Saturday, January 4, 2014

When Church-Going is a Tricky Quesiton

art journaling by Beth Morey

I thought that my fearless year was going to be about exploring and casting my net wide to see what truth I might fish from the depths, about no text or tradition being off limits.  I had all these plans . . . and here it is, just four days in and I'm sitting in my kitchen on a Saturday night wondering if I will go to church in the morning.

It's not church that I have a problem with, really, because the church that we call ours is open and sweet-spirited and bleeds love.  Our pastor and his wife, I suspect them to be Christian mystics and perhaps feminists, which I count as good.

But there's all this wrestling going on inside, a tug-o-war in my guts pulling this way and that, and a month ago or so I went back to church because I thought I was ready, thought I'd made my peace and laid down my wrestling belt

only to find that it wasn't that I was done with the gray space and that doubt and the vital questions, but that I had run back to the comfortable, to where I knew the rules and the steps to every dance.

And that, that running back when I should be, want to be, excavating inward and upward, sweeping out the musty cobwebbed corners of my soul wounds -- that running back to the known is death.  Who ever grew an inch when they followed every American rule?  Who ever leaned into the questions when they already knew every tidy, flaccid answer?

I won't be a victim of my own fear, of the neat box I'm meant to shoulder my{self} into.  Too much is on the line.  My soul is on the line.

And so I type in the kitchen's dark and wonder at how I've felt this tugging on the hem of my melancholy heart back toward this Jesus fellow and his people, wonder if this is fearless excavation of where I am or if it's another fleeing from the growing.

How can I tell?  How can I know?  I reached elbow deep into the sticky muck of my innards and guts and everything is sinew and silence and it's only four days in and I'm already impatient for the day when I wiggle my fingers and find them wrapping around that most precious jewel that I've been sifting for, the answer to who. am. I. and it's coming, I trust it's coming, but

it's not here, not warming in my palm, not yet.  And I'm anxious for it, desperate for it, because I think that all the other answers are tied to that one like rainbowed ribbons fluttering from a ring.  And I know I shouldn't think this way, that I should shove this so-called vital self away and away because that's the Christian way, I hear, but I can't.  I

can't.  I've already done all the self-sublimating I can stand. I'm looking for a different way to soul and savior and this spirit soaring whole.

It's nearly tomorrow, day five of this so-called year of fearless, and the dawning will carry with it the inevitable telling of whether I go to church or not.  I can't say what I hope for, except that my actions emanate from my rich and deepest being. 


  1. Surely I could write a novel in response to this. I think being in the midst of sinew and silence is a very good and honoring and scary place to be; wrestling belt on, heart open to his still small voice. You are not alone, my friend. Not alone at all. Thank you for writing it out. I look forward to more posts from the wrestling mat.

    1. Thank you for those words. And -- I'd totally read your novel. :)

  2. I've been here. <3 {{sitting with you in the wrestling}}

  3. So funnily odd how one word changes our perspective and teaches us in ways we never thought. No accident. No small thing. The moment we declare comes the opportunity o live what we believe whether its one word or whole books. Maybe this is your ebenezer. Surely you will see goodness surely you will see frailty and feebleness shrink. Surely you will just keep punching fear all up in the face. Yup. I think so!

    1. Your words always pump me up, Marvia. So grateful. Can I give you a tagline of: "Marvia, helping people punch fear in the face since 1980" (no idea when you were born)?? ;)

  4. Every time I think about going to church I get anxious. I just can't bring myself to do it. I have changed so much in the last 12 months that I don't even know if I will ever fit back into the traditional mold of church again. I can so relate to your posts....and your wrestling. xo


"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King