Friday, January 4, 2013

On Heated Discussions

Let’s get personal, shall we?

This past Sunday morning, I headed to the gym in anticipation of seizing the New Year with regimented fitness. Along with exercise discipline, I want to have spiritual discipline. So, when I returned home, Philip and I digressed on attending church that morning.  You see with traveling, wedding planning, and the holidays, we haven’t been able to attend any type of service in months. Not to mention, we really haven’t been able to find a church and community that we enjoy here in D.C. And with that, our decision to go to church resulted in a heated discussion about where to go and truly why we were going at all. Why on this Sunday did we think we could find a church we like?  

You see, from what I can tell, Philip and I grew up in similar environments. I had a wonderful family, but my childhood was rooted in a traditional upbringing, in school and church. And, in these Christian circles, the flag of religious legalism flew high.* As in, girls should have long hair, wear skirts all the time, alcohol is sinful . . . you get the picture.

Now I can’t speak for Philip, but in a time when my family needed our church body the most, they did not reach out to us. There was a time when my parents were the preschool teachers, the creators of Christmas pageant costumes, the home to rebellious youth, and well, just downright beautiful people; our church community adored them. Time passed though, and my parents slipped further and further into separation from each other and the church. The families that we had grown up alongside for so many years in Sunday school, choir practices, and potluck picnics, turned their backs on my parents. Not because there wasn't love for us, but because, I believe, they didn't know what to do with this struggling family. It was a ‘family matter’, and one that my parents would have to figure out themselves behind closed doors.  

Are you still with me? (Sorry for the lack of brevity on this one)

This and some other experiences have put a sour taste in my mouth. Now again, don’t get me wrong, I do not believe all church bodies conduct themselves in such a manner. In my life, forgiveness is always present, but at times, it is hard to forget.

That being said, Philip and I plan to still pursue our search for the best church for ourselves, but we also want to ensure that our journey together on this earth is not simply subjected to cultural and social norms, that is, merely attending church on Sundays. So, in our ‘heated discussion’ we came up with some things that we want to be a part of our lives together . . .

1.  Investing in a Cause. We try to give to certain initiatives and organizations individually, but we really want to pursue an effort together and give to someone or a cause, collectively as a family.  

2.  Praying and Meditating and Actually Meaning It.  I hate when I say to someone, “I’m praying for you,” and I know full well that I won’t remember to or I won’t find time to do it. I hope this is something we continuously work on as husband and wife.  

3. Open House; Open Home. I hope we have a home where strangers will have meals and friends will have a place to rest.  

I am looking forward to this lifelong journey with boy, and I pray that we hold true to these non-negotiables as our lives intertwine together. 

*Please note, this is my experience in the church I grew up in, and I’m not at all making a blanket statement about churches or religious gatherings.  

1 comment:

  1. I've been wanting to comment on this post for weeks now...
    First of all I want to say thank you. For your bravery and vulnerability to share. It's beautiful.
    Secondly I want to say I'm sorry. For the way your church (but more importantly The Church) responded to your family's time of need. It's not okay and it's not right that they/we shut your family out. It grieves my heart.
    I understand what you mean about legalism. My family was part of a church like that for some time. Thankfully I'm in a good community now (although the Lord knows we have our problems!).
    Anyways I wish I could have a good chat with you over a steaming cup of tea. Thanks for sharing.


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