Too often, I have a love-hate relationship with the Church.
And truthfully, I don’t always want to air my partially clean, partially dirty laundry in such a public space. Because I’m still figuring it out. Because I can waver and wonder, and do my best to sort out questions and musings on my own time and in my own space. Because I haven’t always been ready to make known my fears, my insecurities, my frustrations.
But it’s the place I can’t stay away from, and it’s the place I return to, over and over again.
It’s the place that centers and calms me, and it’s the place that restores my soul.
It’s the place that I call home.
The irony, of course, is that I’m what some people would call a Professional Christian. I went to school for an extra long time, simply to study and know and learn God (oftentimes feeling more confused after a Masters degree than before). The last two Wednesday mornings, my boys and I have been buckled in the car by 8:05 on the dot so we might venture to various churches in the Bay Area. Cancan and I have donned tough faces and thrown double fist-pumps in the air upon the miracle of miracle realization that we three qualify for the carpool lane.
As I drive, the conversation repeats itself:
“Okay Cancan, are you ready to be brave?”
“I be pretty brave, Mama.”
“Because we’re going to go to a New Church this morning, and Mama’s going to speak to the mamas, and Cancan’s going to go hang out with the kids. How does that sound?”
And both weeks, he’s responded with the following:
“We be pretty brave together, mama. Dada be brave …and Cancan be brave ….and Frodo be brave …and Mama be brave. We be brave together, Mama.”
I get all teary-eyed, and I nod my head and promise him that yes, we’ll be brave together. And then I meet new friends and I put on a mic, and I make sure I know how to operate the little Powerpoint remote, and I practice being brave.
As a Professional Christian.
Because the truth is this: As long as I’m in charge, I’m okay. As long as I’m the one leading the charge, I’m all right. If I get to teach and to study and do things the way I want to do them, then I am most all right with the Church. And maybe it speaks to deeper issues, in that I feel like I have belonging and meaning in this place, that my gifts are being used in the way God himself intentioned them to play out.
But when I’m on the receiving end, I dish out criticism like like I’m a sixteen year old scooping ice cream at Baskin Robbins. Criticism, you want some? Here, have some more, another scoop, and I’ll even throw in whipped cream, a cherry and peanuts for free!
They’re too programmatic.
They’re too conservative.
They don’t like women enough.
They’re not inclusive enough, they don’t vote the way I think they should vote, they live too luxuriant a lifestyle, this is merely a social club, they obviously hate gay people, they just used the word “literal,” that song sounds too much like a mid-eighties rendition of “As the Deer,” the musicians can’t even keep the beat…
And on and on I go, forgetting that I’m one of them.
I forget the inclusion of the One – body, spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism and God & Father of all – toward all, over and through and in all. I forget that I’m allowed to wrestle and I’m allowed to question. I’m allowed to voice my opinion and I’m allowed to not understand.
But I’m not allowed to neglect the unity. I’m not allowed to neglect inclusion and forget about the “all” of Paul’s profound words in Ephesians. I’m not allowed to bring about disunity.
Just like you, I am allowed to find the right fit, to find where the Spirit most meets me in all my me-ness. Because I need Her just as much as She needs me.
And I’m not alone as I search for Sunday.
If you haven’t seen it yet, popular author, blogger and thinker Rachel Held Evans released her third book this week, Searching for Sunday. And it’s beautiful. It’s her best and most honest piece of writing yet.
She writes this:
…I’ve wrestled with the evangelical tradition in which I was raised, often ungracefully. At times I’ve tried to wring the water of my first baptism out of my clothes, shake them out of my hair, and ask for a do-over in some other community where they ordain women, vote for Democrats, and believe in evolution. But Jesus has this odd habit of allowing ordinary, screwed up people to introduce him, and so it was ordinary, screwed up people who first told me I was a beloved child of God, who first called me a Christian. I don’t know where my story of faith will take me, but it will always begin here. That much can never change.
So, do me a favor and read the book. Go, search for Sunday. Or if you’re not in need of searching right now, then gather those of us who are, and hold us close and love us as we are, where we are.
Let us be brave together, wherever we find ourselves, inside and outside Her walls.
And do read Rachel’s book.
I believe in this book so much I’m giving away a copy here on the be, mama. be Facebook page – head over there to win a copy! Otherwise, how are you searching for Sunday? How are you practicing being brave? How are you loving those of us who are in search mode?