Sorry…this is a long one today.
It’s funny how a day can go COMPLETELY different than first planned. I woke up with all intentions of working. Getting meal plans finished. Lesson plans typed up. Chicken coop cleaned. (6 birds is WAY more work than 3!). But that did not happen. Why? Because sometimes YHWH has better plans than I can possibly dream up.
It’s been an interesting week. Started with an amazing conversation with a friend. Opened my eyes. Challenged my thinking. Unnerved me…in a good way.
Then a small simple conversation with the husband. I want to sing “OCEANS” with others. “Can you imagine”, I say, “singing…with others…deeply feeling every note…every syllable?” I’m not sure he understands me. I’m not sure I understand me.
Weekend arrived. Things are not as they should be. Words that shouldn’t be said are said. The effects of a lower dosage swing at full force. My ability to control the gulf between my brain and my mouth is seriously damaged. We attend what should be a time of prayer and fellowship. I’m crying. He’s seething. And though my heart is pricked for my words and my actions…it just doesn’t help things much. Luckily I’m a little smarter than I give myself credit. I choose to not push the buttons and keep my tongue in control. (A feat right now that is as impressive as the parting of the Red Sea).
A book I’m anxiously awaiting to read arrives. Memoir of a girl raised in a fundamentalist, end-times-embracing church. Funny. Witty. Raw. Honest. I stay up half the night reading. Relating. Wanting to cry. Wanting to laugh. Relating in so many ways I wish I didn’t relate. I don’t even know how to write the review. I fall asleep thinking about the book.
Morning arrives and I’m now the one seething. Somewhere between the last words of the pages and this morning I became angry. I’m tired of doing nothing. Being alone. Feeling like my faith is just cheap words on a screen…or my own journal. In desperation I make a decision. One I did NOT expect to make.
I’m going to church.
A church where I’ve never been. A place where I know one person, and that’s a surface know. I’m going to walk into a building where they play “rock” music, wear pants (and apparently gym clothes) and raise their hands, coffee cup in hand. Me. The one who says she won’t go to a church.
dI laugh in spite of myself. I find myself wearing hose. Can I just say after seven years of not wearing these darn things…I’m NOT thrilled. The husband asks why I’m dressed up. Wearing perfume. Wearing make-up. Because, I tell him, it’s well ingrained to dress up for church. I just can’t go casually.
So I arrive. Park the car. I grab my big Bible (because the bigger the Bible, the closer to God right…or maybe that’s the hair. LOL) and walk into the doors. Immediately my comfort zone is pushed. It’s big. I know NOBODY. I don’t even know how I’m supposed to act in a church outside of the one I was raised in. Where do you want to sit I am asked? Um, the back? Oh no! I’m a back-of-the-church sitter.
I talk myself through not being judgmental. The thoughts and ideas planted in my head swirl. HE speaks clearly to me. Be still. Listen. I find my way through my cluttered thoughts to find His voice. I write:
Man. Is this place big…I’m so confused. I just want to find you…I don’t want to be alone…anymore. If it means I’m lost and not worthy of being truly free…then that is fine. I NEED something. And I will search until I find it.
No sooner do I finish these words I notice the screen. It’s countdown time. 4…3…2…1….the music starts. I try not to giggle at the whole process. I find myself enjoying the music and ignoring the instructions to sing and clap. I KNOW how to worship I tell myself. Clearly, I need a healthy dose of humility.
Again HE tells me to be quiet. To listen. To wait and see. He is there. If I’ll just quit yammering for two seconds.
The pastor arrives on the stage to pray. I find myself tearing up. My intentions of being calm are quickly going south. Announcements begin. Be in Real Relationship. Serve Others. This is just the announcements? I’m hooked. I tell YHWH, “You have my attention now.”
The sermon is based upon the Gospel of John. He tells a story of his boys praying. “God. Why can’t we just get along?” Then begins a bit about church splits. Hurt hearts. Broken relationships. WHY? Why, I write, why is he talking about that…why am I hearing this? 41,000 splits within the Christian community according to the Church Conflict Forum (a real organization). Only 2% are because of doctrine!
My brain begins to implode on itself…
Then he makes the statement that I needed to hear. “WE have to connect.” There’s no use keeping the tears back. They flow. My heart is bursting. I feel something that I never felt before. The Spirit. The comforter. I’ve spoken in tongues my whole life. But I’ve NEVER felt this before. Not without spending intense time praying for it. And never during a sermon. I’m completely unaware of what is going on, but I know that it’s going to help me.
He asks the congregation. Are your actions uniting or dividing? Are they bringing peace? He concludes by saying that he will fight for the peace of this church. I’m confused at this point. I feel like I was part of something that I don’t understand. But yet, I do understand.
And then…then they sing. Oceans. I’m undone. I can see YHWH smiling and chuckling. He did what I didn’t think He could do. All I had to do was get over myself and go.
I decline participating in communion. I’m still not sure about that particular part. But I walked out of the auditorium with a wet face, sniffly nose and a full heart.
And that’s just the beginning…