On Avoiding the Church

by | Oct 7, 2014 | 31 Days to London, Encouragement


We were late to church but that didn’t keep people from turning around to pat my lap, extend hands across the aisle in welcome, gently whisper “It’s so good to see you.” Sometimes I forget I’m being held through this long period of uncertainty until I insert myself into community.

On some Sundays, we convince ourselves it’s too painful to go to church. Too painful to repeat the same answers to the same questions from the greeters in the parking lot and on the porch, from friends huddled in quiet conversation inside and those already seated. Surrounded by a bottleneck of smiling faces on our way out, we rub shoulders and people inquire, “When are you moving?”

The resignation of not knowing becomes a place of stress when people require a concrete answer. “I don’t know” sounds inept, unsure, and perhaps even foolish. On a particularly painful day, that simple question like “How are you?” can make me feel as though I’m standing naked among the saints.

As we live out this call to London, allowing details to unfold with each step, we are acutely aware that there are two kinds of responses written like epistles on faces.

Our walk with a blindfold into a new season conjures fear or faith in others. It all depends on past experiences or how long someone has been running from what God is asking of them.

Depending on the category, we switch between recipient and minister in conversation. Empathy does as much good work toward healing as leading someone toward deeper faith. Both require telling your story and the outcome is up to Jesus, yes?

We are surrounded by people that care and this is an extravagant gift.  Being held in times of uncertainty is what it means to be the Church.



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  1. Lynn Morrissey

    This is an exquisite post, Shelly. I’m sorry for pain that keeps you from church, but glad for the love that draws you back. I can see where it would be very difficult to answer what you don’t yet know, and how well-meaning people could add to that discomfort. Thankfully, you understand and you are patient…and you are willing to live midst the tension and to accept their embrace. You have mind.
    PS I LOVE these photos and the way you are presenting them–shere poetry!

    • Shelly Miller

      I’ve learned so much over the past six months Lynn, a whole lifetime of lessons I think. Thanks for you sweet comment about the photos. I have so many you know!

      • Lynn Morrissey

        Lessons to go into THAT BOOK!!!!!!! Take good notes, dear one! Oh, I wish I were a photographer…..but alas. But my Sheridan is. Would love to get the two of you together. =]

  2. Katha VD

    Yes, absolutely! Thanks for sharing, excellent thoughts! Even without moving it can be a real challenge getting yourself to church and stepping into this mass of questions, sharing, and giving uncertain answers.
    I hope you find people who WANT to hold you in these times of uncertainty and you experience their faith, their time, their support for you!

    • Shelly Miller

      I agree Katha, sometimes it’s hard to get there even when you aren’t moving. Lovely to see you here.

  3. DeanneMoore

    This: how others respond with fear or faith to the uncertainty depending “on past experiences or how long someone has been running from what God is asking them,” is such a great reminder of what happens when we are vulnerable with people in community. It allows the body of Christ to work, both ways–being ministered to and extending our faith to others. So true when we are willing…as you are. God was saying something to me through your words…thank you, my friend for walking us through these days to London with you…may God strengthen you and fill you with the fullness of faith, manna for today, enough…

    • Shelly Miller

      Love knowing God spoke to you through this post Dea. Thank you.

  4. pastordt


  5. Zoe Powell

    It is hard- we were looking for a house for weeks after we originally planned to move, meaning the answer at church when asked was ‘not sure,’ but knowing our church family cared and were praying with us was a blessing. We all had to wait on Gods timing and provision, which as always turned out perfectly.

    • Shelly Miller

      Things always seem to work out don’t they Zoe? Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, appreciate it.

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