Nine years ago today I made a decision which changed the trajectory of my life. I was a backslider who had decided to come back to church. It wasn’t Easter, Christmas, Mother’s Day, or any other special day of the year. It was just a beautiful, springy Sunday morning here in the Pacific Northwest.
My youngest child at that time was only ten months old, and my husband didn’t want to come. So, I left her home with daddy and ventured out on my own. I had never been to this particular church before, so I was a little nervous. I came in the door just as the congregation was greeting one another. The hostess smiled, greeted me, and took down my name and phone number. At least thirty people shook my hand, and some ladies even hugged me! Everyone was so friendly and welcoming.
I found an empty seat next to a lady in the center aisle, and the music started. I had been to a Pentecostal church in my teens, but I had been away for fifteen years by this point. Even 2,000 miles away from my hometown, the presence of God was exactly the same as I remembered it! I knew I had found my new home.
The Holy Ghost is Moving!
I came back for every service and brought my children too. I had never received the Holy Ghost when I was younger, but I began to earnestly pray for it now. After a couple of weeks during worship service, I felt the presence of God so strong during a fast song that I started jumping up and down (which was uncharacteristic for me at the time). One of the ladies came up to me and encouraged my worship. Then another lady. They urged me to pray, and I started speaking in tongues! The ladies around me were rejoicing so loudly that I could barely hear myself! It was an amazing experience.
When I got home, I didn’t tell my husband what happened. I knew he wouldn’t understand, and I wasn’t ready to answer any questions. But I could notice a change in myself right away. I didn’t want to drink anymore. I didn’t cuss anymore. I didn’t want to wear low-cut tops anymore. Probably the strangest thing was that I physically could not watch horror movies anymore. I used to LOVE horror movies. They couldn’t make them scary or gruesome enough for me. I tried to watch the latest “Saw” movie release because I had already seen the previous six and wanted to see how the series ended. I literally could not watch it. I kept covering my eyes and fast-forwarding parts of it. That was the last time I attempted to watch such evil.
He’s Still Working on Me
I used to love line dancing at bars with my friends, but now, I didn’t want to go to bars anymore. I lost a large group of friends (two of them my best friends) because partying was the glue holding us together. My own husband didn’t like the new me when I started wearing skirts in favor of jeans. He wanted “his wife back”. It hurt to hear him say that, and I tried to explain the change in my life. He tried to be understanding, but I could tell he didn’t like it.
Not every change was instant or easy. I struggled with many things that I knew I shouldn’t do. One Bible passage explains it perfectly:
Romans 7:15-19 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.
Come as You Are
I would trip up, get up, pray up, and try again. Little by little, God changed nearly every aspect of my life. Nine years later, He’s still working on me. Thank you, Jesus! I am far from perfect; I still mess up daily. I just repent and ask for help to do better next time.
I was 32 when I came back to church and received full salvation. I was still doing to bars, drinking, and living wrong. I didn’t have to clean up before I came back. I walked through the door of that church a broken mess. I was received, loved, and welcomed by God and his people. If there’s anything I would say to someone who is thinking about coming back to church or coming for the first time it would be this: You don’t have to clean up beforehand. Come as you are, you will be loved and welcomed.