As Christ Loved the Church

This past Sunday City Life Church celebrated 10 Years of God’s grace to us as a church in the heart of Austin. We gathered to remember God’s goodness over the past decade and look forward to the future. As we reflect on our 10 year anniversary we asked you to send stories of what City Life means to you and how God has worked through the church to impact your life. The following story is from a member of City Life.

When I first walked through the doors of City Life five years ago, I didn’t have high expectations. Not because I heard anything bad about City Life, but because I had learned by example that even though churches say “come as you are”, they don’t really mean it. Instead, they mean “come mostly as you are but leave the scary stuff behind”.

I had recently moved from Round Rock back to Austin, and while I mostly liked the church I had been at for the two years prior, I wanted a church closer to home and the pastor recommended City Life. I knew a few people who already went to City Life, and I had recently met the pastor’s wife when she led a women’s retreat for our church.  I thought she was down to earth and also quite hilarious, so I figured the church couldn’t be too bad.

After a rough childhood, I accepted Jesus at 16 years old. From there I tried to be a good Christian by reading my Bible, serving other people, and attending church. Once I moved to Texas and was finally away from the abuse, I started fighting the battles I knew I would need to fight in order to heal. Over the next several years, I would learn that it didn’t matter how long I waited to reveal that I was struggling with PTSD or how much I contributed to the church before I asked for support, it was not okay to speak up about my abuse. I would learn that even though what happened to me was not my fault, I’d still have to pay the consequences for it. I would learn to keep quiet.

I had been a part of a City Life city group for almost a year when I felt prompted to share with the group that I struggled with PTSD. I was scared…terrified actually. I almost didn’t, because things were going so well and I did not want to ruin it. But I also wanted to be real. So I shared.

And nothing changed.

No one treated me differently. No one labelled me as anything other than a daughter of the King and a sister in Christ. No one told me I didn’t belong.

I couldn’t believe it. Throughout the next several years, I would continue to be a part of a group of believers who loved each other as Christ loved the church. Those around me would prove time and time again that they would not define me by what happened to me; rather, they would continue to remind me that my worth is found in Christ alone. They wouldn’t pretend to have it all together, but rather they would speak about the One who does. They would continue to love and support me, and they’d continue to give me the opportunity to love and support them. This has been such a valuable gift to me.

I have learned so much through City Life. Jonathan’s messages have challenged me intellectually and forced me to dig far deeper into God’s Word than I ever have before. I have learned from City Life that part of what it means to be a strong leader is to acknowledge your shortcomings. City Life has so beautifully emphasized the love of Christ and our need for His mercy and grace.  I share the gospel more freely now than I ever have before.  I am a better person because of how God has used City Life Church in my life and I am so incredibly grateful that the Dodson’s listened to where they were being called and started this church.