Today at church, I sat behind a friend who was part of my first community group at Sojourn, over six years ago now. Beside me sat a friend whose baptism and membership interviews I did two years ago when I was an intern. On my way out of the service, I met a man who is part of the community group I now lead. All three of these men occupy a part of my life and a part of my story that can never be surrendered on either side. The story of my time in Louisville is very much connected to my time “doing life,” as we say, with people like these three friends. They have contributed to my spiritual DNA and I theirs. And that is what being The Church is about.
I will confess, when I look back over the six and half years I have been in Louisville and at Sojourn, I quickly realize that I am not the same person I was when I moved here. Sojourn was the right church for me at the right time. Often, nowadays, I wonder if it is still the right fit. In some ways, my theology has shifted. My preferences for style and structure have certainly changed. The church itself has also doubled in size. I’ve even seen friends inadvertently hurt within the body, both by other members and once or twice by the church itself. I guess a lot can happen when you stick three thousand sinners together. We seek to do good and wind up still acting like fallen humans. Thank God for grace. All this said, it is days like today that remind me that so much of who I am is now tied up with these people, my adopted brothers and sisters, and that isn’t to be put aside lightly.
I hit age 30 a little over two months ago, and the realization of being at a crossroads in my life has become increasingly apparent. I decided to stay in Louisville after I graduated over three years ago, and I now am in the midst of deciding if this is a much more permanent choice. I could move away and do a Ph.D. I could even stay in Louisville and do a Ph.D. I could seek ordination in my current tradition or in others I’ve felt drawn towards. I could try my hand actually pursuing a career in the writing and artistic spheres. I’ve even toyed with creating a small business for creative-types. Also, while I have lived quite happily single until now, the marriage issue has come to mind a bit more lately as I realize I’m not as young as I used to be.
For all the decision-making to be made, however, there is a peace, drawn from knowing that God has not left me here alone, and that he has surrounded me with the spiritual family members who have been part of my life and whose lives I have been equally a part of. It doesn’t give answers, but it gives solace and counsel. For all its faults and hypocrisies, the Church is still the Church. The is a quote often attributed to Augustine that says, “The Church is a whore, but she’s my mother,” and this certainly rings true to me. Good luck finding a church body without sin or a church where all your preferences are met; it won’t happen. Where you can succeed, however, is finding a church filled with failing believers like yourself who will bear each other up in weakness and share each other’s story. I was reminded of that today, and I praise God for it.