Thursday, April 30, 2015

Losing Religion, Finding Jesus


From high school till the middle of my freshmen year of college I went 4 years without missing a Sunday of church. I came home early from family beach trips to make sure I attended church (I don't know why I couldn't have just gone to a church at the beach but I was a teenager logic wasn't my forte).

I hung onto my perfect attendance record at church like a badge of honor. Obviously I was a super Christian because of my perfect attendance. I was active in my youth group, helped teach the preschool Wednesday night classes, and went on mission trips every summer. Once I entered college I quickly became involved in a Christian campus group and attended weekend getaways, Bible studies, and of course found a local church.

Now here I sit 7 years after breaking my perfect attendance record for church, since I fell off of the perfect Christian bandwagon. I remember the day I missed church for the first time in 4 years vividly. I was dressed and driving a friend to church. We pulled into the parking lot and I just couldn't go in. I had been dealing with a lot of personal struggles and I couldn't bring myself to have to go into a church and fake happy. I dropped my friend off at church told her I would pick her up in a hour and instead I drove to my favorite park in town. There I wrote the journal entry below which I later submitted to our campus literary magazine.

Please be remember I was only 18 when I wrote this. I'd like to think my writing has improved over the last 7 years. However, I feel like it is necessary to share to help you see the spiritual evolution I went through/continue to go through.

This morning nature was my church.
For 20 minutes I sat and experienced a service that renewed my soul.
The birds sang hymns of praise to the one and only King.
The children's laughter reminded me of the joy God can bring into our lives.
The ripples in the creek that slowly expanded reminded me of God's expansive and never-ending love. 
The soft breeze blowing in the trees and caressing my face reminded me of God's gentleness and yet at the same time the wind can be might and firm, like God.
The sun slowly began to rise and the warmth of it enveloped my body, reminiscent of God and His open arms that will always hold us.
This morning I could not bring myself to go to a church building to worship.
I could not handle another sermon that I simply drowned out or another song that I sang out of obligation and duty. 
I could not go into a church and force another fake smile to keep up with the image of a "happy Christian". 
I needed to feel something...
Something real and relevant and peaceful.
And this morning I found that at a park.

For the first time in a long while I felt God, I saw God, I experienced God.
I did not have to sit and stand in accordance to tradition and ritual.
I did not have to carry on small talk with people that would forget my name in 10 minutes.
I did not have to listen to a mere man speak for 30 minutes.
Instead, I listened to God speaking, I sat quietly and contently for 20 minutes and experienced a real and relevant God.

And it was liberating...


It was a revelation for me. That I could have a relationship with Jesus and be a Christian without necessarily being this stereotypical almost caricature of a Christian. In letting go of perfection I found a deeper relationship with Jesus, one that goes beyond religion. Looking back now I have a greater appreciation of grace because I am not perfect and never will be. That is why grace is such a beautiful thing. God knew I would never be good enough, God knows that nothing I do could possibly make me deserving of Christ loving me, let alone dying for me. Oh the pressure that I no longer feel! I thought I had to prove I was worthy, but I'm not and never will be.

Unfortunately some of my negative experiences with other Christians and with churches led to me getting completely uninvolved with the Christian community. It's not to say I do not have Christian friends but I do not have that tight knit community I felt in high school (I LOVE my home church and wish I could attend there every Sunday. They are truly living out what it means to love other's as Christ would and not making it about religion but instead relationships.)

Daniel and I still haven't found a church. I could give you every excuse under the sun why we haven't. For a couple of years in our marriage I was working retail, meaning working some Sundays and most Saturdays. We moved. We wanted to enjoy the one day we had together. I was pregnant and tired. We just had a baby and didn't want to take a baby to a new church. But what it comes down to is we haven't tried as hard as we should. We haven't made it a priority.

I titled this post "Losing Religion, Finding Jesus" because that is where I feel I stand at this point. I am tired of all the church bureaucracy and legality. I just want to find a community of Christians that are supportive, love Jesus, love others, and would be ok with me having a beer when I want to. So maybe I am ready for Daniel, me, and Landry to take that step in finding a church home. I hope by doing so it can pull us closer to Christ and closer as a family.

6 comments:

  1. ......and that is my prayer for you and your sweet family. I believe, with all my heart, that God DOES have just this kind of church in your area and He will reveal it to you in HIS timing. I will make this a matter of prayer, sweetie! Love and miss you!

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    1. Thank you Jane! I definitely would appreciate the prayers.

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  2. What a beautiful entry you wrote out there in the park all those years ago. Ive had a similar theory for 11 years since I was 17. I would spend my Sunday's with God but not in a church. I'd be hiking or in some kind of fellow ship, just not in a church. Once in awhile I'd try a new church. I definitely felt guilty. This year, about 3 months ago, my family started going to a new church so I decided to give it a go. I'm happy I went, and now being 30, I actually look forward to going. It doesn't feel like I have to go, I like to go. Fellow ship with a group of people worshipping and holding hands does something different. Ive missed a couple Sundays, on purpose not because I wanted to be rebellious. Because, when your outside, and you see live creation. You know there's a creator and for me, it makes me feel closer to Jesus what ultimately is the reason. Let him in so you grow. :cheers: enjoy your beer from time to time. My brother brews his own micro brews my whole family enjoys, even my strict religious grandparents. Love your posts on IG, always something interesting. I've been following you for a while. (bluerrose) Lauren :)

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    1. Lauren thank you for your kind words! I am now coming to that place where I am really wanting that community that church can provide. It really is a balancing act of finding comfort in the community and rituals but also recognizing the spiritual in the everyday.

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  3. Such an honest, thoughtful post Brittany! I too, am looking for a church home. I've come to find it's not so much the church that turns people off; but the people in the church, who don't reflect the true nature of God. The religion, tradition, denomination -- that seems to be more exclusive than anything else. I pray that your lovely family find a church that feels like you're going home; indeed, that's what I believe God intended to be.

    Thank you, for sharing in such an authentic way! ��

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    1. Thank you Toni! Finding a church home is so difficult and you are right it's not the church as much as the people. I hope and pray that you also find that church that feel like going home (I love that by the way!).

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