Yesterday I did something I hadn’t done yet this year. I went to church.
Yes, you read that right – I went to church for the first time this year. Are you shocked? Are your eyebrows on the ceiling and your jaw on the floor?
That’s the look I get from the people I’ve mentioned it to recently that I hadn’t been going to church.
For people who were raised to go to church every Sunday they just can’t fathom the idea of going three months without attending church.
There must be something seriously wrong, right? A heathen in the making, right? You can’t have a good relationship with the Lord if you don’t go to church can you?
Let me ease your shock and put your fears to rest. Remember my post about SAD (seasonal affective disorder) ?
One of the ways I dealt with winter this year was to stay inside most of the time. I rarely went out. And that included staying home from church.
The church denomination we used to be a part of would have made this decision a bit difficult. We would have been visited by ‘concerned people’. I probably wouldn’t have done it – I would have felt I had to go. And I will be honest here and say that if felt so good, so free, to be able to just stay home while I was dealing with SAD and the weather was cold and snowy and bitter. It felt good to sleep in, stay in my pj’s, spend all morning drinking coffee, spend time with my family, and just snuggle in where it was warm.
I also have to be honest and admit there was a bit more to my non-churchgoing days than just winter. Mainly it was just my desire to not be out in the cold but there were a few other minor things that caused me to take this hiatus from church. A couple are personal – things I needed to work through myself and I just needed the break.
Another is the frantic scurry and dash on Sunday morning to get everyone ready and out the door.
Am I the only one who deals with this?? Please tell me I’m not alone!!
Eat your breakfast! Hurry up! Aren’t you done eating yet?! Hurry up and eat!! Get dressed. Get Dressed! PLEASE GO GET YOURSELF DRESSED!!! Brush your teeth! Have you brushed your teeth? Did you remember to brush your teeth? Have your teeth been brushed? GET IN THERE AND BRUSH YOUR TEEEEEEETTTTTTHHHHHH!
Mom’s voice is beginning to raise to a very high volume as her patience deserts her completely.
Come on it’s time to go! Why don’t you have your socks and shoes on? Don’t you know that’s part of getting dressed? Get your coats!
Mom is completely frazzled and just wants to go sit in her chair and drink her coffee in silence.
The kids are upset and trying to find all their socks and shoes and coats and purses. They never have it all together at once and on time.
We finally all walk out the door and get in the car. Someone always fusses with someone else on the 10 minute ride to church. Everyone wears a frown and no one is peaceful or happy.
And then we arrive at church. We all get out of the car, everyone pastes on a smile and we pass ourselves off as a relaxed, happy family who never gets on each others nerves. We tell everyone we are ‘fine’ and we pretend everything is perfect.
Now. That might sound a bit exaggerated but it’s not. Not every Sunday gets quite that bad, but wintertime is worse. In the summer we can forget the socks, shoes, and coats and just slip on our sandals and go.
On top of some things I won’t go into here, the scenario I just described and my fight with SAD, something had to give. So I stayed home. And for the most part my family stayed home with me. Emma went a couple times and Travis went with her once.
I can’t say we will do this again next year, but I certainly wouldn’t rule it out either! Sometimes we just need a Sabbatical – even if it’s from attending church.
Yesterday at church we heard about being ‘ALL IN’ for Jesus. I want to be ‘ALL IN’ for Jesus like Stephen the Martyr was. No, I don’t think I have to be in a church pew every Sunday to be ‘ALL IN’ for Jesus. Being ‘ALL IN’ for Jesus – to me – means accepting the free gift of Salvation He offers. Living my life for Him. Spreading His Word to the world. Caring for others like Jesus would himself. Being His disciple. Living within His will for my life. Being willing to give my life for Him if called to do so.
I love my Jesus. Staying home from church for 3 months did not change that. In fact it strengthened my love for my Jesus. I felt His comfort through the cold winter months. I saw His beauty in the mountains of snow outside my windows. I gave thanks to Him for my warm house, for the blessings He bestowed.
Yesterday we headed out to church with a minimum of stress and reminders. Everyone was pretty cheerful. I have relaxed a lot on what my kids wear to church. They don’t have to be as dressed up as I used to think they did. It helps those Sunday morning scrambles and stress 😀
I pray you all have a wonderful week, that your children listen to what you tell them, and that the next time you head to church it is stress-free and happy 🙂
We attend a very small country church and it takes us 30 minutes to get there. Luckily, we have our Sunday school class in the annex so that allows us to eat during Sunday School. Jeans and shorts are fine every Sunday in our setting. I understand the stress you are going thru, I feel it every morning getting my boys out the door. But then they are gone and peace descends over the house. Sometimes I miss the crazy mad dash for out the door but most times I love it. That makes me crazy right??
SAD is a serious disorder and can disrupt normal life. I am so glad Spring is here even with the cooler temps because sunshine is a great mood lifter!! Church needs Jill just as much as you need it! So glad you went back. I don’t think you need to attend every Sunday to have a close relationship with God but I think it helps. Thinking about you!!
Jill Flory says
Thanks Nicole! And you are not crazy! I know someday I will look back on these days with fond memories and it won’t seem like a big deal at all getting everyone to church on time! Kind of like potty training was such a big deal at the time but after it’s all done you forget what it was like!
Jane's Adventures in Dinner says
So glad that you’re starting to feel better. With SAD all you can do is find whatever works for you and wish for spring. The last two winters I’ve also gotten to a sunny spot for a week and that seems to have helped to a certain extent.
Jill Flory says
Thanks Jane. A few years ago we went to my sister’s in Kansas in March and then went to Dallas Texas with them. That did help a lot – looking forward to a vacation and then going south was great!
I completely understand your need to be at home for a while and not attend church. We can worship from home just as easily as from church. I had many years when I would have preferred to be at home, but was pressured by my family to attend. It wasn’t worth it, I got absolutely nothing out of attending church during this time, and it made me feel resentful towards others. Looking back, I realized some of the pressure was just me. Pressure to appear to be up to everyone else’s standards. Pressure to “perform” and have the kids looking good was tremendous. We have since joined a new church, one that has 5 services at different times, plus a video feed online. We can stay home and watch the videos if we wish, but now we find we can’t wait to go to church. The pressure is completely gone, and the atmosphere is completely different here. If you ever feel the need to stay at home and watch church, I would recommend ours, here’s the link to the video feed http://www.blackhawkchurch.org. Blessings!
Jill Flory says
Thank you Jessica – so much. I saved that link and next time I decide I need to stay home on Sunday I will check it out – or perhaps on a Saturday evening 🙂
oh wow!!! because of some physical issues, I have been away from the physical church attendance also. some of what I am going thru was present prior to an emergency surgery that most assumed would also alleviate those challenges. NOT. Fortunately for me our church has the sanctuary service live streaming and I can choose any of the three services or all of them every week. what a blessing.
I am nosey enough to ask if you have done any work with the special lights for sufferers of SAD ?? I have also read that some metabolic issues can bring this about and that there can also be some genetics involved. How are your children re this issue ??
Does your church have a good prayer chain that you can feel confident about having prayer for this ? Perhaps your readers could provide this for you also. ???
I realize there can be issues with prayer chains, unfortunately.
Let us know if you would like prayers for this.
God bless you for being motivated to write about this with such frankness. Many do not have the courage to do so.
Jill Flory says
I’m sorry Brenda, for the trials you are dealing with. Life seems to be full of those.
I haven’t ever used a light specifically for SAD. I did go to the tanning bed once a week last year and that really helped. This winter I haven’t felt like I needed to do that. Staying inside was the best thing for me this year. I have heard of those lights though and I have looked at them online. I may try one if I feel like I need to some year.
We do have an email group we can send things out on for our fellowship. so far I haven’t felt comfortable using that though.
Thank you so much for sharing – my blog friends are a HUGE help to me! While I stay inside during the cold winter months I’m not completely cut off – I have all of you! God has blessed me and I try to focus on the blessings more than my woes! 🙂
Jer. 31:25…I will satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes!
Jill Flory says
Thank you Kim – thank you so much! What a fitting verse today!
What a beautiful post! We only have to answer to Jesus! You are not alone. Funny, several years ago, we left the church that my husband had gone to his entire life to start a church. It was a decision we had prayed over and were ready to make. We met with a group in homes as we planned our new venture, praying and seeking God’s wisdom and guidance. That meant, Sunday mornings were free. I did feel odd at first, like what am I supposed to do with myself on these mornings, surely not go out and be seen:) Through this time though, I never felt more close to the Lord, or had more time to deepen my relationship with Him. We all said the same thing. We are in such an exciting time as we grow our new church and follow His lead, none of which would have possible without that time spent away from what we always did. I live in the sunny south, and this has been an extraordinarily cold winter as far as the Gulf Coast where I am. I would imagine that SAD would be very very real. We need that sunshine!!! It is a blessing not to be taken for granted.
Jill Flory says
Thanks so much for sharing Sandy! That is wonderful that you followed God’s leading and are doing HIs work. So many hardships we have to overcome on this journey of life – so thankful for the saving grace of Jesus!
Love this post, Jill! Love your honesty about a topic that can bring out some serious defenses.
I don’t know much about SAD, but I can completely understand finding freedom in not obligating oneself to church and all the activities that come with it.
We recently let go of sunday attendance as an obligation (it was mostly just getting the head to hear what the heart was saying:) and have found a lot of peace. Everything you said resonated very deeply with me.
Thanks for sharing this!
Jill Flory says
Thank YOU Katie! It’s so hard to let go of all the baggage we have accumulated in our lives. Prayers and hugs!
Laura Ingalls Gunn says
Ah dear Jill, so, you haven’t been traveling to a building on Sundays. But make no mistake you have been to church. Every Sunday when you create a spirit filled post.
I chose long ago to let the world and its people be my church. Oh my but doesn’t that sound dangerous! Yes, I often show up to a building on Sundays but the grocery store can also be my church when I smile and help an elderly woman get something from the top shelf, as can any other variety of places.
Since we have lived in AZ we have not “joined” a church. We have attended various churches but honestly none has felt like home.
We all have met the regular church goer who makes us question true Christianity the other 6 days of the week.
But my friend I can clearly see that you are chasing Jesus’ heart and yes, it’s not always found in a traditional church. 🙂
Jill Flory says
Thank you so much Laura! Hard as it can be to open up and share my heart it is always such blessing to me when I do. Thank you so much for being one of my best blog friends!
Lee Ekland says
During the times of my life I was not in weekly services I learned the joys (and initial awkwardness) of having communion at home, playing our favorite worship songs and reading out loud any scriptures that addressed current challenges.
Casually sitting around in a circle and asking each family member what their prayer requests were was an eye opening experience for me. I discovered my family members seldom took their current personal troubles to God…they believed He was too big and their troubles too small.
Accordingly we developed a habit of bringing our lighter weight cares and deeper troubles to God and watched to see how He answered.
Church at home has made going to a church building a smoother experience for me, that and keeping a blind eye 😉
Praying for your SAD, have some of that myself.
Jill Flory says
Thanks so much for sharing Lee. It is a bit awkward at first to share like this with your own family. My girls especially find it hard. But I think it’s a good thing and I want to do more of it. Hoping you have sunshine and warm weather where you are! The longer days certainly help me – now if the heat will just turn up a bit 🙂
Laura Sink says
Oh man….what a disappoint. I was hoping Sunday mornings got easier as your kiddos got older. Ugh! 😉
Jill Flory says
I remember those days Laura. Honestly though, it was easier when the girls were little and I gave them their baths and dressed them and combed their hair and brushed their teeth myself. Exhausting but at least everyone was ready on time when I did it all! I remember looking forward to the day they could all get themselves ready. Emma is great at 15 – she gets ready and we don’t wait on her. But the 8 and 10 year olds? Pull my hair out. Maybe you will be a better Mom and train yours to get ready on time 🙂
I have to admit I read all the comments after reading your post. I have to applaud you for your honesty. I was surprised you hadn’t been to church as you are such a good person and speak about God often.
I’m of two minds about attending church. Hubs and I pretty much haven’t attended often since we’ve been married and he was a strict church going Baptist. I’m Methodist, at least that’s where we went when I was a kid.
My Dad didn’t go to church as he felt so many people that did were hypocrites. I know a few of them who tell me what a less than desirable person I am because I don’t go to church. I believe in God, have a conscience, try to live my life in way I think God would want me to.
We all have our own way of believing in something. At some point in life I might feel the need to go to church. Until then I will continue to search my soul, try to be a good person, keep believing in what God wants us to believe, how he wants me to live my life. I think how we believe in God is a very personal thing, not to be censored by another person. If our neighbors are not happy that we don’t go to church I’m sorry for that.
When we moved to KY nobody came to introduce themselves as our neighbors, we lived out in country. There were at least 3 churches close by of which somebody came at different times to urge us to church. I told them I don’t go to church and was instantly told I was a non-believer. Somebody saw us out in our front yard one Sunday having a beer, we were talked about all over the area that we were bad people. This didn’t exactly set too well with us. When people came from the churches I would politely listen to what they had to say, I realize I don’t know everything, but again as soon as I proclaimed myself as a non-church goer I was told I was not a good person. I told them I was sorry they felt that way but not to come again as long as they did feel that way.
Boy this is a pretty interessing, mind opening subject and one it’s good to think about, search our soul about. Good for you Jill. You are a very good person. I’m so glad I found your blog. You have inspired me to think about my feelings about God. Happy Spring days dear young lady.
Jill Flory says
Oh JaneEllen, I definitely don’t think you have to go to church to be a born again believer! And being a good person is a great thing to strive for but only the shed blood of Jesus Christ will save you and put your name in the Lambs book of Life! Blessings my friend – and lots of hugs!
Tammie Greenwell says
I laughed and shed a tear at the same time when I read your blog today. It took me back 22 years. Our family had a busy rush to get to church one Sunday but were very very very late anyway. We sat in the parking lot hungry, feeling frantic and more then a little shuffled looking, stained shirts and messy hair. My husband turned around and we went home, all of us vowing to do a better job in the future. We should not forsake the assembling of others, we need each other for so many reasons. How and when and how often we choose to do that is between us and God. Also, we should have a day of rest we need it. Sounds to me like you got it right, good for you. Hope the Spring and sunshine warms your mind and soul, it has me. Tammie
Jill Flory says
Oh Tammie! I’m glad you just went home and tried again the next week! I’ve felt like we should just stay home before and we never did. And I felt like a terrible hypocrite all through church!
I appreciate your openness and honesty. Being Catholic we usually attend 5 PM mass on Saturday evening. Our children are adults now and its no problem, but looking back tearing them away from fun on Saturday afternoon to get ready for church was probably not an easy task either. Is it better to go to church and daydream during the sermon, or offer heartfelt prayers and thanks at home. I think you’re still on the GOOD list, hugs
Jill Flory says
Amen Elaine 🙂 I heard so many Sundays of my life how it was so wonderful that we had all made the choice to come to church instead of going to any of the wicked worldly places out there. And so many times I sat there thinking “I didn’t make the choice, I had to come!” Either as a child when I had to go with my parents or even as an adult because it was ‘just expected’. I don’t want my girls to grow up feeling that way. Neither do I want them to grow up never going to church and worshiping in a group setting with other Jesus lovers. It’s a fine line finding the happy medium and I am convinced that taking a break now and then, whether it is one Sunday or several is a good thing. Worshiping as a family is a good thing too!
Carla TePaske says
Beautiful post. I thank you for the honesty.
In 2012 we left the church we had been attending for 9 years. It was so painful. I was shocked at how cruel Christians could be to each other. I thought I had it with “church”.
We did church at home, just the four of us.
Today, I am thankful we are attending a different church, that has welcomed us. But often times I get scared and fear the same things will happen all over again.
Jill Flory says
It IS painful Carla! We left our lifelong denomination about 5 years ago. Yes it was hard. Yes people thought we were heathens and some still do. But the freedom found in Jesus Christ alone is so amazing it is worth whatever ridicule or disdain we face. I’m so happy you have a church family that welcomes you. And I get your fear of the same thing happening again. prayers and hugs friend!
What a beautiful post and thank you for being so honest.
My family recently switched churches after going to the same one for seven years. After seven years it didn’t feel like home or did we feel welcomed. I was raised Methodist and we went to church every Sunday because that is what good Christians do. Going to our old church didn’t make me feel like I was surrounded by good Christians.In fact I have seen the ugly side of people in that church and that only made me sad. The church we are attending now is a non denominational church. I told my mother and be her reaction you would think that the church is a cult and that we are going to be possessed or something by going but to be honest the first time I walked through those doors I felt at home and I felt welcomed. I could feel Gods presences and it felt amazing. Before we made the change, my oldest who is in college doesn’t always attend church and I would harp on him just as my mom does me. His response was what does it matter where I worship? If I’m in a church or if I’m in my dorm the only thing that should matter is that I’m worshiping. He is such a smart kid.
Good for you standing by what you feel is right for you and your family. Praying for you and your SAD. Spring is almost here I can feel it. Hang in there.
Jill Flory says
Oh Michelle. I totally totally feel your pain. I was part of a very conservative denomination all my life till about 5 years ago. It was a HUGE deal to family and friends when we left. There were some (and still are) who really don’t think we are ‘saved’ anymore. I’m so thankful that Jesus died for me and it is through Him and not anyone here on earth that my salvation comes through!
Prayers and hugs my friend!
I don’t go to church now, and I don’t have any children, but when I did go to church, it was always to a church where I could wear jeans and I T-shirt if that’s what I wanted to wear – which it always was, unless I wore shorts and a T-shirts. For a while, I even went to a church which had services at 5:00 PM on Sunday! I really liked that! I don’t think god wants church to be a stressful event. More power to you. So glad, not sad, the days are getting longer!
Jill Flory says
Thanks Charlotta! The whole ‘church’ issue is such a big one! For so many people not just the conservative denomination I grew up in. I’m glad to have found the freedom in Christ to attend – or not 😀 And yes, we can wear jeans and t-shirts if we want but most people still dress up a bit more than that. I do let my girls wear jeans when they want to – most of the time! Growing up in a fellowship where everyone dressed up for Sunday leaves that custom ingrained in you and it’s hard to get out of it! I certainly welcome anyone – no matter how they are dressed!
Thanks so much for sharing and God bless – praise Him for the longer days returning once again.
This is a wonderful post, Jill! I truly appreciate and feel grateful for your honesty. I was raised in a very structured church environment with 3 weekly commitments. My hubby was born and raised Catholic, and I chose to convert before our first child was born (I was not pressured to do this). We attended church, regularly, for many years. In these past several years, we have started to really question many aspects of organized religion, so we do not attend any church. We are good, honest and caring people who do not believe we have to be in a specific building at a specific time each week to fulfill some indefinable need. I believe that God (in whatever way your beliefs take you)is within each of us, and I pray every single morning for his guidance of my life and his understanding of my heart.
I completely understand SAD, as my husband suffered for many years when we lived in Oregon. We were fortunate enough to be able to pack up and move to Arizona, where he (we) get to wake up to sunshine almost every single day. He no longer suffers, and I am so thankful.
Jill Flory says
Carol, thanks so much for sharing with me too! It’s so amazing to learn how many other people deal with the same issues we have church wise and we are all from such a diverse religeous background. It’s so easy to start thinking the issues are unique to us and our ‘denomination’. And I think it’s so wonderful that you were able to move to a sunny climate and your hubby was completely cured of SAD! Wonderful!