From the time I was fifteen until I was 35, I walked away from God. I didn’t lose my beliefs I’d been taught as a child, but I lost my faith. I still believed the Bible stories, I still believed God loved me—I just didn’t want anything to do with church or prayer or the actual live-like-you-believe-it part of being a Christian.
I didn’t want anything to do with church or prayer or the actual live-like-you-believe-it part of being a Christian.
I still have my Bible from when I was a kid. As I flip through the tattered book filled with yellow highlighter and squiggly blue underlines, I wonder how I could have forgotten its words in Psalm 101:6, “I will search for faithful people to be my companions.” Instead, I searched for the popular crowd and was faithful to them.
My wedding was one of the last times I went to church except for occasional holidays with my parents. When they prayed at the start of the service, I prayed that it would end. While they worshipped, I wondered what’s for dinner. As they sang all 19 verses of “Just As I Am,” I would harden my heart once again and say, “Just as I am is perfectly fine, thank you very much!”
I wasn’t teaching our daughter my beliefs, either. My husband and I enrolled her at a Christian school because we thought they offered the best academic curriculum. I knew many of the parents and staff from my church-going days, and they thought they knew me. I could sling their Christian-ese lingo and stop cussing and smoking long enough to get through a parent-teacher meeting.
When I told them we didn’t go to church, not one single person invited me to go church with them. Instead, they invited me for coffee. We worked together on committees and school carnivals. Our children played at each other’s homes.
I saw firsthand how these women relied on God to make them good parents even when their kids behaved badly. I watched how they responded when they didn’t agree with each other. I overheard their heartfelt prayers and realized their beliefs went beyond simple Bible stories. They had hope and joy even as they took children to chemotherapy and buried beloved parents. They were content planning fund raisers instead of exotic vacations.
They were simply lovely, and they simply loved me.
As we became friends very naturally, I began to soften spiritually. One day I realized I didn’t want to live a lie any more. I wanted to be like these women. I leaned in ever so slightly towards the Lord’s whisper, and I swear I heard Him say, “Oh, Amy—welcome home!”
I pray you have a Julie or a Margaret, a Michelle or a Marilyn, a Luann or a Lane in your life. I call them my “good Godly girlfriends,” or gGg’s for short.
These women didn’t simply invite me to a church service, they initiated me into a life of faithful service.
Please take it from this former pagan turned passionate follower, we need each other. We need friends who may not always take our side, but they will always take our hand—and they will always lead us one step closer to the throne of Grace.