Originally published Wednesday, 18 June 2014.
Personally, I feel like I am having an identity crisis in the church.
I grew up in the church. I went to Sunday School. I lead worship on the keyboard in Junior High. I was baptized. I joined a small group in college and led many of them myself. I also led worship from the main stage in Big Church on Sundays. But lately, I just can't seem to find my place.
I'm married without children. You would think that I would finally be accepted because I'm married now, right? But I'm too young to fit into women's ministry, neither do I fit into children's ministry (yet anyway).
Even when I force myself to go to a women's event, I always end up feeling frustrated because I'm the only woman in the room without kids. (And why is it married women with kids only talk about their kids?) I could do social media, which I have.
Last year, I worked on staff at a large church for a while doing social media. But I'm not passionate about it.
So where does that leave me?
Frankly, I don't know.
I started BSF last year because it's technically like taking a Bible class. Even though I am still the ONLY woman who is married without children -- at least it's not women's ministry. It's for women yes -- but -- it's a structured Bible study. I appreciate going deeper into the Word. I do, but when it comes to connecting at the heart level with fellow believers I'm stuck.
Since Marc and I got married almost three years ago we have changed churches so many times I can't even remember how many churches we've visited. This one's too small. That one's too large. This one's too charismatic. That one's too traditional. This one's too structured. That one's too...
Let me be clear: I am not looking for the perfect church. I'm really not.
I just want to find a place that feels like home. A place where I can freely worship, learn about Jesus, and connect with other believers. But the fact is, every time the pastor or worship leader says "turn around and greet the person next to you" I cringe.
Nobody cares. It's like asking a friend who's dying of cancer, "How are you doing?" "Good?" "Good!". Seriously? And don't even get me started on why churches need a greeters ministry. I get more high fives, smiles, and hello's running on a Sunday morning than I do in church. Sad but true. It's taken me a year to have the courage to even blog about this topic at length without fear or shame.
Since I became an author I thought churches would ask me to come and speak on the topics of my book. And at first, they did. It's really weird because I thought more churches would ask me to speak when I got married -- because then it would be okay to bring me. I was no longer single or a second-class church citizen. I'm still scratching my head wondering why no churches have asked me to speak on the topic of forgiveness. I worked off my butt, 10 years of my life, 2 publishers, and 4 revisions to write Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me.
That's why I shared that midnight prophetic word from Lance Wallnau on Monday. I needed it. The enemy has really discouraged me from doing my work. I mean, if the church doesn't validate you -- then you're pretty much a loser, right? (Lies).
Now that I'm married and no longer speaking to the 20-somethings or singles -- I feel pushed into women and children's ministry.
And let me start by saying that I resent this. Maybe this is just me, but I feel like women's ministries are super clicky, and hard to break into. I say all of this because I am just plain frustrated with the church, and I'm finally giving myself permission to be emotional and real. This isn't just a fad, but a deep prayer of my heart -- and has been for almost 3 years. Lord, where do I belong? I seriously want to know.
As a woman I want to know where I belong in the church.
I'm ready for a fresh experience. I'm ready to experience the kind of church that shares things, eats together, and carries each others burdens. I've experienced this kind of church before, and I can't wait to experience it again soon with my husband. I love this! Every race, gender, or age should be welcome in church, and not just because a greeter volunteered to say hi to you!
I love what Danny Silk writes in Powerful And Free: Confronting The Glass Ceiling For Women In The Church. He says, "The church should be the safest, freest, most empowering place for women -- for anyone."
He shared many testimonies of women who experienced an identity crisis in the church. One woman in particular caught my attention. Her name was Erin, and "though no one told her this, experience taught her that if she wanted to have influence in the Church, she needed to marry a pastor or a worship leader." I can identify.
When I was young, single, and fiery -- I was told without being told that I needed a man to get the kind of value, influence, or leadership I knew God was calling me too.
For years I prayed that God would let me marry a pastor. To be honest, I struggled a bit when I met Marc, the software engineer.
God, he's not a pastor, what will that do to my ministry?
Absolutely nothing, He told me.
And it's been the sweetest and most supportive relationship I've ever had. Ever. Marc believes in me. He supports me. He is my biggest fan -- although my dad might fight him for this position!
I'm so glad God shattered the lie I was believing t hat in order for the church to accept me -- I had to be a pastor's wife.
Yuck. Thankfully, God opened up the doors with writing. I've been able to express my burning heart for the nations through word and ink for the past 10 years. I'm grateful for the opportunities writing has brought me because it's helped me to be able to express myself.
Question: Have you ever had an identity crisis in the church? Has gender ever attributed to the crisis? Why or why not?