I’ve been living in Austin for almost two years now, but it feels like forever…in the best way. Once I got settled, this weird city became my home. I love Chicago, but I don’t know that I could ever see myself moving back.
I’ve made new friends, lived in three different neighborhoods, discovered new things to do, and explored other parts of this gigantic state we call Texas. I absolutely love it here, and not just because of the weather.
But there’s been one thing missing: A church.
I’ve been ignoring it for the better part of my time here, in spite of the fact that so much of my identity surrounds my faith. I was raised Lutheran, baptized by my grandpa (a pastor) as a baby, communed, and confirmed. Trinity Lutheran Church in Lisle literally raised me…and that has been difficult for me to let go.
Not only did [do] I have an incredible “extended family” at Trinity, but I was also fortunate enough to worship at a place that, in my opinion, defies classic Christian stigmas. If I was struggling with my faith – or anything in life, for that matter – I felt comfortable discussing it with church friends or teachers. I developed amazing relationships with my peers and was even in “therapy” (for lack of a better term) there, and met with the most amazing, helpful, real woman I’ve ever known. Most importantly, it was never a place where I felt judged. Not even our leaders stood before us and acted perfect, which has always been a huge influence on me, especially in high school. With all the outside influences in the world today, I wonder if my faith would have fizzled away if I’d gone to church anywhere else.
I knew, moving here, that I would need to find a new church. I tried so many places: recommendations from Trinity, from friends, with friends, by myself…you name it.
It’s crowded in worship today / As she slips in trying to fade into the faces / The girl’s teasing laughter is carrying farther than they know…
“If We Are the Body” – Casting Crowns
Between that, “Stained Glass Masquerade,” and my favorite “Does Anybody Hear Her,” Casting Crowns pretty much summed up my church experience. I was an outsider. Alone.
Not only is that not the way a church should make you feel but what made it even more difficult for me, was that I was coming from a place where I was so connected. I was homesick for Trinity. I knew that I couldn’t immediately be connected in a new church…but what happened to greeting your neighbor before the sermon starts?? A gesture like that could have brought me from my perpetual verge of tears to a smile…and I’d be willing to bet that I’m not the only one. None of the churches I visited were bad, by any means. They just weren’t for me.
I was church sick, so I gave up.
I didn’t abandon my faith in favor of a Pagan cult or anything, but I gave up on finding a new church home; it was too painful. If I could have commuted to Trinity every Sunday, I would have. I was looking for a church that was welcoming. A place with Trinity’s energy – imperfect, upbeat, friendly, and real.
But God works in mysterious ways. I’d stopped looking and suddenly, a random Instagram post sparked a conversation between a friend and I…the next thing I know, I’m with her at Gateway Church. All it took was one visit; I felt like I belonged.
I’m so grateful to my friend Keanna for reaching out to me and so thankful to have found a place that may not be Trinity, but makes me feel just as loved. Today was my third time there and I’m already committed, and excited, because I’ll be auditioning for their praise team this week (another aspect of my experiences at Trinity that I severely missed).
My head has been spinning the last few weeks; so many things have been changing in such an exciting way, which my mom (of course) attributes to having found a new church. Whether it’s luck, skill, God, or all of the above…I am extremely appreciative of it.