Mr. RSG and I decided to attend church on Easter Sunday with the girls. It’s been years since we actually went to church on a holiday. There are people who go to church ONLY on the big holidays – like Christmas and Easter. Oddly enough, we’d been doing the opposite. Going to church during the year, and slacking off on the holidays…avoiding the big crowds and the sometimes standing room only services and the 11 years it takes to get out of the parking lot.
I must say, it was a moving service for me. I am glad that we went.
When the music started…they had drums going that had a primitive sound…it was evocative of some sort of African tribal kind of style (yeah, I know, weird, especially coming from the Catholic church where everything is so formal and Holy and solemn). The lights above the congregation were dim and the stage they use was lit with a bluish kind of light. It had a mesmerizing kind of quality. It just went right to the core of me. Of course, me being me, I started crying, for the first of three times during that service.
I’ve always wondered why church sometimes makes me cry. At first, I thought it was for various surface reasons (the pretty or intense music, the insightful message, the fellowship). But really, what it boils down to is that I feel I am destined for something BIG…something in the service of OTHERS…something (perhaps) to do with the church. NOT necessarily because of God…not because I believe there is something that comes after I die.
For me, there is the great unknowing there, and while I don’t entirely believe, I don’t discount the possibility, either.
I cry because I want and need to make a difference NOW. There is something that keeps tugging at my heart. I still believe not simply in the goodness of others, but in the goodness of ME that is worth giving to others. I cry because I know at the same time, I’m RESISTING that call to greatness, for fear of looking foolish or becoming even more weird than I already am. Especially if it happens to call me to be of service in a church setting. There is a part of me that fears I will be found out to be a fraud…that people will know I am just there for the community but I’m still really full of doubts and they’ll soon know it…and then there’s a part of me that is afraid of becoming a real Jesus Freak.
Sometimes I feel there’s a part of me that might want to become exactly that. Maybe a part of me just wants to jump wholeheartedly into blind faith for a while and see what will happen when I do.
I want to have the blind faith that others have. I want to have the joy that I see some others have because they believe. I don’t have that joy because I’m always poking holes in my faith, looking for the proof that everyone who believes in God is a fool.
And yet, sometimes I think maybe I’m the fool because I deprive myself of the comfort and joy that I see others have.
At that particular Protestant church we attend, I can’t avoid the energy that’s there. I can hardly resist wanting the faith and belief that is there in the countenance of others. And in the songs that they sing. Not necessarily the women either, though they have pretty voices. But it’s the young men that I see up there, with great voices and compelling expressions while they sing their praises to a God I have trouble believing in. It’s clear they are doing something they love doing.
It’s all so very touching. Some of the testimonials they show from time to time are quite poignant. Sometimes I long to get up there and share my story…of where I came from and how I came to believe with all my heart and all my soul. I’m not there yet though. I still hold back. I’m still resisting.
But I find myself wanting to let go. I feel the tears are telling me that it’s time to let go of the resistance…to jump in with both feet. Even if it means I’ll find out there’s nothing really there. Would it be so bad to give of my time and my talents to a group of people that want to act more like Jesus and serve others? I mean, even if he’s not really real…he’s one helluva role model. What’s wrong with joining a group that actually is doing stuff to help others (there’s lots of outreach programs in the church)? This church we go to doesn’t seem to just preach connection to each other, but it seems to make an effort to live it.
Right now, I don’t even sing in church like the others do…like my husband does. He believes without questioning, whereas I am and always have been just very skeptical. The Catholic faith I grew up in didn’t prepare me well at all, it was more “do what I say, not as I do”. I’ve seen and experienced hypocrisy out of my own family members that caused my faith to be flimsy. Yet, I WANT to believe. I ALWAYS have wanted to believe, but I just can’t quite seem to cross that line. For a while it was because a part of me felt like a fraud (that’s what happened when I left the Catholic church). And now, after many years of being uncertain of what to do, I know that I hesitate, because I know that I feel I’m being asked to do something enormous. I mean, sometimes I feel called to do something big in terms of (eventually) taking some sort of leadership role. Yeah…THAT big. Coming from me…the one whose doubts seem to be LOOMING like a huge shadow over everything…overwhelming me…causing me to run far away.
I am not looking for God, Himself (Herself, Itself – though to me, God has always been male), per se – because I think He’s always hanging around me, trying to get me to listen, but I’m looking for a place to be useful and to give back to others. I like the church we attend. I know a few of the people there. I really like what they do for the kids. The Sunday school rooms are cool – one’s decorated in a space theme, one in a farm theme, one in an ocean theme, one in a jungle them. The older kids have a room of their own…with pool tables and a juice bar. It’s pretty cool for the kids. I think they want to create a fun and safe place for the kids to hang out while they learn about God.
I find myself wanting to be a more active part of that church, I feel called to serve. To give of myself…use my talents in a big way. I wanted so badly to join the drama team of church. I felt I could do it…but I never tried out for it like I wanted to last month, another one of those attempts to avoid the urging of my heart.
At the very least, I know they could use help in the Sunday school. Eventually I could do more. I know I could.
I feel I need the force that’s bigger than myself to provide enough strength and momentum to push past the great inertia within me. I’ve been so depressed, and without people and face-to-face friendship for so long…I know that sentimentality has something to do with it…but it’s not just that. I met with two friends of mine earlier this week. I know that meeting with my friend CD was one of the better things that happened to me in a long while. And I was reminded of the past, of where I came from and who I was back then, before children, of how my life had been positively affected by her, and her mother and other people who cared about me when I needed support. Had it not been for people in my life like them, I would not be who I am today. Some of the good things in my life are a direct result of being placed in their path. They didn’t know it at the time, but they helped me through some really difficult times.
But at the same time, the past few years or so, I’ve been so isolated. It’s partially self-imposed isolation. After meeting with some rejection from others, I just gave up trying. There is a chance to meet friends and impact lives through the church. There is more I think I can be doing that I am not. I’m just slowly building myself up to take that leap. I think when I do, more things will start to fall into place…
I think one of the purposes of the church CAN provide for me, is that impetus for more growth and the support system to sustain that growth through the times I don’t seem to have the strength. I realized that I can’t do this alone. That God just might be bigger than my depression and my thyroid condition. That perhaps God keeps working through others, bringing me closer to what I need to know and what I am supposed to do with the rest of my life.
At least, there is the great possibility that this is so. I need to find out one way or another. I really have nothing to lose by giving it a shot. This doing it all by myself doesn’t seem to be working all that well for me.