Today I sat in church for the first time in six months. Each day gone by has felt like a lifetime. Six months ago, feeling overwhelmed, I took up a Quitting Practice and church was one of the many things I quit.
My relationship with church has always been complicated. I’ve been around long enough to know the buzz words.
I get it.
It’s important to “get planted” in your church “family” and “live in community”.
For military it a constant new start. Move to a new area. Unpack. Go church “shopping”. Landed at a church and try to make connections. Get to know them. Live in community. But if I’m being honest and not in a whiny way, I was tired to try. Sleepless nights with a new baby, making breakfast, cleaning, packing lunch/snacks/diaper bag, getting everyone ready, rushing out, checking the kids into their area, hoping they don’t cry.
By the time I take my seat for service, I’m not even paying attention.
For a second I thought maybe I’m doing something wrong.
But I’m not.
I’m taking care of my babies.
I love meeting new people. There’s no question I’m extrovert in our relationship but come Sunday when the announcement is made that it’s time to “say hi to the people around you” I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t muster up more than a glazed over “hello” that really meant, “I’ve been up all night with the babies and if you knew me, like really knew me, you’d know that I’m not rude or weird or unfriendly. I’m just tired.”
But they don’t know you because you just moved here. And you’re leaving in a few years, if not sooner.
If I were back home, I’d be attending a church I’ve vetted. A church I’ve attending long enough that I know most everyone. They know me. They would notice if I’m not there. It would be easy and I wouldn’t have to try. That’s what I needed.
When I started my Quitting Practice we were having some very unique parenting challenges. I had to step back. I quit a lot of things that weren’t serving me. And I quit church.
I didn’t quit my faith, but the traditional congregation.
A few months prior to this decision, I was at church talking in a group of women and one mentioned another gal who hadn’t been to church in a while and how it “showed where her priorities are”. Sigh. This is the stuff I hate.
Let me tell you, church attendance doesn’t decide your relationship with God. And church doesn’t have to be four walls and a steeple. Six years ago the beach was my church when I felt most broken. I went every single day. Sometimes twice a day. To listen to the waves crashing. To feel the soft breeze and breath in the salty air. To heal. My church.
Books have been my church. My husband has been my church. My girlfriends have been my church.
Sometimes church is in your heart. A place you go to get grace and love and forgiveness. A place you can feel welcome.
And sometimes, like today, my church is four walls and a steeple.