I can't remember what lead me to follow Al Carraway on instagram, but I found myself drawn to her because of her pre-church lifestyle. (I've always been a sucker for tattoos- so many stories behind them) I am finding that the stories of "converts" really help my own testimony, and they feel reassuring to me that I'm not just returning to church because it's what I'm used to (even though that was my original motivation).
And I got opposition every step of the way.
I knew if I wanted to go, I wanted to go alone.
I knew that involved asking John to watch the kids, and to take the vehicle with the good air conditioning (the one with both carseats installed).
So from 9am to 4pm, I went back and forth on whether or not to talk to John about it, because that was my first step in making my decision more concrete.
It felt as if I was wrestling with myself.
And so, I kept making up reasons not to go, even after I got a very supportive green light from John.
We usually have dinner with friends every Sunday night, and we were really late. I wasn't going to have a lot of time to eat or really visit with anyone, so I figured I just wouldn't go.
But I found myself digging in my purse for my keys and heading out the door. I figured I was running late and there wouldn't be any place to park. If I couldn't find a decent parking spot, I wasn't going to bother.
Before I even had sight of the building, I could see a line of people walking to the church building from what looked like half a mile away- the parking lot and grassy areas were full. People had parked on every inch of legal curb for over two blocks and into the neighborhood behind the building. I called John and told him I was going to come back. I am 31 weeks pregnant and in constant pain; I couldn't justify walking that far for something I wasn't sure I wanted to attend.
After parking 2 or 3 blocks away, and walking towards the building, a little overcome with emotion. I was really confused, and conflicted. Something really didn't want me there. My process of elimination continued, so If i wasn't able to find a good spot to sit, I wasn't going to stay.
Every room was packed and HOT. so much body heat from the thousands of people standing in the hallways and seated in the chapel and cultural hall. I thought that since this was advertised to the unmarried college students, that the mother's lounge would likely be empty- knowing that the meeting was "piped" into the room and had nice comfy chairs. I opened the door and voila! an empty armchair in an ice-cold, quiet room. Two other ladies were in there, one of them with a child. I sat and listened for about an hour when another lady came in with her kid, and started making a bunch of noise.
Determined to not miss a single word, I got up, and sought another location. Because clearly, after the battle I had with myself over and over again, and still attending- I was certain there was something I was supposed to hear.
There was a metal folding chair in the sauna/foyer with my name on it, so I sat and listened to the rest of the meeting. Then the closing song. Then the closing prayer. nothing. I walked back to my car alone in the dark. Once again overcome with emotion, I was more frustrated than anything. Maybe my apprehension, or opposition, or whatever it was, was too strong for me to hear what I needed to hear. maybe there were too many people and I felt too overwhelmed to feel peace?
I am normally quite perceptive, and can glean some sort of answer or solution, but I was feeling pretty empty, and a little lost.
It was a great story. She delivered her message well, and I related to parts of it; but what part of it was intended for me, I still don't know. Did I even feel the spirit? Maybe a little. Was I disappointed that I went? Not at all.
I've had time to consider what it was about this ordeal that was supposed to me for me, and John said that maybe I was supposed to be there for someone else.
Maybe someone I knew saw me there and felt something they needed to feel.
Maybe everyone saw this preggo waddling around and it inspired them.
Maybe the speaker needed to know I was there.
The one thing I did feel, was inspiration to talk about my own story with the Church. maybe me testimony will bring others to Christ. Maybe talking about my heart- wrenching journey away from Christ and back again is something that someone, somewhere is needing. Maybe my story is an answer to someone's heartfelt prayers.