So yesterday was my first service at HRock. I sat in the middle section about 4 rows from the front. When I first arrived I wasn’t sure where to sit and then I saw this guy with a plaid shirt on and I said to myself, “He looks like he might be cute and normal so I’ll sit behind him. If nothing else I can look at the back of him and feel somewhat safe.” I really have no clue why a complete stranger in a plaid shirt is someone I would feel safe sitting by. It doesn’t make any sense but that’s why I chose my seat.
I got there about 5 minutes before the service started which was rather odd to me. I’m never really early and I thought for sure that I was going to be late. So I sat there for 5 minutes kind of freaking out. I mean I basically knew no one right? But that’s not entirely true. I know Gwen even though she wasn’t in the room yet. I know Vicky but she’s out of town. I know Sharon but I couldn’t see her. I know Louise but I couldn’t see her either. I know Chloe but I couldn’t see her and I know David but I couldn’t see him. I know some of the girls from group too but I couldn’t see them either. So I’m sitting there for 5 minutes kind of freaking out because in my mind I don’t really know anyone and its really cold in this room. I begin questioning why I’m there and if friends were right and I shouldn’t be there. I’m just feeling all sorts of anxiety. But the band starts setting up and I recognize the guy that plays keyboards. I ask myself, “How do I know him? He looks so familiar.” But then I remember that I’ve seen him at an Encounter Weekend where he led worship and I saw him in another 9 month healing ministry. I start to calm down a bit and then Gwen comes in and even though she’s about 3 rows in front of me I start to calm down even more.
As I begin to calm down they play this video about how HRock is a place you can call home. I recognize the voice and think of other videos I have heard with that voice. I wonder if the church made this video or if they play one that was ready made. Its not important to my worship but it gets me thinking about the video and not about the fact that I am one person sitting amongst many x a lot.
Then worship begins. It starts with a song that I know where the chorus is something to the effect that God never gives up on us.
Before arriving at HRock that morning I had been having a tumultuous week where in I was weeping and gnashing of teeth but not at God, mainly at me. I am always having money problems and my mom has been really great about it. The reason I am having these problems is my own fault. Its hard to admit that. I don’t really share how much debt I am actually in because it overwhelms me. So I’ve been worrying that if people found out or if God found out (really kind of dumb because God already knows) then no one would love me anymore.
Saturday at the Spiritual retreat for class we discussed the story of the prodigal son. Someone had mentioned how awed they were that the father was running to the son with nothing but love in his heart. I immediately thought what shame that son must feel but then I realized that I was the son or daughter in this case and I was the one that was shamed. I spent the rest of the day in prayer where God affirmed that he loved me and that he saw me as his daughter who returned and that I had nothing to feel ashamed of.
So Sunday in worship at HRock I was dancing (at my seat) and singing and we were asked to turn to one another and pray. If you know me you know I hate having to meet new people but you also know that somehow God takes care of me in those moments. A few years ago after one of my Kidney stone lithotripsy surgeries I was sitting at Lake Avenue Church and we were asked to hold hands and pray with the people next to us. I at that time met Elizabeth Elliot’s daughter (End of the Spear) and she invited me over for tea and cookies and we became friends. This time at HRock a family turned around. John, Pat, and their grandson Michael and they asked me what I wanted prayer for and I said, “To feel God’s love more fully.” Michael prayed over and for me and I felt tingles in my legs and I felt a rush of God’s love.
After this we began worshiping again and praying and one of the pastors had mentioned that God runs to us but that we also should run to him. I sat down because my back was killing me and I started thinking about how I wished I had brought my pain killers (I took them out of my bag because they make noises when I walk and I didn’t want to make any noise when I walked in late to church). But then another song started and I closed my eyes thinking about how God runs to the prodigal daughter and how I should run to him as well. Then I saw myself running to God and God running to me. When we reached each other God gave me a kiss on the check and he held me in his arms. I felt truly loved in that moment and I forgot about my aching back and the fact that I didn’t know anyone at this church.
Truth is that I know more people than I think I do. Sure I don’t know the whole 1200 but I know a few. After my encounter with God I think it might be easier to go to HRock. Sure there might be more anxiety and I might disagree with some of the theology but where are you going to go to church where you don’t disagree at least a little what what is said there or you don’t wish there was something more. And next time I get the inkling to sit behind someone I’ll just go with it and not worry so much about why I’m sitting behind or next to them.
I’ll continue to write and tell you about my experience and you continue to write and tell me if you disagree with me or if you want to encourage me. We’re all on this journey together and we all need to be kept in check every once in a while.