The Odessa congregation
Troy is getting baptized this Sunday. Before you read any more of this blog CLICK RIGHT HERE and go read Troy's blog first. Then come back over here and read what I have to say.
Did you read Troy's blog????? I'll wait for you to finish...take your time.
I never really thought about Troy getting baptized. Until he brought it up, it honestly had not crossed my mind. There has never been any doubt in my mind that Troy has invited Christ into his life and keeps that in his daily thoughts/actions/prayers. I can't imagine anyone questioning this about him. I never have. I had a moment where I did not understand his need to get baptized again with a new church. A lot of talking later and I'm good with his decision (not that it's up to me) and I understand where he is coming from.
The thing that stuck out to me was that he wanted to be a member of the Community of Christ. This is where I started to push back at him. There was no doubt in my mind that Troy was prepared to be baptized, but before I would be comfortable supporting him in his confirmation as a member of this church, I had to challenge his decision. That was hard for me! I struggled to find a way to push him, yet still be supportive.
I know that Troy would do just about anything for me, but I would not let him do this for me. It had to be for him, not for me. Attending church together is a top priority for our relationship. We both agreed that we did not want to be a couple that attended seperate churches. We were both willing to try something new and keep trying until we found a place that felt like home for both of us. To Troy's credit, he was much more flexible than I was, but in the end I would have gone wherever we both felt "right", even if it had meant leaving what I already knew. Lucky for me he fell in love with the church that already had my heart.
We started attending the Odessa congregation regularly and Troy fell in love with them. I understand, because I am in love with them too, but I couldn't let him choose to become a member of this church because of one amazing group of people. I told him that he had to learn more. He needed to know not only more about the church as a whole, but he needed to learn about other congregations. One of my favorites things about the Community of Christ is that we are such a diverse and open group of people. He needed to make this decision because he loves this church, not just this congregation. I wanted to know that if we moved to North Carolina (my dream, not his) and had to drive 45 minutes to attend church each Sunday that he was willing to do that, even though it was not the Odessa congregation. I told him that before he could make this decision he needed to think about whether or not he would keep attending this church if I were to pass away. Don't choose a church because of me. Choose a church because there is no doubt in your mind that it is the right decision for you. And so with that, I told him he needed to wait (and I'm not the type to tell someone one what to do). We were going to make a point to explore this church outside of Odessa.
We read about the church (Troy much more than me). He does not like to read, but really got into learning more about the church and he would come to me with questions/comments. I did not have a ton of answers for him (but I do know a lot of church songs and some of those had the answers!) so we got on the internet, read more, and asked others for help. Troy has been refreshing my memory on things I hadn't thought about in a very long time! I can honestly tell you that right now Troy could tell you more about the sacrements than I could because it is all fresh in his mind.
We went to family camp, which was one of our goals on the road to baptism/confirmation. This was an opportunity to learn about other members of the church. We soaked in so much information that people didn't even realize they were feeding to us. We listened to what people had to say about their own congregations: what they loved and what they hoped to change. We experienced things we wanted more of, and things we could have done with less of. We sat together every day and talked about what it means to be a member of this church, a member of this mission center, a young adult, a leader and a follower in our day to day lives.
As Troy and I have been discussing what it is that makes this church the right one for us, we each have had trouble putting it into words that others would understand (me more so than him). As I was looking around on the church website last week, I came across the following: "Faith, experience, tradition, and scholarship each have something to contribute to our understanding of scripture. In wrestling to hear and respond to the witness of scripture, the church must value the light that each of these sources may offer." That's it! I am constantly changing and growing, and because of that, what I bring to this church and what I get from this church are constantly changing. I believe that the bible is an amazing reference, but the world has changed, we have changed, and that's a good thing! We must open our minds and our hearts to new experiences and new ways of thinking. We are constantly learning and it would be silly to not put that new knowledge to use understanding the bible/life/relationships/oursevles better. To me, the Community of Christ church keeps me grounded and on a straight path, but at the same time challenges me to think outside the box and appreciates my ability to do that.
I am happy that we have found a place we both agree on, but I had never considered asking Troy about becoming a member. I was just happy to have him sitting next to me holding my hand during prayers. That was enough for me, and I never expected anything more. He has been so touched and made to feel at home in this church that he asked started asking questions about how he could make this his forever home.
This Sunday Troy will be baptized and confirmed as a member of "our church" and I will be sitting in the front row crying tears of joy.