When Mark asked me if I wanted to contribute to the Wilshire blog last week, I felt so honored. There is something about someone noticing you and asking if you would like to participate. I would like to share our journey over the past two years and how we have found life at Wilshire.
I have always shared pieces of my life on Facebook. It helped me see the good that was happening every day, and I would write about it. My statuses were not meant to convey a perfect life but a life that could find the positive in everything. This all sounds good on the surface, and it isn’t inherently bad, but I thought my positive outlook was a Spiritual Gift. Then one day about two years ago our world fell apart. Some things happened in our life, and I did not feel great anymore. I could no longer give anyone anything but my anger and my tears. What I had spent my heart and soul to help create was crumbling in the most horrible way. The political environment of our nation crushed me too. When I started speaking up on the injustice of what was happening in my life and the political realm, a friend asked me why I was doing this – why can’t I just be positive? There it is. Many of us Christians are afraid to feel anything other than positivity.
I experienced a very dark night. I withdrew from everything that once gave me joy. But I found voices through Twitter that started walking me through this season. Jonathan Martin and Richard Rohr were two that really spoke to my soul. Richard Rohr is a Franciscan Catholic (a mystic), and Jonathan Martin is a self-proclaimed “Hillbilly Pentecostal Pastor.” Jonathan writes the most beautiful words. His book, “How to Survive a Shipwreck,” restored my weary soul. Even through my tears, when he would start a Twitter sermon I found myself wanting to stand on my hands or run laps. These were life-giving words of an embodied faith. His words could be put to music. I knew right then I must join a Baptist church. Ha Ha! Actually, no. But the fact that I did is why I love the Holy Spirit.
I discovered in my suffering that the Holy Spirit was in the storm and that is life I have never known before. We serve a living God that loves to surprise us. Somehow knowing that, my fear just disappeared. I did not just survive, I was made new. I am not afraid to feel all the feelings. I love looking for God everywhere, but I will name what is not of the Kingdom too. We cannot hold onto things of this world, and we cannot control death. Now I feel free to participate in the Kingdom and help create a new world. We have always been invited to create. That is the story since the beginning of time.
Our journey to find Wilshire was slow. Finding all of these great pastors and authors on Twitter was great, but I needed people in the flesh and blood that would let me live this new life I had found. We tried over the years to check out other churches that might provide more opportunity for women and LGBT. I could no longer handle us deciding who gets to sit at the Table and who gets to speak. That was a taxing journey. But for my 40th birthday in October, my mom gave me tickets to “Moxie Matters” with Jen Hatmaker and Nichole Nordemon. Two churches were represented at this event and both were full inclusion. I could not believe what I was hearing. I saw the name Wilshire Baptist Church in the program, and I was astounded to hear a Baptist church affirm what Mark was saying (Mark, again, I think we might be best friends. Ha!). I felt the Holy Spirit strongly revealing to me that I could go to this church and belong. When my family and I showed up at the end of November, I feel like I busted in the doors of Wilshire saying, “Here I am. I know you don’t know me, but I have been looking for you for two years.”
Since being at Wilshire I have heard things like “Have you considered ministry?” “Thank you for trusting me with your heart.” “I am proud of you.” “I love hearing your thoughts. You are free now.” I mean, seriously! I weep every time I think about it – in a good way. Knowing how loved I am because the love of Christ has been embodied by humans, I want to go out into this world that is hurting so much and invite them into this story. I am actively trying to notice people and help them see how their gifts help bring in the Kingdom now. Come as you are.