Embraced: Why I Love My Church

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It was another busy week after follow-up doctor’s visits, an MRI, and another biopsy, not to mention the regular hectic swing of life. I had come to our Bible study group to unwind and laugh with folks—oh, and to do a Bible study, too (we are definitely talkers!). Afterward, one of the members came to me clutching something furry in her arms. “Here you go—it’s a prayer shawl. It’s to put around your shoulders when you pray. Merry made this one for you.” I was so overwhelmed by the generosity of this gift, both for the time it took to make it, and the thoughtful spirit it with which it was made.


It is one of the most lovely things I have ever touched—light as a whisper, yet warm and snuggly. The colors are earth tones and muted grays; colors of earth, sand, stone. On the ends are silky tassles that twirl lightly around my fingers. It is a perfect size, as it can be a lap blanket, or it can drape across my shoulders, as it was originally intended. Even when I am not wearing it, I like to sit beside it and rest my hand on it, rubbing its softly between my fingers, or stroking it with my hand. I am unable to put into coherent words the comfort this beautiful shawl represents for me.


When I wrap it around me, it is dense, yet not heavy, as if someone were gently putting an arm around my shoulders. Many church members have already done this for me. Every week, they smile at me, and they reach out their arms and clasp me firmly. Several women whom I know, but not especially closely, have sought me out to encourage me. They take my hands and look me straight in the eye and say, “I had breast cancer, and I am just fine. You will be, too.” I receive cards in the mail that are humorous to make me laugh, or are sentimental and make me teary. I receive e-mails and phone calls from church members, volunteering to help me and my family in whatever way we need.


Believe me, I already know how generous my church family is. When my husband had colon cancer in 2010, they were there for us in every possible way. There were days where I thought, “I have nothing for dinner, and I am exhausted,” and someone would suddenly knock on my door with a meal. These people can walk through Sheol with you, and let me tell you—they are not afraid, and they thrive on bolstering folks up during a crisis.


Perhaps when going through personal difficulties, people who don’t go to church are able to find support and community in other ways. All I know is that I have two families: the one that I am physically related to, and the one that I am spiritually related to. Every morning when I breathe my first breath, I say a prayer of thanks for both of my families, and the fact that they continue to wrap me in their sweet embrace.

Philippians 1: 3-6 [NIV]

3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.


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