Many years ago, a girl at school invited me to visit her non-denominational Christian church and join her Bible study group on campus. I did, and loved it so much that I decided to become a Christian. I was baptized in a long metal trough when I was 18. For many years, I spent a lot of time in studying the Bible, reaching out to people, praying with others, etc. I was so involved in the church that when I graduated from SFU, I worked full-time for my church as the financial administrator. In fact, it was at this church that I met and married Cliff. Some of the best friends I’ve made in life are from this church–some still go, and some don’t anymore.
I don’t talk about church or religion much here, because the truth is I haven’t been to church for over 2 years now. You may think to yourself, how can you be so devoted and yet not go to church for over 2 years? Well, a lot of things happened during the 16 years of going to this church. I must say it was mostly a positive experience in learning about God. However, a part of working full time for a church, seeing some of the behind-the-scene operations, and going through changes in the church leadership and dynamic resulted in a lot of disappointment over time. I then attributed the disappointment to God’s doing. Then the last straw that broke this camel’s back is when I had a miscarriage in 2009. I threw up my hands and decided I’ve had enough. You can see that there may be no logic in my thinking here, but no one could have talked me into logic when I was emotionally devastated.
Was I just taking a break from attending church? Or taking a break from God? I was not sure. I just felt that I needed some time to myself. I felt that years of trying to please everyone made me realize I don’t really know who I am. Am I really a zealous Christian like I once was? Or am I just acting it because it was expected of me? Do I really believe in the direction in which the church is lead? Or do I just act supportive because that’s the right thing to do? Do I spend another evening out for the sake of fellowship? Or tell someone that I need some family time and be home that night? Between a very demanding job during the day, and a very demanding church schedule in evenings and weekends, I burnt the candle on both ends for many years. Many people at church always made me feel that I must choose between my career and church.
I had no set goal or timeline of needing time to myself when I stopped going. I just knew that I needed to figure out where life is headed for me.
Over the last 2 years, I had sufficient distance from the church I once loved and threw my life into to gain some perspective. I decided that I couldn’t really go back there in the current state it is in. So I became a church-less Christian. Or maybe some people may think I’m no longer Christian. The truth is I don’t really give a rat’s ass about what people think of my religious status anymore.
I’ve been thinking about finding another church to attend for quite a while now. I needed to go somewhere that my past experience isn’t judged and labeled, and I’m not burdened with unwanted responsibility and guilt.
This past weekend, a very good friend invited us to attend her church. We went. The service started with a song I sang for many years at my old church, and I just lost it. I cried through the entire song, barely able to sing a note. I turned to Cliff and told him how much I just miss going to church. What I miss the most is being in the presence of other people with the same belief, singing a song about adoring and worshipping God, without a care in the world about what people think of your beliefs.
The sermon was good. It wasn’t anything earth shattering, but that was the first time in many years I got to listen to a message and not feel like I don’t measure up to God’s expectations. So in a way, it was very luxurious. I almost felt a sense of freedom too that nobody knows who I am in that church other than my friend, and I wasn’t expected to say certain things or behave a certain way.
I don’t know where things will go from here on out. I do want to visit this church again, and possibly others, and see where that leads us. If you’re wondering what I’m getting at with this post, well, I wrote this post for myself, to sort through my thoughts.