Taking it on faith

I remember when staying out all night on a Sunday meant finding a “buck a bottle” beer special and an accompanying “wing night” deal. Last night, I got home late because I went to a church meeting.

I finally decided to accept an invitation to talk with the church elders about my spiritual journey. There were other folks there, too, and let me tell you, I was praying for the strength to NOT go slam them over the head with a Bible because all they did was talk-talk-talk about everyone at the church they just left (in a nice way) and yap-yap-yap about everybody they knew in common with our lead pastor. I was silently moving my complaint bracelet from wrist to wrist, because the thoughts were very un-Christian-like. 🙂

It’s funny how the elders knew me but no one could put a name with the face. The pastor’s wife had seen me bring in the wrapped Christmas gift for the toy drive yesterday (she had complimented my mad wrapping skillz) and the pastor himself had actually tapped me on the shoulder after the service. I told him later, “When you did that, I knew that, damn, I had to come to tonight’s meeting!”

They were sort of fascinated by me, because everyone else in the room was all holy rollin’ all their lives and there I was, smiling and joking nodding along and yet still sort of distrustful of the whole deal. And I made a comment about my dear friend Tiff who encouraged me to get my “heathen ass to church” and they loved that. Of course, they asked how I heard about them and I mentioned the source of the referral, and that’s probably why they liked me — always helps to know someone they adore!

The pastor figured out that it’s not that I distrust religion, but church itself. Which is a thousand percent true, although I probably shouldn’t have admitted that I have my skeptical moments with some elements of the sermons, too. And I said I continually question my own motivation for seeking out a formal religious setting in the first place — I go there for peace of mind, for escape, for a chance to be around happy, faithful people whom I assume are wonderful, upstanding citizens. But whether or not those are the “right” reasons, I still keep showing up, figuring I’ll find whatever it is I’m supposed to be looking for eventually.

I basically go to get the hell away from myself and expectations I can never seem to meet — and I like the whole “none of us is perfect” approach that they take, that if we had achieved the final rung on our spiritual climb, then none of us would need church in our lives.

A lot of the attendees of our little group last night were sort of saying that they were looking for a church and they didn’t know whether this was the right one for them. It’s funny — of all the things I’m grappling with, this is the one thing I never doubted for a moment. That, if I’m going to do this, this is where I want to be doing it.

They say we all have “next steps” to take. For me, they handed me a book and said to just keep on coming till the spirit moves me to get more involved. Because you know, just coming to church is only part of how you should be serving the Lord. That is, you need to be making a difference in the community, whether your own or the greater global community. But we all agreed I have decades of damage (distrust, indifference, disbelief) to undo, so I get a pass till I come to some sort of internal peace that I’m ready to turn my life over to Christ.

And that’s a lot to ask. I think it’ll happen — I’m just sort of like, whoa, this is HUGE. Far bigger than anything I can wrap my little head around. But then again, as the pastor said, if something existential/spiritual can be solved by us mere mortals, then that would make it, well, NOT supernatural, yes? I guess I just don’t want to blindly walk into something I don’t understand, but on the other hand, isn’t that what “taking it on faith” is all about?

2 Responses to Taking it on faith

  1. Pisco Sours :

    Precisely! This whole thing is still friggen scary to me, and for me a good day is one where I just ask God why he chose me to become Christian, instead of cursing him out for doing so!

    But at the same time, I’ve become acutely aware that there’s a vastness–of humanity, of the world, of everything–that makes me very insignificantly teeny-tiny, but also requires me to do some small part to heal it.

    I talked to a priest outside of my parish the other day because of multiple frustrations going on, while marveling that although I’m gnashing my teeth quite often, everyone around me seems to think I’m happier than I’ve ever been. She just listened attentively, nodded, and said she thinks I’m experiencing a calling. And then everything that’s been happening lately just kind of fell into place.

    I don’t know what I’m being called to, although I very highly doubt it’ll involve ordination. 🙂 Actually, if I were to speculate, or more accurately pull something out of my ass, I think I might be being called to holy orders.

    And whoa, I reeeeeeeeeeeally don’t think I’m ready for that yet!

  2. Tiff :

    M’love, you know me… I actually HAVE been holy-rollin’ most of my life, and to this day… while I’m a big fan o’ Jesus, I’m deeply skeptical of those who claim to be his messengers.

    Which is not to say that I don’t trust any religious figures or anything like that- I’ve been fortunate to know a lot of really kind, loving, and wise pastors and elders- but just that I recognize that we’re all human, we’re all flawed, and anything they tell me has to be evaluated on that basis. In some ways, it’s hard, because I don’t get to turn off my brain and accept everything that comes out of a pulpit… but in other ways, it’s intensely liberating to understand that obedience to God is not the same as obedience to a person claiming to speak on his behalf.

    So my advice, and this is something I personally have to lean on more heavily as my own spiritual journey takes on new challenges… is to decide not whether you think these people are right about *everything*, but to decide whether or not they’re right about the important things- loving their neighbors, kindness, charity, gentleness. In other words, are they people you want to journey with?