Life is about to get more interesting and, I admit it, I’m a bit anxious. After more than two years away from church involvement, I’ve agreed to lead our home church group along with my husband, Tim. I believe it’s the right thing to do at this point in my life. I’m lucky to be part of a “church for people who aren’t into church.” (I really love that this description is front and center on the church’s web site!) Still I recognize I’m feeling some anxiety about putting myself back into a situation that has historically been both rewarding and the source of a lot of pain and frustration.
I’ve had trouble putting my finger on exactly what the issue is. I know the people already. Tim and I have been part of this home church group for the past year. They aren’t the source of my discomfort.
Earlier this week I came across something completely unrelated that is helping me understand the source of my anxiety. I was catching up on some reading and came across an article in a series Rachel Held Evans has on her blog, asking readers to pose questions to a variety of people representing different beliefs. This particular edition was “Ask a Calvinist….”. The questions were thoughtful as were the answers. However, when I went to explore the discussion on The Gospel Coalition blog with Justin Taylor’s link to the article, I received a revelation regarding my anxiety. The comments on The Gospel Coalition’s site were brutal! The harsh criticism and apparent desire to argue rather than discuss brought into stark relief many of the reasons I chose to leave church involvement behind me two years ago.
I grew up in a pastor’s home, and I’ve spent the better part of my adult life in one ministry role or another. I’ve met many wonderful people and had the opportunity to minister in amazing ways. I’ve also experienced the painful criticism and condemnation that we in the Church can be prone to direct at anyone who doesn’t fit our idea of what’s right or even just has a different perspective. For me, there were two areas where I was definitely outside the expected norms, I was a single woman without children, and I wasn’t a political or social conservative. That would have been fine in many church settings, but these differences were a source of tension in the charismatic evangelical congregations where I ministered.
Over time it becomes more and more difficult to continue voicing unpopular perspectives without letting defensiveness and self-righteousness creep into your tone and attitude. Regardless of how much I didn’t want that, I’m sure I wasn’t always successful. I recognize in hindsight that at some point I began to make my own voice more and more quiet…..to the point that I frequently became silent when my beliefs didn’t agree with those around me.
So here I am. This weekend marks the point where I am officially in a ministry role again. Yikes!! I am certain that part of what God has in mind is restoring my voice. He has certainly blessed me with an encouraging cheer leader in the person of my husband (whose input I appreciate even on those days when I don’t show it so well). I know it’s a little rusty from disuse, but I think it’s going to be interesting to hear what my voice sounds like now.