In 2011, I moved to the US as a permanent resident. You’re probably thinking this is the point where I had to choose where I would start going to church. It would make sense, but we’re not there yet. This is the story of how I went from juggling multiple separate worlds in my life to being in a tidy, comfortable bubble where nearly everyone I interacted with was fluent in Christianese.
By the time I moved to the States, my mum had been living here for about 6 years. She was already an established member of a church and had an entire community of friends. My brother had also been here almost 5 years. Since I had family here, my transition wasn’t nearly as difficult as it could have been. I joined the church my mom went to and quickly made friends. It wasn’t long before I joined the Worship Team and started serving in the Youth Ministry. When I started looking for work, some of my new friends helped me out. They were working at a Christian Ministry and it so happened that they were hiring. A while later, I decided to start going to school, and enrolled in Bible College. The three main areas of my life where I had the most interaction with other humans were saturated with Christians.
I remember a short conversation I had with my pastor and one of my fellow congregants, a while back. We talked about how one can become numb to the Holy Spirit when you fail to go to church and miss that all essential “gathering of brethren”. While this is true, I also believe (from experience) that you can put so much stock in your communion with other Christians, that you end up failing to commune with God directly. It’s a delicate balance.
While my Christian bubble helped me immensely in overcoming my conflicting personalities, I started to notice that my alone time with God was suffering. (Not that it had existed so much before.) Because of my bubble, I felt like I wasn’t “sinning” as much, and since previously most of my prayer time was spent asking for forgiveness… I also felt as if I was doing enough praying and reading the Bible at work, at church and at school. I didn’t really need to do it at home. I felt convicted about my complacency and knew something had to change. I decided to step down from the Worship Team. (I wrote more about this in my post about music).
I also started considering that I might have to find another church. I had visited a different church a few times and had really enjoyed their worship service. In my opinion, they seemed to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit than we were at our church. Their services were spontaneous and less structured. I craved this kind of freedom. I toyed with the idea of moving for a few months. This was until I heard one of the Youth Pastors in my “dream church” express his sentiments about his church. He felt that they tended to over spiritualize things and thus did not quite address the real issues that people were facing. At first it confused me a little. But I then realized that switching churches would not be the answer.
Besides the fact that my “private” relationship with God was suffering, I was also struggling with leading the Youth Ministry. I felt like I was in a sort of tag of war between trying to meet the Youth where they were, but also trying to bring them to where I felt God wanted us to go. It was like I was going in a completely different direction from the rest of the congregation and I didn’t really know which of the two directions was right. I have since come to realize that there was no right or wrong direction. We were, in fact, all moving in the same direction, just at different paces and/or on different paths.
I think I’ve written enough for today. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you all about the circumstances that led to me finally leaving that church and the internal struggle I went through trying to figure out what I was supposed to do after that. I would like to say thank you to all of you who have been reading this week and giving all the great feedback. I am blessed to have the opportunity to share with you all. Blessings!