Sunday, April 22, 2007


This has been an interesting day. It's been a good day. It doesn't take much for me to be reminded of God's power and glory and I'm thankful for all of those reminders.

I went to Brandon Purintun's Confirmation this morning. I could go on and on about how terrific it was that this young man was being confirmed into the church, but this blog is about me, right? [hehe]. No really ... this time it is about me. Just another in a long list of learning experiences that I have to go through.

The spectacular thing about this Confirmation was that it was at Gretna UMC. For those of you who know me well, you know that when I left that church in 2002 it was extremely painful. I had (have) a lot of friends there, but circumstances blew my world apart and I had to leave. A terrible relationship with an explosive pastor and a poor start to a relationship with another pastor made it difficult to maintain any type of personal ministry. So, I was gone.

After some time to heal, I ended up at Faith-Westwood. God is good. All the time.

Last summer, I took Soul Seekers (FW's high school choir) back to Gretna UMC for a pre-tour concert. Brandon's dad, Doug, mentioned that hell must have finally frozen over for me to be back in that place. Funny as it was, while hell didn't freeze, my heart was beginning to thaw. I had managed to build up a lot of protective walls around my heart regarding that place. A few friends were able to keep communicating with me, but I was gone. I had spent every single Sunday leaving that church in tears. My husband was so angry that I kept returning for more pain, he could barely function when we had to go out there. When we left, we left for good. No more pain, no more anger.

So, several months ago, Amy asked if I would come out for Brandon's Confirmation. There was no hesitation. Of course I would! I'd do anything for those kids. And it wasn't about me. It was about being a part of Brandon's family. So, I set it all aside, knowing that I had plenty of friends and Amy's family would be all around me. No big deal.

I drove in a driving rainstorm, got out of the car with rain pouring down on me. I just laughed. Of course it was pouring! Why not? If it had been a month ago, it would have been a blizzard. My relationship with that church was stormy. I think God was laughing with me.

I walked in and began seeing people that I recognized. It's been nearly 5 years, but not much has changed. I saw Amy's family and sat down in a pew with her daughter Rachael, who loves me because I'm Aunt Diane. Whew! I was in with relatively little agony. I relaxed and began looking around. People smiled at me, some old friends stopped up to chat with me, I got a few hugs and a few strange looks as others tried to remember why they knew me!

Worship began. As it came time for the greeting, Pastor Mark, who knows me a little bit, came rushing down the aisle to hug and welcome me. That was it! I was fine! All of the trouble that had occurred between me and a previous pastor was erased by that single hug. I was welcome in the church that had practically begged me to leave (not necessarily true, but my feelings were pretty raw when I did leave). Worship was terrific. I was able to connect with God in a place that had laid me out. God never left - I did. The Confirmation ceremony was beautiful.

After worship, I encountered a lot more people - all of whom were glad to see me back. Ok ... not all of them. There were a few that looked at me to figure out who I was, and when the realization hit them, they were stuck. They had already made eye contact and had to say 'hello'. I just giggled. I have enough 'evil' in my heart, that I enjoyed that a lot. Others completely ignored me. That made me giggle as well.

The best part? I got to meet some of the new people that are moving and shaking that church. How exciting! These are fabulous people who have taken on God's call to fill the church with His people, whether they are healthy or broken. I can build relationships with new friends, reconnect with old friends and be thankful for a period of time in my life that was a time of growth.

God's grace and mercy is always at work ... in His church and in the lives of His people. I'm thankful to be in His grace.


Jacqniel said...

While I am sad you had to go through such an ordeal at the Gretna church, look where that experience has led you. It is great when at the end of a life lesson we can sit back and say -'Oh, THIS is why I had to go through THAT!'
Hugs and blessings! Jacque

Rebecca said...

I love redemption I really do and your story gives me hope for my own with some raw feelings in churches.. and maybe if I read this enough times I will find the courage to walk back into one of those buildings on a Sunday!

Love you!

ps... it is all about you!!!! because you are all about Him!!! hehehee

Dave Cogswell said...

Diane,,, I'm so sorry I missed you on Sunday... I was watching my grand children (or they were watching papa) I'm not sure which it is.. I'm glad you were able to attend confirmation and see the new us... We would love to have you back again and if you call me I'll come out and greet you at the car and you can walk in on my arm. God's love and mine to you...

Jeff S. said...

I'm glad you came Sunday and that I had a chance to meet you in our Sunday School class. Although I wasn't here yet when everything happened before, I know some extremely hurtful things were said and done to you. I'm glad that you were able to come back and find some healing on Sunday. You are ALWAYS welcome in God's house, and I'm glad he revealed himself to you here once again. Take care! Jeff

Pastor Mark said...

You honored us with your presence. You graced us with your words.God bless you, and come back again sometime! Pastor Mark