Nicci Toomey
About Author
November 3, 2015

Church - the good, the bad and the beautiful

I have  been carrying this rainbow with me for over a week now.  It is bright  and beautiful and holds a deep personal place in my heart.  And it  happened at church.

Our family have only been going to church for the  last 6 years, diligently.  I guess I had grown up knowing about church  and believing when I died there would be something more, but that was it.   When the girls were about two I had this overwhelming desire to go to  church.  We tried, but it was difficult.  At this stage Abbey was  in and out of hospital on a monthly basis, at a moments notice.  So,  when we were home and settled, the last thing I wanted to do was go out!   When they were about four I tried again on my own.  I found out  who this Jesus guy was and I was baptised that year.

When we moved interstate we knew a top priority  was finding a church.  It was going to be difficult as we had only known  one church and I believed it was unique in its structure.  

Its been two years and in that time I have  discovered one very apparent thing - church is not perfect.  Church is  not perfect because people are not perfect and people run churches!  The  other truth I've uncovered is its not always about the church and sometimes  (or most of the time) about me.  

In my experience, church is not created around or  necessarily designed for, special needs kids or special needs families.   Just as the world doesn't automatically flatten out when you need to  navigate it in a wheelchair.  My message is - thats ok.  It has  taken some time for me to realise that sometimes you have to make it work.   We were very spoiled in our first church, and just like a spoiled child  needs to find their way in the world, we too needed to find our way in  church.  My other message - it doesn't need to be easy.  In today's  environment we are so quick to be searching for the 'easy' and when it isn't  quickly found we give up.

I'm here to admit I was ready to give up.  I  love Jesus and the difference faith makes in my life but it's hard.   Church is hard.  I felt like our family was a square peg in a  round hole and we'd just never fit, and conventionally we won't.  WE are  different.  We have 2 special needs kids who can't be dropped off at  Kids Church.  We can't put up our hand to be there early and volunteer.   We usually can't hang around, talking and mingling to make better  connections.  BUT, just recently, we've been focusing on what we  CAN do.  

We can worship with the whole church and then we  can move to the foyer, where we can see everything on a TV while Abbey  happily plays on the floor and Lucy colours in.  We can put up our hand  to lead a connect group.  Opening our home each fortnight and building a  community environment open to whoever wants to walk in.  We can choose  to do life with people outside of Sunday mornings, cheering them on  through life.  I can put my 'big girl pants' on and make sure we turn up  on Sunday no matter what.  Why?  Because I am passionate about  showing people the difference faith makes when faced with adversity.   Because I've done it with and without God to pray to.  I've walked  long dark tunnels often with no hint of a light and now a light shines  bright. Because I've sat on both sides of the fence and I know where the  green grass lies.

I want to show up and I pray God will use the  picture to build into someone else's life.  This is what I have in my  hands and I'm happy to have it used anyway He sees fit.

So then comes my RAINBOW - 

Two Sundays ago we were doing church - Abbey  playing on the floor and Lucy colouring in.  As we were getting close to  the end, a woman sitting behind us stood up from her chair, stooped down and  scooped eleven year old Abbey up in her arms. "Is that ok?" she  asked.  Ok?!  My heart was about to fall out my chest, full of  love for this woman who was 'loving on' my girl.  I knew who she was and  I really like her.  I don't see her at church often and, until that  moment, she hadn't had any interaction with my daughters. She  walked back to her seat and nestled Abbey on her lap and cuddled her. And  there it was - the beautiful rainbow.  All because in the midst of doing  it anyway, feeling like a square peg, God brought a woman into my world to  show me the 'beautiful' of church.


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