April 07, 2011

the church

I'm on a church kick.
Sorry. I've just spent two solid days soaking up a lot of 'church' and I can't help it.
My cup is overflowing and splashing out all over the place.

Know what one of my other favorite things about church is?
The friends, that's what.

I was sitting in that meeting with Connie beside me, Brandi and Tina and Jacky behind me with their families, the Stedmans in front of me, the Millers over to the side, the Hoovers on the other side, my family scattered all over the place, the Bemis' over there, the Thompsons, the Havemans, the Hansons, the Baileys...
It was like here a friend, there a friend, everywhere a friend, friend... EIEIO.
So many hellos to say, so many hugs, so many I haven't seen you in forever's, so many memories. It was a whirlwind, I kept turning and turning and turning around only to be grabbed by someone else and hugged.
And I love being hugged!

I stayed with Connie the Monday night of the meeting. Let me tell you something. Connie is the salt of the earth. She's one of those life-long friends. We stayed up until 2:15 am, talking and drinking orange spice tea. She cried with me and I cried with her. She laughed with me and I laughed with her. Then she gave me a goodie bag full of Bath and Body Works and Clinique samples and I nearly died in delight. Connie is the sample queen. I don't know where she gets all of them, but I'm glad she does. Now I have luscious lips, covered in lovely Clinque lip stain. I love lip stains. They look so nice on. She also gave me root beer candy, coffee beans, ten bucks, a boiled egg, and some burnt toast. It was like Christmas. About the toast though... she gave me the bread and the toaster and let me make my own. So I did, but it wasn't brown enough for me so I stuck it back in. And forgot it. So it burnt. So I ate it real quick, trying to disappear the evidence. But then Connie's kids came upstairs and said, Who burnt toast? And since Connie was in the shower, I had to tell them the cat did it. But they were onto me and said, Geez. Seriously? You burnt toast in the toaster? And I said, Shut up. You're both grounded for life. I regret sharing my Zingers with you last night.
But I love Connie. She's dear to my heart. She's reliable and trustworthy. Like Brandi said the other night, she's great.

When Bro. Hoover got up to preach, I felt this surge of affection well up in me. The Hoovers are my friends. They love me. They watch over me. They care about me. They've wept with me, and they've rejoiced with me. When I looked behind me and saw the Millers sitting there, I felt so happy that I know them. When I caught Brandi's eye at one point, I felt warm and fuzzy and thought, That's my friend. When Anna hugged me during one of the songs, I felt contentment. And when I looked around and saw all my church family scattered thoughout that auditorium, I felt... blessed. Very, very blessed that God has given me so many good friends. Not just one or two. Not just a few people here and there, but an entire church full. When I need them, they close ranks 'round me and hold me up.

There's nothing so wonderful as the church and it ticks. me. off. to hear people bad mouth the church or its Pastor. That's when I want to take out my shotgun that I don't have. Don't tell me the church shunned you, don't tell me they abandoned you, don't tell me they don't understand you, don't tell me you're bitter towards them, don't tell me they're too strict and uptight, don't tell me they weren't there for you. You can take your whining and shove it where the sun don't shine because the church is the best thing ever. The church is God's way of giving us some of Him on earth. And if you think the church wasn't pulling up the slack like they should've, you were probably the one in the wrong anyways- in the wrong and not wanting to get it right. I realize there might be some exceptions, maybe there's some church out there that just gets a kick out of hurting people. But I've never been to one and I've been to hundreds of churches all over the place. The church is God's and it was a wonderful idea that He thought up.
Whew. I'm getting off track. Felt good to get that off my chest though. Been wanting to say that for weeks.

The church is full. Full of lovingkindness and compassion. Full of strength. Full of encouragement. Full of help. Full of grace. Full of wisdom. Full of... all kinds of good stuff.
And mostly, full of good friends. Church is the best place to find the right friends.
I'm so blessed and I don't deserve it. God knows me. He knows I need good friends. So He went out of His way and positively encased me in good friends. I can hardly turn around without bumping into one of them. They're all up in my business and I love it.

The church is where my face is cupped between two wrinkled, old hands and the voice of kindness itself says to me, I know God has something very special planned for you. You just wait and see. And then I feel hot tears prick behind my eyes, not in sadness, but in deep down gratefulness. Because those two hands cupping my face belong to my friend and I know that what she's saying to me is true.

I love the church, my church. To the point of fierceness. The same way I love my family.
I know they would do anything in the world for me, and I hope if the time ever comes, I'm able to repay them in kind. I hope I can be to them, what they are to me.

There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother... I kinda think that's talking about the church.
Because the church certainly sticketh.