You may recall that when I moved to Grand Rapids two years ago, my husband and I went on a church hunt. You may also recall I said it was “worse than dating.”
I wasn’t wrong.
Today, we are still unchurched. Most days, this feels like a dull pain, kind of like an ongoing humming sound that you can tune out with enough getting used to it, but it’s always in the background making noise.
The noise aches my head and my heart and there is no getting used to it.
Make no mistake, you sinner. Catholic guilt does a fine job of hanging on, like two blistered hands holding tight to a survival rope a good Samaritan has thrown down to you as your legs flail off the side of a cliff.
Luckily, I got rid of that a few years ago after eons of hard work which included deep introspection, lots of wine, tears, and almost hypnosis. Yeah, you can’t run from your past, but you can definitely run from a quack especially if you are an actual runner.
So where does that leave me today, you ask? How do I deal with being brought up in the church, being an active participant playing integral roles in the church, teaching and preaching in the church, and now…finding myself without a church?
I wish I had a solid answer for you.
I wish I had a solid answer for me.
I can tell you what I KNOW FOR SURE.
I know it took me over FORTY years to fully believe I am not going to hell because I want to flip off most “Evangelicals” on a daily basis.
I know it took me FIVE full years to believe I am not going to hell because I used to be one.
I know I have always believed in, unconditionally loved, and wanted to be in a relationship with Jesus.
I know when I became a Mom, I could never answer Liv’s ridiculously insightful aged-five question every night as we read Scripture, sang, and prayed: “Mom, how do we know that our God is the right God?” “What if there is another little girl laying in bed with her Mom on the other side of the world and they are reading a different Bible? Is that little girl going to hell?”
I remember explicitly trying to answer her question away by pointing out Scripture verses that supported “our” God, “our” Christianity, “our” belief system.
And then I felt like a no good, terrible, fraudulent mother. Good Lord, I thought. If I am answering her question like this, what is going to happen when she asks me about sex?
Do they have mother-daughter assigned seats in hell, or how does this work exactly? I wondered this as a mid-twenty-something mother who loved her daughter more than life itself. I knew the importance of giving her a sense of unconditional love – and not just from me, from her maker. From the reason, the originator of why she (and everyone else) is here.
I needed to give my girl her why.
But I must have missed that part in CCD on Sundays. I only paid attention when someone said where we were playing flag football after we were done watching abortion videos.
Here’s my current why I am not attending church right now: I don’t like church right now.
I do, however, like writing right now. Writing is cathartic for me, so today I write. Because today I became enraged.
I became so enraged about this topic that I try so hard every week to ignore, this topic I pretend every Sunday I’ll just get used to.
The impetus for this reaction was threefold, in this order:
One of my former fellow Evangelical churchgoing “friends” posted a quote from a local mayor saying that his feeling “is that Scripture is about protecting the stranger, the prisoner, the poor person, and that idea of welcome – that’s what I get in the Gospel when I’m in church.”
(I was nodding in affirmation as I read the mayor’s quote, my day still looking bright at 4:15am.)
But then I read my former fellow Evangelical churchgoing friend’s response: “Hmm…I thought the Gospel had to do with Jesus.”
Ok. Why? Put aside any theological reasoning, just WHY is that helpful? Why is that necessary? What is the actual point?
Right. To be divisive.
I shook my head. If he is so concerned with a Gospel that has to do with Jesus, pipe it down already. I don’t like church right now and I WAS RAISED IN IT! Imagine how other people with a much shakier (or non-existent) foundation would immediately feel if they read this.
Right. They would think, “Hmm…I thought the church had to do with love.”
Yet, I was only quasi-mad, mostly because I have embarrassingly become Pink Floyd Comfortably Numb when I read or see this hypocrisy. Normalcy does that. It numbs people to the point of massive acceptance. Alcohol, as an example, numbs pain when instead, we need to FEEL the pain in order to rise up, take action, and make a change.
So too is this true in the church, and never more profound a time than this.
The whole premise of the post was that the mayor was dumbfounded that Pence supported Trump. Because, you know, Scripture. Romans 13, to be exact. And while theologians and scholars and Evangelicals and (label, label, label, puke) can go at it all they want, wasn’t it Jesus The Gospel Himself who blew off the super scholarly Pharisees when they told him he shouldn’t be doing miracles on the Sabbath because that’s what it says in the Book?
HE IS THE BOOK.
The post went on to talk about the mayor being gay, and some sarcastic remark about only white heterosexuality should be attacked.
But by then, I was done-done. Kinda like I am now, so I’ll have to write about the second and third things later.
All I KNOW FOR SURE is that while I may be “homeless” insofar as church goes, I am not alone in my dwelling.