How are you doing in the waiting room? If you find yourself in a waiting season right now, you should know that there is a group of women at 12Stone praying for you! We’re agreeing with you in prayer as God does a deep work in your life.
Life is unpredictable – sometimes you find yourself feeling on top of the world and other days, you’re trying to find your way through dark valleys. Difficult times often result in hurt or loss and those times mark us. We tend to carry our brokenness even after we’ve left the valley. Sometimes it’s front and center, but it’s very common for the brokenness to move to the back of your memory while you try to move on to something new. So then when God asks you to wait on Him and you slow down long enough, the brokenness has time to rise to the surface. It may not feel like it in the moment, but that is a gift. You can’t carry that baggage forever. It will compound over time and God did not create you for that. Waiting gives you space to recover.
In Matthew 11, Jesus gives us a sacred invitation.
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
My husband and I were sitting in the back row at the 12Stone Flowery Branch campus. It was our first Sunday. We had made it to our seats mostly “under the radar” but did manage to score free coffee. The music queued up and we stood to join the crowd in worship. However, on the inside, we were heavy, disillusioned, weary, and broken. To be candid, we hated church. We were not backslidden. We loved Jesus. But we found ourselves in the back row after hours of agonizing prayer and conversation.
You see, we had given the previous ten years of our lives to our former church. You name it, we did it. Worship, small group leaders, student leaders, heck, we even scrubbed the toilets! I don’t say all this for accolades, it was a gift and privilege to be trusted to do it. However, over the years the leadership began to deteriorate and became increasingly unhealthy. My husband and I, with clenched fists, were determined to remain “loyal”. We attempted to ride it out, never losing hope that it would get better.
It pains me to say it, but we were taken advantage of, misled to great lengths, and in the end, had to sit in the wreckage and reality that it was over. Heartbreak and disillusionment closed in on us and became our new “normal”. How could this happen? How did we get here? We were strong believers that KNEW the church was the bride of Christ! The sadness that this could happen in church was overwhelming.
For the next six months, we sat in the back row at the Flowery Branch campus, in recovery. We sat and waited while God quietly healed our wounds, slowly lightened our heavy hearts that felt LOADED with pain and gradually turned our wounds into beautiful scars. The waiting had become a gift.
My name is Sarah Oakley, and it is my great honor to now serve as the Spiritual Formation Pastor at Flowery Branch. The church that was my recovery room has now become my mission! The past 12 years here have included both blessings and disappointments. God healed my heart, but I still experience brokenness in church. After all, I’m still here. I’ve let people down. I experienced the shock of spiritual heroes that failed; both in the headlines and up close. But I’ve learned that I can’t run when it hurts. I can face it. Sometimes I may even need to sit in it… until God speaks.
Whether it is marriage, parenting, friendship, or your church home, you will be disappointed. Face it honestly and welcome the space for recovery. Ask God to help you respond. And then, mighty women of God, when the Spirit says it’s time, get back in there! We have a race to finish. And like Jesus, we will finish with some scars to show the journey that we’ve been on.