It's a Sunday morning, the cicadas are wildly chirping, the sun is blazing, the dishwasher is swishing, the air conditioner is humming, the chihuahua is madly running in circles and I'm sitting at the computer typing a blog post instead of being in church.
It bothers me that I was raised to be a church goer and to celebrate God and all he provides on Sunday, to fellowship with like-minded believers and then to be 38 and completely incapable of putting a foot inside the doors of a house of worship. It bothers me because I feel like it's what I'm supposed to do. It bothers me because I'm not setting the same example that was laid out for me for my own children. It bothers me that my once unmitigated passion for Christ has dried up like a man made pond in the rural south. It bothers me, but not nearly as much as religion does.
Now that my family has reached a quiet, resting place in the chaos of life and mental illness, now that we smile and laugh and hug more than cry, shout and punch pillows, I've found myself in an unexpected place regarding my faith. I'm not denouncing Christ or casting aside worship, I'm not switching faiths or bashing all persons as religious zealots. I'm simply being. I'm being in the moment on a Sunday morning when the cicadas are wildly chirping, the sun is blazing and a cool breeze is blowing, my shoulders are relaxing because my body is rested, my mind is quiet and peaceful and my children are happy.
Good God Almighty, my children are happy.
Gone are the days I would dash off to church hoping to hear some message that would give me the key to fix my family, to make us whole, to adjust myself view, to praise and worship myself hoarse in the hopes that my sacrifices to God for 90 minutes would make it all right again. Gone are the days I made the mad dash to feed children and fight the rush hour traffic to get to a homegroup meeting or a Wednesday night service because the measure I eeked out on Sunday morning wasn't enough to get me to hump day, let alone the rest of the week. Gone are the moments I reluctantly walked out of church, feeling lower and lonelier than I did before I walked through the open doors. Gone are the days the offering plate passed by me and the guilt of not being able to sacrifice one quarter no longer haunts me. Gone are the days I gave the full 10% tithe when the groceries hadn't been bought or the power bill hadn't been paid because I was hoping that this time, there would be a 100 fold return as the preacher promised (only to learn later that the cupboard was still bare, the power bill was late and I was out the cash I could have used for those amenities but my pastor pulled into the parking lot with one more new vehicle.)
This life changes you. If I could convince my like-minded believers that worship, praise and thanksgiving doesn't occur in a fancy chapel but around the dining room table when your mentally ill daughter tells you that she thinks your hair looks nice today, I would feel less guilty for not being in a pew at 10 am in my Sunday best.
If I could convince Christians that doing God's work is getting up in the morning before your teenagers so you can greet them with a smile and a hug while you prepare their breakfast I wouldn't mind that I don't have a quarter to put in the offering plate.
If I could challenge people to consider drinking coffee on the back porch while being warmed in the sun and sung to by the insects as praise and worship, i might actually sing again myself.
If people would learn from me the lessons that I've learned on this journey called parenting special-needs children instead of trying to get me back in the doors of THEIR church that just might, maybe could, perhaps they would try to meet my family's unique needs on a Sunday for two hours, I would thank God the Creator and maker of all things that I suffered so that others might learn.
I've found a new church. It is a church of peace, hope, love, kindness, patience, forgiveness, selflessness and self-control. It is the church of God as it was intended to be. It is serving and being thankful and worshiping all day, every day with all people every where regardless of their situation. It is open-mindedness and giving your $10 visa rewards gas card to the neighbor that had a stroke. It is unconditional love for your broken child. It is patience unending for your impaired son. It is kindness for the ex spouse when seeing his face makes you want to wretch. It is genuine happiness despite all ills. It is hope that the next ten minutes of life will be joyful and perseverance when it isn't.
If this church exists and happens to have regular meetings on Sunday mornings so I can hug people, laugh and cry with them, I'll be there, wearing whatever I put on to get there and maybe with a few dollars in my pocket to share with another needy soul. Until then, I'll be right here. Come join me.