Then … What Happened … Now

By Becky Olroyd
The Flame Volunteer Writer

My story in 700 words or less – wow!  700 divided by 70, even by today’s math, is a mere ten words a year. How is that going to work?  As with everyone, my life story is comprised of many individual stories – some joyful, some sad, some triumphant, many not. The one I will share is triumphant for sure.

Then:  I was born and raised in a devout Methodist family.  I married a wonderful, devout Catholic man but abandoned a church life, unable to reconcile differing religious viewpoints.

What happened:  My husband of 46 years died and, although I was blessed with a loving, supportive family, a multitude of dear friends, and countless wonderful memories, I found myself emotionally and spiritually drowning in a sea of grief.

I had watched the big church with its towering spire spring from the ground not far from my home.  My next-door neighbors sported a church sign in their yard, and I had attended the funeral of a close friend at the church and heard the minister’s passionate eulogy.  So, grasping for anything to lift me from my sorrow, one sunny Sunday morning I forced myself to walk through the doors and timidly take a seat in a back pew of Christ United Methodist Church.  From His wondrous mercy and goodness, the Lord placed me next to someone I knew, who threw her arms around me in a warm, welcoming hug. It was a huge first step to recovery, one for which I will be eternally grateful.

The following week I reluctantly returned to that same pew, wanting so desperately to feel the joy and enthusiasm that seemed to emanate from that strange contemporary music and the witty expressions and mannerisms of the pastor.  Week after week I was drawn back to Christ Church and, to my amazement, every week Reverend Shane’s sermons paralleled the chapters and verses I was reading daily in the Bible that I had been given to encourage my return to a Christian life.

Every week it was as though God, through the pastor, was speaking directly, and only, to me; with words of the grace and hope that could be mine by opening my heart and my soul to the Holy Spirit and allowing my pain to be laid at His feet.

I found myself looking forward to Sunday mornings and feeling peaceful and calm there surrounded by those who felt His presence and heard His word.  Within a few months I took the step of faith to become a member of Christ Church, and soon thereafter I found myself getting involved, of all things!  The enthusiasm was contagious!  I became a greeter and an usher and a communion steward.  I could feel the hands of the Lord pushing me forward – not letting me hold myself back.

But God wouldn’t let up!  A church friend asked if I would join her in starting a ministry for the single members of our church.  What did I know of ministry work? Absolutely nothing!  But we forged ahead, hoping to establish a mechanism for singles wanting to connect more closely with Christ.  And most recently, I have stepped far from my comfort zone by listening to the “ping” on my heart (as Reverend Shane would say) to co-lead a group during the Lenten Bible Study.

Now:  My story is still a work in progress. I still sit in the back pew of Christ Church every Sunday.  I can’t quote Bible chapters and verses, but I’m working on that little by little. Sunday morning is my favorite time of the week, and that strange music has grown on me. I still get sad from time to time. Worries still wake me in the middle of the night. But I have been so blessed and renewed by my Christ Church family.  God has performed a miracle, as only He can do; bringing me out of the depths of despair by working through His people and helping me to know that joy always comes in the morning when we are connected to Christ.

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.”  — Psalm 30:5, New Living Translation

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