First Days in the Haze of the Holy Spirit

I’ll never forget the first time I walked into Wellspring Church. It felt like I stepped into a bubble of warm, fuzzy, safe mist. There was a lightness to the air, and I felt hope for the first time in years. It was an unparalleled moment in my life.

I quickly connected with a few members of the church and began to find comfort in seeing their familiar faces each week. While I was taken with the church, I quickly noticed that something wasn’t quite right. Sunday after Sunday, I had a sense that there were social politics at play. It was strange to feel that way in what was initially such a profoundly wonderful and safe environment. When church services ended I often felt displaced, alone, and even ignored. There was a competitive spirit in the room. Everyone was looking for a specific person to talk to and ignoring the person looking for them. It was like we were all trying to climb some kind of spiritual ladder in an effort to feel important, connected, and seen. What’s more, if a person of lower "spiritual status” approached, the conversation was limited. It was as though something could be taken from you if you spent too much time with a person of “lower status”. I often sat in my seat in the back of the sanctuary and observed as these dynamics played out. Boy did they! With congregants, pastors, and elders alike. It was all very overwhelming and a bit sad.

Despite these end of service experiences, the Spirit was alive at Wellspring Church and the sermons were filled with wisdom. There were true believers among the people and the connection I felt with God through musical worship and the sermon was profound and kept me coming back.

I began to look forward to Sunday mornings above all else. I longed for Sundays and attended both 1.5-hour services each week. I eagerly waited for a word with my journal open and pen poised. I reveled in the musical worship time and experienced deep, meaningful, and impactful visions of God walking with me, holding me, and whispering sweet truths in my ear each week. I was quickly learning a more profound closer way of both communing with and hearing from God, and I loved it. It was like coming home.

Celebrating the Birth of Jesus

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It’s a tough time of year for me. It always has been, and is for many others. Growing up, my mother worked every other Christmas, which put a damper on things, and my father wasn’t exactly the dad of the year. The Christmases she was home, things didn’t always run smoothly with a family of five who had a hard time making it through a car ride, let alone a holiday. There is so much pressure on Christmas that it feels nearly impossible to live up to what Christmas “should be”.

As an adult, the holidays didn’t get any easier. I usually spend most of the holiday at rehearsals and making preparations for church service performances and Christmas Day I spend more time in the car than with the people I love. The Holidays often feel like a financially and emotionally draining occasion. Yet, if we take a step back, the objective is simple clear and quite nice… to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the center of our faith, the shepherd of our journey, and the lover of our pursuit. The spirit of celebrating his intimate, humble, discrete birth, gets lost so easily.

To combat the chaos, distraction, and depression that often accompanies this season, I make time to take an intentional moment to connect with God mindfully. Usually, I sit by candlelight at the end of the day on Christmas Eve. I try to find joy in seeing the lights on houses, watching snowfall (if we are so lucky), and dwelling in the presence of God for a few moments before bed. I find it to be an essential moment in my year.

I pray, listen, and allow his peace to overwhelm my body, mind, and spirit, thinking of all of the goodness in my life. Then, I remember the dreams that I have for the future and express hope for the realization of these dreams. I dwell in the thought that there are good plans God has for me. I take a moment and think of the people who are in my life, giving thanks for their lives, and asking God to show me how to mend relationships that have been damaged. These relaxing and hope-filled moments are my most precious Christmas memories and help make the Holiday season both more meaningful and more wonderful.

My Hope for You

As the season is upon us, and so many have painful memories, family dynamics to navigate, and personal heartache at hand, let us remember that this season is saturated in a spirit of hope. God indeed is at the center of Christmas. He is good and is indeed with us. I Pray that God’s love would permeate this holiday in your life and that we all might revelate more of Him.

If you are in a time of uncertainty, isolation, or transition, it’s important to remember he is indeed with you. Remain in His presence, be vulnerable with him, and allow him to minister and dwell in each Christmas moment with you. May you find his peace, hope, and healing this Christmas.

If you need some connectedness, please feel free to reach out.

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Last Moments in Church

When I have considered writing about my church experience, I never imagined I would begin by recounting my silent exit. I always believed my story would center healing, ministry, beauty, and relationships the church had provided me; that I would be able to “boast of Christ” by lifting up the church and her saints as I shard my journey of coming through hell by way of heaven.

Many of these things are true, which makes the exit that much more painful. I did find all the things one would hope to find in a church, hope, measures of encouragement, peace, and even love.

These experiences were life-changing and led to a great inner healing in my life. Unfortunately, these experience were accompanied by myriads of emotional pain, confusion, and frustration. I know that my experience is by no means singular. I also know that many who have experienced events similar to my own, are silent. This silence creates more pain and protects the men and women who have stolen from the body of Christ.

I will be speaking honestly about the experiences I had, both good and bad. I’m not going to change names or use code words. The men and women who continue to make decisions that benefit themselves with little regard to the damage they are doing are adults and have accepted or taken roles of leadership and need to be held accountable. I do not feel the need to protect them. I do feel an urgency to provide a place where people who have been hurt as I have can know they are not alone and are not the ones who are responsible.

It’s been a rough couple of years.

Relationships have fallen apart and away. Intentions and attitudes have come into the light, and the decisions and lack of discernment from the leadership took my church from a thriving sanctuary of relationship and healing to a superficial, unsafe, and harmful environment with a bottom line.

My experience attending church, reached a point where I felt so unsafe, unwanted, and unclear on a Sunday morning that that attending was doing more harm than good. I stayed as long as I could and then one day, I knew I needed to step out, for a time, perhaps for good.