t’s Sunday morning. My hair is wet and I’m standing there in front of my closet looking at all the clothes and coming to the conclusion that I have nothing to wear. I stand there for another 10 minutes trying to decide, trying on three or four outfits only to be unsatisfied.
30 minutes pass and I’m thinking to myself, well, maybe I just won’t go to church. We’ll be late anyway. Then the phrase “better late than never” pops into my head. Next, the idea of people staring as I walk in with half wet hair, very little makeup, and in the middle of the song came into view. Also, lounging around and not having to get up and look presentable sounded good. Then, another thought: what if you miss something good, or worse, what if other people find out?!
Well, after going through this whole process of pros and cons about going(right or wrong), I decided that these were just things keeping me away from Jesus. Therefore, the enemy attempting to create another gap, burn a bridge, build a wall. Something he has become very good at recently.
I haven’t enjoyed going to church for some time now. I’m a person who hates inconvenience and loves sleeping in. So, getting up for Church is hard, as well as everything that comes with it. Now, let’s get one thing straight, I LOVE Jesus. I always want to grow in my relationship with him. However, sometimes church seems to put more of an emphasis on religion -rituals, traditions, rules, regulations, standards, expectations etc.- than on Jesus and our relationship with him.
I think the worst part of some churches- at least some that I have experienced, and I realize we all have different experiences- is it feels very much like a witness protection program situation. Here, people have an identity that they show off to everyone in the building. As if this inauthentic identity will keep them safe and comfortable. Keep all the bad guys away, or the scary questions and the unstable emotions from coming up.
Also, so many times, it goes like this:
-Get dressed (nicely, look your best even if you’re feeling your worst. Conceal, don’t feel…)
-Dress your emotions, your scars, your problems, your sins, and your unhappy facial expressions because you are in a holy place where such things are not appropriate.
-Dress your feelings, sing along and act like you know every song, follow along in the Bible like you know the passage like the back of your hand, and bow your head, close your eyes, and fold your hands when it comes time to pray.
-Leave, go home, repeat next week.
I realize this is not everyone’s experience and it is not always my experience. But, it’s how I have felt for several years now. Just going through the motions to keep myself on the list titled “Christian”.
I’ve recently decided though, that I don’t want to be on that list. I don’t even want it to be a list. I would much rather be on the Sticky Note titled “Aubree: A Jesus Lover”; because this means it’s specific to me and a butt load of standards, expectations and labels don’t come with it.(Unless I decide to put them there) I am where I am in my faith and it’s okay to be there. I most certainly am not where I could be, but Jesus and I are working on that. I- and others- don’t need anyone or any place to make us feel like that’s not okay. Or that we somehow have to be at the same level as everyone else.
Faith doesn’t function in “levels” it functions in stages. And we are each in a different stage in our life. Levels provide room for comparison. I (maybe you) compare my (your) faith to others looking it up and down and trying to decipher where you have gone wrong and why they are where they are and how you can get there.
The truth is you can never get there. Why? Because you are NOT them.
Your experiences will never be identical to someone else’s. They may be similar, but never the same. God made us unique, therefore your faith is no different. If you set yourself and your faith up against someone else, you’re doomed. You don’t even have a chance. Simply because there is no competition to begin with.
It’s hard, I know. I struggle with it on a daily basis. But, if I can just begin by focusing on Jesus and be determined to love him, all the rest won’t matter anymore. I won’t look at someone else and wonder why I am not where they are or why they are not where I am. I will feel comfortable being vulnerable and understand that church is just a meeting place. A place to come meet Jesus and to walk with others at every different point in the journey. Not belittle them because their bumper sticker only says 1.5 miles and yours says 13. Or because someone else’s says 231 and yours nonexistent (Or so you think).
Today, I went to church because God told me to come meet him. (Beleive it or not I made it with a few minutes to spare… I think God has a special button for green lights) I went because I realized that when I decide to meet him (at church or elsewhere) He loves and cherishes those moments. And He is concerned with me and where I am at -whether that be on cloud 9, or down in the dumps- He loves me the same either way.
I hope you decide to go for you, and for your relationship with Him. Not for anyone else. And if you’re going through a period where you just don’t want to go, or maybe you’re thinking about going for the first time but you’re worried; just sit down and chat with him about it. He’s all about honest conversation, I mean He already knows how you feel so you might as well just spit it out.
Until next time,
(God, I pray for whoever reads this that You use these words for their good and for their needs specifically. And that anything I might have said that does not align with Your Word and beliefs that You change it so that it does.)