A Place At The Table – Even For Me?
Church has never been something hard for me. I loved going to church actually. I had grown up enjoying the donuts, free lemonade, getting splinters on the playground (you new generation of kids won’t understand). I attended pioneer girls in my purple shirt, went to VBS, and entered the crazy world of Jr. High filled with fun events like Hume Lake and Summer Servants… until December 2016 when a sweatshirt couldn’t conceal my “weight gain” anymore.
In December, I was 4 months pregnant and deciding whether to stay at my local church or not. I was already wrestling internally with fear and shame the past four months, but at least I could keep it to myself and decide who to let in. But now I had a decision to make. If I decided to continue attending Sunday services or showing up to my Tuesday night community group, I would have to publicly showcase my struggle. People would externally see me “in process.” Choosing church life meant that I’d also choose uncomfortably giving up my pride, having eyes wander towards my stomach, and even if they didn’t mean it, lingering stares as they start to piece together that I’m 23, unmarried, and pregnant.
I was afraid of people at church judging me but I remember God asking me, “Can you come up with one person at EvFree that would condemn you or judge you?” and I couldn’t. I realized that God had blessed me with such a healthy, graceful, truth-based, loving local church body. Then, I remember God asking me point blank “How can the church be the church for you if you don’t let them?” I was so awestruck by His question. He indeed made church to be a manifestation of His support, His love, and goodness. Yet, if I ran away, I would be robbing them of the opportunity to do so. God also kept pressing on my heart Hebrews 10:24-25.
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
I knew that God was calling me to turn to community to show me the love and grace God so freely has for me. I chose vulnerability, and in turn, chose to let the church come alongside me and do what they were meant to do. People here at EvFree have supported me beyond my wildest dreams and also beyond my ability to thank them. EvFree, I had a place at the table through people like you. I had a place at the dinner table in the apartment of Matt and Jess Short. I had a place at the game night table with my young adults group. I had a place across the table at Pieology with Bekah and Alyssa Penner when I was wrestling with fear of telling my possible future significant other. I had a place at the table in my mom’s bible study group when I was prayed for, even though I wasn’t physically sitting among them.
Little did I know, I had a place around so many more tables with so many loving brothers and sisters who prayed for me, poured into me and spoke truth of God’s love over me. And here I am today, at the biggest and best table – God’s table. And, you too, have an invitation to this table. No matter how far you have gone or how broken you feel, you have a place here.
(Lydia serves in our Young Adult ministry at EvFree)