I left my former unhealthy church seven years ago. Since then I’ve been a part of several churches, but in the last four years none ever really felt completely like home. Close, but not quite. Three moves, two more than 100 miles, hasn’t helped.
There is no reason why a person needs to go to church, but for me, it would be good to connect and learn with other believers in a face to face environment, and traditionally that means church. I’ve been to many in my current area, but none was a good fit. On Sunday I hit an all time low–I didn’t go to one I’d planned to because it seemed to be some spin off of shepherding, missed another, went by two others and inquired about classes only to be pushed toward service, questioned about my walk with God, and told it was dangerous to look things up that were being preached about. Hmmm.
I finally went to another, but I’d lost interest. That afternoon someone recommended one that was having a new members’ class that night. I went, just to find out. And loved it. For the first time in years I’ve been listening to sermons… and not getting bored or irritated with the number of stories and urban legends slipped in, not tired of the politics pushed… the sermons are focused on the Bible and seem based on good study. For the first time in a long time, I’m looking forward to the next service.
And I’m scared. I’m scared that I’m too excited, too happy. That something will be wrong, and that by being happy and excited I’ll miss it, because once many years ago I was happy and excited about finding a church, missed something, and ended up in a UPC for 19 years, committed to something but not to the right thing.
It’s a weird place to be, scared and excited and happy and not feeling that any of those is right, knowing that I should be free to feel happy without being scared, angry that it’s because of my past church experiences that I am so hesitant to be happy without being concerned today.
The difference this time is that I’m going into things, even if I’m happy and excited, with both eyes open. I’m checking things out, looking into what they teach, and identifying concerns. I’m not, as in the past, trying to prove to myself that they’re right, or looking for anything that shows what they teach, but am making a strong attempt to see them for what they are and understand their beliefs and perspectives while maintaining my own.
Whether I will join or not, I don’t know. I doubt it. I’m not looking for something to join at this point. Instead I’m looking for people to connect with, and that’s a very different thing. And it’s possible, just possible, that I’ve found that much.
I can be happy about that.