I received a phone call from my Pastor the other day. We have a worship team of 25 arriving from North Carolina and he requested that I speak to them this morning. The last time I was asked to speak to a large number of people, I got flu-like symptoms 30 minutes prior to the event. Once home and in bed, the symptoms went away and I realized I suffered from stage fright. Naturally, I wanted to avoid something like that occuring again.
BUT one of my life goals is to motivate; to inspire; to give hope. My Pastor asked that I speak because he obviously sees my story as motivating and inspiring.
I met my Pastor for the first four years ago at a pancake breakfat. I was in a common law relationship and between the two of us, we had three kids under the age of three. The thought of attending church, or activites through a church always intrigued me. Now, at this time I never would have found myself relating well to Christianitys of any kind; in fact I tried to stay away from religious folk as best I could. But I also knew that my attendance at Sunday Schools as a child was a good moral basis on which I used well into life. I wanted my kids to have some sort of foundation on which they could build on later in life.
My spouse, however, did not agree and that idea was shelved. Flashforward two years. I am now a single mom and my strong willed and very spirited son is getting hard to handle. Not defiant, but a little too independant. And then he starts asking me questions. Questions that I do not want to answer because I fear passing my biases onto him. Questions about God and Jesus. I often found myself wondering where he heard these words, as it certainly wasn’t from me.
One Thanksgiving weekend, the day my son turned 5 I was moving houses. Alone. As that had become my life. I was always alone, very little support in my life for even the most basic of things such as moving. Sure, I had friends, but no friends that I felt comfortable enough asking to give up a day so they could help me move. I received a phone call from one of these friends asking what I was doing. She invited me to a Thanksgiving dinner a church was putting on. I thought about it. My kids were 5 and 3. Too young to remember if we celebrated thanksgiving ONE year out of their entire life. I just didn’t want to cook a huge dinner for the three of us. But I knew that if I broke tradition once, then that opened the doors to do it agian. I had to do something this year. So I graciously accepted, got the address and told her I would meet her there.
After I corraled the kids to the table and took half a second to breath, as that is all the kids allow me, the Pastor of the church that was arranging this dinner walked in the door. Lo and behold, it was my Pastor. He is quite hard to forget, seeing as he is probably the only Big Australian in 5mile radius. It is at this time that I mentioned to my friend about wanting to start attending church. Just for curiousity’s sake; for Kids sake.
One thing stands out about these two events. When I walked in, everyone was happy to see me. No one cared where I came from, or what brought me there, or what they could do to bring me back. They were genuinely happy just to have me. It was the first time in my life that I experienced unconditional love. So, I got home that night, googled the name of the church and found out what time they met and where. I committed to going, just one week to see what it was like.
That was two years ago now, and I keep coming back. My once hard to handle son has become a caring, and compassionate young man that I am lucky enough to know, let alone be the one entrusted to raise him.
If Amazing Grace had a motto, I would think that it would be the quote of St. Francis of Assisi “Always preach God’s Word. Use words if necessary” That epitomizes what I have felt in this church. It was by showing my God’s Love that opened me up to hearing about God’s word.