To the church-sick christian

I so often write about my desire to go home to Alabama because sometimes I miss my people, but the truth is that, no matter where I am, I’m the sore-thumb kind.

I thought I had found my people when I started going to church camp – all young, bare-footed, with braces and bangs, singing four-part harmony. We sounded good together, but it turned out, they weren’t my people. Nothing we said we believed seemed to stick.

I thought I had found my people when we shared the wailing music, when we wrote our names in sharpy cursive on red plastic cups, and held each others’ hair back when the rebellion sicknesses set in. I thought they were my people who stayed up late in the night discussing sex and freedom, abusing our bodies just so we could be together, so afraid of Alone.

I thought my people were mostly white. I thought we were middle class, beautiful, young, and artsy, but I was wrong. When it really comes down to truth, I was wrong.

“Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God. Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” ~1 Peter 2:10

I am only really a part of the people of God, and even then I’m called an alien, the sore-thumb kind, a wayfaring stranger, but too, a holy priest from a royal nation, chosen and belonging to God. And why is that so? Why am I so different? Why ought I be? And why must I claim this screwed up bunch of folk called “believers”?

It all has to do with how dark it is behind us and sometimes in us. I’m a people with you running toward the light, and I can’t avoid it anymore, you and I, our spirit names summoned, Beloved and Beloved. We have to go together on purpose. We’re the church.

I need you, church. I am same as you, church, sick as you, saved. Now would you with me declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness and into His wonderful light? Can we not run from each other anymore? Let’s go together.

You are my people.

About me


When There’s a Lion in Your Yard
November 18, 2016
What do you taste?
November 08, 2016
When The Church Doesn’t Fit Or Fix You: a Wild in the Hollow Guest Post from Christie Purifoy
October 12, 2015
The Hurt and the Healing: A Wild in the Hollow Guest Post by Bonnie King
September 30, 2015
Will They Stay if You Change?
September 28, 2015
Wild in the Hollow Book Club Video: Chapters 1 and 2
September 14, 2015
A Mud Stories Podcast on Sex, Shame, Unforgiveness, and the Church
August 06, 2015
Church couldn’t help me with it anymore.
August 03, 2015
Be the child, then revolution.
June 02, 2014


Kelly Langner Sauer
Reply April 20, 2010

oh yes. i get this. like the time i went recently and looked around and He said, "here I am, Jesus in them, and in you too..." God in the flesh.

love you, amber.

Reply April 20, 2010

I love you, too, Kelly.

Jenny 867-5309
Reply April 20, 2010

Yes, yes, yes...a constant reminder I need to hear. The church should be a MASH's on the front line. Which means there is sin, hurt, pain, obnoxiousness...but we are all His believers.

Thanks, Amber.

Reply April 20, 2010

Love this. Needed this.

I'm struuugle'en with church people. I needed to be reminded of grace {grace, grace, grace} I get into the 'us' vs 'them' mentality, when in reality it is 'us.' Man, how to co-exist? I don't know, but I'm trying to be open to learning... Feeling ok about not fitting in.

Appreciate ya...

Reply April 20, 2010

Thank you for these wise and true words. I am glad to be one of your people, a daughter of the King.

Chris Weigand
Reply April 20, 2010

Great post, great reminder that we all can be God's people no matter what. Welcome to our people.

Reply April 20, 2010

Like, no love this.

Reply April 20, 2010

Well said Amber, and needs tobe said!

We are far from the spotless and wrinkle free bride He desires.. but we ARE His none the less.

As our local church is in the midst of turmoil.. I needed this right now. Thanks and blessings.

Reply April 20, 2010

I so needed to hear this. Yes, I am different and often feel out of place, even in the church. I am also a part of the church...a part of the body of Christ.

Reply April 20, 2010

After listening to one of your previous posts, I'm loving being able to hear your voice in this. If that makes any sense at all.
This strikes deep. The honesty and truth. Thank you.

Reply April 20, 2010

i've never commented before, though i've been tempted numerous times. i actually just wanted to tell you thank you. we go to the same church & when i visited for the first time awhile back we were all asked to share communion with people after the sermon. as it turns out this isn't done the same way every week, but i didn't know that until hindsight gave me that ability. so it was a little awkward (not sure why, except that things are often awkward when we don't participate in them often enough) i digress. but i was in a small circle with you & your husband. i don't remember the words that we spoke, but i remember the community and i remember thinking i don't know these people from adam, but i'm drinking the wine & eating the bread which represents our Savior and it was beautiful.

you have since continued to be such a picture of hope & genuineness. you said in church one sunday, "sin is cruel, but Jesus is not", and those words resonate in my soul on a daily basis. i see you often at church & i'm just a little too intimated to speak, but i look forward to when we can stand in a circle together again and drink and eat of what He has done for us.

i just needed you know that i am thankful.

Reply April 20, 2010

Whoa! Savannah you just made my heart flip flop. We go to church together?! If you don't grab me when you see me, I'm going to hunt you down and clobber you in front of a bunch of people.

Thank you for that. Really really really. Too often I feel useless. I know that's not true, but you know.... Thanks for saying this today.

Reply April 20, 2010

This is one of my favorite posts of yours. LOVE it. Really resonate with it. I could say so many things right now about this, but I don't even know where to start. Thanks for sharing...this was so good.

Erin @ Closing Time
Reply April 20, 2010

Thanks you! I'm yet another one who often feels out of place, but we are all one in Christ.

Reply April 20, 2010

Yes Amber. I believe under the skin we are all the same. I want it to be so. I want us to run together.
This was beautiful - and the truth.

Holley Gerth
Reply April 20, 2010

Beautiful, Amber, soul-gorgeous in a way that makes me ache and heal all at once. Thank you...

Kristen@Moms Sharpening Moms
Reply April 20, 2010

Like Holley said...soul-gorgeous. Wow.

Reply April 20, 2010

Thank you for this. I am SO with you on all of it.

Reply April 20, 2010

Why do we, so often, make belonging to God not enough?! It's the perfect place to be. Thanks for sharing these thoughts.


Reply April 20, 2010

Amber, chills ran down my spine reading this. Truth... raw and honest... and beautiful.

Reply April 21, 2010

Always enjoy my stops here....Great post.....Have a great week....

Reply April 21, 2010

LOVED reading this this morning!!! It's true; we desperately need the Lord together. Without HIM, we would tear each other apart. With HIM, we recognize that we all work together as a body.......desperately needing the other parts of the body to function well, and when they don't we need to remember our place at the foot of the cross. Humbled, I go there, and meet the rest of the body there. For if we don't go there, we cannot go anywhere.
Thanks for sharing!

Reply April 21, 2010

can i just say that i love, love, love what happened here between savannah and amber? that right there is kinda the legacy God has draped over the haines family: blowing up people with blessings when they didn't even know it. for real.

Southern Gal
Reply April 22, 2010

You say it so beautifully. So true. Thank you. I needed to read this now.

Reply April 22, 2010

Amber... I kept thinking about how this is really just so incredibly everything.

Reply April 24, 2010

I just wanted to thank y'all for encouraging me.

This year my kids have been sick a lot. We've traveled. I've been sick.

I've been to church maybe 4 times in 2010. I feel like I'm dying. I'm doing what I know to do here, but I feel like I've been way long without my family. Sometimes we need sister/brother arms to push us forward, to pray over us, to remind us of the personality of Jesus.

My church makes me love Him, reminds me how much he loves me. They know me well, know how flawed I am, and they love me anyway.

I'm thankful and very very needy.

Reply April 24, 2010


Elizabeth (@claritychaos)
Reply April 25, 2010

Here's another one for your book. (That book that I hope you're writing. You know, the collection of essays on faith and struggles and Jesus? yeah, that one. This should be in there.)


Reply May 6, 2010

thank you for addressing an issue which i've been evading for a looong time.

Reply July 14, 2010

I am among the many who needed this right now! Thanks for sharing it, Amber. Many thanks.

martha brady
Reply November 15, 2011

i didn't get to read every comment. hopefully this isn't too repetitious. after 40+ yrs. with my husband in ministry...mostly in the pastorate, i can say this: the church is not a club, it is a hospital. because we dressed up for church for many years, we somehow thought it was a club. everyone looked so good. "their" lives were all "together". i was the one who was a mess.

it is so NOT true!!! i know the stories behind all those "together" people and it just isn't true. if you pay attention to the outward "package", just as at christmas or birthday time, you will often be disappointed by the most beautifully wrapped present! it doesn't always deliver.

life is like that too...yes, even in the church. we are a microcosm of real life. most of us are true believers, but not all. we are each in varying stages of sanctification.

Some of us struggle more with self-righteousness. we tend not to spout off what we really think, but often deal with sins of resentment, holding grudges, passive/aggressive behavior.

it is no better/worse than those who spout off when they are angry and let everyone know exactly what they think at all times. each leaves a different pain in its wake.

each must grow in dealing with her own sin in community (the church) and often with the help of unlikely and unexpected people there.

yes, the church is a hospital. God is the doctor. Sometimes He must operate, others he needs to treat. We, as part of the Body are there to worship, grow, reach out to all around us (not just those with whom we are most comfortable...our age group, those who dress like us, our socio-economic group, etc.).

we must commit to our church and work through the hard times. this isn't heaven. it won't be a perfect place. there will be disagreements and difficult issues. plan on it.

pray for your church as you would your family...especially the leaders. make sure you spend more time praying and building up here than cutting them down in the church, community, or particularly online! the easy thing is find what is wrong. it takes commitment and grace, to see what is being done right. it may even take conversation with leaders to find out why certain things are in place. there are often reasons for that, possibly outdated, that haven't been questioned. direct input can be very helpful...gracious input.

whoops! you touched on my passion. sorry to ramble. loved your post:)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *