Church has been hard the past couple of years.
I shared this quote last time, and it feels like where I've been:
"[Getting lost] can happen anywhere, in all kinds of ways. You can get lost on your way home. You can get lost looking for love. You can get lost between jobs. You can get lost looking for God. However it happens, take heart. Others before you have found a way in the wilderness, where ther are as many angels as there are wild beasts, and plenty of other lost people too. All it takes is one of them to find you. All it takes is you to find one of them." Barbara Taylor Bradford, An Altar in the World
A little bit lost: on my way home, looking for love, between jobs, looking for God.
Check, check, check, and check.
You know what I think I've wanted church to do for me? I think I have wanted church to get me un-lost. And it hasn't done that. So I haven't wanted to go. Church, if it isn't going to get me un-lost, has often seemed like an expense of energy that I can ill afford. And that's made it hard for me to be there, most weeks.
Wandering in the wilderness is just about enough for me to deal with.
Last Sunday, December 27, was the first Sunday in a couple of years that I actually WANTED to go to church. I've gone other times because Andy wants to go, and I love Andy. So I've gone to church and many times it's been good to be there.
Often I've sung a song I needed to sing, heard words I needed to hear, spoken creeds and prayers that I needed to speak, cried tears that I needed to cry. I've even met some nice people.
But I didn't really ever want to be there. Which has seemed like a very troubling and unChristian sort of sentiment to be experiencing for years at a time.
Last Sunday, I wanted to go. So we went and it was lovely. Lessons and Carols. A service of peace. A time of closure to the seasons of Advent and Christmas.
Afterward, I said to a friend, "The weirdest thing happened to me. I wanted to go to church, and I really enjoyed it. But I bet if we wait a few days, the urge will pass."
And sure enough, by this Sunday, I didn't want to go to church again.
But Andy did want to go, and I love Andy.
Also, our church is in East Dallas where there are tacos. After church, I can have tacos.
So I said to myself, "Sorry church. I'm just here for the tacos." And off we went.
And I sang songs I needed to sing. I heard words I needed to hear. I said creeds and prayers that I needed to say. I cried tears that I needed to cry. I even got to say Happy New Year to Erika, a girl I met at a church mixer where we both hid in the corner with our glasses of wine, and commiserated about being introverts at church parties. Also, Andy signed up for a Habitat for Humanity build which made him a very happy camper.
And I finally heard this thing that the pastor says everysingleweek before he starts preaching. It goes something like this:
"Whatever your week's been like, whatever your life's been like, whatever you look like. Whether you agree with us, or whether you vehemently disagree, in the name of Jesus Christ, you are welcome in this place. All we ask is that you be present. Just be here for this one hour." Andrew Forrest (badly quoted)
And I thought, Maybe it's okay if I'm just here for the tacos.
Maybe it's okay if I just show up and breathe.
Maybe it's okay that I keep checking 'Returning Visitor' in the attendance book.
Maybe it's okay if church doesn't get me un-lost.
Maybe that's really not its job.
Maybe, right now, church is just a place where I can show up and be present. No pressure, no expectations, no anxiety.
And tacos after.
So, dear church, I'm just here for the tacos. But it seems like that might be okay with y'all. Thanks so much for understanding.