730ish days ago....
I was a little busy meeting my new nephew, Josiah Scott, who was born on December 21. I was a little busy in Misssissippi getting up at 5:30 AM to shoot Bambi. I was a little busy flying home on a plane and finally doing Christmas with my mom and Jeff and Phillip. I was a little busy packing for Passion and preparing my heart to meet with the Lord. Needless the say, New Years came and went without any thought being given on my part to resolutions or anything along those lines.
In the days since Passion, I have had nothing to do however except sit and ponder. I have had all the time in the world to journal and dream and wonder and regret. And one thing keeps coming to the forefront of my mind.
It was this coming weekend, 2 years ago, that I first walked through the doors of a Sovereign Grace church. It was a little over 730 days ago that I was first introduced to this movement of churches. I can still remember that first Sunday very vividly in my head. The night before, I had looked up directions on Mapquest in my dorm room and hadn't really given it much thought other than that. The service starts at 10 AM. I left my dorm at 9:45 AM. First mistake. It takes 5 minutes to get off campus at 20 MPH. Bad start. Even worse, I start heading south on 13th St instead of north. It takes me about 5 minutes to realize this. So, by the time I'm heading the correct direction, it's already 10 AM. I almost gave up, and thought, I'll go next Sunday. But I didn't, and kept driving along.
I finally (after 3 more wrong turns) show up to the church around 10:20. It's the middle of worship I figure. I'm used to Baptist churches where you enter from the back and can sneak in quietly when you are late and figure who is going to notice you. I'm praying that this is the same situation at this new church.
But alas, God is a funny God. The church meets in a school (because, as we all know, church is about the body of people, not the building itself). They meet in the cafeteria of an elementary school, where the doors are located on the side, meaning you have to walk in and EVERYONE WILL SEE YOU. Even worse, they worship with the lights fully on-no dimmed mood lights here. Which means, as you walk in, LATE, you will catch everyone's eye.
What will they think? They're going to not like me because I am late. I hope I'm dressed ok. What if I can't find Joe and Tara and other people I know? What if they didn't even come this Sunday? What if I have to sit by myself? Man. I'm such a loser. I should just get back in my car and go home. So, instead of walking in at 10:20, I stand in the little foyer, trying to hide from all these strangers, fearful of what they would think of me.
Now, get this. It's gets worse. Some member at the church was also running late. And she's walking up and doesn't know me so she introduces herself and asks if I want to walk in with her. I LIE and say "That's ok. I'm waiting for a friend." This way, maybe she'll walk in there and say "Don't judge the girl who is about to walk in really late. She's waiting for a friend. That's why she's late. It's not her fault."
It was a sad sad day in the life of Jennifer Lorraine.
I didn't really know what all those thoughts and fears were. I would have said I was just nervous, being by myself in a new place. I never saw it for what it was for quite sometime. One day though David Gilland was joking around with me and I was doing something because of my fear of man. I'm sure I shot back some joke in the same vein, but I couldn't stop thinking about those 3 words. FEAR OF MAN. Which really comes down to pride-thinking that anyone would even care to dwell upon me or rest their thoughts upon me, thinking that this world is somehow focused upon me.
So 730 days ago began the destruction of self-of pride, vanity, self-worth, independence, fear of judgment, and fear of man. It's a long and slow path, but in the grace of God, I can see growth in my own life and pray that others can as well.
So as I reflect back on 2006, I can't not think about Abundant Grace Community Church. And as I reflect back on the church, I can't not think about my life before Abundant Grace. In the coming days, I plan to write more things that I have learned since coming to know this body of people. The things I have learned from these people and the sins that have been put to death in my heart as I have grown alongside these people.
It all began, 730ish days ago, when I was running late to church....