The following is a testimonial given by our sister in Christ Kathy Dykstra on June 19, 2005.
When Randy told me that one of the traditions of this church is that new members are given the opportunity to speak when they are welcomed, my gut reaction was “Do I need any more stress?” But the more I thought of it, the more I thought that one of the reasons I would not speak is because I do not have it all together. That’s why I decided I did need to speak this morning.
I have to make a confession (and I think some of you might fit into this same category): I love to have it all together. I love to be on time. I love to be organized. I love all my clothes to match. I want my children sitting in the pew with clean clothes, and with my son having actually brushed his teeth. That’s what I strive for. When I came to North Hills, I was not all together. I could not fake it. I could not hide it. My spouse of 25 years decided to divorce me. I could not save that marriage no matter how hard I tried. I could not hide that. I walked in to this space without my spouse--25 years of sitting in the pew together and I sat by myself. And every-other week I sat by myself without my kids; you know, the divorced parent routine. You can’t hide that kind of brokenness.
So I came here and I watched you: what are you going to do with a person like me who is broken, who is taking it one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time? And you graciously welcomed me. You literally, some of you, put your arms around me. Some of you did so figuratively. Some of you went out of your comfort zones to welcome me, when you sat next to me in the pew you took the time to say “Hi” and to greet me. I thank you for doing that. I know how tempting it is to go to your friends and talk, but you decided that it was worth spending a little extra time and expanding your circle of friends by a few more people.
Some of you shared your stories with me as I got to know you, and I found out that you were broken, too. I thank you and I cherish you for sharing those stories and for helping realize that I’m not the only one here who is broken.
I view you, North Hills Church, my church, as my fellow travelers. We’re on a journey together. I don’t know how long you’ll be here, or how long I’ll be here. But God has chosen for you to be here and for me to be here together. And I’m really excited about that. I know that when I first came I just put one foot in front of the other and sometimes I took a couple of steps backward. But you reached out. Sometimes you just smiled. Sometimes you asked “and how was that commute from Grosse Pointe?” It doesn’t matter! You reached out! And I’ve had the opportunity already to help some of you who were stumbling. And I hope I can do some of that a little bit more.
I think it’s important for you to hear a new-comers perspective. Sometimes when you’ve been in a church for a while you loose that perspective. But I want you to get it back today. And this is my perspective on North Hills Church: you cannot come to a Sunday at North Hills without bumping into grace. It might be in the message: sometimes it’s very clear, it’s about grace. Or it might be a phrase Pastor Engle says that sticks with you all week. Or it’s the kind of sermon where you grab for your purse for a piece of paper and pen because you want to quick write something down before you forget. Sometimes grace comes in the music. We’re going to sing Amazing Grace and my children tease me because I cannot make it through Amazing Grace without crying--hand me the Kleenex! Sometimes it’s the choir or soloist or organ or piano. Sometimes it’s you. You are the vehicle for grace, because you greet me, ask me how it’s going, you smile.
I bumped into grace at the communion table sometime ago. It was one of those Sundays where I drove up and thought “should I pull into the parking lot, or just keep going?” I decided to pull in. And I got in church and sat in the back, and wanted to be anonymous that day. And it was going to be communion. I wasn’t used to coming up for communion; and I didn’t want to come up that day. But I did. And I bumped into grace. For as I stood up there miserable, having a horrible day, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said “It’s not about you, Kathy, it’s not about you today. It’s not about how broken you are, it’s about Jesus Christ and what He has done for you.” And the burden was lifted off my shoulders. It’s not about me! I don’t have to have it all together! What a relief! I bump into grace at North Hills Church.
Dr. Brown spoke here sometime ago and his sermon was about finding a church for his mother. His mother was a divorced, single mom, and he asked “Could my mother come to North Hills Church?” I am that woman who came to North Hills Church. And I can tell you, you can come to North Hills Church and be broken and be graciously received here.
My life is bittersweet, there are some hard, hard things right now. But North Hills is one of the sweet things in my life. I thank God for you.