Sunday, August 03, 2008


I've been attending services at a small local church for about the past three weeks. Today the sanctuary looked unusually full and I figured out that was because today is communion Sunday. I haven't taken communion for years, so I felt somewhat nervous about the idea. The pastor was mindful though, and made sure all the guests felt welcome. The experience was refreshing, and I'm glad I attended the service this morning, despite being extremely tired when I woke up.

I can't quite put my finger on what's made me finally begin going to church again. I've been wanting to go for a long time, but I've never found a church that really made me feel comfortable here in Michigan. If I'm being honest, I've only put forth about a 25% effort in my quest, which I'm sure is a large part of the problem.

I'd also be lying if I said this was an easy decision for me. I've experienced some rather significant anger towards God these past years, dealing with infertility and other hardships. It's been difficult for me to begin to make peace with my own feelings of uncertainty and disillusion where God is concerned. I've also got some reservations about organized religion in general, and the judgmental nature that somehow seems to accompany churchgoers. Somehow I struggle with the exclusive nature of some organized religions...the notion that there can only be one way to worship God or approach spirituality.

Still, with all that being said, I've felt an irresistible pull towards church that has only gotten stronger the longer I've tried to shove it into the recesses of my mind. Spirituality seems to be the one quadrant of my life where I can't seem to find what I'm looking for. I've begun, over the years, to accept my own state of lost-ness and anger as one way to relate to God. I can be mad at Him...confused about Him and and still desire a relationship with Him. My relationship with God can also be independent of a formal church setting, but that is still an area where I struggle. None of this is easy to talk about either, but today I can't seem to keep quiet. I think slowly but surely I may be finding a church where I can allow myself to belong again. *Maybe*

The thing is, church was huge for me as a young girl and adolescent. My whole family attended church regularly, and I attended church camp every summer. I even went through confirmation as a teenager, not an experience I took lightly. Some of my best friends through high school were the people I went to church with. How do you go from that to where I've been these last years? How does a person get so completely lost and separated from church...from God? Moving to Michigan after high school was a huge factor, probably the biggest. But there were and are other attributes at play here too. I've been so dissatisfied with the pat answers given by the Christian faith. The notion that bad things happen to good people because of free will, and that God has some master plan that we all fit into...that God is completely in control and that He leads us where we are meant to go. Is it really...can it really be that simple? After 9/11 I went to church, seeking answers...and what I was told was that God didn't allow 9/11 to happen, people did. That just wasn't good enough for me...I felt so empty and lost with that as the answer to all evil...and there began another chapter in my lost quest to find God.

I don't know...I certainly don't have any of the answers, I am still very uncertain of where I fall on the scale between organized religion and a personal, church-independent relationship with God. One thing I do know though, is that I have to at least try. I have to continue to seek and ask and wonder...and only after I do that will I be able to comfortably make a more informed decision about the question of church for myself. In all likelihood this could go on for years, I certainly don't expect the answers to my myriad questions to fall into my lap overnight. I guess, as with most of life, one day at a time is truly the only way.


Michael said...

Whether your devotion to god is internal or through organized religion it's a deeply personal commitment to decide. Think of Pa Walton, he never went to church and yet no one thought less of him for his commitment to god. Which ever route you ultimately decide to take; whether to attend services regularly or keep your devotion to god in your heart well support you either way.

Duck Hunter said...

I think it is important to find a church that fits what you need. I wouldn't say organized religion is necessary or that going to church is required to have a relationship with God. I just believe that a good church that meets your needs can enhance and strengthen your relationship with God. I hope you find what you need.

Hill upon hill said...

I do share many of your thoughts here. God is important to me, but church life can be tricky. I do believe there are many ways to worship and be in relationship with God. The whole thing is meant to be a freeing experience, with joy. It is so hard to reconcile pain with the concept of God being in control, but He is. My one small thought on this is that it makes us long for heaven and if it was good in this world, then would there be a need for heaven?

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

Melba, I don't know you at all, I am just blog hopping tonight. But I read this post and I think I know some authors that you might like to read that kind of address the issues you feel. So I shall now offer unsolicited advice to a complete stranger ;-)

One of them is Donald Miller, his book is called Blue Like Jazz. And, also, anything by Philip Yancey is wonderful. He grew up in church, became very disillusioned in college, and then when back as an adult, so he writes from that perspective. His book The Jesus I Never Knew, you might like, or, like I said, anything is awesome, Where is God When it Hurts is another great one.