I have always had God in my life, since I was baptized Catholic and later as my Baptist Aunt Lillian led me to the Lord as a teenager. I never had any doubt that there is a God who put me here for His purpose and sent His Son to die for my sins. However, as a busy teacher and secular musician, I had not attended church regularly for several years. My rationale was, that since I worked late most Saturday nights, that I didn’t need to be at a church early Sunday morning to have a personal relationship with God, and that He was OK with that.
Around the time I first came to Crossbridge almost two years ago, I was in a period of turmoil in my professional life. I had spent the past three years trying to please a new boss, to the point of making myself sick, and it was becoming crystal clear to me that this was impossible. This was very frustrating, as I have always prided myself on being someone who could get along with any kind of person. No matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, it just seemed to make things worse. I had put so much of my time and energy into attempting to secure my own professional future that I had completely forgotten about trying to please God.
I had heard about this guy named Marcus that was the Worship Leader at this church in Pinecrest, from the many students of mine who have worked for him over the years. I was told not only that he was a great musician, but that he was very kind and encouraging as well, and I had wanted to meet him for a long time. One Sunday morning when I was feeling particularly low I decided to come and visit Crossbridge for the first time.
The Devil was lying to me and telling me “you don’t belong here; you are not good enough to be a part of this church.”
When I first entered the sanctuary, I felt as if I didn’t belong, and actually I left after ten minutes. The Devil was lying to me and telling me “you don’t belong here; you are not good enough to be a part of this church.” Indeed there was a certain joy in the air that I had not witnessed at any of the other churches I had attended over the years, and this intimidated me. I could tell that there was something working deep inside me after this intense experience.
As I got back into the Scripture and came back to Crossbridge again and heard Pastor Felipe’s sermons I started to remember and understand that Jesus didn’t come to save the people who have everything together, but especially for people in disarray like me! As a matter of fact, Crossbridge was the first church that I ever attended where I heard the Pastors emphasize that they, too, are sinners, and by God’s design are also imperfect vessels. I started to understand that not only could God work the most in me at the lowest points of my life, but that I might be an inspiration to others witnessing how I navigate this path.
More importantly, I began to feel a part of a community here. My church family gave me the courage to finally be honest with myself and others about who I am, and they are here for me even as the other people who previously said that they were my friends have dropped away. I have begun to realize that I am far from alone in the struggles I have in my own life- that everyone faces challenges and that the best way to deal with them is to be there to support and encourage one another.
I am slowly beginning to understand why God made me with all of the faults that I do have, and that despite my imperfections, He still loves me exactly as I am. I am much more conscious now of my tendencies and of the things that drag me down, and I am doing what I can to be a better person. However, I am also learning to be more accepting of myself, warts and all. Being honest with myself about my own defects has helped me to learn to be more patient with others about theirs.
I am also learning to be more accepting of myself, warts and all.
Even as I face a very uncertain future (as we all do, if you get right down to it) I am also learning that even if God doesn’t always give us what we want, He always gives us what we need to survive. I am living proof of that, and as my Faith grows it makes the anxiety I went through in the past seem superfluous. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”