BELONGING TO THE MESSED UP CHURCH
There I was, right there standing weak, my knees about to break as the world ran me over; back and forth. The hymns murmured and strangers filed in, just in time for church. How did I even make it on time? Should I have stayed home?
I looked around and everyone seemed like they belonged, eyes reading the familiar lyrics on the screen and I felt like I was standing solo.
That morning was hard and I was feeling the weight of it. I yelled at my toddler and I wanted nothing to do with anything or anyone. I was tired and sick of tending to people’s needs. I wanted someone to come take care of me. (I’m laughing because I sound like a 3 year old myself, but it’s true. I feel this)
I grew up in church. It was our way of life, I literally ate communion as a snack. Extremely sacrilegious, I don't know what to tell you. A lot of Carls Jr. and a whole lot of bad music. Some rules broken, but mostly just a ton of love. Growing up together, the church and me. I drive by and still feel at home on it’s street. Like grandmas house, familiar and a bit strange.
That was then.
Now I stand, a new city but the same bad coffee. Smiling faces and people who I don’t recognize.
I know we are all the same.
I’m not the only one who barely made it to church because I felt overwhelmed and unsure. I’m not the only one who messes up. In fact, every single person I can see probably already messed up this morning. Even though we all look pretty, and they do; we are all here for the same reason, I think. We are all broken. I don’t like admitting it but I would rather look all put together so people leave me alone, especially in church. That’s what I’m supposed to do, right?
The truth washes over me like a hot shower after a day in the snow.
Our pastor started to cry because of some trials he was enduring. Someone else got up and spoke of a cancer diagnosis.
His tears made me feel at home. They reminded me that I am not alone. That the world is a harsh place. That bad things are happening all around. We are messy and life is really hard sometimes. That’s the church, it always has been. Full of screw-up saints. His vulnerability invited me in.
I looked around the auditorium and put shirts on people, writing their brokenness on them with paint, starting with myself.
I pictured my shirt saying, “I suck at being a mom.” I saw a church full of addicts, people who have the bible memorized, liars, preachers, hurting, loving, I don't know. I just know we are all trying our best. I really believe that. Oh, sweet Jesus, we need you now. Meet us here.
I began to feel at home again. Recognizing we are all in this together, even if the faces aren’t familiar. We must say yes to one another. We have to choose love and treat each other like family because there is no other way. One big happy, messy, strange family that I happen to be a part of.