Monday, August 01, 2016

I Don’t Want to Go to Church - Eleanor Shepherd

We were rather surprized when our sociable five year old daughter, Elizabeth made her announcement that she no longer wanted to go to church, so we asked why.  Her response:  “Church is boring and it makes me sweaty.”  After a good chuckle, we informed her that going to church was a part of being in this family, so until she was old enough to make her own decisions, she would be going with us. 

            I could never imagine that a day would come when I too would not want to go to church. Mine were not the same reasons.  I did not find church boring and it usually did not make me sweaty.  But the day came when I no longer wanted to go. 

            It was after the car accident when our son became a quadriplegic. John spent a month in hospital in Burlington, Vermont.  Then he was flown by air ambulance to a rehabilitation hospital in Toronto, where we were going to be living, as we were in the process of moving back from France. 

            At the time, Glen was back in France wrapping up our affairs there, since we had left immediately, when we received the news of John's accident. Our daughter, Elizabeth had gone back to her music studies at McGill University in Montreal and I was in our temporary home in Toronto.  I dreaded Sundays, because I felt the inner conflict of not wanting to go to church. 

            At that time my emotions were in such a turmoil it was difficult to sort out what was going on.  I doubted that it was because I would have to go to church alone that I was reluctant to go.  I had often gone on my own for a variety of reasons. 

            I finally convinced myself that the reason I did not want to go to church was because I knew that well intentioned people would ask me how John was doing.  Just thinking of his situation at that time would bring me to tears.  I rationalized that when people asked about John I would only cry and not be able to answer.  That would embarrass both me and the person asking, so I would choose rather to avoid the situation.  It sounded like a good excuse. Yet somehow, I knew it lacked substance.  There was something more.

            As I looked at the issue more closely, I began to discern what the real problem was.  I did not want to meet with God.  While during the activities of the week, I could continue with my spiritual rituals of praying and reading my Bible, I did not really have to completely acknowledge His presence, although I had plenty of evidence that He had been with us and caring for us during the time that John was in the Intensive Care Unit.  I had to ask myself, why I was trying to avoid direct communication with Him.  Slowly, I began to admit the answer.  I was disappointed with God.

            During the time that John was driving from Montreal back to Boston, I had been on the train in France, travelling from Valence in the south to our home in Paris.  Constantly throughout that trip my mind had been turning to John and I kept whispering prayers for his safety on the roads.  I trusted with all my heart that God would watch over him and keep him safe.  Then the accident happened and my faith was shaken.

            I had to decide whether I was willing to trust God again or not and it was going to church, the place where one went purposefully to meet with God, that brought that into focus. 

            Today, I am in pastoral ministry, leading a congregation, so it is obvious which choice I made.  I love going to church again, because I have discovered that have proved to be for me a place where along with others, my faith can be strengthened. I have learned that God understands my fear and reluctance to trust Him at times and He loves me anyway.  How grateful I am!
Word Guild Award
Word Guild Award


Peter Black said...

Thank you for generously sharing these candid and illuminating reflections from your heart, Eleanor. I'm glad you included the snapshot of John. I suspect his smile says a lot about how far he's come in his recovery emotionally and spiritually as well as physically. ~~+~~

Malaika Lynn Beaudin said...

Thank you for sharing. I look forward to reading more about your journey from the point where you mention 'I was willing to trust God or not'.....

Doe said...

I remember our daughter, Emma, saying one Sunday " I'm not forcing my kids to go to church " and then responding "we'll see about that" . Not being happy about my comment when her Father, Stuart, got in the car I told him what Emma had said. He was quiet and then said "you know honey many times your Mother and I do not want to go to church but then when you get there and everyone is happy to see you and you them, you feel so much better. They are our family." I so wished that had been my response. Emma was quiet all the way to church and has, ever since been happy and content about going to church.
Doe Orser

Eleanor Shepherd said...

Peter: Thank you for your kind words.
Malaika: What would you like to know about my journey? That might help me decide what to include in my next blog.
Doe: Thanks for sharing this lovely insight. What wisdom in such a response!
Thank you each for taking the time to comment.

Glynis said...

Haha. Eleanor. Sometimes church is boring to me and it makes me sweaty, too, so I can relate to your Elizabeth's complaint~!

Once I realize church isn't about me and sweating equals conviction, then God lays it on my heart that it's time to worship!

What a lovely photo of John and what an amazing story you have to tell about how God saw you all through. I really think that God is okay with us being disappointed sometimes. After all our plans are not his and when things don't go our way, we feel let down - natural feelings that He has blessed us with.

I am sure you know you are in a better place now because of you choosing to trust God and to allow Him to work through you. Can you even imagine the amount of people you have touched for Christ since you decided on aye instead of nay? To God be the glory great things He has done!

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