Today’s post comes to us from one of my dear friends, Brenna D’Ambrosio. Her words are always water for my thirsty soul and her gracious, soulful approach to life never fails to stop me in my tracks. Enjoy, I dare you not to.
If you’ve left a church you’ve been part of for a long time, you know the emotions that go with it. And if the circumstances are less than ideal, the pain is even worse. My story centers around the day I walked through new sanctuary doors carrying heartache and sadness.
I was grieving. I was grieving the loss of our time at our old church, the one I had been part of for almost a decade. The relationships changed due to distance. The people who had become my family were now gone. The people I did life with were all a plane ride away.
I was grieving the atmosphere when we left – it was all bittersweet. We had gone through what I can only describe as walking through mud up to my waist. It was painful and exhausting and all I wanted was relief.
Tears were quick to flow in those weeks and months and I couldn’t even tell why – too many emotions coursing through a nine-month pregnant woman.
I walked into the new sanctuary, the one thousands of miles away, with a swollen belly and my head hanging low. We had just moved from the East Coast to the Midwest. I was 37 weeks pregnant and carrying my 18 month old with me. I was tired. My feet hurt. I just wanted to finish unpacking and then curl up on a couch with my family and rest until it was time to have our baby. But I knew that if we didn’t visit a church that week, I’d run the risk of not going back for a very long time. I was so physically tired. I was even more emotionally and spiritually tired. But we went that Sunday morning, hesitantly yet determinedly.
I kept my eyes down; I had no energy for small talk. I silently prayed that this wasn’t one of those churches that made you raise your hand if you were new or talk to people during long drawn out greeting periods. In and out. I needed an easy win. I just wanted to say that I made it to church.
I noticed her right away – red hair just like my mother’s. She turned around to greet us with a warm smile. The exchange went something like this:
“Are you new here? Oh my goodness! When are you due?”
“In another week or so,” I managed to say with a half-hearted smile.
“Are you from around here?”
My husband jumped in to help me, “We just moved here from New England.”
“Wait…..who is going to cook for you? Can I make you some meals?”
And this is where my heart broke into a million pieces. Why on earth would someone who doesn’t know me offer to make me meals? When I had my firstborn, I had a total of only two people make me a meal. But here, a stranger, I was being offered something that I needed.
I declined as politely as I could (my New England skepticism was still my strongest emotion) but I couldn’t shake off her kindness. I emailed the church later that week to share what had happened. I wanted them to know how important it was to me. Five years later we still walk into that sanctuary each Sunday morning.
Love showed up with an offer. A cup of water, a plate of food. Love showed up and reminded me that I wouldn’t be alone. Love showed up and reminded me that there was healing ahead. Love showed up and reminded me that as followers of Jesus, this is what we do.
A spring morning in 2009 loved showed up, and I haven’t been the same since.
Brenna D’Ambrosio is a former children’s minister and preschool teacher, now a homeschooling mother of three feisty and imaginative little girls. She spends her time volunteering at her church, writing, baking bread, singing along to the Frozen soundtrack, and watching Sherlock. You can find her at brennadambrosio.com where she blogs regularly on the subjects of faith, brokenness and redemption, city-living, and Christian feminism.
Interested in contributing to the Love Showed Up series? Send me an email at leannerae (at) gmail (dot) com and let’s have a chat about it.
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