This evening (Saturday), I went to church for the first time in 3 months. If I recall, that's the longest I've ever gone without going church. When I'd made a commitment to practicing gratitude and learning to treat myself kindly at the beginning of this year, going to church regularly was supposed to be part of that. But I let life get in the way.
Part of it was my usual excuse of having too much to do. (Sunday! must get to library when it opens! must claim my spot! must work for 5-7 hours straight! must be productive, because another Monday is creeping upon us!) Part of it was me being really bitter and depressed about neither losing weight nor graduating with prospects, and thus not wanting to do anything or go anywhere, especially if I'd have to be around too many people for too long.
But God always has a plan.
This afternoon I was at the laundromat when I ran into Jessica, a girl I'd gotten to know through an on-campus Asian Christian fellowship (ACIV) that I'd joined back in 2013. Neither of us had been attending meetings recently though, so today was our first time seeing each other in quite a few months. We chatted, she mentioned she was going to church this evening, she invited me to come, and I accepted her invitation without "needing to think about it" like I usually do. I figured, It's been a while, I've been feeling really disconnected from God lately, I don't have anything else to do today, so why not?
A few hours later I met Jessica at her church, Trinity Church, for their weekly 6pm Saturday service (or "gathering", as they call it). According to the info card for first-time visitors, this casual and non-denominational church's mission is based on the idea that everyone has a story and that each person's story connects in its own way to God's big story. Trinity's aim is therefore to be a safe place for all who come to "explore your place in His story" as followers of Christ. Going along with this, on Easter last week Pastor Marvin Williams started his "A Better Story" series about how Jesus has the power to rewrite our stories and make them awesome, no matter how many plot twists life throws at us (see video below). Today's message was on freedom, and Pastor Marvin preached on how to identify and fight against unhealthy thinking that keeps us from living free and unburdened the way God intended.
After the service Jessica revealed to me that she too hadn't been to church in a while. She's been incredibly busy with work/graduate studies, and also not having friends to go with her like she used to. But she made a decision to commit to going to church today even if she had to go by herself, and then she ran into me. "It was God's plan" she concluded. And I agree. I only have exactly one month left before I graduate and leave Lansing, but I'm believing that a lot of good change can happen in a month. So we'll be going to church together for the remaining Saturdays I have left, helping each other commit to consistently attending the Lord's house.
It's funny because if I go wayyy back... in summer 2013 I studied abroad in Japan, where I met a fellow MSU student named James. James convinced me to check out the aforementioned ACIV once we returned stateside and school started again. Through the course of joining and attending meetings, I became acquainted with Jessica. Fast forward through a few rough periods and neglecting both ACIV and church in the process. Then fast forward to me just about giving up on myself and on life this semester. And then today, during my routine Saturday trip to the laundromat, Jessica re-enters my life, just when I needed the little push and friendly encouragement to return to church. God's plan indeed.
Thanks for inviting me Jessica, and see you next Saturday!