mjkimpan  —  October 30, 2012 — 16 Comments

yesterday, i made an announcement and declared i’ll be devoting the next few posts throughout this week to helping others understand my journey toward my exciting new position at The Marin Foundation.

today’s post is why i’m so deeply grateful for my time at richwoods.

richwoods christian church has served as an oasis to my soul during a desert of disheartened illusions toward the christian faith of my earlier years.

after experiencing the unparalleled heartache and frustration of watching my well-formed theologies crumble in the reality of life (some of which i outlined here), i continually encountered a less than christian christianity.

it seemed the grace with which jesus so easily navigated his relationships with people seemed to be missed by many of those surrounding me who claimed to follow him. when i needed community most, the church turned its back on me.

this broke my heart, and destroyed my faith.

it was during that season of desperation – in my brokenness, loneliness, fear and anger – that i reached out to an old friend who loved jesus || a friend whom i knew loved me enough to speak truth into my life, but would do so seasoned with compassion and grace, without judgment or condemnation.

i wanted so desperately to change the church. i deeply desired to engage in ministry – to challenge the status quo in american evangelical christianity – yet i had made such a wreck of my life it didn’t even seem possible to go to church… let alone work with one.

as richwoods opened its arms to me in the midst of my mess, in the context of community, i began to heal.

i started to experience grace in a tangible way, with people committed to loving me into relationship by facilitating a culture of restoration and redemption. as i wrestled with the theologies and dogmas that had previously failed me, i began to rebuild a solid foundation of faith on the premise of unconditional love.

even in the midst of my deepest fears and failures being brought to the light, the relationships forged  at richwoods enabled me to honestly grapple with extending grace both to myself and to others as christ had (and has) done for me (and them).

unhealthy patterns of behavior and an addiction to the pressure to perform were broken under the weight of a renewed understanding of the freedom i found in christ – freedom to live and love in the way of jesus.

as i leave richwoods and this chapter comes to a close, i continue to be grateful for the friendships, experiences and lessons i’ve learned as a result of the opportunity to participate in what God is doing here in peoria, illinois.

what i found in my crusade to change the church was that God first needed to change me.

navigating the pain of my past and the challenges of restoring what’s been broken have given me much to embrace and much to leave behind on the road toward becoming more like christ.

the lessons i’ve been fortunate to learn in this community of faith regarding compassion, forgiveness, brokenness, repentance, receiving and giving grace are treasures for me to salvage from the wreckage and utilize as tools along the way. i carry those with me, along with the deep friendships i’ve been fortunate to forge during this season of healing, redemption and restoration – and look forward to figuring out how we can continue to walk alongside one another as we together learn to love well.

did you like this post? if so, click here and see how you can be a part of the journey!