So this new year has started off pretty awesome. New house, new job and renewed friendships makes life feel pretty awesome. In the past 5 weeks or so, I find myself disliking life here in Arizona less and less and learning to appreciate what I have more. It’s nice to wake up and finally feel you have some idea that what you are doing is what you are supposed to be doing. It’s a pretty nice feeling actually.
One area that I am still lacking in is the God area. I know I keep bring this up, but alas, it’s still an issue. Now I’ve been told (and I know) that I was incredibly spoiled by my awesome church family back home in Fresno. I got amazing support in my faith and grew a ton while I was there. I made some awesome lifelong friendships and grew to love and trust other Christians because of my time at the Revival Center. Honestly, if it wasn’t for this place, my pastor and my friends at this church, I may have left Christianity. But that’s another story.
So, I’ve been in AZ a little over six months now and I still have struggled to find a church that is a good fit. Arizona has an interesting mix of churches. A lot of churches here are mega-churches, some are really tiny churches. Some churches have great teachings but the worship/ fellowship area is lacking. Some churches are great on fellowship, but the teachings have been downright bizarre or flat out wrong. Some churches have made me feel if I was in kindergarten for Christians. Others have used the guilt method. I hate the guilt method by the way; how can we want to do anything for God from our hearts if we are guilted into it? How is that perfect love?
(Off my soap box and back to the post…)
Some churches I’ve been to hardly talk about God at all, and focus on starting/ raising a family, money, being a good wife, etc. Some talk about manipulating God and becoming the one to control Gods power. The sad part about the last church I mentioned, it was one of the ones I liked the most…and it turned out to be kind of a cult. Again, another story.
So, each church has varied greatly, but after each visit, I either leave feeling confused, awkward or irritated from my experience. I know there is no such thing as a perfect church and I may be searching for a long time. In the mean time I gotta find a way to feed my faith and fill that hole. It’s growing bigger and bigger and getting harder to ignore. I miss and long for the fellowship with other Christians and miss having a church home where I can grow and learn.
I know I need to feed myself spiritually. If I’m not getting it from the church, I have to provide for myself. I have to admit, it’s hard for me to do it alone. I need support in this area; it’s really hard for me without it. I feel like I was taken out of a great supportive environment and left to fend for myself. Now I know this is not true because I choose to come here, but I am just having a really difficult time doing this alone. He says we aren’t meant to be alone, but it’s kinda how I feel at the moment.
In all fairness and not to completely whine about being here and not being comfortable, I have grown here quite a bit. I seem to have gotten a crash courses in trust, forgiveness and confrontation and am still in those courses. I hope to get an “A” across the board when it’s all said and done. I really had forgiveness issues when I came here. I was the queen of cut-off. If you upset me, instead of dealing with it, I’d just cut that person out. Now, although its hard sometimes, I work harder at restoring and keeping friends when things go sour. On the flip side, I got to experience what it is like to experience unforgiveness and it SUCKED. It’s always a work in progress and there are times when I slip and regress back to my old ways, but I’ve gotten a lot better. The end is result has been much stronger and deeper friendships so thats a plus.
As for confrontation, that’s still hard and I am constantly working to find my voice and stand up for myself. It’s funny, when do you have a weakness, God will find situations or friends to help you out in that area. I had previously had a job (no more, yay!) where I met that challenge every single day and towards the end, I found myself questioning my boss on decisions she made or defending a service denied to a client. I really didn’t stand up to the things she did to me personally which is my only regret, but what’s in the past is in the past. I am still meeting this challenge in certain friendships too, and there are times I want to give up but I’m hanging in there. As I said earlier, everything will be better for it.
I find that forgiveness and confrontation, although really hard things to do, really help build trust in others. Every person that I’ve had a difficult time with this past year and I stuck with my vow to confront them and forgive them our friendship/relationship has improved greatly. Of course I still continue to friendships/relationships where this rarely comes up and trust is already there with out it. I love that actually, but at least now through the difficult relationships/friendships I’ll know how to deal when conflict does arise. Bottom line, conflict, forgiveness and trust are key in any relationship and without this element all you get is surface level friendships and relationships that really go no where.
All in all, I’ve gone through quite a bit since being here, not all of it easy, but I believe it was necessary. I guess I got comfortable back home, heck I know I did and God saw that I needed to shake things up. I’m not too fond of the shaking right now, and I am hoping He’ll let up just a bit…a tiny bit maybe…so I can breathe. In the end, I know its all to help me grow and become a better person, friend and Christian.