I never knew anything different than getting up Sunday morning and getting dressed in your nice clothes and heading off the church. I knew that not everyone did that, but I thought they were the ones who were strange. My family was the normal in my books.
Because church was such a regular part of my family life, I have very few memories of childhood that don’t relate to church. My life revolved around Sunday school, kid’s clubs, youth groups. And I enjoyed most of it.
There were times growing up when I wondered what it would be like to not go to church. I thought maybe I’d try that when I was an adult and could choose for myself. But, then that point in my life came and I chose to stay. Church had become my extended family and I didn’t want to leave.
I grew up in a great family, surrounded by parents, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, but church had become a larger family to me. One that my biological family was a part of. And I’ve learned that when you have that kind of blessing in your life you shouldn’t too easily let it go.
My work with a ministry that reaches out to the outcasts of western society has driven this point home for me over and over again. The homeless, the addicted, and the mentally ill are often left to face the world by themselves, without their family by their side. And seeing this each day makes me even more appreciative of my biological family and make me hold tighter to the extended family I have found in my church. With them on my side, I’m confident that I’ll never have to face the world alone.
When you have people to walk beside you, life seems so much easier. When I need advice or encouragement or a push to get moving again, my extended family at church is there to do just that. And I’m learning that I need them much more than I ever would have thought.
Sometimes it just seems like I need a person who isn’t related to me biologically to look at something in my life and give me their opinion. If they don’t have a personal interest outside of being my friend, then can show me things I didn’t notice and that people closer to the situation wouldn’t point out. Since this is my extended church family, I can be sure that they still have my best interests in mind. I don’t have to question their motives.
Growing up as your typical “church kid” is something I’m glad I have in my background. I feel like my life is richer for the people church has brought into my life. I really don’t want to imagine what my life would be like without it, because I feel like there would be some gaping holes I wouldn’t know how to fill.