I’ve moved quite a lot in my life (4 countries, 3 continents, 10 cities and counting), and moving in my adult life as a Christian, one of the first things I would do is to look for a church community. When I was younger, typically I would just look for the local Chinese Church because it’s what I was used to growing up, and usually there’d only be one.
However, before moving to the States, I received some solid advice on how to choose a new church. I took this advice, and by the grace of God it led me to my previous church family that I loved so deeply I almost didn’t want to leave, and is the criteria I would consider if I ever had to move again.
There are only 3 things I look for now. If I write it down so that I don’t forget, perhaps it could help you too.
Once again it’s been a while. Over 3 months, actually. Getting good with updating and actually putting thoughts to computer genuinely takes a lot more motivation than I’d like to admit and is something I’d still like to grow in, if I’m to be more serious about my blog, haha. That’s a 15-year-long goal and counting now though.
I am not into dramas anymore (or at least, not in the way I was 3 months ago). God was (is) gracious. I can’t pinpoint the exact time I started feeling like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders again, but I think it’s probably after Christmas, when we went for our Church retreat.
It really was a restful retreat for me. A time of healing, a time of growth, a time where I could put everything else out of my mind and focus on Jesus. Christmas seems to have that healing effect on me, and I thank God for the Body of Christ who is always there to help guide and convict.
It was during the retreat that I realised I was able to smile again like I used to, that I no longer felt the heaviness on my heart and that I felt I was free again. If I think about it, it’s also during that time that I was able to reconnect to God.
Just personally, here’s what I believe may have happened: br>
I was freed from the attacks
After being let go from my job, I immediately used it as an opportunity to dive deeper (and back) into God’s Word. I had more time on my hands, more time in the morning, more time to dedicate to ministry, and naturally Satan doesn’t like that. So he attacked. I felt weak – both physically and spiritually – and unable to concentrate on reading and devo’s for quite some time. Thank God the attacks ended, I believe through His protection, and through the prayers of my brothers and sisters. Thank you all <3
Growing pains hurt. But they’re necessary. I do believe God was working in me at the time – mentally. I need to constantly check myself because I’m sure I have a pride issue. I’m sure I had a desire to be cared for when I felt like I was pouring out so much in ministry. My heart was not in the right place, and I needed to grow from that. Don’t get me wrong, I loved serving and I loved seeing God work and I was honoured to be used, but I needed to grow more before He could use me more. He needed to put me back in my place to ensure I was working for His glory and honour and not my own. At the end of the day, I shouldn’t expect people to treat me with more love than they were willing to give, just because I felt like I’d shown them love, which leads me nicely to my next point…
I realised I’m just not that important – and that’s important
It’s easy for my mind to go places that it shouldn’t, to warp and twist people’s words or take negative things personally when they aren’t personal. Just because I was going through stuff, doesn’t mean others weren’t as well – they aren’t intentionally trying to hurt me. In fact, they were already caring for me in the best way that they were able to – I just needed to be able to see that. I may be the centre of my world, but other people don’t see me that way, and that’s both a relief and a reminder that I really shouldn’t take myself too seriously.
But I am still loved
I experienced so much love when I went on the retreat. And that… was enough.
It was upon further reflection a couple of weeks later that I realised it was probably a time of growth for me. I do believe God was disciplining me and in His sovereignty, He used those attacks and that time to bring to light further sin in my heart that I had either been hiding or did not know I had, to work in me, to equip and prepare me for whatever else He has planned. Either way, just being worked in is an honour. It hurts like hell while going through it, but especially per Hebrews 12:6, 11 (ESV):
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.