Some important background before I begin my story:
- I love it when people make a big deal out of my birthday
- I love having people pray for me or “get a word from God” for me
- I HATE not being seen or heard
It was November of 2013. We were at our small country church for a usual Sunday service, and this time it was exciting because a family with ties to YWAM was visiting. They were friends of the pastor (who shall hereafter be called Mr. P because he doesn’t deserve the name pastor). Thus, we had solid professional music, and fiery preaching with great stories from one of the YWAMers.
As was our usual tradition, we had testimony time near the beginning of the service. I shared my testimony of the gifts God had given me for my birthday earlier that week. My family had surprised me at college with a party, and God had healed my cold.
At the end of the testimony time, Mr. P mentioned that it was J’s birthday that day. J was the adult daughter of the visiting family, and the sister of the guy who preached. He asked everyone to take some time to listen to God for words for J, and then they would take time to encourage her and pray for her.
There was no mention of my birthday. Which I had OBVIOUSLY talked about ten minutes earlier.
It felt like a slap in the face.
I spent the time feeling sad and angry and betrayed, and asking God not to let me become bitter. (Nowadays I would have said something, but I was young and entrenched in submissive femininity that doesn’t allow you to speak up.)
Everyone prayed beautiful things for J, and I felt my face burn and tried desperately not to be jealous.
And then an older gentleman, also a visitor to our church that Sunday, spoke up. He pointed out that it was my birthday earlier that week, and that the church should pray for me too. I was flooded with gratitude toward the older gentleman.
So the church did pray for me and encourage me.
Even now, six years later, I’m still pretty darn angry that it took an outsider to see me, still angry that this church I had been part of for about five years at that point completely ignored me. It felt like a deliberate snub then, and it feels like a deliberate snub now as I think about it, even with time and distance and perspective.
Such love. Such encouragement. Such attentive care for each member of the congregation. This is why I love church.
(In case you didn’t catch it, that last paragraph was sarcasm.)
And thus ends one of the sad stories featuring my former church.