Based in Frederick, Maryland, Digital Ink & Parchment is a blog by Alexandria Pallat. Her posts explore the integration of faith in every day life.

4 Things I've Learned Going To Church

4 Things I've Learned Going To Church

When we encounter hard seasons, church often seems a last resort. We think “maybe if I go to church, things will turn around.” Or maybe we think that the hard season happened because we weren't as dedicated to church as we “should” be. I know how that feels. I walked away from a church when I moved, and I wasn’t sure I was ready to experience another one. I was in pain. I was afraid of judgement. I didn’t want to expose myself to anyone.

But then I got this mailer about a new church, and I decided to take the chance. I’ve been attending that church for almost two years now, and, even though life doesn’t look exactly the way I’d like it to, I have learned things I would not have learned otherwise. Here are three things I’ve learned by going to church in my hardest season.

It’s okay if things don’t get “fixed” overnight.

God has the power to change any circumstance in a heartbeat, but sometimes He doesn’t. I wish I could give you a good reason why, but I can’t—I’m not meant to. But not having things fixed overnight—or even in a few months—can be the best thing God does for us. We learn about ourselves. We learn to slow down. We get the opportunity to practice patience and become resilient. We give Him an opportunity to speak to us. We learn to lean in to Him no matter how we feel.

Prayer works.

How can I say that things may not get fixed overnight and then say prayer works? Isn’t that a contradiction? Not necessarily. Prayer is our talk with God. In all the times I prayed for a specific outcome, God revealed to me some of the roots of the things I was facing in myself. I prayed for my hard season specifically, and within days—sometimes hours—I’ll see something that is a direct relationship to that prayer. I have prayed for other things, smaller in comparison to the larger hard season, and I have seen change. I am better at recognizing that God is preparing me, and preparation is just one of the components of prayer.

We need community.

Humans need community, and as believers, we go through life together, no matter what life looks like. For years, I have been resistant to making new friends because every time we moved for school, I was going to have to leave one set of friends behind and try to make new friends in a new location. I always thought I could function without community. But as my marriage progressed, I started to feel lonely. When this hard season hit, I felt as if I didn’t have a true support network outside of my family, and that had me slip even further into depression. It took me time to make friends in my church, but I know it is because of that community that I have progressed as much as I have. They have also encouraged me to dig deeper into my faith. Community is vital to our mental health and our faith.

When we work, He can’t.

We have to stop trying to do it all. If we keep trying to resolve our situation before God, we are getting in His way. We don’t always see what He is doing, but He is working behind the scenes. We can become exhausted if we try to keep working in His place. It’s more comforting to know that God is working on our behalf than to think we have to do it all.

As humans, we want instant results, but that isn’t how life works. Faith gives us something to believe in when we don’t know if we believe in anything. If you’re not sure about faith or if church is really where you should be, whether it’s because you aren’t sure what you believe or because you’ve been burned in the past, give God a chance. I encourage you to research churches in your area, find one that seems like a good fit for you, and try a few services. If you feel a pull to attend, that’s not a coincidence—that’s God. So, give Him a chance to show you what He is doing and to speak to you. Like we say at my church: what’s the worst that can happen?

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