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.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -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.