Monday, January 13, 2014

I am church. Hear me roar.


In December I was approached by the lovely Ashley from Overcome the Lie. She asked me to join other God-loving women in writing about the lies we've lived under, the way He's redeemed them, and the betterment of our life now. I was flattered, but felt unworthy.

How could I write about a God that I love when I hadn't been in His building in almost two months? I composed my thanks, but no thanks email. Then let it sit in drafts. I prayed over that email: that it not close doors, that it keep the opportunity for growth with them later, that I not give up for no reason.

Then I thought about church -what it means to be one, what attendance looks like, how it happens. And, I realized I'd been to church. Not a church that was made up of a live band, worship music, a sermon, all inside a chapel with a congregation dressed to the nines. I went to church in a bookstore with other women celebrating Jesus Feminist, in the dining hall of a memory care unit, around a seven mile loop with two other women, at the dinner table with my husband and, on special days, with my family. I'd been to church, just not in the traditional sense. I'd communed with other believers, shared in the act of worshiping in spirit, and He had moved in us.

You see, I grew up in church. Church where there was always Sunday best, soulful worship, and challenging sermons. I loved that church; still do. But it was at that church I learned that attendance is key; notes are extra credit. Being there once a week placed you happily in God's graces. But church, it doesn't look that way anymore.

God doesn't need a chapel, a set list, a message to be worshiped. I believed the lie that church was only so when done as prescribed. And the order of church extended even further to the people. And I believed the lie for far too long.

That church roared -as only men do: deep, ferocious roars. That church had leaders equipped with taut muscles, strong wills, and penises. The women of that church followed -happily, lovingly, supportive. Those women were tender, gentle spirits who mastered contentment while serving gracefully next to their spouses, families, friends.

I envied the girls who could be gentle and quiet. Who didn't pine for Michael Kors that or Kate Spade this. Who were good at following and didn't desire to lead in big L ways like I did. And I felt ashamed for my desires. The dreams in my heart felt too big, too masculine, too much for the woman that I am.

Then, God redefined church. And in redefining church, he refined me. He revealed the need for women strong, honest, and bold in His Kingdom. He revealed that no dream is too big, too masculine, too much for me -or for you. And He begged me to embrace what He already loved so dearly.

I'm a woman roaring in my own pitch-y, high-note. It's a roar that's covered in bright tattoos and adorned with a shiny nose ring. It's a roar that doesn't take well to "because I said so" and loves to say shit. It's got questions and doubts. It's not afraid of dirt or pain and it revels in the depths of joy. It's a roar of my feminine, God-loving heart.

And now, I live in the freedom of truth.

We exist to empower a generation of women to overcome the lie because Jesus overcame the grave.

21 comments:

  1. i too, believe the church exists all around, made up of the people who have faith. but i also have a special love for the liturgy and the tradition and the mass. i love knowing that there is a map there for me to follow when i'm just human.

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  2. I love this post!! We have been horrible about going to church. We are looking for a church family in Phx. Nothing seems to compare to our church back in OKC..

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  3. This is the best post i've read today. I can completely relate to this and have faced similar struggles in regards to this issue and needed these words. Thank you so so much for sharing!

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  4. theblahblahblahgerJanuary 13, 2014 at 9:08 AM

    standing slow clap!!!

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  5. I really really apprecaite this post. My fiance and I grew up in different religions and finding the right balance as we start our life together has been very difficult. He grew up very traditionally catholic and I grew up in a non-denom bible church where the signing was loud and equality was embraced.
    As we start out life together, we've been struggling to identify where faith will have a role in our life. he's not confortable at my church nor am I at his.
    this beautifully written post really helps put my thoughts into words and gives me the motivation to move forward with the conversation of what our faith will look like.

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  6. I agree completely... I've been slacking a bit on going to CHURCH church (with school, etc.) but I still have found a church community in online bible studies, reading, personal scripture, talks with friends... etc. It's a beautiful thing.

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  7. I love this. I'm a strong believer that I don't NEED to step foot inside of a designated building to have a relationship with God. He's there no matter where I am, whether it's in a church, in my house or at the grocery store drifting off into other thoughts while roaming the aisles.

    Jamie @
    The Growing Up Diaries

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  8. I have a post so similar to this in my drafts! It is something I feel I am judged for when I don't go to church but yet at the same time I feel I'm more a follower of God than some of those who go to church! Great Post Mrs. Thomas!! xo

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  9. For years, I didn't go very often to church on Sunday mornings. But I was in a small group Bible study, so I felt like I was all set on my fellowship. But then we found an AMAZING church here, and it's such a different experience than small group fellowship can provide. Of course, God speaks to us all differently and reveals himself in so many different ways outside of "church." But, I would encourage you not to give up on the church-in-a-building entirely. There really are great people in them that will encourage and love, not always judge and scold. :)

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  10. Oh girl, yes. I adore our church, it's vision and mission after God's heart, and our small group within the body. But, I've always felt heavy guilt for not going in difficult seasons in my life... And, there's a freedom realizing that there's church outside the construct. Especially when it's a task to get myself out of bed and to the table for breakfast some days. Oh thank goodness for His provision and love regardless of my weak and wild heart. :)

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  11. Isn't it lovely when God brings us through seasons together?!? Church has been so hard to sit through with all the turbulence at home and such... But, I'm allowed to lean into Him in communities that aren't "sanctioned" as houses of worship. I love our church body... And I love having space to work through my faith outside of it! :) Love you dear girl.

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  12. Cue the blushing girl who spent all morning being nervous about this very post.

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  13. Brittany RasmussenJanuary 13, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    So good, my friend. We are the church after all! Going to church is great, but spending a couple hours in a building with other believers isn't what changes the world. What changes the world is us shining His light to all those around us, our husbands and family and friends. Its loving others when it hurts. Its honesty and truth, vulnerability and repentance and grace.

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  14. I cannot begin to describe how much I love this post. I'll admit my faith was never more challenged then when I questioned the weekly regimen of attending service every Sunday. Taking that break allowed me to find "my church" and a stronger faith in everyday practice. It also allowed me to love attending the right church again. Although I haven't found one in the Raleigh area yet...

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  15. This is amazing and what I think a lot of women need to hear! There is religion….and there is Jesus. I don't believe that Jesus intended churches to become what they have today, and I definitely don't believe you have to be in a church pew every Sunday to get your ticket into the pearly white gates. As long as we are worshipping, giving financially and of our servant hearts, while bringing others to Him…isn't that what it's about? All of that can be done outside of a huge amphitheater ran solely by men. By writing such beautiful posts, your space has become a "church" for MANY! Believe me! There are days I get more out of fellowship with amazing people like you than I did during the "money lecture" at church on Sunday. Thank you for being B.R.A.V.E!

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  16. Oh girl I love the structure. Deeply love it. But I realize that the structure I love is also what I allow to create a seed of guilt in me when I'm not doing "enough".

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  17. Oh you sweet thing. There's such comfort and joy in knowing the words resonated and needed to be heard by another soul.

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  18. I love your fire, spunk, sass, and roar because He gave it to you. And we need it. So bring it.

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  19. And you have made my day. In so many ways. You encourage in a way only He can do.

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  20. I really don't have many words to describe how this post made me feel - but thank you, thank you so much for writing it. You know those moments where someone says something and you hear their voice, but also at the same time you hear the Spirit?
    That just happened. In blog-post-form.

    Needed to read this today. Thanks again.

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