Since I'll be in Swansboro next Sunday for Easter weekend, I only have one more Sunday with my sweet Theater Church family.
It's only hit me in the past few days that it's going to be just about as hard for me to say goodbye to them as it will be for me to say goodbye to the school friends that have become my family.
From the second I walked in the doors of that old movie theater, the people in that place took me in and loved me like they'd known me their entire lives. They have walked with me through a very crazy year and a half since, never letting me forget that even when I wasn't there, they were thinking of me and praying for me. They have prayed with me, celebrated with me, guided me, taught me, pushed and inspired me. But most of all, they accepted me. I never once felt like I had to put up a facade around them. I never felt like I had to hide my struggles or my questions or my fears. I could be myself in a way that I didn't know was possible in a church.
God used them to heal me. To help me forgive what the people in Swansboro did. To help me understand the difference between Jesus and the people in the church. To let go of my resentment towards the church and the pain that I was too bitter to let go of for so many years. To move past all the fear and the emotions that were exactly the reason I didn't want to go back to church in the first place.
I don't give the relationships that I made there the credit they are due for helping mold me into the woman that I am today. But the truth is, I would not be the person, friend, or Christian that I am now without the people in that community. I am better because of them. I am wiser because of them. I understand God's grace and the heart of the body of Christ more clearly because of them.
No one can get everything right, but those guys? They certainly do get a lot. And I'm going to miss the freedom I found in those walls with those friends when I leave in a few weeks more than I can say.