All The Things That Are True, Episode 1: Church

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All The Things That Are True, Episode 1: Church



All The Things That Are True About: Church


If I’d written this post last week, it would be different than today. Truth is dynamic from our subjective human purview. There is Truth, and I’m not going to argue all day here about what that is, because I have a feeling none of us will ever full know it this side of the grave, but we learn truths, as I stated in Episode 0, as our lives go on.

And, what’s true for one person isn’t necessarily true for another. The statement, “My husband is loving,” is 100{43d0d1614ecc8ec385b3ea9940a88627e26eaf9be88a0641399e0be0c80ef276} true for me. But, sadly, that’s not the truth for many. Also, “My marriage is amazing,” is 100{43d0d1614ecc8ec385b3ea9940a88627e26eaf9be88a0641399e0be0c80ef276} true for me, but wasn’t in my first marriage, and won’t always be true in this marriage.

The things that are true about church are, as everything in this series, from where I sit today.

Folks: Church is hard. Church is ugly. Church isn’t perfect. Church won’t give me all I need. Church isn’t where I want to be sometimes. Church is where I always want to be.

I’m going to break some of these down real quick, to share my truths about church.


Church is hard

It’s hard on a number of levels. It’s hard because I have to commit to being a part of this community, this family, and commitment is always hard and always comes with a price. There are sacrifices of time and money and ability.

Sunday mornings are a given, but then there are sometimes meetings, activities, and fundraising that happens outside of that quaint, storybook Sunday morning window.

We donate money because we want the building to stay open, heated, and preferably with a priest up front, though all of those things aren’t requirements of the church Jesus talks about. In my faith tradition, we just need a couple of raggedy sinners praying to God and being His hands and feet and BOOM! Church. But for the sake of this paragraph, I’m talking brick-and-mortar.

We also donate money and items to other causes our church supports. Various missions groups, soup kitchens, shelter needs are all under the umbrella of things our church supports as we also support the church. It’s the “hands and feet” of God that we’re acting in every day to spread The Love. And that’s not easy. It’s not easy to give off the top of a pile of money that resembles more of an anthill than a mountain. But we want to, beyond what we’re biblically instructed to do. But, it can be hard, and it’s important to name that.


Church is ugly & it’s not perfect

I feel like I’ve talked plenty about this in the last couple of years. Breaking up with the church, apologizing to my friends in the gay community, and sharing with you the heartbreaking journey that led Charles and I, and our family, to a new church after our former church behaved in a way that was at the same time mind boggling and exactly as we expected.

That doesn’t mean the grass is always greener on the other side. Churches are still made of people, and people have stories and pasts and presents that they’re dealing with. All of the truths we all carry get jumbled together as we gather to worship God on Sunday mornings together.

And, in switching denominations, back to the one of my childhood, I had to let go of some beautiful things from my evangelical experience and watch how they unfold, or don’t, in this new place. (Yes, I’ve been going to this church for 2 years and still call it our “new” church. That’s probably a self-preservation thing best saved for dissection at another time).

At the former church, we spent half an hour at the beginning of each service in praise and worship with both contemporary songs and ancient hymns that allowed each of us, in our own way, to get lost in the music and worship God as we pleased through those five or six songs. Families danced, children performed in the aisles, hands were raised, people knelt, and all in all that “worship time” for the first half hour at our former church remains the thing I miss the most deeply and so, so viscerally crave and am NOT going to get at this new church. It’s not going to happen. We don’t have a band, we don’t sing contemporary songs, only a couple of people raise their hands in worship, and the kids aren’t moved by the hymns to dance in the aisle and fall on their knees before God in that particular way.

And, I don’t like it. I zone out during most hymns. I stare at the stained glass or count how many lines we have left or try to remember if I took meat out to thaw for dinner. I’m not moved by this style of worship. It feels like a woolen sweater a little too late into the spring.

It’s scratchy and uncomfortable, but I still reach for it. I still put my butt in the pew, because, for me, that’s the part I feel called, above all else, to do. Get my butt in that pew.

Also, sometimes the prayers feel stale. Rote. Rushed. It all feels so depressing and somber in the moment, sometimes. That’s high church for you, or for me rather, in a nutshell. It’s the woolen sweater.

But the politics of our former church were depressing and somber at all times. That was a wet woolen sweater.

And God has me at this church for a reason.

You see, the main truth here is that I ended up worshiping my former church. Craved it. Needed it. Yes, it gave me irreplaceable tools and connection with God and with the Bible I don’t think I would have acquired otherwise, but once I was equipped, I needed to move on from that particular institution.

God is showing me that the basis of our relationship is between us. I need a fellowship of believers for encouragement, growth, and forward movement, but I cannot worship those relationships as I have in the past. The ugliness of churches, past and present, is a constant reminder for me to dive inward and focus on relationships rather than the gathering as a whole.

No church this side of the grave is, or ever will be, perfect. Period. I’ll grumble at the songs or the prayer style or the politics or the teaching or SOMETHING. One, because I am human, and two, because so is everyone else. There is only one perfect entity in my spiritual life, and it’s not church. And never will be.

To demand perfection in a church, or any family, is to demand disappointment. We can always strive for better, but we all better keep our eyes upward.


Church won’t give me all I need

I’ve known this for years. I love potlucks, bible studies, small groups, phone calls, coffee shop meet-ups, moms’ groups, all of it. You won’t fit any of these wonderful things in the Sunday morning box. They don’t belong there. Don’t try to cram all of your Godly activities into 90 minutes of directed liturgy. Church should be the comma or period at the end of the week, not the capital letter at the start of a paragraph.

The truth is: I could not go to church for a couple of months and still be on fire for God. But I don’t WANT to. I know that fellowship with other believers is important, and worship is vital with other believers. It won’t all come from church though, friends.

Another truth? When I tried to have church give me all I needed, I was left with nothing. When we left our former church, we lost friends. Our children lost friends. A friend of ours who is a former pastor warned us this would happen when we discussed with him our decision to leave our former church. He was right, and I’m glad he prepared us, or it would have hurt even more. But, those were the majority of my friends. It was our total life.

And it was gone in an instant.

The pain of this loss still haunts me today. That’s a truth that will remain for a long while.


I don’t wanna go/I wanna go

I’ve summed this up pretty well, I think. I’ve loved being in church since I was a little girl. As a first grader I’d ask my parents if we could go, and by the time I got my license, I’d often drive myself on Sunday mornings. I feel called to Christ in all sorts of ways, and church was my first introduction. But, sometimes, I just don’t wanna go. I do a self-check on those mornings. Do I actually need a break? Am I worn out and not feeling well? Even if the answer is yes, sometimes that means I need to go, but sometimes it’s okay to sleep in. Most Sunday mornings though, as an act of discipline that sprung from a desire of love, that has since led to a love-filled habit, I go. I go to check in with my people, hear their prayers, ask how the baby is, watch for signs of healing and prayers answered.

Sometimes I just go, and I don’t know why. And, honestly, that kind of sums up my faith: a soul rooted in a foundation I can’t describe, but wish we could simply touch palms so you knew the feelings I can’t name. I don’t often waste time rooting around for the “why.” I just try to focus on the presence that’s in my life that I’ve found nowhere else. Not in food, not in money, not in things.


The truth about church is that it’s my spiritual school. And, just like I was at earthly school, I don’t always want to go, but am pretty good at it, and enjoy it most of the time because learning is soul fuel to me.


Share your truths about church.





One Comment so far:

  1. I’m so sorry for the losses you are still suffering from, from moving on from your last church. It really sounds like a heart-wrenching period – again I’m so sorry for that. I am thankful that you are in my life and part of my church family because even as a life-long church-goer myself, I have much to learn and I feel you are one of my many teachers. This is a great post, and very thought-provoking. thanks!

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