~ By Miranda Grummon
The reputations of Christians and the church isn’t exactly stellar in the secular world. Churches are closed-minded, they say. Homophobic. Judgmental. Hypocritical. Why on earth would someone want to be a part of a church community? Well…..what if, instead of only hearing the negative press, I could tell them about the love, grace and acceptance that our little family has experienced from day one, and that we have experienced God through so many people?
My tale of church includes days upon days of meals that church folks brought to our home after the births of both of our boys. Not many hospitality gifts surpass a hot meal delivered to your door. I saw God on our front porch every night during those incredibly stressful times.
My tale of church includes reassurance that we had a place to come to with our newborn…I was a terrified first-time mom, and it was a BIG DEAL to feel like we could get it together enough to bring our newborn to a church service with us. Would we be in the way? Would we get glares if he started to cry? I really have no idea what I am doing – will I get eye-rolls? No…instead, this is the flavor of message we heard, over and over: ““We are so glad you and your baby are here. If he cries, who cares! I love to hear the sound of new life here, so don’t you worry about it.” I wonder if those folks know how much I heard God in these words.
My tale of church includes the first teachers that our boys ever had – the gifts that are Sunday School teachers. Both of our boys have been loved, accepted, and given grace, again and again. What an incredible start for them to have so many adults who love and care for them fiercely.
My tale of church is these people who see us and our kids each week and keep up with them as they grow, change and develop. Several years ago, as we began to suspect that our son may be on the autism spectrum, some of those in our church family were the ones that heard our fears. When we received our son’s diagnosis, I came to a church meeting and ended up in tears, telling them about the diagnosis process and how scared and alone we felt. I received hugs, love, and grace. We received a home-cooked meal brought to our door the very next day. We received a card from a lovely woman in our church, expressing her love and support for us as we determined the next steps in raising our boys. Our church family has been so willing to learn along with us about autism, and they accept and love both of our boys just the way they are. What an incredible way to see God.
Church in general has a lot of work to do, I know. Not everyone has been as fortunate as we have been to experience God’s love in so many ways through church. Sometimes we imperfect humans screw it up. However, it is my hope that, instead of only hearing about when things get screwed up, folks can hear more stories of when those imperfect humans in church actually get it right. We are thankful for personally experiencing God’s love through so many people and circumstances. God, please lead me in how I can best pay those gifts forward.