Sunday, January 29, 2012

Incognito...Not So Much

Thursday night I had a dream about my deceased great-grandmother.

Friday night I drank to excess (next post, okay).

Saturday night I had a dream about being in church.

Sunday morning I went to church.

I have been telling myself I need to go to church for the last couple of years.  After a particularly difficult weekend (self-inflicted, of course), today seemed like the perfect day to find redemption, peace, and grace.  I wore little eye makeup because I knew I would cry during the service.  I cry during every service.

Walking to the front doors of the Narthex, the emotions were already hitting full force.  I was handed a worship guide and tried my best to blend in as I made my way into the waiting area.  This was a church I had attended somewhat regularly in the past, a church whose pastor and assistant pastor had both counseled me through severe depression and a mess of problems.  I felt shameful walking into the church, like, who am I this girl who takes and takes and gives nothing?  I just show up after a couple years expecting to be welcomed with open arms.

I felt like everyone was looking at me, could see straight through my exterior to the pulsating, festering sore that hides just below my surface.  I didn't want to be seen.  I wanted to make my way into the worship hall, take an unassuming seat near the back, and breathe in whatever it was God needed me to hear.  My plan was going well until I took three steps forward and found myself at the entrance of the worship hall, where the pastor was greeting people who came in.  I could have kept my head down and skirted through, but I didn't want to be rude.  Especially in church.  Especially to the pastor in church.

He saw me, smiled, then said, "Hey!  I haven't seen you in a while.  How are you?"  "Great!  Wonderful!  Gotta go grab a seat before the good ones are taken by the other 10 people who arrived 20 minutes early.  Good seeing you!"  Oh, if only.  My eyes welled with tears and I said, "I'm...okay.  Up and down."  He didn't tell me leave, ask me why I hadn't emailed or checked in after the help they gave me.  Instead he said, "Well...this is a good place to be if you're up and down."  I squeaked out an "I'm glad I'm here."  "We're glad you're here, too," he replied.  The way he said it, like...he really meant he was glad I was there and could speak on behalf of the entire congregation.

By the time I found an empty seat, I had my eyes peeled open as wide as possible in an attempt to dry out the tears that were forming.  Please no one talk to me.  Please no one talk to me.  Well, if you're familiar with how church works, that's all people do.  The man sitting next to me wanted to know my name and what brought me there and if I had been there before and if I was a student.  I feel the need to insert Etcetera at this point.  He probably thought I was some kind of criminal in hiding because I gave short answers and ended everything with yeaaaah (a.k.a. "No more questions, please").  The service started, finally.  Saved by the church bells.

Now, this church is a contemplative baptist church.  I've always loved the worship services because I feel so intimate with God and I can be with him in a way that is authentic to me.  The one thing that I always found a bit frustrating were the times of silence when the congregation is to go within themselves, almost like a sort of meditation...essentially, prayer.  I never felt anything.  I never felt like I was looking inward and hearing God's voice.  My mind wandered.  But today, I was able to deeply pray.  It was almost as if I could internally feel God's presence.  I attribute this to the equine therapy workshop I attended.  Several times through the workshop we were asked to "check in" with ourselves, to go inside ourselves beginning at the tops of our heads and slowly work our thoughts all the way down to our toes.  I summoned my equine experience and was able to apply the techniques I learned to my worship time.  To put it simply, my prayer time was really cool.

As I walked to my car after the service, I felt an energy around me, a peaceful, loving presence.  There is something special, something indescribable, about having such an intimate, moving experience while being surrounded by others who love Jesus.  My time in church today made me realize I need to attend the worship service each Sunday.  Every Sunday.  I pray to God, over and over, about my struggles and worries and I feel so down sometimes, but being in church today was my time for Him.  Nothing else mattered except me sitting in that seat listening and thinking and praying.  And answering questions from the most curious man in the seat next to me, who seemed to be really glad I was there.

No comments:

Post a Comment