We walked into the small, quaint sanctuary that was adorned with fake pine trees. They were staggered and decorated with pine cones. It created a small, cozy image of what a cabin in the mountain might look like. There were a few smiles; one from the sweet girl testing the mic up front, and two from the gentlemen putting slides and sounds together.
We found our pew three rows from the front-our 'norm', it seems. We looked around, took in the sights and breathed two, similar and in sync deep breaths. Alex answered all their questions as I tried to imagine a brand new newlywed couple in this atmosphere. Tears and anxiety found their seats right beside me. In all reality, who am I to be assigned to this task? Just a year ago I was living the dream in one of the biggest cities in the country.
A large blanket of comfort grabbed ahold of me when Alex asked me to help him string his microphone and tuck in the battery pack and check his tie. Things never seem quite as stressful when he's near.
His sermon was written perfectly and , as always, delivered even more perfectly. God has really given that man a gift for public speaking. He is assertive but gentle, informative but compassionate.
I couldn't help but glance at the church's bulletin that states the number of people a year ago, and the number of people today. 70 and 57, respectively.
I think we've missed the point. I understand that everything is circumstantial; it's a small town and people move out or maybe they've had some changes and distress in the church. But as far as my struggling math skills can tell, attendance has gone down. When I asked a gentleman how big their town was, he told me, "About 2,500." 2,500 people? Well, where are all of them?
Circumstances or not, our goal is to reach people. Our goal is to let others know about the amazing gift of grace and love we've received. Regardless of what's happening in the community or what's been happening in your church, aren't you called to go? And put aside duties and goals, why wouldn't you want to fill those pews with people and fill those walls with worship?
Maybe this is what was causing the struggle and tug in my heart. I couldn't grasp the idea of two very enthusiastic, young, incredibly passionate people in a church that isn't moving. I couldn't imagine Alex's God given talents not being recognized.
Alex and I discussed this on our way home; our desire to do missions and small groups and book studies and community outreach. Like I said, we're passionate people; passionate about God and what He's constantly doing, passionate about love and forgiveness and grace, and passionate about getting everyone else to know what we know, and to feel what we feel.
I meant nothing in criticism towards that church. In fact, I do not even judge their motives. But I do feel the world around me, and I felt a heap of weight on my shoulders to pursue a place that desires growth and pursuit.
And in the midst of looking for growth, Alex and I found some growth of our own. In the middle of my worry and stress, I tend to divulge every nook and cranny of my heart and soul and mind. While it's incredibly terrifying, discomforting, and probably very unattractive, it happens. The result? Secrets of my most inner heart, completely and fully disclosed to my fiance; the person who deserves to know those secrets, and who usually keeps them tucked, very safely in those gentle hands of his.
I realized there's just no need to worry about the place we will end up; Alex won't choose a place that I dread, and he definitely won't choose a place that doesn't fit us as a couple. He's got my best interest at heart. And, as a general rule, my best interest usually matches up with his best interest. And as another general rule, he is my best interest.