uncomfortable moments

12 Jul

Throughout the duration of this trip, several friends have asked me, how is God speaking to you. First of all, I love that they ask me this question and secondly, I tell them He’s speaking to me in many ways – some subtle that I only realize after the fact and some more obvious ways that it’s impossible to miss. I had one of those experiences last night. Here’s how it went down.

Yesterday I arrived in Charleston, South Carolina. The night before in Savannah I thought it might be nice to go to an evening church service in Charleston but I had no internet access where I was to look up churches so I asked my lovely aunt to do so on my behalf and she found a church called Victory Baptist on James Island with a Sunday evening a service at 6pm. However, poor timing on my part was going to get me into Charleston at 5:30pm and I was utterly exhausted from not sleeping much the two nights before (from cockroach related incidents which I will share later) so on the drive into Charleston I had decided that I will skip church and just head to my motel for the evening. Yes, lame, I know. About 25 minutes outside of Charleston I began to have a conversation with God (I know this probably sounds a little crazy, but I do this sometimes when I’m driving and actually find that it works for me) and I was wondering out loud to Him if there is any particular reason for my being in Charleston (besides me wanting to visit) and if He has anything to reveal to me here. As the conversation progressed, I am pretty sure I heard Him say, ‘”go to church.” I tried to reason back that I was very tired and am open to doing what He asks of me tomorrow and tried to change the subject. He got louder giving me the sense that this is just something I should do – so I finally agreed. Once getting to Charleston, I quickly checked into my Motel, put on some nicer clothes, freshened up a bit and was out the door with just enough time to get to the church for the beginning of the service. In my jeans and a nice top with my greasy hair (which does not get along well with the ridiculous humidity here) pulled back into a messy kind of bun, I’m thinking that I’m dressed quite appropriately for a Sunday evening service. On the way my GPS says I’m going to get to the church by 6:03pm, not bad I think… the service will probably start a few minutes late anyways, they always do. Just as I approach James Island, the drawbridge connecting the island to the mainland goes up to let a boat through. Perfect. This puts me another 7 minutes behind and I end up getting to the church at about 6:10pm. Oh well, I’ll just sneak in the back.

As I open the main doors to the church I am greeted by 4 ushers dressed in full suits. Immediately I feel underdressed in my rolled up jeans and flowy top, but they were so friendly and welcoming that I just kind of shook it off. They probably have some sort of dress code to be the greeters I figured. I was about to open the big wooden doors to the sanctuary when one of the men in black told me to hold on, there was special music going on and he didn’t want there to be an interruption. Okay, so I chatted with the friendliest of the four amigos while waiting in the foyer. Upon learning that I’m from Canada, he asked me if I knew so and so from Canada. I said no. One thing that I find hilarious about some Americans (not all because I do not want to make such generalizations) I have met is that they think that if you are from Canada, you must know everybody else from Canada… bless their hearts (people in the south say this a lot).

After a few minutes it was time to make my big entrance into the sanctuary. The sanctuary was beautiful with towering ceilings, a fully furnished stage and lovely chandeliers providing soft lighting. Buddy led me to a seat in the back (not because it was full but because I requested it). As I sat down, I took one look around and knew this was not the type of church I was expecting. I was literally the only person wearing jeans and was suddenly very self conscious of my top with tank top straps revealing my shoulders. I wanted to crawl under my chair and make my escape, but I knew the mob squad in the back would not be having it so I picked up my hymnal and sang along. I could feel eyes on me but as the service progressed I began to feel more comfortable. When it came time to reading from the Bible, my friend from the foyer came over and let me borrow his Bible because they use the King James version and I just had my little NLT. The pastor, who closely resembled Al Gore, spoke passionately (and even with an unexpected sense of humour) on the importance of putting on the full armour of God every morning when we wake up because as a Christian intentionally trying to surrender to Christ, we have the full attention of Satan who will do everything he can to attack us and bring us down. Big Bill (my new friend) would let out a billowing ‘Amen’, ‘that’s right’, or ‘speak on Preacher’ about every few minutes that I actually found quite endearing and others joined him a few times throughout. I can’t remember attending a church in Canada where people would so passionately agree with the pastor… I liked it. The service closed with the offering and this young girl playing a beautifully arranged hymn on the piano that gave me goosebumps and made me really miss playing piano. I ended up really enjoying the service. Feeling quite proud of myself for doing something that I did not want to do, but only did because God said so, I tried to make my quick exit out the front doors to my car. But buddy saw me try to leave and intercepted my path to invite me to the church social/baby shower they were having in the gymnasium. He said there was plenty of food and I was more than welcome to join them. I politely declined the offer (a few times) and said thank you… I could tell my friend was disappointed as He told me to take care of myself.

I got in my car, pulled out my GPS, started it up and was about the leave when I could hear this voice telling me to go back in. I think I sat in my car for a good three minutes having this back and forth debate of whether I should go back in or not. Typically, staying for a party where I don’t know anyone, is not my cup of tea and something I would avoid at all costs. But I also never thought that I would be in Charleston, South Carolina, the day before my 27th birthday, on a road trip across the country… the Holy Spirit works in crazy ways sometimes. In fact, in a book that I am reading (actually listening to on audio book) by Franklin Chan that speaks all about the Holy Spirit, Chan points out that “The Spirit of the living God is guaranteed to ask you to go somewhere or do something you wouldn’t normally want or choose to do.” Ha. Check and check. God wins the argument, I grab my purse, walk back into the church and find my friend (who was right where I left him) to tell him that I changed my mind. His warm and excited reaction was so genuine that I couldn’t help but think that he was actually really glad that I decided to stay.

He immediately brought me over to a few ladies, introduced me to them and told them to take good care of me. And they did. They brought me through the food line-up which was an impressive spread of watermelon (a southern staple), meatballs and hoagies, pasta salads and chips. They found a table with me where we sat and they introduced me to their families. And every time they got up to get something, they asked me if I needed anything. I think I ended up staying for about an hour, just visiting with these people – all of whom are Charleston born and raised. These people were absolutely wonderful and welcoming and made me feel right at home. No judgment. No stereotyping. No assumptions. It made me wonder if I would have done the same had the situation been reversed. I’ve actually wondered this a lot as I’ve made my way across the south. The people here are very friendly and will come right up to me to introduce themselves because they notice that I am ‘new’. Do we do this at our churches at home? Do I? I don’t think we do and I know I don’t. At the end of the evening, they warmly said goodbye and invited me back to the Wednesday evening service (people in the south go to church a lot). As I walked back to my car, I realized that I hadn’t thought about what I was wearing since my initial reaction when I walked into the sanctuary. That’s the way church should be. I just smiled and thanked God that He made me stay. It was one of those uncomfortable things that I normally wouldn’t do, but was so worth it in the end.

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3 Responses to “uncomfortable moments”

  1. anna court July 12, 2010 at 9:21 am #

    that was a great way to start my day
    thank you for sharing
    jamie you are awesome
    love love love you
    bless you as you travel and learn and grow
    you are helping us grow back here as we read about your journey, thank you for your vulnerability and love for jesus and teachable spirit
    i am inspired once again
    thank you <
    anna for kerby & the girls <

    • Jamie Born July 16, 2010 at 7:34 pm #

      Thanks Anna… you are so sweet! And thanks for reading my blog and following me along this journey. Love you!

  2. Jamie July 14, 2010 at 8:44 pm #

    crazy

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