I do believe God’s design was written all over my short cancer journey. You can read about it here. However, that is not the healing I want to talk about here.

Healing is often not easy…..

This healing also can be difficult and take time and hard work. I speak of a different kind of healing here. This is not done to bring up past hurts against me and those I loved. Though they were there and they hurt. They hurt deeply. I was left with a lack of trust in church leadership and I felt rejected within the local church.

In my previous posts, I have spoken about going back to church after 17 years of not going. A church where I struggled with anxiety even walking down the halls of the church building. I struggled with even looking at the leadership. The ladies’ class was my safe place. During church service, I mostly sat in the very back pew, it felt safer there.

God’s plan in it all…..

God was working, but oh how it felt so slow at times. When God called me to take the step in membership, I wanted to run. No way, God. BUT GOD. I took that step, yet I told the leadership, I was not ready to serve. That just was too much of a move for me, even then. Then God said…..I have the perfect thing for you. Putting those connect cards in the back of the pews. I could go and do this alone during the week. The weird thing is I still felt that uneasiness being in there during those times. It got easier and God surely used what seemed to be a small act of service to be a huge piece in the healing process.

It was at first the emails I sent and the responses received about my kid “coming out” and that journey that I had already begun to gain trust with the Pastor. Though there were times when I did those connect cards, that gave me an opportunity for in-person little chats. God knew exactly what He was doing. AND it was good.

What about others?…..

I would often wonder, what if others knew? Could I still hug them, would I be rejected? Would I have to find another church? So many questions. Too many fears. Then it happened. He, God that is, called me to share my story here and there within small groups (with my kid’s permission). Oh, how I was so scared each time. Often in the midst of voices around me, I was having quiet conversations with God. Like…no God I don’t think so. Not now. And I would hear that still small whisper, yes now. So many lessons were learned through that, one being within God’s protection that came each and every time I shared.

I was learning to be comfortable in the church. God had given me a special group of ladies that I loved being with learning with, and growing with. I had huge hopes that my story would intertwine with that local church. I expected great big God things to come, loving the LGBTQ+. I wanted to see it, experience it.

Then the unexpected happened…..

I was convinced healing was happening. Then we had a church split. I felt like that bandaid, that very large bandaid, was being ripped off. Why God, why now? Why would you allow this now? For me. The leader I was learning to trust, was leaving. What was I supposed to do? Stay, leave, what? Staying meant resorting back to some very strong uncomfortableness, yet I knew it was there God had called me to. Leaving meant being with others in a situation where I could trust the leadership. I had to be sure, what was God saying. Stay or go? It was go with the other group. A new church plant. I knew some there. Many I didn’t know, even though they attended the previous church along with me. Like I said, I limited myself to certain people. Small amounts of people. I was growing to be comfortable there. I not only trusted that Pastor, I grew to love him and his family, deeply. I knew God’s purpose for me there.

Then more of the unexpected….

It was somewhere between the spring and fall of 2019, approximately a year after the church started, that I could hear and feel the sensing of the Holy Spirit saying, I want you somewhere else. I didn’t want to hear it. I ignored it. I knew it was one of two churches. One Sunday, I missed my carpool ride to church and decided to visit one of these churches. It was a nice church, I even knew old friends who went there. Though I took pleasure in walking out of that church knowing God was saying, not there. I quietly continued to ignore the possibility of the other church.

Then covid happened. Covid, with challenges. In the midst of those challenges, God reminded me of this other church. I wasn’t leaving my church because of covid and the different perspectives on that. Though it might have looked that way to some, I knew and the pastor knew I needed to leave because God had been calling me somewhere else.

How could I do church at home? Only in a God-given way. God provided. I do believe God actually had this all laid out years before. You can read up a little on that within “God’s Help“. Some would say an online church is not the same as an in-person church. That is true, but I have learned it is no less God’s work, and oh how God can do great big beautiful things in unexpected ways…..an online church.

More healing…..

I had gone through many years of church. Things happened. I hurt. My family was hurt. The scars were deep, and healing was hard. I thought I had healed, though I was learning there was more. To build on the healing God had already given me, to strengthen those inner parts of me that needed more healing.

So much was found through that online church-individuals who ministered to others who were not a part of their local church-me. They prayed for me, they encouraged me, they included me in an online small group, they taught me, online worship, and in a quiet way of some them sharing their lives with one they may not even have known about. However there was one, the Lead Pastor who was there for me in one of the most difficult times of my life. He could have very easily walked away from being there for me through this. Though he didn’t. What came the next few years was what felt like the total capacity of what I needed within all the past churches. What also came was more healing. Healing I didn’t even realize I needed. I will forever be thankful to God for providing this church, and this man, and choosing them to work through, for me. I was learning to trust and to love. Maybe it was easier not in person, but it was no less valuable.

God’s calling…..

God’s healing comes in different ways, through different people, at different times. Healing is not easy. Healing the mind and the heart is hard work. It’s God’s work.
Now covid ended, I knew it was time to go to this other church. Ya, I was scared. I had to walk in alone. It was a church that was different than any other church I had grown up going to. So why there? Why God? Yet, I knew that is where He had called me. Encouragement and prayers were being said, from my online church that very day, the very moment I was walking into that church for the first time. I know they continued in those prayers for me, they wanted for me, to find a local church.

Why God? There were reasons for God bringing me there. Some I can’t talk about. They are other people’s stories to share. I knew God was taking the desires of my heart and using them for Him. To share my story, in hopes others would learn to love their LGBTQ+ family member.

I love this church

I would say to others, “I love this church”. They were and are loving people. But was I really loving them? I read these words on June 15, 2021. They were just a small piece of an article that was written by and for pastors. However, this part stuck out. “Safety is only possible in its fullest form by holding others at a distance; by using one’s arms to form a protective stance. Of course, as long as my emotional safety is preeminent, love remains impossible. As long as I guard myself from others, I am unable to move toward others.” I could feel the Holy Spirit’s nudging to pay attention here. I couldn’t get rid of those words, yet I pushed them down and I believe I convinced myself, ya I love this church. In reality, maybe it was I was supposed to love that church. God brought me there. How could I not?

My fears…..

At this point in time, I really wasn’t afraid of rejection from individuals towards my story and those I loved. I knew I could expect it here and there. Yet each time I shared I knew I was being obedient to God. I knew His protection and I knew I was ok. I knew I could trust the leadership, and that’s what mattered, for me. At the same time, I was occasionally quietly being reminded of those words: “Safety is only possible in its fullest form by holding others at a distance”.

So what was I so afraid of? I was afraid of God. It wasn’t the people I was afraid of, I was afraid of being hurt by God. Typing that brings tears. How could I be afraid of the one who loves me the most? How could I not trust Him completely, to have total dependence on Him?

Committed partnership…..

It was those words I first read a few years back and the nudging of the Holy Spirit that was preparing me for what was to come. In late September of this year, the Pastor spoke about doing a “committed partnership” class type of thing. OH boy, I could feel God’s push, but that brought the fear flooding back. Why? I had told myself I would never again be committed to a local church in membership, and a committed partnership sounded pretty close to that. I went to one meeting, God gave me what I needed to get through it. I didn’t go to the next one. I didn’t need to. It was what happened in between those two weeks that mattered. So what was I so afraid of?

I was afraid of God. I was afraid God would take me out of another church. It wasn’t the people I was afraid of, I was afraid of being hurt by God. I would come to trust leadership and love these people. Then God would take me away. I don’t want that again. It’s hard, and it hurts, it hurts a lot. Typing that brings tears. How could I be afraid of the one who loves me the most?

Wrestling with God…..

My wrestling with God in what He was working on was hard, but it was good. There were a lot of tears that week. Tears on my own, and tears before God. It wasn’t about a formal “committed partnership”. It was those words I read almost two years ago. . “Safety is only possible in its fullest form by holding others at a distance; by using one’s arms to form a protective stance. Of course, as long as my emotional safety is preeminent, love remains impossible. As long as I guard myself from others, I am unable to move toward others.” If I didn’t love them them deeply, it wouldn’t hurt so much, if God called me away. God was saying it’s time to love them.

What really is loving your local church……

It’s about loving each one where they are at. I needed to work on that for some. It’s about loving the one who comes to church alone. Reaching out. It’s about loving the one who struggles to fit in and make friends, by reaching out in friendship. I can work on that one too. It’s about loving the ones who don’t like my story, nor have much compassion for those I love. It’s extending compassion to those people and encouraging them to see what Jesus has shown me, without judgment, and doing it in love and humbleness. It’s praying for the ones hurting physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s being vulnerable with others and allowing them a safe place to do the same.

It’s not only encouraging others but it’s speaking the truth in love when the Holy Spirit leads. It’s allowing others to speak into me in the same way. It’s admitting I’m just a messed up human who doesn’t get it all right and sometimes I don’t make sense, and being ok with that because I know who makes sense for me. It’s about being okay with the next messed up person, giving grace, encouragement, and support right back at them because the same one who makes sense for me will make sense for them too.

It’s about mourning with those who are mourning, and rejoicing with those who are rejoicing. It’s about seeing the person next to me, not just as the one sitting next to me but seeking and searching out what Jesus sees in that person. What does He want me to see? It’s about learning names and their stories. It’s discipling others while they disciple me and growing together in our walk with Christ.

It’s being the Aaron and Hurr when one just can’t hold up anymore, they are just too tired. It’s allowing my faith to come alongside and be strong when theirs is not and be willing to allow the same for me. It’s being okay and giving grace when one stumbles and needs encouragement. It’s giving a genuine smile to another when you rather be the recipient of one. It’s listening to hear, not to respond. It’s loving our youth even when we don’t even know them, praying for them, and encouraging them whenever God puts that opportunity in front of us. It’s about knowing their potential with Jesus. It’s having my heart smile when I see the little one dancing around praising Jesus in his own little way. It’s about never forgetting that smile in my heart even when there is a little disturbance from another during worship service.

It’s remembering the lies of Satan in those moments when I feel less than, and not being so quick to assume or judge the other person. It’s about being patient and kind, it’s about protecting each other, it’s about being humble with each other and not boasting about what we have done or are doing. It’s about stepping out of the boat together and holding the hand of another who is afraid to step out of the boat, or reaching out and touching the ones no one wants to touch. It’s about asking hard questions of others and allowing the same towards me. It’s about not being afraid to question leadership on what is said if there is not understanding. It’s about hearing God through the message, not necessarily the preacher’s words.

It’s about looking forward to “Light the Night (trunk or treat) and serving together. It’s about the excitement of what God can and will do together through us. It’s about not getting lost in it all and taking myself off the Altar while doing it all. It’s about waiting and allowing God to place me in areas that will stretch me within the local church and it won’t be easy because I know how to do it or I am comfortable doing it. It is knowing this is God’s work, not mine.

1 Corinthians 13
13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

The speck in other’s eye, and the plank in mine…..

I cannot call on any local church to love those I love, to love those I so want them to love, while fighting within myself to love the church as God calls. Anything I do within that would be for me, not for God. And that is nothing, it means nothing unless it is totally for God, and love comes first.

It’s about every single time I walk into Hope Tri-Cities building and every time I walk out of our building, am I loving them the way God is calling me to? It’s about knowing this is not done through my own strength. It is knowing and doing it by giving the Holy Spirit complete control over my heart and my mind. It is to be filled with Him and to allow His influence to invade every crack and crevice of my being. It begins when I am convinced of total surrender, total dependence on Him.

That is where healing is found. That is where God has done his great BIG God things within healing the mind and the heart from what hurt so much over the years.

Psalm 147:3 He heals broken hearts and binds up their wounds.

A beautiful reminder …..

God is capable of restoring the broken pieces within me. God’s healing of my cancer was beautiful and what seemed quick. There were things He wanted me to learn within that, and He wanted me to see more of Him through it. God’s healing of my hurt seemed long and painful and a lot of work. I fought it at times. There were things He wanted me to learn within both. He wanted me to see more of who He is for me in both. God is good. Even in the mess. God’s beauty is found in both. God’s power is evident in the healing of Cancer, as it is evident in healing the wounds of the brokenhearted.

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