There is freedom.

November 3rd, 2017

To every dear reader who responded to my recent questions by commenting here, and to the many who emailed me privately, thank you.

It is so humbling to know that you took time you really didn’t have and made yourselves vulnerable in order to add to this conversation.  We are honored by the confidences that you shared.  By opening your experiences, struggles, and thoughts to us, you have given us valuable help to sort through and clarify our own thinking.  I’m slowly working my way down through your emails and answering them (with time I also don’t have, so please forgive the delay).

We appreciated the practical suggestions that we figure out the logistics to enable me to listen to the recorded sermons of our pastor.  How had we not thought of that in all these years?

A few of you who responded are attending church regularly.  Interestingly, there is a significant proportion of pastor’s wives in this group.  We heard comments ranging from the mild, “Sunday is not at all a day of rest for me,” to the blunt, “I hate Sundays.”  Some of you stated that if you didn’t get a break from caregiving during the worship service, it wouldn’t be worth the effort to get there.  Some of you simply feel it’s your duty to God and/or to your children.  It’s how you were raised, and you feel it’s important for your children to see you get to church no matter what.  The following quote was typical for the majority of this group of folks.  “I got to church today by working like a crazed woman.  We go and come home and I crash.  The rest of the day is me out of commission.”

Most of the rest of you fell into one of two categories.

Many of you stay home from church when getting there and being there is stressful, exhausting and burdensome (some have been in this place for years) and have come to peaceful terms with that. “I used to feel guilty about it but do not at all anymore. Our life is not our own. God has built our home, and it will stand on Him and for Him. Our life is structured by God and not typical in any way. Absolutely nothing in my life is normal in any way.”

Or you (like me) have been making sporadic attempts anyway and wrestling with emotions such as loneliness/isolation, failure/guilt, and feeling judged by others.  “We haven’t been to church in months, although I am struggling with the right thing to do.”

As we read your stories, we often had to stop and remark, “It should not be like this,” or, “Something is really wrong with this picture.”  When we teased out the gist of what bothered us most, it went back to legalism every time.  Every time. Very telling.

We are concluding that legalism from within and without has been the crushing weight on my spirit at being unable to attend church.  It is the desire of my heart that those of us who are distressed over this issue learn to walk in life and freedom in the Spirit on Sundays, however He leads each of us.

For now, it is needful for me to rest in Him on Sundays as a home-bound caregiver.

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Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law [legalists?], woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.

For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.  

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

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3 Responses to “There is freedom.”

  1. Thank you Susanna! This is what I needed!

  2. Cassandra says:

    Three words that say it all: This is your best title post ever – “There is freedom.”

    Not to sound full of hubris, but if I am one of the people you thought you needed to respond to, let me free you of that, as well! I would never feel that way since that isn’t the purported purpose of this blog. You communicate very well, and often, that you appreciate your readership. Thank you for that.

  3. Tami says:

    Susanna, I read the post where you asked the question, and I thought about it through the week and ended up not responding although I had intended to – I think because I feel like I’m in an unfamiliar place right now. We have gone to church regularly with a few exceptions when especially worn out. But currently, I guess I feel less capable of getting everyone there and still getting through the rest of the week with enough physical fuel. I have been bowing out quite often recently, because I know my limits and realize if I push through every single day – I sometimes can’t function well (or kindly, lovingly, patiently, etc) the rest of the week. Mentally I just can’t handle the unrelenting stress. I feel like staying home would be so helpful to me, but am not ready to concede that ahead of time for every Sunday. Right now it’s basically judging my physical stress level Saturday evening. I stayed home today, but only after anguishing over it most of Saturday. Bottom line is, if pushing myself to get there means I will be a nasty example to my children afterwards – it’s time to rethink my going. I hate to be an example of skipping church to my kids; but honestly if I am physically/emotionally running on empty – that’s not a pretty picture either and I think does as much if not more harm. It is a tough call. I do believe we are not to neglect gathering together, but I think that can look like a lot more than necessarily the typical Sunday morning gathering? God wants us to gather for the purpose of strengthening and building each other up, and correcting any rogue straying away from truth. It’s worth rethinking how this might look when in special circumstances. Hugs.

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