Thursday, January 31, 2013

church

Sometimes I really don't like going to church. And other times I don't like going to church. And very occasionally, I like going to church. We pack apple slices and crackers for the kids. They have crayons and paper. During the message, Justin and I draw fish or boats or trucks. We hear the sermon and it might resonate with a truth we're learning. We sing. Claire and Grant like to dance when they aren't trying to crawl up us.

Over the last couple months, my attitude about going to church has sucked. I haven't seen the point of it. I don't have that honey-soaked-spiritual experience when the worship leader prays. I cry at the wrong times. I bite my lip and wish I was at home. I look around and get super judgy about the singles with the space on their laps to open fat Bibles crammed with tiny notes in the margins. I get annoyed at prayers the length of Lutheran sermons. I itch when the worship team calls us all to cry out to Jesus and I half-whimper, God help. I don't like to clap when I sing. A lot of the time I can't see the words to the songs anyway. And when I turn inward, I see a tangle of need need need. God help.

I much prefer reading my Bible and praying alone or gleaning wisdom from fellow believers when we meet for a small study or lunch. I have long joked that if I lived in a cave I'd be a really holy person. Well, maybe. But God asks us to meet together and I've been having an awful time seeing the goodness of a large gathering. I keep going. I don't like getting there. I grit my teeth and chafe at the time because I'd rather go grocery shopping or draw chalk pictures in the courtyard on a weekend morning. Even so, I crack open to truth and wisdom and the services give me something to think about. Still, I wish I actually liked going to church more.

3 comments:

Steve said...

Have you ever thought of quit trying to fight yourself. Maybe you are being told something, but ingrained in you is "how you are supposed to be"

I don't go to Church, because who is real when they are at Church??

Who prays sincerely, and whose smiles are real??

I appreciate your honesty in this blog update. I know it couldn't have been easy for you to open up like this.

I respect it a ton. :)

Take care.

jsmarslender said...

Well, I did go to church this morning. Yesterday I met with a woman who told me a lot of people have been feeling as I do, especially lately. Our church is moving around from building to building and current laws prevent building a new, permanent structure. So that's been tough for some of us - to get into a routine and be bumped from it every couple months.

Still, I think God wants us to have joy in gathering together. So I went this morning with that attitude - that I'm sharing this service with other people who love God. And we are supposed to challenge and encourage each other in our faith: what does it look like when we live like we really love God? What does it look like when we live like we know God really loves us?

But you're right, Steve, that you can't always tell what is behind a person's "I'm fine" smile. I guess that's why I post things like this. There doesn't need to be pride or shame in feeling cruddy about something. You can just feel cruddy about it.

We went to church this morning and it was a good service. Sermon was long and I ended up at the back with the kids, who danced through the closing song. It will feel like a push to go some weeks, but a few older moms have encouraged me to continue.

As for honesty, I'll have to post about a recent conversation I had. Hopefully sometime in the next week...

Nate said...

Hey Sarah, thanks for sharing this. Church is a huge difficulty sometimes, especially with kids. The times that church has been sweet for me are when I go there to hear God's word and to worship God. And I've had some miserable seasons of church.

Try not to be put off by fake smiles. People mean well with the smiles, and anyone claiming to follow Christ is undoubtedly failing somehow to be perfect and holy, and they could therefore be called hypocrites.

Some of the singles judge the happy people sharing life with their cute kids. And your kids are like notes in the margins, think of how much God has taught you about himself through each of them!

I don't take it for granted that 'real' people are more worthwhile than those of us with incoherent lives. Read Romans 7.

We are taught by society to despise hypocrites. Society values people who are 'real', meaning people who strive to appease their native nature, people who conform to the patterns of the world by achieving agreement between their actions and their stated values.

The agreement should not come at the cost of the values.