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Fall in love and fall apart

This page in brief

Sufjan Stevens wrote: Fall in love and fall apart, things will end before they start. For Laura, it took a little longer to fall apart …. and for her to get it together again. But this story has a happy ending.

Two paths

Laura grew up knowing all about religion. Her parents were christian missionaries and she was in church and Sunday school since she was born. But at age eighteen, she rejected all that she had been taught. Her parents’ faith seemed cold, restrictive and intellectual.

Alcohol and other drugs were part of a new lifestyle. Soon she met an artist, married, and moved to a new city where he got a job doing computer animation. With a strong sense of social justice, they began to make friends in the alternative community. “We hated pollution, so we would live in a self-sustainable way. We hated hunger, so we would feed the homeless. We hated capitalism supporting slave and child labor, so we boycotted franchises. We hated war, so we protested it.”

Eventually she realised that getting stoned made her feel peaceful but wasn’t bringing her inner peace. She started to look beyond her friends.

Trying something new

A friend and nightclub owner suggested she try out a church that met in a picture theatre. She considered christians to be almost everything she hated, but she respected her friend so she tried attending, arriving late, sitting in the back and leaving early. For several years she attended the church anonymously, enjoying a sense of genuine love she felt there, but avoiding contact with people.

Then her life fell apart.

Fall apart

She moved to New York for three months to train for a new job, and returned to find her husband gone, having given most of her possessions to charity and taking his own. She was left with a broken down and almost empty house, without work, and broken hearted. “For months I was a basket case” she says.

Her friends urged her to get a new job and get a new man, and couldn’t understand her grief. Instead, she joined a divorce recovery group at the church. People listened, understood and comforted her.

Her house was old and the front porch collapsed. Without money, she couldn’t afford to get it repaired. She was unable to renew insurance until it was repaired. She was in a bind, and faced losing the house.

Hang on, help is on its way

The church had a group which worked to provide housing for the world’s poor. So Laura asked the leader for some advice on getting cheap materials. Instead, he took up a collection and turned up with a bunch of tradesmen and several truckloads of building materials. In three Saturdays, they rebuilt her porch. And when her car broke down, this same group, who hardly knew her because she had tried to remain anonymous, arranged to have it repaired.

Slowly, through kindness and invitations to Christmas and New Year parties, Laura started making new friends. One family, she realised, were “a beautiful family, even if they don’t recycle!”

Through seeing people loving me I began to see the truth of what God is like…… I never wanted to call myself a Christian. I had such a negative stereotype ….. But I started to realize that all Christians are just people, like me. They struggle just like I’m struggling.

So now I’m a Christ-follower….. Now that I have found peace, I realize peace doesn’t come in a pipe….. Now I’m part of a real community, the kind I was searching for all along, and we’re changing the world … one life at a time.”

Photo: MorgueFile. This is not a photo of Laura. This story is found in the book No Perfect People Allowed by John Burke.

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