Church has been a steady part of my life since as far back as I can remember. I grew up attending church most Sundays the majority of the time. We would miss church if we were gone, but when we were home, my memories are of church on Sunday mornings. After I married, D and I continued to go most Sundays and the tradition continued. Through that many years, there is always hills and valleys but I have kept church attendance as a more constant than not presence in my life. These past months, church has been hard. It’s been hard before; church is made up of imperfect people trying to do their best and things will not always be how you would choose them to be; this time though it’s been more than that. It’s been unsettled. In it’s entirety church hasn’t felt right. Yet, this experience has been so much more than just some feelings. I have been waking up, seeing God in this whole new light and church as I’ve known it doesn’t look the same after opening my eyes. I’ve struggled through many different feelings and questions that have accompanied this awakening. I fought against not attending church, but would sit in my seat, completely detached from what was happening around me because of the internal struggle I was having. I stepped back for a little bit and allowed myself a break from church. I’ve prayed for God to release me if where I’ve been going to church isn’t where I should be, if it isn’t a healthy fit.
Release hasn’t come. And I’m good with that. But balance has. This summer, in the middle of taking a break, attempting to figure this church thing out and whether or not being there was moving me forward, one particular Saturday I felt early on in the day that we should go to church. I filed it away in my thoughts and semi-planned that I would take the kids later and go to the Saturday evening service. As the day went on I began to feel like I really, in fact, did not want to go. But the kids and I went anyhow. Walking in and finding my seat, I was asking myself, “why are you even doing this?” Yet, while the worship band was playing something happened during a song that made me realize – this is why I came to church today. For this one song that evoked this moment and for what God was trying to show me in it. He just needed me to be still for a while to be able to see it.
While I stood with my eyes closed singing, and then just listening to the music I saw this woman, dressed like Diana for battle. (Yes, Wonder Woman Diana, and no I hadn’t watched to the new Wonder Woman movie yet so I feel quite certain I wasn’t being influenced by flights of fantasy brought on by a current viewing.) She was purely strength and power. Then I saw her standing on a battlefield, some type of army behind her, ready to face what was in front of her, without any doubt that she would prevail. This opposition was spiritual, it was not her fellow mankind. As the music rose around me in the church sanctuary, the opposition began to move forward and as she raised up her hands in front of her, palms facing forward, arms extended it was as if an invisible wall of power was brought up and the opposition could move no further. This power wasn’t hers, it was God through her. It was just a few moments that I stood, seeing this in my mind’s eye. And when it was over, I realized that I saw myself in her. I had this burning feeling that I have to become this woman. She is who I’m meant to be.
Since this experience, I’ve thought through it numerous times. I’ve looked at it from different angles to further interpret it. I’ve attempted to fully understand it. I can’t and I don’t. But I’m okay with that. I will not deny the searing feeling I had inside myself that this is who I am meant to be. I won’t ignore it. I won’t write it off. I choose to embrace it. What does embracing it look like? I don’t have a clear picture of that. What I do have is the ability to take steps forward. To listen to my heart and what it, what God are speaking to me. Most of these things don’t look like the picture I have been taught to paint. It looks like a fresh beginning, where God reveals my story and I don’t worry about what anyone else has told me it should look like. I envision some parts to look like a battlefield because I will have to fight for them. Some are barren because there are seasons of drought. Some look like a jungle, exploding with growth and an abundance of life. Some parts will be as snow gently falling, peacefully covering what has come to a close with stark, white, pure beauty. Some are as joyous and warm as the sun on a fresh spring day. It looks mostly like freedom.
It has been said that you begin to find yourself in your thirties. I think it has something to do with moving past the twenties where you have been looking to find and secure your place in the world, not realizing that you have yet to find your true self. I caught a glimpse, I have the beginnings of an idea about what this girl might look like. She realizes her validation, her identity is not in what others may think about her but who God tells her she is and who she desires to be. She is strength. She is truth and honesty. She is full of empathy and kindness and a safe place to fall. She is love. I am working on becoming her.