I think back to all of the days when going to church was a breeze, sometimes challenging, but never as challenging as today. Why am I sharing this? Mostly to provide a perspective that perhaps a lot of church attendees aren't aware of. Also, in hopes of helping the people that share similar struggles to not feel like they are the only ones. Before you worry as I share with you my experience, know that it is because of the help that I am receiving by professionals, family, and primarily from God, that I was able to do it at all today.
This past week has been extra challenging due to particular circumstances I won't go into detail here, but tired would be a good word to describe me. Tired to the point that you are in denial, and have to take an intentional moment to admit this week has been extra tiresome. I'm grateful for God's support and grace through it, still here we are now Sunday.
My husband got up early to play guitar for our church's two services, so getting everyone ready was...well as any parent knows how that goes. Got in the car late, but better late than never we told ourselves. By the way, after three years of not driving due to physical and mental illness, I finally renewed my driver's license and here we are, driving again for the 'first time', the kids to church without my husband. As I drove I tried not to remember the old memories that can bring so much insecurity before you know it.
We pulled in and we walked a little slow: me, the kids and my mom. I thought about how my grandmother died of stomach problems and how both my mom and I have struggled with issues that make us feel weak at times, related to this area also of our bodies. Still I thought, here we are, thankful that we've had the opportunity to deal with those issues that unfortunately my grandmother didn't have available to herself, consequently leaving behind her young family at a young age.
We walked into the church building. I walked the kids upstairs to their class remembering how I used to blaze up 6 flights of stairs during my college years, and now I was struggling behind my kids. I was happy my kids had a safe place to learn about God, with teachers that made them feel special and taken care of. I met my mom downstairs and I looked for my usual spot towards the back as one of the pastors was already teaching. I managed my social anxiety during the rest of the quiet sermon, and was relieved I was able to sit through it, although it was hard. I wondered if the person teaching might see me and think that I was not paying attention on purpose, but what was really going on was I was paying attention to him as much as I could in that environment.
I sang the last song, and had to pause throughout. Feeling short of breath has been a struggle ever since my second child was born, still, I did my best. I went back up those same stairs, and came down with my kids. They were the last ones there, because last Sunday I picked them up, for whatever reason, I had to find a quiet place away from everyone, and talk to myself, saying, "You're alright, you're okay." I decided I would wait for the line of parents to get smaller this Sunday to make things a little easier for myself.
We walked to the playground, and I longed to talk to someone, but everyone seems to know each other, and I told myself, I probably look standoffish anyway, so who would want to approach me? I thought to myself, I would love to shake the pastor's hand, to introduce myself.
We walked back to the car, and near the parking lot I decided to stop to take a photo of my daughter next to these beautiful pink flowers. When we were done, I was surprised to see the pastor walking in front of me. I mustered up my introverted self and said hello to him. There was a pause when I wondered if it would be awkward to interrupt his leaving church to talk to him, introduce myself and shake his hand, but he politely wished me a happy day and continued his walk to go home.
I felt teary eyed and now I think I know why: because going to church was hard, actually, even saying more than a hello was hard. I can be too hard on myself, but I think it's okay to say, I did great today. Despite all of the challenges that could discourage me from going to church today, I went. Why? Because God is important to me, and obeying Him.
I share this not as a defeated story, but more of like what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
It is because of my weaknesses that I have come to know how sufficient God's grace truly is, and I can confirm that what Paul said is true for me as well. I give glory to God in my heart, and in this blog, recognizing that I am strong because He is strong in me. I trust He is walking with me and leading me lovingly and patiently through this healing recovery, and I want to encourage you to trust that He will do the same with you.