Embracing a New Family of Faith

Though she liked things as they were, deep down she knew they couldn’t stay that way.

By Shawnelle Eliasen, Port Byron, Illinois

As appeared in

“That’s tough,” she said. “The boys doing okay?”

I was about to tell her they were fine. I was fine. Everything was fine. But there was something in her eyes. Kindness. Understanding. Sure, this church was different. But that look? I knew it well. I’d seen it at Cornerstone. Something inside me crumbled.

“I’m really not fine,” I admitted. “Lonny’s been gone a lot. The boys are cranky. Getting out the door this morning, it felt like my last thin thread was going to break.”

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“I’m sorry,” she said, taking my hands in hers. “May I pray for you now? Pray for you and all those boys?”

I nodded. We closed our eyes.

Right there, standing in line, Becky prayed out loud. For me to have patience. For Lonny to get home safely. For our boys to be content and peaceful. And I prayed too. Quietly. In my heart. Thank you, Lord, for Becky. For the way she reached out. For the way she listened.

The warmth of Becky’s hands flowed into my spirit. People hadn’t meant to be unwelcoming, I realized. I was the one who had a wall up. I really hadn’t tried all that hard to reach out.

I’d been holding back, clinging so tightly to our memories at Cornerstone that I wasn’t open to the new experiences, and new friends, right in front of me. That was me all right, fighting change, always trying to make time stop.

God must’ve heard Becky’s prayer as well as mine, because the boys were quiet that afternoon and I had some time to think. After Lonny got home we sat out on the porch to talk. “I want to get more involved with people at our new church. I want them to know me, know you, know our boys,” I said.

“Me too,” he said. “I’m ready if you are.” Then he gave me a big, reassuring hug, as big as the mighty Mississippi.

That was a year ago. Today Lonny and I lead a small Bible-study group and I’m teaching Sunday school. The boys love it too. And Becky and the rest of our church friends? They’re just like family.

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That’s right, our church feels like home now. It’s where I belong on this side of the Big River. And each week when I step through the doors, I’m reminded that it’s okay to look back on the past, to cherish the memories, as long as you make room for the joy that is right before you.

 

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