I Decided to Stop “Going” to Church

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It is more blessed to give than to receive. —Acts 20:35, KJV

With a belly full of milk, my three-month-old baby sleepily snuggled closer and started to snore. I gently stroked his hair as I leaned back and closed my eyes.

The past few months had been a blur of sleepless nights, endless feedings, and countless diaper changes. Rest was a hot commodity in this new world of motherhood.

“Are you up to going to church tomorrow? It’s been three months.” My husband’s question interrupted my thoughts, which immediately told me why that was a bad idea. I was tired. Why expose a tiny human to more germs? Sometimes I do not get anything out of the sermon. Why not just stay in the comfort of my armchair, nursing my baby and listening to church online? But the next day, I reluctantly exchanged my stretchy pants for a dress, and after packing enough diapers for a weekend, we finally arrived at our little church.

It felt surprisingly good to be back. It was good to see our friends, who showered our little one with “ooohs” and “ahhhs.” As everyone found their seat, I noticed a visitor hanging tentatively at the back, unsure of where to sit. “Come join us!” I invited, and she gratefully followed me to our pew. When potluck came and the baby was gleefully getting passed around, it felt good to scan the tables for newer faces and decide whom to sit by and get to know more. As my husband and I climbed back into the car, I realized how much happier I was now compared to when I had dragged myself out a few hours prior.

For the first time, it dawned on me that we do not go to church; we are church—a family with diverse strengths and needs, journeying together to our heavenly home. We do not go just to get something; we go to give something—and in return, we receive so much more. At that moment, the spotlight on my self-centeredness was dimmed, and the One who had sacrificed all for me shone supreme. As Saint Francis of Assisi wrote in his timeless prayer, O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek To be consoled, as to console, To be understood, as to understand; To be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Hannah Ko Luttrell

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