Like so many others, Jamie Dulock and her husband, Cody, found themselves in a major transition and looking for a church home. Here, Jamie shares her story of fighting through insecurities and excuses to finding meaningful relationships in spiritual family.
“One of my deepest desires is to have a spiritual family. I have prayed for it for so long, I can’t even pinpoint the moment I realized it was missing from my life. But here’s the funny part, I wanted it so bad, but I was the reason we didn’t go to church!
For years we tried to look for and build spiritual family, but we never made real connections. We tried so many different churches, it became overwhelming to me. I would dread Sunday mornings, because I knew my husband, Cody, was going to ask if we were going. He wanted me to be as excited about church as he was, but I was emotionally exhausted from trying.
I felt like a failure, and I would tell myself:
“Big events are intimidating”
“I’m not like them, I’m different so they don’t like me”
“Women my age already have established friends and don’t have room for me”
“I don’t know what to do with my hair and I have no clue what makeup primer is. Maybe if I lost some weight and wore the right clothes, I could connect with someone.”
Thankfully, even in my negativity and exhaustion, God never let me lose hope. He painted a picture in my mind. It was us standing with other families as we raise Godly children. Phone calls and dinners celebrating God’s victories, big and small. Rallying in times of prayer as we witness God’s miraculous power of healing and transformation. The simple beauty of doing life with people who believe in Jesus and trust in His Word. Wow. It overwhelms me.
A couple of years ago, I started meeting women outside of church (who happened to be members of Milestone). And the weirdest thing kept happening, these women, each one of them, actually liked other women! Not in a superficial, obligated way, but they genuinely cared about others.
When my daughter was born at 32 weeks (2 months early) and my family spent a month in the hospital, Milestone women stood at my bedside praying with us. Loving us. We didn’t go to their church. But they showed up with their husbands and rallied around Cody and I as a family. What initially drew us to Milestone was who the people were outside the four walls of the church.
We started attending Milestone in Fall ‘16. And God began rooting us into relationships in a way that we have never experienced before. We come as we are, and that’s enough.
This semester, I am in a rather large “small” group. It has women of all different ages, in different seasons, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. But if I am totally honest with you, in the beginning I was worried about joining the group. I thought I wouldn’t connect with anyone. My negative self-talk came back and I became fearful that I couldn’t find family BECAUSE NO ONE WAS LIKE ME OR IN MY SEASON.
I am so grateful I didn’t listen to that fear and negativity, and here’s what I learned about myself in the process…
I had become selfish.
I devalued what I had to offer other people and began looking only for people who could add value to my life.
I looked for people just like me.
Women in the exact season of life I was in. People who dressed like me, thought like me, had the same hobbies, etc.
At the beginning of the Restart In Your Relationships message, right after worship had ended, as Pastor Jeff was coming up to speak, I heard God saying,
“Family comes in all ages and different places in life”.
Here I had been praying all these years for spiritual family, but I had shut my eyes to what family looks like. A real family is diverse and generational. It’s biological, loyal and forgiving. I may have nothing more in common with my brother than the blood in our veins, but that’s enough, we are family and we stand with each other. The same is true of spiritual family. We may have nothing more in common than our love for Jesus, but that is enough! That’s what makes us the body.
As we have been learning to walk in spiritual family, we have been learning the depth of “loyal when it hurts”… that like real family, we stand together on the good and bad days. We don’t walk away when things get hard. We watch out for each other’s kids. We forgive each other and show each other grace.
My prayer for the family of Milestone, is for each member to remember what brought them into this body and fight for it by being what they needed at one point in their lives to someone else who needs it now.”