there long term. There were a number of theological points that I had issues with, starting with women not allowed to have leadership roles and moving on from there.
I also found the services exhausting and would need to rest afterward for quite a long time. What I loved was the people and my life-group especially. This was a small group of women who met once a week. We discussed the sermon, but also our lives and how we related to God in that. Thursdays were my favourite day because I got to meet with them for a morning. I miss that a great deal. I long to have that in my life, my husband is a atheist, and while he is unfailing in his support and will always listen to me, it is not the same as having someone to talk things through with in a Christian context.
I have been going to a small local church, but it is mainly much older people (I say that as someone who turns 38 in a couple of weeks) and there isn’t much happening. Because I am the person that I am I started volunteering for a lot of things and now I am overwhelmed with responsibility and not feeling like I am being nourished and fed by my church.
This is my fault, I took on the idea of having to do God’s will and felt like I had to do all the things to prove my worth and value, to the church and to God too. I completely realise this is not in keeping with Jesus’ yoke being light. My volunteering has come from a negative place rather than a positive one. Even now, after a lot of reflection, I keep thinking that I should be serving God in a big, dramatic way. Training to become a vicar, or something equally over the top, rather than being me. To be fair there are some bits I think I would be good at but I’m not great with people, I certainly don’t have the pastoral skills; I need a huge amount of time on my own, oh yes and I have a chronic illness too!
My church is 10 minutes up the road, it is small and everyone is lovely, but…it just doesn’t do it for me because it doesn’t have the wider social aspect. I feel guilty about looking for other churches, a place to call home because I am very fond of the church. I am not overly enamoured with organised religion, but I think I need to have the contact with other Christians in real life. I love the podcasts that I listen to, and the books I read, but I don’t think it is the same as meeting with others. I would like a small group 5-8 people to meet fortnightly to pray and discuss our lives in the context of trying to live well with God.
How do you worship with others? Do you have a group you meet with a discuss following the Way?