Holding my phone in solitude after a very powerful service, I’m feeling one thing. Love. Not some fuzzy feeling in my stomach for one physically attractive male, a mental peace, sense of belonging.

The church is an asylum, not a Pharisee retreat center. Our churches are full of self righteous people who’d kick you down probably before you even fall. I once had a parent Sunday school teacher conference held for me and my friends. Debbie had accidentally dialed Kwakus number while she was trying to reach me. The phone was with one of the teachers and they just instantly concluded “oh those girls are never up to no good”. They had my parents take my phone away. Believe it or not, in class 6, I couldn’t even talk to a boy. All I had was Alvin, an equally shy boy I’d sit by in class and help with academic work. He was my boyfriend(insert dreamy face) and by his side I conquered the world,sorry, class. That meeting opened my eyes to things I didn’t know. Oh, so my phone wasn’t just for mummy and daddy? I can join the cool kids now? Talk about boys with the new friends I’d make with my new pink slide phone? Years on, I’d keep up a charade of hiding and using phones behind my parents back. Basically, that meeting taught me to be crafty. There, if you wondered how I’m so sly.

Pharisees not Christians. By the time I was thirteen I was lost. Puberty slapped me. I literally slept and woke up with breasts and a full face of acne and after my “womaning” I suddenly started to feel fuzzy down there when I read those yummy Mills and Boon pages. Hannah was in the next class. So my day went from reading through classes because I basically already knew what was being taught to waltzing around the forbidden parts of the school with Hannah. We owned the play ground. But I still had no involvement with boys in school. My first actual make out sesh was with a church boy. IN CHURCH. I “fell in love” almost immediately. Only to be dumped a few months later because I was “too much of a baby”. Today, he “Ivy how are you”s me every time he sees me, all grown up and acting it. Four years later, I lost my virginity to another “church boy”. Turns out he’s quite a Casanova (it’s not Nasty C please) and doesn’t even go to church anymore, we pray for him. But yeah, in the midst of all this, I started to see our radical teen meetings as charades. Shout, look spiritual, and be loveable. The older girls were worse. They assumed I was some disrespectful rich kid and just kept their distance. I looked too dadaba for my own good. Fleshy and smooth faced and quiet, the result, I was seen as some too known DB who had life on a silver platter. I’m still seen that way.

A place of discrimination. The church made me who I was, with my help, and my parents’ (I’d talk about how I hated Church thanks to them later). All my life I’ve been pushed away by church members. Last week someone told me I have a “certain image” in church. What image? Don’t know, don’t care. But for the mere fact that you have forgotten your purpose on this earth as a church, and spend your time gossiping about the broken hearted instead of praying and encouraging them. Laughing at the fallen instead of helping them up. This girl looks at me with disdain and disrespect. I pray for her everyday that she does not perish for treating sinners like filth, but that God forgives her.

But. But. Seriously, I could go on and on about who did what and who didn’t do what without saying what I really need to say. Which is this. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, and he has anointed me to be hope for the poor, freedom for the brokenhearted, and new eyes for the blind, and to preach to prisoners, ‘You are set free!’ I have come to share the message of Jubilee, for the time of God’s great acceptance has begun.”Luke‬ ‭4:18-19‬ ‭TPT‬‬.

This is the purpose of the Church. This is why the Holy Spirit is within us. I do not know all things. I do not know many things. But this I do know, that the church is a hospital and the church is a haven and a place of healing. For Jesus did not come for the perfect, but for sinners, that they may be transformed into the same image as Him.

Church, do not despise the sinner, embrace him, and lead him as Christ leads you, that at the end of the day, there will be a place prepared for you in heaven.

Sinner, avail yourself to be used by God and taught by the church. Submit to authority, and grow from glory to glory in the grace and love of Christ. That God may use you to redeem others.

Grace and Peace be yours always,

Ivy.

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