by Leslie Lindsey
I moved to Tyler 27 months and five days ago. I know this because I’ve been counting; in many ways, I thought it was a prison sentence. I’d moved here for a new job that was not what I thought it was going to be, and it soon compromised my principles and took up all of my time. And having never visited East Texas before, I felt like a stranger in a strange land. (I’m still not sure if “bless your heart” is an insult or a prayer; I think it might be both.) All of this was compounded by a lifelong depression I’d usually been able to manage but now overwhelmed me.
So I was only staying for one year. I didn’t unpack. I didn’t register to vote. I never got a library card. And after a couple of months, I stopped visiting churches. What was the point? I was leaving. And while I still believed God was with me, I’d never felt more alone or lost with no idea where to go next.
So I turned into a lily-poinsettia Christian – you know, where you only show up at church on Easter and Christmas. And that’s when I visited here, on Good Friday in 2014, because
1) it was one of the only Good Friday services in town, and
2) I knew where you were. (The curb appeal of this place is a very real thing.)
What I didn’t know was how one of the church’s high holy seasons was intersecting with one of my lowest points.
And God used His church to save my life. More specifically, God used this church, First Presbyterian, to give me a life. You’ve given friendship through my Sunday school teachers and our class. You’ve given rest in the beautiful worship each week. You’ve given role models who’ve committed your lives to service and social justice through your vocations and volunteer work. You’ve given wisdom in what faithfulness, humility, and generosity looks like at every age. You’ve given God’s Word not only in written Scripture but in living actions to those of us struggling in mind, body, and spirit. You’ve even given me the person who introduced me to a new job I started last month.
I came to that Good Friday service, and I haven’t left.
Each Sunday, when we recite the summary of the law, we’re commanded, we’re to love God and to love His people. I just showed up one day, and that’s exactly what you were doing. You’ve given so much to me, to one another, and to this community, and it’s a real privilege to be part of this congregation. So thank you, First Presbyterian, and thanks be to God.
Throughout the Stewardship season, individuals are sharing their stories of gratitude. Check back often, and join the conversation in the comment section if you’d like!