One year ago, I was a very different person. I may have looked like I had it all together from the outside, but inside I was screaming. A shattered mess. My life was plagued with bad stuff and dark stuff. I was uncontrollably destroying everything around me. I hated who I was. I didn’t want to live that way anymore, but no matter how many times I tried, I couldn’t fix myself. I couldn’t change my patterns of self-destruction.
A good friend saw that I was in a tailspin and invited me to go to a church service with him. My exact response was, “Screw it. I’ve got nothing better to do“. I really didn’t care to go, but what else was I going to do? Sit in a haze of self-hatred at home?
We walked through Centre Church State College’s doors that evening and people greeted me like I was an old friend. They were total strangers! I never expected that. The band was playing worship music but not typical church hymns and stuff but current music that I really liked. They had electric guitars, a drummer and a bass guitar! It was becoming clear to me that this place was not like any church I’d ever experienced before.
I couldn’t tell you exactly when, but at some point that evening, I felt a warmth inside of me. A comforting sensation. I felt a wave of relief and a weight removed from my shoulders. This may sound weird, but it almost felt as if someone was saying to me, “Welcome home, son. You are safe here“.
I walked out of those doors that evening smiling – something I hadn’t done in a long time. Not only that, but I was excited to go back again the next week. Me – excited for church!? Over the next few days, I noticed something else amazing. I felt whole. I felt safe. I felt like I was enough. These were new feelings for me. The darkness wasn’t so consuming anymore. I could breathe for the first time. All these years I had been trying to fix myself and failed. Yet, in just one night, I was transformed by the invitation of a friend into an authentic community of cool people who love God.
If Centre Church State College’s doors are open and I’m in town, you’ll see me there. I still feel that warm comfort. I feel at home. The folks there have become my extended family. I can’t imagine being anywhere else. I’m never judged. I’m never ridiculed. I’m never ostracized. I am at home.