Going to my new Bible study these last few weeks, and the small group on Wednesday, has had me thinking. Spiritually, I've slid into a slump over the last year (and really, longer than that.) I feel stagnant. I'm not reading, I'm not praying, I'm not spending time in fellowship with other believers. And since I've added some of that fellowship back in, it's reminded me of what I'm missing out on.
It's been a difficult road for both Mark and I, spiritually speaking. For me (as I can't personally speak for my husband), the time I was college was awesome. I was pretty involved with a large college ministry here in Birmingham, had a lot of encouragement, and my spiritual walk at that point in my life was probably the best it's ever been. Then I graduated, and started working night shift. The schedule change was huge for me - I was SO tired, all the time. It was a struggle to get up and go to church, and it was hard to find a church, at first. We eventually found one, which I liked. I tried to get involved with that - I sang in the choir, and for a while played handbells (which I used to do when I was younger.) Nearly every Sunday was a struggle to get up early and stay awake, especially when I'd worked the night before.
And then we heard about a new church plant started by the former youth minister of my parents' church. It was wonderful - the vision was great, and while it was less-than-organized, and there were some issues here and there, it was growing. And then the bottom fell out. They aren't my details to give, but I'll tell you, it was one of the hardest times in my entire life. We stopped going to church entirely for a while - we both worked nights, we were exhausted mentally, emotionally, and physically, and it just wasn't worth it to try to find somewhere else. We were jaded. We were hurt.
I guess it takes time to get over something like that. I know that's no excuse for letting my personal spiritual life fall by the wayside, but with nothing to guide me, no fellowship for encouragement - I just stopped. I was just so tired all the time that the only thing I did was sit, zoning out in front of the tv. And I worked.
And now we're here. I work dayshift. I'm not exhausted all the time. (Only part of the time, haha.) When we first came to Birmingham, before I started working my weekend shifts, we were going to this amazing church that I loved dearly. I love the pastor, and the people, and the church's beliefs and vision. It's a wonderful place - and we also knew quite a few people who went there. But then I started my weekend shifts, so Sundays are out. Every Sunday. I miss it. Then the holidays came, and I was out of town nearly every week from November through the end of December.
So now it's February. Things have slowed down. And there are these great opportunities that I've finally been taking advantage of. They've been wonderful. And have really made me aware of what I'm missing out on. It's not that I ever questioned my beliefs, or the existence of a loving God, or that He cares for me and provides for me. He obviously does, there's proof in my life. But I have seriously missed out on other stuff. There are things we're talking about in small group, stories from the Bible, and I literally have no idea who these people are. I've forgotten so much. There is so much to know, and SO much I don't know, that I want to. I want to experience the love and the joy and the hope and the trust that the people around me experience.
So. What does that mean? Well, yesterday I called Elissa and gave her a proposal - a church here in town is, as a congregation, reading the Bible chronologically this year. I'd like to do that. I need accountability. Interestingly enough, Elissa is feeling the same way about being stagnant as I am - she also works weekends. Church makes a difference, I think. But you can't always go to church. So ... I'm embarking on a year-long journey with my best friend to know God more. I'm pretty excited about it. And I'm hoping that we'll be able to commit to this a little bit better than we did to our "running" the "half-marathon." Like that was ever gonna happen...
Requesting your prayers that we will be faithful to this commitment. We start on Monday.