Growing up in a legalistic, cult-like Pentecostal church had caused me to despise religion as I became an adult. Even as I became of age where I was permitted to decide what church I wanted to attend, I still faced disappointment. I would see people post scriptures on social media, involved in church ministry, and sometimes put on an exaggerated spiritual act at church who were the same people who lived a completely different lifestyle outside of church; having bad attitudes, posting “sexy” selfies, cursing up a storm, and (openly expressing) the desire be drunk after having a rough day. Finding people who genuinely lived for God was practically impossible, or you had those who seemed to but they turned their noses up to those who did not follow the same religious rules.
On top of it all, I felt like I did not fit the “christian mold” that I was taught growing up. The one where christian women were supposed to be the stay-at-home mom who made sure she had dinner hot-and-ready from when her husband got home from work. Trust me, Ephesians 5:22 (“wives submit to their husbands as they would to the Lord…”) was taken completely out of context in my past.
Instead, I am a married woman who works full time and is a college graduate. My husband loves to cook and pretty much does all of the cooking. We see our marriage as a partnership rather than me remaining silent. Our daughter is a four-year-old miniature poodle. I consider myself a yogini and I meditate daily. Nature is my life as I study herbal medicine, am obsessed with the moon and stars, have a large collection of geodes, burn sage to promote relaxation while I do yoga. But unfortunately, what I described is more than likely not accepted in most christian religions.
I remember a time when I was working on my bachelor’s degree, I wanted to be involved in ministry but was unable to commit to a set schedule because I was extremely overwhelmed. It was also the same time the preacher would say things in his sermons like “If you are not involved in ministry, you are just taking up space” or I hear things in my past that people should not attend school because school becomes their God. I also tried to get involved in women’s groups but they were only available during the normal working day. So for a brief period of time, I stopped calling myself a christian and even stopped attended church altogether.
During this time, I did maintain a relationship with God and still had chosen to believe that Jesus Christ was my lord and savior. It was not like I longed to sin like crazy. I dabbled a bit into metaphysics and found some of it to be useful and encouraging but a lot of it just seemed to be a bit too strange. But during this time, the Lord showed me that the reason I felt that I was not worthy of being a christian for not fitting the cliche-christian woman was a huge lie from the enemy. He also showed me that I need to stop becoming disappointed when others are not genuine because I may be the one to set the example for them. So I prayed that I would find a church that had a concept of teaching the word as opposed to preaching the word. A church that wasn’t fake but also wasn’t legalistic and full of manipulation.
I started to read a ton of Joyce Meyer Content as well as watch her programs. One of the things she talks about is how she started a ministry during a time when it was unpopular for women to do so. I became ecstatic when she had a conference in my area. In fact, it was at a church that I loved but was too far from my home. Little did I know that they were building a church branch closer to my region! Upon attending their very first sermon, one of the first things that they said was that they focus on teaching the word, not preaching the word. It also surprised me to hear them say things like “Don’t give up on your dreams of getting that Master’s Degree”. God truly answered my prayer and led me to the right place!
What I intend for you to get out of this is to never give up on God and do not listen to the lies of the enemy. You know, the one that says “All churches are the same, don’t bother” or “You are not ___________ so therefore you are not a good christian”. I am an advocate of having a relationship with God but locating a church home is also crucial while you are on your journey. Trust in him to lead you to the right place. Gratitude seems to be an understatement of how I feel about being led to a church home that accepts me as I am. Just as Jesus has.