This is technically the last part of my toxic church experience , but it isn’t about a toxic church anymore.
In fact, despite what the title says, this is a GOOD story.
In the last post, I discovered I had grown bitter from my whole experience. So I worked on giving God my bitterness, and learning to cling to humility.
It was definitely a humbling experience.
I had no friends, and no church family.
I told God if I had to be humbled, to go through these experiences that weren’t easy, just to get close to Him. I’d do it.
…God keeps us at our word, remember that.
But something exciting and new happened. I started praying that God direct my footsteps.
“Lord, You provide the church because right now I don’t want to try again, it hurts too much.”
“Lord, help me be content, even if I don’t have any friends here. Help me help others.”
Shortly before this time, I had started my first blog, and man, can I tell you, I’ve learned quite a lot from that time in 2014 to now.
One of the posts I wrote had to do with a number of different types of friendships. It was through this post, a Facebook friend reached out to me. We knew each other barely before this time.
I remember too, right before she reached out, questioning if I would be able to help anyone with my writing. And then…she spoke up.
(Paraphrase) “I really related to what you wrote about, and wanted to ask you a question.”
That’s how it all started. She reached out because she felt a tug. And I’m so grateful she reached out because it isn’t something she usually does. But I do feel God was working not only in my life, but hers.
We share a lot in common, and have become friends because of this. Even though she didn’t live in Little Rock, I felt like I had personally found a friend to connect to.
She also is a Christian blogger, and it would mean the world to me if you checked out her blog, The Buttercup Lamb. She talks about gardening, cooking, life with her kids, and more.
The works of God’s hand does not stop there though. This was the beginning of God showing me He was listening to me.
I had gone to a military appreciation spouse event, in which you can showcase your craft, business, etc. I make handmade soap so I decided to get the courage to show off my work. Near the end of the night, there was a woman, my age who approached me. She immediately dived into soap and business questions, seeing if I knew my stuff.
I did. Which seemed to impress her.
And that was all she wrote…no, : ) but it was my first introduction to my friend Mana. She was a military wife, like me, and she made soap! She made cold process soap, which is different than the melt and pour method. But this only encouraged us to clue each other in on what we had learned from our craft, share our love of essential oil knowledge and proper usage, and above all else, our love of ranting.
Her husband came home one day while I was visiting, and joked to my husband about how Mana and I sat down and talked for a straight four hours. We always had something to say, something to do, something to explore. She was the one who encouraged me to prioritize my goals and what I wanted to do, which was write. Three months after talking to her, I finished my first novel.
And lastly, but perhaps, the most important part of this whole experience.
God did give me a church. Literally. When I told Him, I wanted Him to provide cause I was done trying, He took me up on it.
One summer afternoon, there was a knock on my door. Andrea and her husband introduced themselves. They had just moved down the hall from us, and were soon going to do a Bible study later on Friday.
Which I was more than happy to go!
I became involved in their church, even before we had a building. It’s so nice and refreshing to say “we”, because church essentially is family. Together. Community. Not separate. God truly spoke to my heart. He answered me in a way, I didn’t think He would.
I didn’t think He would be the One to help me find a church home, while in Little Rock, but He did. I didn’t think I would meet someone else who enjoyed making soap, but God provided.
I remember, finally in late summer 2014, I was looking out of the window thinking to myself, “Don’t you forget a thing. This too won’t all stay the same, so hold onto to what is good. Make memories. Be thankful.”
Mana and her husband, later in October of that year, moved to another place.
November 2014, my husband got orders to spend a year in Korea.
Throughout the hardships that followed in Little Rock, God had given me my church family and friends. Andrea’s friendship truly got me through the year, as well as her husband William. Later on, I became friends with George and Gema, also friends of theirs, and they moved to Little Rock to start up another church.
There are some friendships that just mesh well, and mine with these amazing God fearing people was such. Gema and Andrea were the Christian friends I had so desperately been looking for when I first arrived in Little Rock, and God provided Christian friends for me. It just took time.
He used His time well, and taught me a lot. I didn’t fully realize it then, but I truly enjoyed my time in Little Rock. God blessed me through hard times, through trusting Him, and showing me how to lean on Him in complete brokenness.
Moral of the Toxic Church Experience?
(NIV) 2 Corinthians 12:10, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
God isn’t done with me.
And He certainly isn’t done with you.
Don’t give up when something rough happens. Whether from a church, a believer, or circumstances beyond your control.
Nothing is impossible for God.
~T. R. Noble