Sunday, October 2, 2011

31 days || two: sundays without stomachaches.

 {photo by Stephanie Congdon Barnes from A Year of Sundays project}

Sundays are not always easy for me. That’s hard for me to write, because Sundays have always been an important part of my family’s life, and it’s perhaps even more difficult because for a long time, they were my favorite day of the week. 

But for about a year, maybe more, I’ve gone to church with stomachaches and left with headaches. The alarm goes off, and before I have time to stifle it, a groan emerges. 

And it’s not the sermons, which are both incredibly challenging and uplifting. It’s not the singing, which is a combination of old, old hymns and a few relatively new praise songs. It’s not the worship style or the cheerful greeters at the door. 

It’s overcommitment. It’s knowing that the moment I step into the cool of the foyer, I could be stopped by any number of people, all with questions about various ministries former and present, questions about tasks completed, long-forgotten, or never done. 

It’s the hurt that comes with having a ministry removed from your grasp, with knowing that what you thought you wanted to do, isn’t, for the time-being, what God wants you to do. 

And that’s hard. I think that’s why, nearly a year ago, I dove into so many other ministries and projects. The one I wanted, I couldn’t do, and instead of accepting it, I challenged it, telling myself I wouldn’t miss it if I busied myself with other things, with newer passions. 

Now here it is, October, and the stomachaches have subsided. The headaches are occurring less and less. I have come to terms with where I’m meant to be now. This summer, instead of continuing to pile on ministry positions and leadership roles, I began to step back. I stopped worrying about church and Bible class politics, words that shouldn’t even piled together in the same sentence. I turned to dear friends for help, asking them to take over the tasks I could no longer perform. I did so with caution and with unfounded fear, but now I see: This is what God wanted for me all along. 

Last November, when the ministry I loved became one I could no longer be involved with, I didn’t trust. I didn’t believe God would give me what my heart desired, and so I trained my heart to want something else. 

In the meantime, He gave me this blog. This blog where I voiced my concerns and opinions and beliefs, my thoughts on faith and life and love and relationship. And He presented me with a new audience while I continued to type, unaware of what He was providing. 

He gave me a speaking opportunity out of the blue, an opportunity that allowed me to use the gifts I thought I’d packed away, an opportunity bigger and greater than I’d ever had before. 

All while I thought I was preparing myself for new ministry, the Father was waiting to show me that gifts aren’t chosen. They are given. And He will never fail to use them. Church can’t stop Him. Satan can’t stop Him. Naysayers and complainers can’t stop Him. And our own childish fears and frustrations cannot stop Him. He will give the gift anyway, and He will use it for His glory. 

Today, I’m celebrating the gift and the ways God continues to use it beyond my every effort and imaginative thought. I’m celebrating Sundays without stomachaches, celebrating the freedom that comes from a day centered not on other people and what they think of me, but on my Father and what He thinks of me.

Hallelujah for that. 


Brunella Z. said...

uno scritto bellissimo e ho capito tutto. Grazie di cuore.
Wonderful post and i understand all words.

Leslie said...

Loved reading this, Annie. So happy for you that the Lord is restoring peace to your Sundays.

Melissa said...

i'm so glad kari introduced me to you! looking forward to celebrating with you this month.

TefMarie said...

Love this post! I've been there, done that, and now feel like I'm moving on to bigger and better things that God has blessed me with instead of stressing over the ones I've lost or couldn't control.