I grew up in the church. Friday nights and Sunday mornings always found me with the church community in service and events. It was part of my family, part of my culture, life, schedule. I so easily belonged to the church, didn’t have to think about it, work towards fitting in, understanding its ins and outs.
There was a year or so during my first and second years of college when I didn’t attend service. I was brooding over life within and having too much fun outside.
Then in 2008, I had what I could call a spiritual experience/awakening and it made sense to me to go back. So I did.
I began serving in the high school ministry for a few years, which ended not too ideally, but that’s for another day. I was pretty involved and again, Friday nights and Sunday mornings were a routine part of my weeks.
About a year or more ago, I began feeling antsy. I felt uncomfortable and unhappy. I had become so accustomed to my church, where I had been going for 20+ years. I thought the people would be like family, that this is where I would spend and invest my time and energy. But I didn’t. Not that the people were off or that the church organization itself was off. It was just me.
I talked about leaving my church for a good while with Stefanie and Esther but I stuck it through, thinking it was one of things I had to overcome and one day it would make sense. I didn’t and it didn’t.
I felt still such a hunger for other things, not in terms of secular satisfaction. Honestly, once I had experienced what I had to experience in terms of illegal substances, alcohol, partying, etc., I took it for what it was and walked away from it. And it wasn’t because I was pushed to the edge. By no means did it ever get out of control. It’s just not me.
I felt a hunger for a bigger perspective, a wider horizon. Not that the view at my church was constricting – it just wasn’t for me – more on that in a sec. I began to really question why I got up Sunday mornings to do this thing called church. The thing with growing up a certain way or with a certain thing, I realized for me, I never understood why I was participating in it. Yes, according to the Bible, it’s what we should be doing, but in my heart of hearts, I really didn’t understand. And I think I eventually felt like I was betraying myself and those around me by going through the motions. I was physically there and emotionally absent. I was friendly and always open to the community but it wasn’t feeding me. Or I wasn’t allowing myself to be fed. I don’t know.
And finally, it came down to the crux of wanting to commit and serve and wanting to explore other churches, other parts of life. And I realized I hadn’t been able to move forward because I refused to make the decision that had already been snowballing inside. I knew at one point, I was going nowhere fast and if I didn’t make a move, I had only myself to blame.
My closest friends know the wrestling of my innards, one side so afraid of letting go of what I’d grown up with, the other so adamant of questioning status quo and keeping it real with myself.
Then in September, I think it was after breaking up with the ex, I started checking other churches. There was one in particular that I really liked and I attended several Sundays. People were asking me if I was committing to this one and my answer was always, we’ll see. I had just moved out of my previous home. I wanted to take it slow for some reason, not settle down so quickly.
Then I realized after a few months, it wasn’t my church, the one I had grown up with, that I was walking away from. I was walking away from the familiarity and predictability of the church organization. I didn’t want to settle down, I didn’t want to commit, I didn’t want to root myself again – not just yet. I feel like this sounds so… heretical. Lol, how can I express how much I struggled with this?
No matter how deeply I was indoctrinated (yes, kinda harsh) with the idea that Sundays are meant for church, I knew where I was and I felt such peace. Such peace that I hadn’t felt in so long. I knew where I stood and stand before God and I knew he wanted me to sift through my heart, comb it, understand the nuances, discover the subtleties of his. I knew it wasn’t about going to church, at least not for me, not this moment.
After not being present for a few months, I decided to go to my old church for the last service of the year. It felt appropriate. I think I needed it, it gave me a chance to evaluate where I stood and everything I felt was validated. I said my goodbye and I walked out feeling like I was walking into another chapter.
A week later, I had a conversation with myself about which church I would attend the first Sunday of the year. And I came to the conclusion that 2016 would be a year of decisions and that Sunday, I decided I wouldn’t attend church – for that Sunday. I don’t know, it made sense to me.
I liked that it wasn’t something habitual, something I did mindlessly. I chose, and even though it seemed dangerous in a way (haha yes, it felt dangerous) leaving what I’m supposed to do and what was ingrained in me, there was and is no other way to figure myself out, what it is that I want and need at 26, almost 27, years of age.
I think there may be people that are worried about me. And that’s cool. I just know, in my 8 years of faith, God has never punished me for testing myself and him and exploring outside the lines – not saying that he never will. But because I choose this with all my heart and soul, I’m willing take the consequences whatever they be, if there are any.
So here I am. I don’t know how clear my writing is – it’s early and I’m trying to bang this out before heading into work. This has been interesting haha. Definitely a bit sobering considering the last entry about my mice. Lolll.
Anyway, here’s to another kickass day. Happy Wednesday.