I fought church for a long time.
As a young girl, I dreaded church because I equated it with wearing a dress, something that, at 30 years old, I am still not a fan of. I would “volunteer” to sit with my baby sister in the nursery just so I could turn off the speaker broadcasting the sermon and play.
When my family moved to Texas, we never found a church to attend regularly, so we became that family that might show up at Easter. That was fine with me - I was perfectly content to eat my Cadbury Creme Eggs and not give the day any more thought.
But once I reached high school, something started to change. On those infrequent, random times I would go to a church service, I would cry silently in the pew, my tears spurred on by a hymn, verse, or message. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized I cried not out of sadness, but out of conviction.
Crying in church caused a conflict of emotions. On the one hand, I felt a strange sense of relief on those Sundays. But on the other, I felt plain strange - no one else around me ever cried; what was wrong with me? I was hesitant to go back to church, not being able to predict or control the waterworks.
Finally, after years of saying to myself I should give this church thing a try for real, I convinced myself to go. For a few weeks I found myself in that familiar situation, only this time I was in an unfamiliar church pew. I slipped in every Sunday alone and sat in the back so that whenever the waterworks decided to turn on I wouldn’t have to worry about anyone taking notice of me.
Then one Sunday morning, quite unexpectedly, I experienced God in a life-changing way. I was sitting alone in my back pew. The service was coming to an end, and the pastor invited anyone who felt called to join the church to come forward. This was not an unusual occurrence; he ended his sermon that way every week. But that particular Sunday, as the invitation hung in the air, a voice inside me told me to go, not to miss this opportunity. Somehow I comprehended the significance of that unfamiliar voice, and it propelled me forward to the front of the sanctuary where, at the age of 27, I was baptized.
After the service I stood with the pastor outside the sanctuary and was welcomed to FUMC Katy by well-wishing members. Though that morning was a blur, I distinctly remember one member who was around my age, blond, clean-cut. He shook my hand and said, “Congratulations.” Something inside me noted that this was significant.
Our paths didn’t cross again until seven months later when I walked into my Sunday school class for the first time since returning home from a summer job. There he was, this guy I had been searching for in the sanctuary every Sunday since we shook hands, in my class! About a month after that second meeting we started dating, and now two years later we are married.
Written by Whitney
The 12:12 Project is sponsored by Katy First United Methodist Church.