By Krista Sison
When I was younger, the Catholic community was my entire life. I planned everything around church, youth group, praise and worship nights. However, it wasn’t long until I went off to university, and that all changed.
When I was 18, I moved New York City to go to art school.
Needless to say, it was quite a culture shock. I was still going to church, but every day I found it harder and harder to find a community that I belonged to. I remember telling someone that I was going to bed early so I could go to church in the morning, and their response was,
“You’re like the only person I’ve met here that goes to church.”
Wherever I went, I tried to stay involved with my home community, while also searching for a new one. I never quite found the right place for me. I was a lost sheep. Moving around all the time started to convince me that I didn’t need a community. I was surviving perfectly fine on my own. As I progressed through my college years, I was attending mass less and less, but I justified it in my head, thinking it was okay because my belief in God never wavered. I just didn’t feel like going. Eventually, for me, it became the norm.
After a while, it felt like too much time had passed since I had last gone to church, so I ended up feeling unworthy of being there.
This happens to me all the time. I indulge in something bad, say something mean, or make the wrong decision, and it makes me ashamed to put myself in front of the Lord. It makes me feel undeserving of His love and forgiveness. It’s a feeling that traps you and keeps you in a place where it’s hard to see past the struggle. In a sermon I heard a few weeks ago, the pastor said,
“The devil isn’t here to ruin your day. He is here to ruin your ability to redeem the day. Once he takes that ability away, he steals your access to worthiness. He takes away your knowledge of your God-given gifts so that you can’t change your eternity.”
I already know that God is all-loving and all-forgiving, and has endured everything in this life so I don’t have to. But why don’t I always believe it? Why don’t I trust it?
No matter how many times he says it, unworthiness often makes me feel like I can’t talk to God.
I think that’s because any ordinary person would not tolerate such a relationship. Would your boyfriend or girlfriend put up with getting ditched every Sunday? Would they accept you prioritizing unimportant things before them? Would they stay if you never wanted to have a real conversation? Probably not. But God is not like any other, and yes, sometimes it is hard to believe.
For me, this is a big reason why community matters.
When I don’t feel worthy of talking to God, he still finds ways to work himself into my life through others. When I wasn’t going to church, he knew just who to ask to invite me back to church. He knew that that person would be His right hand in guiding me back to a life of fulfillment. Other times, he gives me signs, but I’m just too stubborn to listen or act. But it helps us when we hear others give us the same advice and the same signs. It’s like when your dad keeps giving you his “sage” advice, but you think it’s stupid, and then your best friend tells you the same thing, and you think…
You're a genius.
Since I have had so many periods of going and not going to church, I have really learned the importance of community in my life. When I would struggle on my own, I would be stuck in my spiritual warfare for long periods of time. But now that I go to a new church (one where I connect more with the community), I keep thinking, why was I always so hard on myself? Life doesn’t have to be so hard. I know it can be. But it doesn't need to be.
Because as a part of the body, sometimes you’re not meant to be the eyes. Sometimes you’re not meant to be the hands. Some days it is too hard to hold your head up.
But in those days, you don’t have to be, because the community will always be there to pull you out of the darkness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Krista Sison is a fashion designer living in Los Angeles, California. She loves taking participating in anything creative and anything outdoors. She is a strong advocate of living simply and sustainably. Currently, she is building a company focused on providing sustainable, domestically made products, which you can check out at MultitudesStudio.com