I had many Saturday and Sunday nights where I would pour my heart out to God with many tears, feeling angry, sad, confused, and lost. Part of me wanted somewhere to belong and a place to fellowship with other believers, and people to share my gifts and talents with. Another part of me wanted to condemn the practice of a closed table, requirement of membership to serve, and the prohibition of alcohol and taking communion with other churches, but I love my husband very much and these feelings made a large riff between us spiritually. It's not that Steve pushed me away or refused to accept me as I was, but that I didn't feel as though we had ever experienced true spiritual oneness. We were separated in our worship anywhere. As a member, Steve wasn't allowed to participate in the Lord's supper at my church, and as a non-member, I wasn't allowed to take part at his church. I was surprised how much that affected me after we were married. I knew something was wrong, but I didn't immediately know it was me.
After experiencing the first breaking of bread as an outsider, I got up as soon as it was over and left as quickly as I could, fuming. I barely talked to Steve the whole drive to his parents. I practically kicked him out of the car and left him there, while I drove to a park and cried for a long time. I called Steve once I didn't feel like I was going to explode into flames. I didn't want him to worry about me, and I wanted him to know that I love him and that I was working on saying "I'm sorry". We talked for a long time. I was angry at God for bringing me here under these circumstances. I was angry at Steve for being Baptist. I was angry at myself for having these thoughts and feelings and not wanting give up my convictions. For weeks I prayed for God's will in my life and my marriage. I then knew, beyond a doubt, that I was supposed to be baptized and join the church. However, my flesh was still prideful and I put it off for another month or two. I was scared to admit my disobedience (not being baptized when I was younger and knew what the Word said) and show my need for a church family. God prompted Steve to talk with me a few times, his patience and gentleness breaking through my anger and selfishness. God led my mother-in-law to have a casual conversation with me and I became comfortable enough to tell her what I felt God wanted me to do. She talked to Robert, and then we all had a conversation in their living room.
This all worked together to get me to the front of the church... I was shaking with nervousness, but trying to be brave and say what I needed to. The night before, God laid this passage on my heart, and it is what ultimately gave me courage to do what I had to:
Lamentations 3:19-33, 38-40 NIV
19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him."
25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.
27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young.
28 Let him sit alone in silence,
for the LORD has laid it on him.
29 Let him bury his face in the dust—
there may yet be hope.
30 Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
and let him be filled with disgrace.
31 For men are not cast off
by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to the children of men.
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
that both calamities and good things come?
39 Why should any living man complain
when punished for his sins?
40 Let us examine our ways and test them,
and let us return to the LORD.
I can say nothing, but that God is perfect in all ways and all things, and I am to be nothing, but his humble servant whom he will exalt in due time. I am thankful to learn this in my younger years, gaining wisdom and skills I can pass on to my children and others as the Lord uses me.
I'm so immeasurably blessed with reasons to be joyful in all circumstances. Praise God!