In the middle of a desert

Some changes have been happening in the Murray Family.  Some small, some bigger. But all in all this past year has felt like wandering around in the desert. We are thankful for those who provided an oasis. And are even thankful for those who turned up the heat. It has only made us stronger….

I want to share a little about one of the changes we’ve gone through with you today but first I must make a disclaimer…  We do not wish to lump all  people in a group or point out individuals.  And to be completely selfish, this is about our journey and reactions to what has been given us. Take it however you want… but know in the end despite the hurt, we love you.  We strive only to serve Christ.

On August 4th  I made the following statement on Facebook:

Ever wonder why people leave the church… well if it has any thing to do with the catty and condescending looks I received this week or the phone call from the “concerned church member” about my “not embracing my liberty as a believer” I completely understand!
What are we doing to each other people? What have you done today that makes someone want what you have? Or are you turning them away?

But that is kinda in the middle of the story so let’s go back a year or so… well actually let’s go back 5yrs…

In 2006 while reading through the Bible together Chris and I were convinced that I should wear a head covering according to the verses found in 1Corthinians 11.  I forcefully fought this for 2yrs. And Chris graciously let me fight, knowing that I would have to work this out my self. My biggest reason for not wanting to wear on was that I would be different.  I have worked my whole life to fit in with those around me.  Often to my detriment. Even to the extent of training myself to have no accent because people made fun of my southern drawl.  It’s still there… but I taught myself to turn it on and off depending who is around.

While in Kodiak I met a wonderful lady who basically told me that if I thought God was telling me to do something and I was refusing I was sinning… Of course I knew this but to have it put so plainly was a real eye opener.  So I started wearing one… and after a few weeks of strange looks from the people at church and a few questions from the Jr High kiddos every thing was fine. People were genuinely happy that I was being obedient.. Some were confused. Most could really care less… it didnt affect them.  I wasnt telling every woman they HAD to wear one. In fact Ive been pretty up front about the fact that it should be approached with much prayer. And that not everyone should wear one.  But for me, I have to. I have to be obedient. I need the reminder that Chris is my leader… God is his… and that I dont call the shots.

* side note: I only wear a covering at church, Bible studies, during personal prayer time.. not all the time.  Just in case your were wondering:) *

Then in 2010 we moved to Coos Bay OR.   It took us a while to find a church. And when we finally did it was a struggle.  Even after repeated assurances that I was not raised in a Brethren church people were still stand offish.  They seemed worried that I might bring in “other doctrines” and one person put it.  Granted only a very few actually approached me and Chris and really listened as we explained why I wear a covering, no we are not Brethren, Muslim or Jewish  and that no, we don’t think every one should.  And a favorite: no it is not a practice of Chris’ voodoo participating ancestors. (Ive done quite a bit of genealogical research on Chris’s family and have yet to come up with a witch doctor or some such… )  Most people were content just to give condescending looks and whisper behind our backs.

When we decided to join this particular church we thought these things would eventually stop as people got to know us.  They didn’t.  In fact other obstacles seemed to come up.

After a year of participating as AWANA leaders we wished to offer the JR High kids something different, youth group of sorts… something less formal.  Something that did not resemble a lecture with tests at the end.  They did not like the AWANA set up and we were losing them fast.  We approached the leadership and were told a harsh no.  Things must stay the way they are, the way they’ve always been.

As a requirement for children’s ministry we had to fill out some paper work… general info, references and a back ground check.  All pretty common for children’s ministry these days.  We listed several of you.  Some have know us for 20yrs or more, some we have met more recently. But the children’s director told us you gave us glowing recommendations.  So we were quiet surprised that out “motives” for trying to meet the kids where they are was questioned.  Chris and I have been involved in JR High youth ministry for 10yrs.  almost 11.  8 of those 10 as a couple and 2 a singles.   Our MOTIVE is to see kids FALL IN LOVE WITH JESUS! 

There were many other incidents over the year we fellowshipped with this group. Most of them hurtful.  The most hurtful happened on Aug 4th.

I received a phone call from a “concerned church member” who proceeded to berate me for wearing a head covering and to state that “we don’t want your kind in our church or teaching our young people.”   * I wonder what our kind is? … *

This person chose to call at a time when Chris was at work.  10am on a Wednesday morning.  Most men work at that time right?  I was home alone.  I had just taken Caleb to VBS. I was already feeling down after the harsh words spoken to my face and whispered behind me as I left.

I did not take the phone call very well. I was and still am quite hurt.  Chris, as I said before, was at work.  Later that day when I went to pick up Chris from work I told him what had happened.  He was visibly upset for me and for our family.  He knew it was time to leave…

So with that we have left the church.  Left this particular church.  Not The Church, which is made up of all believer in Christ.  We fully recognize that it was individuals who made these comments and individuals who hurt us.  But at this time we find it hard to know who is who.  It is a sad reality that “Christians” are among the worst gossips and back bitters.

At this time we are conducting “home church”.  Honestly I’ve always been a little weirded out by people who have home churches.  But for me I love it.  I am very scared to attend another “public” church.  I hate it, but I am.

Currently we are working on a family vision/mission statement.  ( we haven’t quiet figured out what to call it.  vision or mission statement sounds like a plan for you business or organization.)

Heres what we have so far:

It is our desire to create a Godly heritage for the generations to come, so that the world might see Christ through us.

We commit to foster in our home and hearts the following attitudes and character traits

  1. Thankfulness/ Gratitude

  2. A strong work ethic/ thoroughness

  1. A servant’s heart

  1. A desire to be a man worthy of being called an elder or

            A woman worth of teaching the younger women

  1. To live the fruit of the Spirit

  1. A wise manager of money

  1. A lover of others

  1. Develop a quite spirit

  1. Extend hospitality

  1. A person of integrity

  1. That our children will court and not date

  1. Not a user of idle words

We are half way through finding verses to back each of these up.  Our premise has been: if we can’t find scripture that agrees with these points then they should not be desires we have for our family.   We have yet to be disappointed.

They are not in any order of precedent. All are important to us and most importantly we believe are important to God.   It’s not a 12 step program.. we actually find it funny that there are 12.  We set out to have 7 or so.. but just kept adding.

We will share the verses with you once we are finished.  Also when we are finished we are going to have  a plaque made.  Its our anniversary gift to each other!

I apologize that this has been so lengthy and no pictures either! (sorry mom)  They will come soon!

I thank you for reading and for continuing to lift us up in prayer.

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11 thoughts on “In the middle of a desert

  1. Hugs to you! I can’t imagine all that you’ve been through. Hang in there girl! And like I’ve said before you guys are always welcome at our church. It’s small and I’ll be wearing a head covering too as soon as I modify it so it fits by big ole head. LOL

  2. Candance, I’m sorry that you’ve had this experience. It’s amazing to me that so many people just follow everything blindly, not that there’s anything wrong with “blind faith”, that’s different. But when you don’t think for yourself, don’t really question, study, and pray then you can really miss out on some wonderful teaching opportunities. I really respect you and Chris for following your beliefs.

    Scott

  3. I’m so sorry that you have had these experiences. It has been my experience that “Christians” – our own brothers and sisters in Christ – are often the ones who hurt us the most. I wondered at one time about your head covering, but honestly, it didn’t affect me and I knew you as a Christian sister and knew you were following God’s call on you. The church you left missed out on an amazing opportunity to have you and Chris minister to their youth. I will be praying for you and Chris – for comfort from the hurtful things that were said as well as for guidance as you follow HIS command to you to home church at this time. And really? Someone really asked if your wearing a head covering was a link to Chris’s voodoo participating ancestors? That got a snort out of me. I’m giggling again. Lifting you up in prayer, Candance.

  4. Candance, you and Chris are an amazing couple and you are striving with your whole heart to serve God, therefore you can count on being attacked by our enemy, Satan and the most effective way (in my opinion) is to use “brothers and sisters in Christ”. It seems to hurt the most when it comes from those we thought were like minded. Satan knows this so; Continue on Fighting the Good Fight!!! We who love you and are striving to serve side by side with you in the Lord’s army will continue to hold you up in prayer daily!! God Bless you both.

  5. 😦 I have things I WANT to say, but instead I will just say that it is truly their loss because I know you to be true seekers of God. None of us can know God completely, but he does reveal himself to us when we seek him. Keep living the faith, it’s rubbing off on me:)

  6. Ah Candance, I am so sorry. Cathie just called and suggested I go read your blog. I don’t even know where to begin….so in a nut shell….I’d like to encourage you to keep on “keeping” on and although home churches are fine, don’t give up on the corporate body of Christ even with all her imperfections. I’d give about anything to have you back here and involved at church – you left a huge hole when you transferred. Christians can be so cruel – I have no idea why. Maybe cause they are human! We just have higher expectations of Christians. And we should. Many years ago there was a song about “wounded soldiers” and how we (Christians) shoot our wounded when they are down. Let’s us reverse that and keep on being compassionate, kind, good, even when those around us aren’t! Love to you all. oops, that was kind of southern, wasn’t it!!!

  7. Candance, just want to say that I love you and I hope you guys get back to Kodiak again on one of your rotations. There are loving arms waiting here to receive you again when you can come! As I was reading your post, I kept thinking, “I can’t even imagine this!” I am proud of you for obeying what you heard God telling you. Love and miss each one of you so much!

    Susan

  8. My heart aches for you and your family. You are a great example of how we are to obey our Father. Stand strong and together unwavering in your faith God will continue to bless as you follow Him.

  9. My heart hurts for you. I wish you could come back to Kodiak. To tell you the truth, I never even thought about the head covering. Many women in my family wear them and I know others who still do. Please don’t give up. I’ve been where you are now and I almost stayed away forever. I had to weed through many, many churches to find one that would take me and the kids just the way we are. I’ll pray for you to find healing, I know how bad it feels. Hang in there! Karin

  10. I know this blog wasn’t easy for you to write. I do think it’s important for us to talk about the hurts and pains that we go through so that we realize that “looks and comments” can and DO hurt others at times. It’s just a great reminder that we need to NOT assume things when we aren’t educated enough and don’t even know the person at all and pass judgement. I agree with the comments that have already been made…Christians tend to hurt people the most. I’m so sick of “sin managers” running around telling me what I can and cannot do.

    I’m honestly thankful that I have gotten the opportunity to get to know you better because it has really opened my eyes to so much!!!! I just keep shaking my head at all that has happened.

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