the end. {not bad, just different}

THIS is a post that I never thought I would write.  Like ever in my ever thought I would write a post like this.

But after much prayer and thought and love from all of you, carrying me through the last six months of my life, I feel like I can finally {and should} share why my heart has been so heavy for so long.  Why I have never grieved so deeply, with such pain that I can literally feel it weighing down my heart.  It has taken Doug and I these last six months to really process through a lot of emotions and actions to get through to a clear picture of what God wants us to know, see and DO! Six long months of being obedient to what we know He has said to us, following through with what He has led us to do, caring for those around us while forgoing our own emotions and hurts.  God carried us through a busy, traumatic Fall, through the holidays (filled with some Joy, mind you!) and finally had us arrive in January where He said "Be quiet while I talk to you now".  And so we listened.  And as He began to share, we started to know what was coming.

And we didn't want to hear it.  Honestly.  We wanted easy.  We wanted same.  We wanted what we knew.

And we moved forward, day by day.  Each day bringing a little more clarity.  Doug and I would talk from the time he got off of work, until he got home, as soon as the boys went to bed, as we sat and watched TV and then laying in bed together.  We cried and prayed and begged for a different answer.  We have never spoken at length with one another about something for so many hours.  Ever.

God guided us all the way, and still does.  He brought people to us from out of the blue, whose hearts matched ours, to help along the way.   

And we could feel the veil being lifted as He brought sight to our hearts.     

You see.  Back in the Fall two staff members from our church were fired.  Friends of ours for almost fifteen years.  But we have great relationships with the staff of the church and we clearly heard God tell us to stay and support.  And that's what we did.  We were obedient to what He asked us, which is easy enough to do when you hear Him clearly and you love all of the people involved.  (I don't need to share any details here because that's not our story). 

That firing led to series of changes over time in the church (I'm not saying they are bad, just different) and over the last six months, the fabric of the church has changed.  (not bad, just different).

Once we were finally out of crisis mode at that church was when God really let us start dealing with our own emotions in regard to the changes {this was January and February for us}.  Made us really evaluate what we want in a church and why, something I don't think we had ever done.  And here comes the heartache.  

These evaluations brought us to the decision to leave the church we have loved for almost 15 years.  Looking back now, He was preparing us for this the whole time.  All the pieces fell together.   

This past Sunday was our first church experience somewhere new of our own choice {we had been at new churches when we lived in Charlottesville}.  And it was hard.  And made everything seem so final.  It brought up all the emotions, grief, sadness, anger {as I watched Moses struggle to adjust to a change he had no fault in causing} and deep, deep feelings that I can't even begin to describe.

But in the hard day that was yesterday we learned what we wanted in a church.  We learned that our number one thing is community.  Community brings us closer to God.  Our number one thing is to walk into church on Sunday and see God's character oozing out of everything around us.  We don't care as much about deep lessons on scripture or special series on this or that, Doug and I already purpose to learn and do those things on our own throughout the week, to us Sunday is the day to "show me the fruit".  I want to walk in on Sunday and it be like a fresh market where my chosen family is walking around in the fruits of their week.  THEN the sermon is icing on the cake.  Kind of like a delicate treat at the end of a great meal.  That's what we had on Sunday, for the first time in months.     

Please hear me when I say that I don't think our former church is bad in any way.  It is full of great people seeking the Lord with all they have.  Great people who love Jesus and who we will miss seeing on Sunday's.  It's just DIFFERENT and not my kind of church anymore.  All of the things I said above are still true for some of the people there, it's just a different flavor for us now, different kind of market.  

And really.  At the end of the day, that is what God has told us.  Put the past six months aside and look at now.  Changes in a church change the church, change how you feel about the church, and your place IN a church.  Just factual stuff.  No emotion needed.   

But still.  All the "ugh"'s and all the "woah"'s to emotion.  Because we like same.  We like easy.  We like what we know.  Doug and I both said yesterday that we have never felt more fragile or broken.  Never more vulnerable to how other people handle us.  We are highly susceptible to hurt at the moment.  Like very thin glass.   

I felt like I needed to finally share with you all why you have been praying for me for months and why I would appreciate your continued prayers.  Your comfort and emails and prayers have done their part to carry us, even when I couldn't tell you why.  So thank you for that!  

I feel like I am grieving a death, something idyllic that I once knew is gone, like part of me is gone.  We are working through the emotions of all of that and want to do our best to be love to others.  Many are in our shoes and we want to handle them gently as the Lord brings them to us.  We want to live in peace with all and move forward in gentleness.   We still love and pray for the church that housed our souls for 15 years and go forward so thankful for all we have lived and learned there.

We are eager to be excited for change.  We know the Lord has good things in store for us but first...we must make it to the other side of this with Joy in the meantime.   

Continuing to place it all in His hands...

**sidenote, this decision has also led to me not being allowed to go to England any longer, adding to our sadness.**


Happier Than A Bird Quilts said...

So at first I was a little surprised that this was the thing that's been grieving your heart for so long, but then i realized how completely I relate with different context of course. I think I feared something with your marriage or something.
Anyway i want to share now - I left the LDS church officially last year. I loved it dearly and devoted myself to it, having once felt it was where I could find Christ. I accepted its teachings and trusted in it. I married my awesome husband in an LDS temple. But the whole facade of the church, it's history and doctrines shattered completely when I tried digging deeper, past the white washed, church published version of things. I knew the things I was taught were false, and we're man made precepts about the gospel of Christ, but I couldn't understand my own very real experiences with God in a place feeler with so much untruth. And my family left, we resigned our membership, denounced the faith and we've been left floundering.
We find it hard to know where to turn and who we can trust. Do we just pick a random church and hope for the best? What about theology? Our theology was completely dictated by the mormon church. They taught it we believed it. Now we are left sorting out fact from fiction - and yeah we have trust issues. Ugh.
Sorry I don't mean to ramble but your post opened me up. All I've managed to do for awhile is listen to klove and pray short little prayers in my heart. I am scared to do more since I feel so uncertain, though I long for sound spiritual preaching and a place to worship. My husband is worse off then ne and just doesn't know what to think anymore. But we are too gunshy and feeling burned we aren't really keen to take the first step and visit a church. We hardly trust ourselves in prayer (I prayed to know if the Lds church was true and if I should join it, I felt like the answer was yes and felt it affirmed. Ugh so confusing!)
Sorry you can delete this if you don't want it on your page, but thank you for sharing your pain and story. It's helping me dig deeper in my own.

agravette said...

Oh sweet girl, I'm praying for you. My husband and I have been at our church for 7 years, where he is pastor. I can only imagine your pain at leaving and the change that is coming. But we both know God's plan and will are the only way we will have that peace that we so desperately need. May God continue to bless and hold you close to His heart as you seek to do His will.

Liz said...

Hello. My name is Liz. I have followed your inspirational feed on instagram for quite awhile now, and today I clicked through to your blog. We have been praying and wrestling with the same decision for 9 months now, and God has confirmed that we need to move on from our church home as well. Please know you (and your kids) are in our prayers, as I can understand what a heartwrenching situation this is. Thank you for always being a light on social media, and pointing to Jesus.

Katharine Childs said...

So He has's all good. Sad, but good. Stay strong and happy.

Katharine Childs said...

So He has spoken. Sad, but still all good. Stay ell and happy.

Artsy Matilda said...

Sweet Crystal,
So glad you are almost through the transition. You are loved, as is your sweet family. I am so happy for you that you have such faith. It will fill your path with grace and your heart with love. Can you even imagine how people without faith get through things? And you can still go to England, maybe even with your family! Not bad, just different.

Bunnyslady said...

I am so sorry to hear that your journey led your family to seek a different church. I never realized just how important the church and all the people in it were until we found the one we attend today. I now feel closer to God than I even have. I can feel him working within me and hear his message loud and clear. And that was just not so with any of the other churches that I attended in the past.

I commend both you and Doug for being open to his plan for your family and trusting him. Your faith and dedication is inspiring. I hope and pray that you will find a place that you feel at home and that your hearts will be healed quickly. Sending you all my love.

Bethany said...

Thank you for sharing your heart and experience! I have read your blog for awhile but have never commented. I had to leave the church that I grew up in and attended for 17 years. While the situation was a little bit different from yours, it was still difficult. It has been almost two years and I am still working on finding the right church. It took me a while to realize that I wasn't going to find a church just like the one that I grew up in and loved so dearly. I have been attending a church with my husband for a few months and am in the process of deciding if this is where we should call home. I will pray for your family as you make this transition. Change is never easy especially not for children. Praying that God leads you where he wants you to be. <3

Chelzz said...

I just stumbled upon your giveaway on Instagram then on to your blog and wow. I thought you were just talking about my life a bit. My husband and I are in ministry and just walked out of a church we thought would be forever previous to that we were working at my home church and after going through both experiences it taught us a lot and what we want when we walk into church. Community is defienetly a big one! Thank you for writing this. It really spoke to me and to our current season right now.

Cindy Lessley said...

You have a beautiful gift: telling life stories that wrap around the heart of others.
Today is the first time I read your blog. I found it through pinterest.

You touched my heart. I know the sweetness of our Savior's love through difficult times, and can feel that you know it, too. Thank you for putting it in words and sharing it....that will help me in my journaling.

One soft comment to the good sister who is floundering after leaving the lds church. I grieve for your pain and pray for healing answers for you all. I became a member of this church 15 years ago, when I was 44 years old. I love this church even though we mortals scuff up ourselves a bit sometimes. I am still convinced that the old and new testaments were written by men as they were inspired by God; and that the book of mormon was translated by a modern day prophet of God.

But I have been in disillusioned places before, so I feel your pain. Please love yourselves, knowing we are all children of the most high. He loves us and will continue to reach out,to comfort and give us strength day by day. I pray you will find peace, your sister, Cindy.

tinytenerife said...

Hi there, I just stumbled onto your blog and read this. You have put into words what I have been struggling with also. My husband and I have just left our church of 10 years and all these feelings and emotions you describe were true for us too. I didnt even realise it was the decision to leave our church which was causing all of the negative emotions at first! Its so reassuring to know that someone else has gone through what we have and feels the same. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless xxx

Broken 2 Beautiful said...

While I realize that this post is a few months old, I believe God brought it to my attention at just the right time. I didn't realize that struggling with a decision like this could cause the grief and struggle -- things I have been feeling for months. I have felt for some time now that God was telling me to leave my church of 14 years, but I haven't for fear of the unknown. I am so grateful for your honest emotions and transparency in sharing. May God bless you and your family in this new season for your obedience.

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