I didn’t want to go to church today. I almost didn’t.

I thought it wouldn’t hurt to skip one Sunday. After all, we go every week and rarely miss.

But today, it was the last thing I wanted to do.

I knew it would be hard. I knew that I would be fighting tears before I ever even entered those doors.

You see, we are supposed to gather with other believers to encourage, and be encouraged. And today quite frankly, I didn’t want to deal with it.

I didn’t want to enter those doors and have to pretend I was having a good day.

I didn’t want to smile and shake hands and ask how people were doing.

I didn’t want to have to pretend that I wasn’t shattered and hurting, and filled with sorrow and loneliness. And I knew that if I sat in that pew, if I sang those songs of praise, if I listened to the word of God being preached, that the fragile shell of a mask I had put on would crack.

And there would be no pretending, no charade, no encouraging, no small talk.

There would be messy sadness, and I didn’t want to put that on other people. So I wanted to stay home and avoid the entire situation altogether.

But the kids knew it was Sunday and they would have been sad to miss. And deep down in my heart I knew that today church would be hard, but that it would also be a balm on my wounds.

And I sat in the pew, wiping tears from my eyes.

I choked back sobs as I listened to the people in the pews sing songs of praise.

I was overwhelmed with a mixture of grief and peace that was unexplainable.

And I let my church family see my brokenness. I let them pray for my heart. I let them weep with me as they sat with me in my sadness.

I used to think that being called to encourage one another meant trying to cheer someone up or offer them uplifting words, or just the right scripture to fit their situation.

But today I learned that isn’t always the case. Sometimes encouragement means just knowing that they care. Knowing they see your hurt and not trying to fix it, but lifting you into the hands of a God who can.

Sometimes it means letting them take off the mask that they’ve tried so hard to keep on, and allowing them to be vulnerable with their heart, knowing that their brother and sisters in Christ will surround them in prayer.

If ever you feel too broken for church, can I encourage you today to not believe that lie?

Nowhere does it say that we must come to the altar with mascara perfect, smiles genuine, and a pretty bow to tie up our life.

We are welcome when we are broken.
We are welcome when we are hurting.
We are welcome when we are messy.
We are welcome with all of our baggage.

You are welcome.

Originally published on Faith, Farming and Family

Caitlin Henderson

Caitlin Henderson is a small town girl from Kansas who fell in love with a farmer. They have three kids who keep her on her toes and always clinging to coffee. She is passionate about showing people Jesus, and telling the story of agriculture. She loves writing about their life full of grace, craziness, love, dirt, and cows.