Friday, February 24, 2012

How I Grew After Being Benched By God

Have you ever been asked not to come back to church? I have. Not that I am proud of this fact but to be honest being banned from church was just the medicine I needed.

Church work had become a way of making me feel good. I carried the fa├žade of being a strong believer with great knowledge of the scripture, burying myself under the day to day load of trying to please every member of the congregation. My work earned a great level of respect with suggestions that I consider becoming a deacon or even a pastor. But with all I was doing I was living on empty, struggling with an internal problem. Instead of becoming a source of spiritual growth church work had become my personal addiction.

Having lived my pre-teen and teenaged years as a codependent, addiction was quite natural for me. My mother carried her own pains from her childhood and her guilt over a failed marriage. She suffered from her wounds, searching for relief by turning to booze and to overspending. She also tried to hide by burying herself in her career, basing her identity on her success in the 9 to 5 world. These failed to sooth her pain, which she then dumped out on me. As a result I entered adulthood as a badly wounded child.

On the outside I appeared to be okay. On the inside I was dead. Yes I was working hard for the church and spending hours learning the Bible, but my knowledge served no purpose without a growing relationship with God. I continued to suffer even as I told others I was fine, not wanting to make any excuses for what I saw as a failure to live up to expectations. For me, church life and the Christian walk were nothing like what I read in the Bible. Instead they were little more than a new place to hide.

It was as I began to question my faith that a member of my church convinced the other members that I was trying to take over. What I saw as doing service for Christ’s people was painted as evidence of being motivated by power and not by the Gospel. In fact my actions were not motivated by the Gospel, but neither were they motivated by power. I was motivated by fear, thinking a failure to personally build a church was simply a sign that I in fact had not found favor with God.

Under the pressure of building a church mixed with the accusations of ulterior motives I exploded into an angry rage. In response the church sent an unsigned letter asking me not to come back. Can you imagine the pain of having a church tell you there is something so wrong with you that you are not allowed to join in worshipping God? For me this was one more rejection on top of many I had felt throughout my life. It was also the beginning of a journey, a new chapter for which I am eternally grateful.

I now find myself relearning the Christian faith. Not that I lost faith, quite to the contrary. My faith has grown as over the last few years as I have discovered God as He is and not as I thought he was. Without church work to hide behind I am free to see the truth, realizing that God needed to put me on the bench in order to get my attention. Had He left me in the game I would have crashed and burned. My time on the bench was a time of growth.
Has God ever benched you? If so did you allow Him to work in your heart or did you keep fighting to get back into the game?

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