Friday, September 5, 2014

it's complicated. me and church. so complicated.

If church and I had a relationship status it'd look something like this: It's complicated.

It wasn't always complicated. Nope, I grew up there with my family, looking all-American and dreamy, feeling like I understood God and His plan and believing in all those trite sayings church people say to one another in hard times. I loved church, just as much as I loved living in happy goodness, because who doesn't love good?

But happy goodness is like Newton's apple that came crashing down and shattered under the force of gravity. This happens -tragedy, sadness, hard things-, it's part of life and faith and love.

As the pieces of happy life laid at my twenty-three-year-old, newlywed feet, I looked up at church and saw a strange place, full of unrecognizable people, devoid of the comfort and peace for which I desperately searched. I was sad, beside myself with the loss of Popsicle and of that homey feeling at church.

I was growing frustrated, nit-picky, and restless. Jason was growing tired of my griping. We needed space. And we took it. Then we basked in it.

Yes, our church-going, God-loving selves, took the summer off. On accident at first, with vacations and holidays and summer plans that made the Sunday morning commitment tricky, then on purpose -slowing down, skipping alarms, grabbing breakfast at the local diner instead. Sometimes we talked about skipping, about being home instead of there, about the complicated feelings about church.

I felt guilty, like I was supposed to be there, gathering with other church people, and yet terrified at the idea of having to do so. The idea of going back to church where home seems to be gone, where the void that is Popsicle is unignorable, where all the feelings bubble up slowly, then boiling, stopped me from going and being present. But, there was space.

Space gave me clarity about His goodness and grace. Space sharpened my listening, emboldened His voice in me, made me aware that church isn't God, it's His people, beloved and cherished and, most glaringly, flawed. So, with church, it's complicated. Summer closed, trips subsided, the sunny days grow shorter with a quickness that says fall is coming, so we returned.

We're back at church, looking for community, instead of God because, whether I always believe it or not, we've already got Him. We're back at church, enjoying His children, seeing the way He's engraved in them, in us, regardless of our flaws, missteps, trite and short-falling words.

God, it's not complicated with Him. He's sure, awesome and mighty, grace-filled and loving towards me. He's not ruminating about my misplaced seeking, frustrated by my constant jumble of emotions, or worried about my ability to love him fiercely.

So, church, I missed you -complications and all. I'm thankful for you -and our complex, yet understanding relationship. And I'm tentative because of all the feelings, the convictions, the honest to goodness-ness of church. But, mostly, thank you for welcoming me back without questions or pointed fingers or staring eyes.

And God, I love you -dearly and desperately. I'm thankful for you -and your constant pursuit, yet space-opening grace. And I'm messy because of my fleshy flesh and my stubborn heart and my do-it-myself attitude. Thank you for beckoning me back to your people, to your church, to you.
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Next week Milking Stool Ministry will return -that's Friday's regularly scheduled programming-, but after wrapping up John and before starting Romans I decided to take a week off. Sort of, I mean, still talking church and God and faith, obviously. 

25 comments:

  1. As always, you so eloquently can put into writing what many others are probably thinking but too afraid to admit outloud. I have an interesting relationship with "church" currently too. Sadly, our "church" isn't very welcoming with open arms despite where you come from, what you're wearing, or whatever the case may be. For them, it's all about the social status and what can you give to them to make them happy (sad, I know). My fiance and I are continually praying for their hearts to change and soften. Until then, we have taken "church" into a more literal term - gathering a body of believers to worship Christ... Just outside of those walls. Happy Friday chica!

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  2. You and me both, lady. My relationship with the Church is such a tumultuous one. Chuck and I don't attend, both out of sheer laziness and the fact that Chuck grew up in a home where Church came to him in the form of a weekly Sunday ministry with family friends. He doesn't like the hypocrisy and in-authenticity that's so often found under that steeple, and I often times feel the same way. However, there is a small part of me that does feel like I should be there. I feel like it's the only way for me to actually grow and evolve in my faith as I'm challenged by my fellow Brothers and Sisters. So for now, we're still not going. And I'm at a standstill. I've been thinking more and more about joining in on your Milking Stool Ministry, however. It feels like a baby step in the right direction :)

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  3. i love this. we are new at our church and are looking for that feeling of community too...i think it just takes time. i love what you came down to; that you go to church looking not for God but for community, because God is always there.

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  4. So good. So, so good.

    I believe in a body of believers but don't believe in the "churchy Church." And what I mean by that is the "cosmetic Christians" that put on the make up, walk with the swag and memorize the talk but whose hearts are far from what THE Word says.

    A relationship with Him is #1. He does want us to worship with other believers (where two or more are gathered..etc) but make sure it's a place that will grow you. Not anchor you.

    Bless you! ;-)

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  5. Yes, I totally understand this! We took a break from church for a while, partially because of having jobs on Sunday (we had a bakery for a while and had weddings on Sundays) but also because we just need a break. We are back in a church now that we love, but not getting involved much beyond going to service. Just kind of easing back into it.

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  6. So true. I think the problem is that it (church) is made of people, who are (as I am) flawed and opinionated and different, as well as all the wonderful things that make them. I haven't been able to go to church for far too long (due to health reasons), and I miss it. God is everywhere, but I love the feeling of singing so loudly to him and listening to his word. That's why I'm so looking forward to the Romans milkstool series. Thank youx

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  7. I'm really happy you're finding your way back. Sometimes church can be complicated, but it definitely is for the greater good of your relationship with Christ (granted it is a healthy church). Hooping things become less complicated for you soon.

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  8. So, so good and so, so true. There have been quite a few times throughout my life I've taken a break from church (and it's been with multiple churches, too) and the space found (love that you put it that way) was so welcomed.. God was still in that space. He doesn't go away or change simply because we change our routine. (And sometimes, routines need to be changed so that they're no longer routines, and instead - familiar yet new adventures.)

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  9. For me, the best thing about church is the fact that it offers opportunities for needed relationships and service opportunities. Yes, there are service opportunities outside the church but as far as organized work projects and children's programs and ESL teaching and the kind of practical helpful stuff I get most excited about--I've found the most opportunities through churches. I currently go to a non-English speaking church which adds an extra level of challenge as far as understanding and building relationships, but in spite of lack of the same language level, we've been so welcomed, and I love that.

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  10. This really hit home for me. I've had a lot of similar feels about church. I don't avoid it for lack of faith I avoid it because it just doesn't always feel like a place I want to celebrate my faith. Thank you for sharing your perspective and insight.

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  11. Yes and yes and yes. Going through something extremely similar. Complicated sums it up so well.

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  12. I have a weird relationship with church too. I left youth ministry in December and I took about one or two months off of church before going to a service again (other than Christmas). Thankfully, I have an amazing group of friends and church and pastor who have been incredibly supportive of my choice to leave public ministry. They have my back when I say I don't want to lead anyone or volunteer outside of the occasional early morning set up. But sometimes I still wonder if I need space.

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  13. So well written my friend, and definitely comes straight from your heart. Our relationship with church is also complicated - we have a very big church and it is a modern church so it doesn't agree with everyone - some that come are coming for the wrong reasons but over the years we have learnt that this is not for us to judge or let affects us. I grew up with no church in my life as my parents aren't followers, MC went for a while and then tragedy struck their family and they also didn't return. We found our church when we got married but again, we disappear when life gets busy and hectic and their are other plans. I would love to get more involved at church to help guide me through my spiritual path but MC isn't really keen on letting others into our lives. Always a tricky one... x

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  14. Oh my soul, this post touched my heart to tears. Love.

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  16. !!! I Margaret Post This Testimony Coz My Husband Is Back Thanks To Dr.Ukaka

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  17. !!! I Margaret Post This Testimony Coz My Husband Is Back Thanks To Dr.Ukaka

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    ReplyDelete
  18. Getting my Ex back

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  21. i want to give thanks to my dr and i will always give thanks to DR OGUDUDU who brought back my love that has left me for 6years within 48hours, i have said about this last week but i promised to always tell people about this every week end so that those that did not read about it last week will read about it this week, i have been looking for how to get this boy back to my life because i love this boy with the whole of my heart, i could not replace him with any body,one day i was watching my television when i saw a lady giving thanks to DR OGUDUDU and telling the world how he helped her i was so shocked i could not believe it because i never taught that there are powers that can bring back lost love, then that was how i decided to contact him too because i do really need my love back,when i contacted him i told him everything and he told me not to worry that my love will surely be back to my arms within 48hours at first i could not believe because i was thinking how could somebody that has gone for 6years come back within 48 hours,so then i decided to watch and see,unbelievable within the next 48hours i got a call from unknown number so i decided to pick the call the next thing i could hear was my loves voice he was pleading and begging me on the phone that i should forgive him that i should forget all that have happened that he did not know what came over him,he promised not to leave for any reason, that he was really sorry for what he did,i was so surprised because i never believed that this could happen,so that was how i accepted his apology and the next morning he came to my house and still pleading for me to forgive, him i told him that everything is okay that i have forgiven him, that was how we started again and now we are married, i promised to say this testimony in radio station, commenting this testimony is still okay but before this month runs out i promise to say this in radio station and i will,sir thank you very much.World please am begging you people to try and thank this man for me,or if you need his help here is his email address drogududuspellhome@gmail.com. or call +2348144368825 THANK YOU DR
    ,

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  22. My marriage has been a blessing till 4 months ago when my whole life almost got sucked. My ex-wife and wanted me back by all means and wanted to break my marriage. she set me up in many occasions showing the pictures to my wife that am back to her this made my wife file for an instant divorce and wanted to leave my life in total. and even my 4 kids wanted were disappointed in me. but i never have any intentions of going back. The i went to many spell casters but they all failed taking my money away. I lived in grief for 3 good months without any plan of getting out of this mess. till i met an old skull friend who show me to Dr.jartospellcaster@gmail.com a spell witch who then restore the happiness to my family and my life. He spell worked so fast that i could not even believe it. he's great for as much i can tell. Am still grateful to he till tomorrow for he spell works.
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    ReplyDelete


  23. My marriage has been a blessing till 4 months ago when my whole life almost got sucked. My ex-wife and wanted me back by all means and wanted to break my marriage. she set me up in many occasions showing the pictures to my wife that am back to her this made my wife file for an instant divorce and wanted to leave my life in total. and even my 4 kids wanted were disappointed in me. but i never have any intentions of going back. The i went to many spell casters but they all failed taking my money away. I lived in grief for 3 good months without any plan of getting out of this mess. till i met an old skull friend who show me to Dr.jartospellcaster@gmail.com a spell witch who then restore the happiness to my family and my life. He spell worked so fast that i could not even believe it. he's great for as much i can tell. Am still grateful to he till tomorrow for he spell works.
    My wife canceled the divorce and came back with apologies all for this spell powers.

    ReplyDelete


  24. My marriage has been a blessing till 4 months ago when my whole life almost got sucked. My ex-wife and wanted me back by all means and wanted to break my marriage. she set me up in many occasions showing the pictures to my wife that am back to her this made my wife file for an instant divorce and wanted to leave my life in total. and even my 4 kids wanted were disappointed in me. but i never have any intentions of going back. The i went to many spell casters but they all failed taking my money away. I lived in grief for 3 good months without any plan of getting out of this mess. till i met an old skull friend who show me to Dr.jartospellcaster@gmail.com a spell witch who then restore the happiness to my family and my life. He spell worked so fast that i could not even believe it. he's great for as much i can tell. Am still grateful to he till tomorrow for he spell works.
    My wife canceled the divorce and came back with apologies all for this spell powers.

    ReplyDelete
  25. How to Win And Stop Your Husband For cheating
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