I’ve always thought that the saying “Churches are hospitals for sinners not museums for saints” was a catchy phrase and maybe a little funny. In the south everyone goes to church, which includes sinners and the so-called saints. Sadly we usually consider ourselves the saintly type.
Close to 8 months ago I found that Embrace church was, in fact, a hospital. I can’t believe I’m about to say this (to all 10 readers), but here goes. Hi, I’m Jana and my husband is an alcoholic. Many of you may cringe or have pity for me and my family, but I say this with absolutely no shame. Eight months ago my husband asked for help and sought out treatment for this relentless disease. This is something I celebrate. Most people give up something for Lent for 40 days and then take back up their old habits at the end. But he has given up something that kept him calm, made him brave, and helped him live most of his life. This isn’t just chocolate and yet somehow he had the courage to put his vice down over 200 days ago.
What struck me during this time where we felt shame and wanted to be hidden, our church family pushed through closed doors. In our church values we say “people matter”. I didn’t fully comprehend that until I became one of those people. I got to see people embrace my husband at his lowest. I got to see women rally around me and pray truth so intensely that I could feel the courage to stand by him. We have been encouraged by these same people to speak words of grace and love toward each other instead of venom, hurt and hate.
Our story is nowhere close to being done. We are at the bottom of the mountain on this journey, but God continues to seek us out and He keeps healing our tender hearts, one day at a time. He keeps showing us the next step. Some steps are scary, like going to rehab, and others are healing, like seeing my recovering husband placing ashes on church member’s foreheads.
I hope to keep telling our story. I hope people hear the grace and love of Jesus Christ in my song. I hope people hear that Embrace Church is a place for everyone, even broken sinners like me.
Contributed by Jana Womack.