We give SO much thanks to God that Paul, Lacey and Audriana have been led to Glendale + that we are able to journey alongside them in faith + life. From churches failing to love like Jesus to finding sobriety, they have life journeys that you may find similar to your own. Welcome home, Johnson Family.
A little bit about them:
Lacey spent her early years moving in and out of church doors weekly, and going through the motions–singing the praise and worship songs, nodding at the right moments and following the elders in altar calls. Her spiritual lens was stained with guilt, shame and fear. And she was starving for something she couldn’t put her finger on.
She never felt Christian enough for the Christians, yet too Christian for the non-Christians. And she realized how strange it was that she spent so much time feeling guilty and begging for forgiveness, and so little time actually enjoying the rare and precious life that God had gifted to her. So much of her experience of church felt less like Jesus and more like a slap in the face to Jesus.
Having lost her mother to a tragic explosion at 6 years old, some of her fondest early memories were of her mother buttoning her into pretty dresses, singing “Jesus Loves Me” and ushering her into Sunday School, and she ached to create her own version of that with her daughter. Except she never wanted her little girl to be assaulted by the same sexist, homophobic and racist messages that she’d encountered. Miraculously, that fear has dissolved.
On Easter Sunday, when she and her family stepped through the doorway of Glendale UMC, she was immediately at ease. For the first time in her life, she looks forward to sliding into a church pew and raising her voice in song. For the first time in her life, her spirit can stretch out with curiosity and ease. And, most profoundly, love.
Paul grew up in Murfreesboro and lived there until he graduated from high school, before moving to Knoxville for college. Growing up, he attended a conservative church every Wednesday night, and Sunday morning and night, with his family. It was never out of his own desire, though, but strictly out of obligation. At 16, his dad died of a massive heart attack. That heart-breaking event marked the moment that his perception of God and the Christian church began to gradually deteriorate.
By his 23rd birthday, he’d completely turned his back on organized religion, and his alcoholism began to slowly develop. Over the next 14 years that followed, he met his wife, Lacey, moved to Nashville, got married, and started his professional career in logistics. In March of 2019, he and his wife welcomed their daughter, Audriana, into the world.
Although life was moving along beautifully, alcohol remained a central part of his life, slowly robbing him of his light. That was until 42 days ago when he decided to get sober and become a committed member of AA. He also realized his spiritual life was in need of rejuvenation. This realization led his family to Glendale. When they first visited on Easter, they were amazed by the fact that the church openly celebrates sobriety birthdays! He received it as an incredible sign and knows God placed them here.
May 8, 2023 at 4:36 pm
I was so thankful to hear the words y’all wrote and grateful for the vulnerability it took to share them with us. Sharing your journeys will make more of an impact than you know for others to be reminded that they aren’t alone in so many of the ways y’all have experienced the church and life. Also, know that y’all aren’t alone in this community with those lived experiences. Unfortunately the church has failed all too often. We hope to be that safe place people are looking for to find God’s love and grace and to be in one another’s corner in the joyful and difficult parts of our lives. So excited you found your home with us. ❤️