I doubt that anyone is bored on a Sunday morning and thinks, “I don’t have anything else to do today; I think I’ll visit that big white church on the corner and see what they do inside.” We have such busy schedules that everything we do is intentional; we have trouble fitting it all into a 24-hour day. We don’t attend a church to just fill up empty time.
When I was young, I went to church out of obligation; my mother made me. When I first had a choice in college, I didn’t go to any church for five years. I’ve thought about all the churches that I’ve visited since then either with friends or exploring on my own and each of those visits was sparked because of one of two things: either I was wounded in some way (physically, emotionally, spiritually) and wanted to be healed, or I wanted to serve others and it seemed like a church community would best afford me the opportunity to serve. Now I realize that it isn’t an either/or, but an “and”. Some days I am hurting and need the healing power of my friends; on other days I am ready to serve and be a healing friend to others.
My friend Randy Elrod wrote a blog on THE LOST ART OF LISTENING. It is what I’m trying to learn to do better: to listen to others. As I go throughout my day, I’m trying to focus less on me and more on them, listening for words or cues that tell me whether they are having a “hurting day” or a “serving day”. If they are having a hurting day, I try to find a way to love them; to reduce the anxiety in their life, and to comfort them. If they are having a “serving day”, I try my best to let them serve me! This is hard for me because I’m used to being self-sufficient and trying to do everything myself. But it is great for a relationship when we reach out and let someone else use their spiritual gifts to serve and heal us.
As you read this today, are you in “hurting” or “serving” mode? If you are “hurting” reach out to a good friend and let them help you with your pain. Perhaps you just need to feel like someone is listening to you and understands what you are going through. If you are in “serving” mode, listen closely to every conversation you have to see if the other person is hurting. You can really listen to them, understand their pain and comfort them.
It’s okay to hurt. It’s also okay to serve. I pray that you’ve found a church where you can both seek healing and serve others.
Blessings, my friend,