We spent the Labor Day weekend at our church’s annual camp on Palomar Mountain. Although we’ve been going to the church for nine years, it’s the first time we’ve gone. Funnily enough, it also comes at a time when I’ve been feeling very disconnected from the church, going as far as to make plans to leave. I expected the clear air and beautiful mountain surroundings to bring me closer to God. I prayed that I would have insight–that I would know whether we should stay or go, particularly. It took only 24 hours to bring me to my breaking point.
“I don’t even know these peoples’ names. After nine years! No one sits at our table! No one even cares to TALK about the God we are supposed to be worshipping!”
Not surprisingly, my husband was also at his breaking point. Despite that clear air and mountain beauty, we were not having the greatest time. The pool was too cold, the hills too steep. The kids were tired and the food mediocre; we were all allergic and sleep was spotty at best. “Then ask them their names,” he commanded. “Start talking. Do you think it’s going to happen on its own?”
I suppose I did. In that moment, the outer shells shattered in that brokenness, I came clean with myself. Yes, I expected it to happen on its own. I expected it to be easy. After all, nothing else seems easy. Shouldn’t this be different? But then: what if Jesus had expected the same thing? What if He had wait to let salvation happen on its own?
There it was: the answer. There are many valid reasons for leaving a church–geography or demographics, for example–but “because it’s too hard” isn’t one of them. And though I’m coming at this from a spiritual perspective, I think this truth holds across the board. Living healthy, changing careers, raising children right–all things that seem at times too hard, yet that’s one reason we can’t let ourselves use. All those hard things, they are often the very most rewarding.
It’s in this brokenness–in the moments so hard when I have no energy to fake anything–that I meet my true self. Granted, she isn’t always the person I imagine myself to be. She’s more selfish, more easily irritated. But she’s also strong at the core, stronger than I give myself credit. She’s brush-off-the-fall and push-through-the-pain. Coming face-to-face with that self, honestly and with appreciation, and moving ahead with determination: that’s what I hope to see my life as, someday, instead of a series of giving up, or not starting at all. Labor, indeed.