Everything in my life seemed to be falling apart. Like it or not, I had to make a decision. I could continue down the path I was on, which would lead to a divorce, or I could do something completely out of character.
I could go to church.
Seriously? Why would anyone want to go there? But I was at rock bottom, and I decided to try. There had to be some reason people went to church, so I did some research.
1. They want to grow closer to God.
Without hesitation, I can say that I did not start going to church because I wanted to be closer to God. In my mind, God was untouchable, so how could I get closer to him?
2. They want to become a better person.
I also did not go because I wanted to become a better person. I was not the reason my marriage was failing. It was my husband’s fault! I don’t need to be a better person—he does. (Yes, I understand I was a selfish person.)
3. They value the sermons.
Definitely not. The last sermon I sat through (besides weddings) was when I was in middle school. I fell asleep. Even hearing the word sermon makes me yawn.
4. They find comfort in times of trouble or sorrow.
Now we’re getting closer. My life was a wreck. I was about to get divorced, and I was bitter and unhappy. But I didn’t expect to find comfort. Maybe God wasn’t for me. Maybe I was too far gone. I didn’t have a lot of hope for myself.
5. They want their children to have a moral foundation.
OK, so “moral foundation” is not what I would’ve said. I just wanted my children to do better than I did. Maybe they could make better decisions, just be better people.
But if I went to church when I was younger, what happened to my moral foundation? If it didn’t work for me, why would it work for my kids?
Maybe I just hadn’t found the RIGHT church. After all, I either fell asleep or played tic tac toe with my siblings during the whole thing, so I really never heard a sermon. I remember swearing I was going to pay attention, but within three minutes, I was already distracted.
Or maybe it was because I was upset that I was going to miss my very first Sweetheart’s Dance in middle school because I had to go on a church retreat for my Confirmation. My mom and I had a huge, ugly fight over it. Did she not realize the importance of my social life?
And that, my friends, is probably the crux of my problem. I didn’t want to be a better person. I wanted to have a social life, even at age 13. After my Confirmation (a rite of becoming a full-fledged member of the church), I became a CEO of my church, Christmas and Easter only. Actually, Easter was hit or miss depending on Spring Break.
Starting in middle school, I started my destructive path—drinking, smoking, sex, parties. The bigger my social life became, the more destructive I was. At the time, I didn’t think it was destructive. I just thought I was having fun.
And you know what wasn’t fun? Church.
It wasn’t until I had my first child that I started to realize my path wasn’t the best one. After I had my second child, and my life started to fall apart, I knew I wanted my children to be better than me.
An old coworker of mine recommended Crossroads Church with the promise that my kids would love their Sunday School called Kids Club. Maybe God wasn’t for me because I was too far gone, but that didn’t mean I shouldn’t give my kids a chance at a relationship with God.
So I went—and not because I wanted God to change my life. OK, maybe I did want him to change my life, but I just didn’t think it was possible. I went because I didn’t want my kids to end up like me—a sad, miserable woman on the brink of divorce.
Fifteen years later, I still go.
I grew closer to God. It’s where I found out I hadn’t screwed up too much. God showed me he never stopped pursuing me, and I was worthy of his love.
I learned how to become who God made me to be. I learned how to fight for my marriage. My husband and I did not get divorced. Through the grace of God, we stayed married, and we are so freaking happy. I found out about grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
The sermons actually help my life (but I’m gonna call them “talks” so I don’t fall asleep). I learn about God and what he wants for my life. And much to my surprise, church can actually be fun.
I found comfort in the worst times. This year has been one of the toughest years, and I know if God wasn’t in my life, it would have been ten times harder.
My kids are becoming the best versions of themselves. They love church, and they are still making friends and having fun. The thing I am most proud of is my oldest daughter went to High School Church Camp before her freshman year and made the decision to be baptized. She made the decision on her own without pressure from anyone. I absolutely loved how God redeemed my awful church retreat story through her.
Yes, one of my main reasons for going to church was because of my kids, but eventually, I found more reasons to stay.
If you’re not sure if church is right for you, I get it. Maybe you had some early experiences that weren’t great. Maybe church was boring and pointless for you at some point. But I encourage you to keep looking until you find the church that makes you want to go. Life with God is so much better than one without him, and my life shows it’s worth the search.
I realize now it didn’t matter how I got to church, it only matters that I finally went.