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All God’s Children

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All God’s Children

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I was once the child who was made to feel that I did not belong.

As a young girl, I spent a summer vacation with my mother’s relatives. While staying with my aunt and her family, I felt lucky to get a small part in their church play. I loved practicing “my one line” with my new friends from the youth group.

One day, as I was washing my hands, two mothers who were helping with the play rehearsals came into the restroom. Walking towards me, both of them chimed in with a friendly, “Oh, hi there!”
One of the nice ladies asked, “Are you new in our church? We’ve never seen you before.”

“No, I’m just visiting, I got to fly all by myself from California,” I bragged feeling very big at that moment.

“You must really miss your parents; that’s far away,” the concerned women remarked.

“Ya, kind of, but I’m having so much fun with my cousins. I’ve never been in a play before,” I said proudly.

One of the women handed me a paper towel, as she asked, “Not even in your church?”

Looking down I said, “I don’t go to church.”

She assured me in a motherly tone of voice that I was doing a great job in the play and that my parents would be very proud of me.

That night, my aunt got a call from one of those “nice ladies” saying I couldn’t be in the play because I wasn’t a member of their church. As I recall, my aunt was rather upset after she got off the phone. When she shared her thoughts with the youth leaders, I did get to perform in my first play that summer. But it didn’t mean nearly as much to me after the woman brought down my carefree spirit, like a kite falling from the sky. Even as a child, I knew that the adults’ painted smiles hid the fact that the church was bending its rules for me. It made me feel singled out and uncomfortable.

From my own unfortunate childhood experiences, I have felt judged and punished for being raised with no religious upbringing. I wonder if “all God’s children” applies to everyone, or if being accepted comes with invisible strings attached. As we draw new people into our churches, I pray that we will share His love sincerely, and with sensitive, caring hearts. I want to still dream with the faith of a young girl and ease the pain for all the children this world that don’t feel like they belong.

Thank you for me making me welcome as a part of the Blog Carnival. http://su.pr/7Xj49l This week’s theme is Church. Please go to Bridget Chumbley’s site to read other blog entries and/or to join.

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23 Comments
  • Glynn says:

    The church is people, and people can wound. And it’s always God who binds that wound. He loves us in spite of who we are. thanks for sharing this story.

  • lorrie says:

    I always wonder and hope that folks like that lady are today thinking “why in the world did I do that?”, and asking for forgiveness. I forgive her… we are all be-ing sanctified. I hope.
    Bless you for sharing such a touching experience!

  • Stories like this make me want to polish up my baseball bat. I deal with these kind of people all the time and some days I think God must somehow physically restrain me because I know my will is not enough to keep them from injury when they call my kids the “freak show” or worse.

  • JoAnne says:

    I agree with you Glynn that God does heals our wounds, but as young children not raised with any religious values, we don’t have anyway of understanding or grasping that concept. I believe experiences like mine greatly influence how some of us view church even as adults. Thanks for reading my post!

  • Jojo Agot says:

    It really, really makes me grind my teeth when church people do that. And I seldom get angry!

  • JoAnne says:

    Hi Lorrie, thanks for stopping by and reading my post. My hope is that the woman with God’s help began to see outside her box. Insensitive words and actions can certainly leave a lasting imprint on our hearts.

  • JoAnne says:

    Hi Nick, thanks for stopping by. As a Youth Pastor how do you deal with these kind of people without your baseball bat :)? I thought about trying to write an article one of these days from a child’s perspective as what I needed from the adults that could see a young girl struggling to find God with no religious upbringing.

  • JoAnne says:

    Hi Jojo, thanks for leaving a comment. I used to think the mind-set was limited to just my relatives’ religion. But then when I became a Christian as an adult, “church” still feels exclusive at times to me and like I don’t really belong. Unfortunately, I believe we draw from those negative experiences as children and some of us can have a difficult time painting a new picture.

  • Bridget says:

    Hi JoAnne,

    I’m so glad you’re participating in the carnivals! Sorry you had such a terrible experience… I love Nick’s solution… it seems to be my first inclination as well! 😉

  • Val says:

    Because we are all God’s children, (even as adults) and as we experience with our own children, children often don’t act the way they should. Sad…but true. Unfortunately a persons behavior does affect others. The best I can do is acknowledge the hurt, forgive those who hurt me and then allow my experience to guide the way I treat others. I try not to let people or circumstances affect the way I respond to God’s plan for my life. It helps keep me on track! I have learned to expect less of others and more of myself. This has saved me quite a bit of dissapointment! Though I do admit to feeling bit agitated on occasion…okay sometimes a lot of agitation!! And I too have considered that bat!!!

  • JoAnne says:

    To my across-the-river friend Bridget, thank you for always being so kind. I believe that our experiences, regardless if they are bad or good help us to grow stronger in our faith in maybe not mankind, but in how Jesus wants us to treat others.

  • JoAnne says:

    My best friend, Val, I never thought about looking it as the child not acting the way they should. I guess because they were supposed to be the adults and me the child :). But when you do look at it that way human beings sure don’t disappoint you as much. I can be much more forgiving with a child, even if they know better.

    Words of Wisdom-“I try not to let people or circumstances affect the way I respond to God’s plan for my life.” Perhaps if I work harder at knowing what God’s plan is for my life then I won’t sweat the small stuff in the scheme of things. I love you!

  • Val says:

    Hey my friend…we’re all trying to figure out god’s plan for us. Thankfully he never forgets what it is!!!

  • JoAnne, Blessings to you. Thank you for being a child of God and sharing your story.

  • nAncY says:

    joanne,

    it is hard to be a witness to someone hurting the tender hearts of others. it seems like the enemy knows just how to use any us to jab other people right in the weakest spot.

    if someone that does not believe does it, only one person is blamed. but, if a believer does it, it can turn the other person totally against God for some reason.

    it is true that all believers are grouped together as one in the minds and expectations of most all people.

    so when we are mean, selfish and rude…as we all get to be at times…hopefully that helps us to see reason to forgive others that are being that way.

  • JoAnne says:

    Russell, thank you for your kind words. Nice meeting you :)!

  • JoAnne says:

    You make a valid point Nancy, “If someone that does not believe does it, only one person is blamed. but, if a believer does it, it can turn the other person totally against God for some reason.” Perhaps it’s because we have higher expectations of Godly people? For my personal perspective, I don’t see it as being totally against God, but rather more as a defense mechanism to not let others hurt or disappoint those who might feel disillusioned by church.

  • JoAnne says:

    So Val, that’s been my problem all these years! I thought it was just me that was trying to figure out God’s plan and all my Christian friends had maps with it spelled out perfectly :)!

  • Sarah Salter says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve seen these types of situations before and it’s so cruel. But I think the posts and the comments in this Carnival are just another avenue of healing… And are proof that real, living, breathing, loving people are among the pews of The Church. Thank God for that! Blessings, JoAnne!

  • Val says:

    Ha! My friend….no map that’s for sure…but there is a guidebook and I just trying to keep plugged into that and keep my eyes on the Lord so I don’t wander off the path on my own…never seems to work out well when I do.

  • katdish says:

    Sigh…

    Is it any wonder Jesus hung out with the sinners and tax collectors? So sorry that happened to you.

  • Thanks for sharing your story… Merry Christmas and hope it was wonderfully blessed!

  • I apologize for reading this one so late. I try to get to all of them. But this really hit the spot. This subject has been in my heart recently. The church forgets to operate in God’s love, grace & mercy. Reminds me of 2 Cor 3:6 “…for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.” One of these days maybe we will put aside the laws and the policies to take someone in, show them them are important in the eyes of God and love them for who they are. I’m just glad that now you know you are loved and have us friends near and far that care for you dearly.

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  1. So sad, what a terrible experience. and I know it was only one of many for you. Love you friend!!!
  2. This fills me with sadness: “No child should have to continually try to make a parent love them.” What a tragedy that your mother was not able to accept love from you. My guess is that deep down, she didn’t feel lovable, and she had to cover that shameful fact up with a bunch of br…
  3. It’s insane that these findings were made but nothing was done about it. All these years later, you are still waiting for the wrongs to be righted.
  4. I love you❤
  5. I hope you are able to find more on the first chapters of your life. How twisty things became when people had to hide things…ugh. Sad.