Sunday, March 29, 2009

Little Church Girl

I did something today that I haven't done in about 2 months. I actually lugged my child and myself to church.

I know. You're probably all like, "But you're a Christian. Aren't you supposed to do that EVERY Sunday? Aren't you supposed to be all plugged in and excited about church?!?" I can practically feel your finger pointing at me as I type this. Shame. Shame on me. Slap me on the wrist and call me a baaaaddd little Christian girl. Go ahead. Double dog dare you to. DO. IT. : )

All taunting aside, I really do have a fairly significant amount of guilt over my recent slackerhood. I wish I was one of those Christians who had it all together and who felt filled with the Spirit on a regular basis. Sometimes I even wish my blogging was more eloquent when it came to spiritual matters. But the truth is, I usually feel like a baaaaddd little Christian girl.

Last week, a dear friend of mine came to visit E and me for a few days. We became good friends during our first year of college, and recently reconnected. While she was here, we had numerous discussions about our spiritual lives and what they look like. During our college days, we both became heavily involved in a Christian organization that focused on teaching students how to be "spirit filled Christians." The problem with this experience was that instead of teaching me to be "spirit filled" it taught me to be legalistic. It taught me that a "good Christian looks like this" and if I didn't measure up to those expectations then there was a good bit of shunning and judgement that took place. They often preached loving others in grace, but when it came right down to it, if you didn't check the appropriate boxes, then the general consensus was "you're not good enough." That's not to say that this particular organization is bad. They do wonderful things, and lead many lost souls to Christ. But my experience was frustrating, and I came out of the organization with a very heavy knowledge that I would never quite measure up.

Since my divorce, I've come to a conclusion about being "spirit filled." It's not profound. It's not anything all that special. But it's honest, and for the first time in my walk with God, I'm all about telling it JUST. LIKE. IT. IS.

Being spirit filled can't be taught. It can't be learned. It can't be diagrammed on a white board with pretty pictures of crosses and sin. Being spirit filled isn't a goal. It's an experience. It's momentary, and it comes and goes with the journey. There are moments that your soul will be so filled up with the essence of the Holy Spirit, that it will seem as if God is right there wrapped around you. And there are times when the Holy Spirit will seem so distant that you may feel that your prayers could never possibly be loud enough to penetrate the veil of the heavens. Being spirit filled isn't something you can DO. It's simply something you can BE, and that, not all of the time. The feeling will come and go. It's the faith in the downtime that distinguishes the believer from the unbeliever.

That said, I must admit that more often than not, I don't FEEL spirit filled. And while it was great to worship in church this morning with other believers, I don't really feel much different as a church goer today than I did last week as a baaaddd little Christian girl when I slept in and watched cartoons with my toddler.

That's why I'm loving God for real these days. No shows to put on. No games to play. No hoops to hurl myself through. It's just me and all flawed and feverish, and Him all full of love and grace with the expectation only that I show up and pay attention, and for the first time ever, that's a hoop I'm happy to hula.

I'll probably go back to church next week. Not because I have to or because I should. I'll probably go just because for the first time in 28 years, there is only One Person who will be expecting me. And for the first time in 28 years, there's only One Person that I don't want to disappoint.

The really good thing about it is....if I don't show up, I'm pretty sure that it won't matter...

He'll come find me.

IN COMPLETELY UNRELATED toddler just yanked on my arm and said, "Diaper duwty....change me pwease." I feel a potty training blog coming on.


Jaycee said...

Amen, sister! I went through a phase where I actually felt WORSE after I'd been to church. I was a youth leader and I was teaching middle school girls Sunday School, but I was growing increasingly disenchanted with the pastor. I was teaching, and then leaving before the service started and realizing that I couldn't have the youth see me doing that. So I quit going altogether. I think God calls us to be involved in church, because He wants us to be around other believers, but I don't think He gives us demerits if we don't show up. Legalism has done sooo much damage to the church. Now that I'm married and there's a new pastor, we're back at that same church and totally happy. But every once in a while we stay home and watch a church service on TV and spend the day with family. And I don't feel the need to repent over it. ;-)

Lora said...

What a healthy and amazing place to be in!

I could write the book on legalism girl...I'm glad you've found the joy and freedom on the other side :0)

Ellegant said...

I can't tell you how much this post hit home for me. I was raised in a Christian home and was also very involved in church/youth group in my younger days, but after some negative experiences, I fell away from the church.

My issues have been largely with the hypocrisy that sometimes stems through churches. Some people don't understand that as a Christian, you shouldn't judge others. And while I was bitter about it for a long time, I learned that it's not about them. It's about you and your relationship with God. It's such a personal thing and while church is a great tool to strengthening it, so long as you put effort and life into your faith and relationship, things will grow.

You're right - feeling the Spirit isn't always going to be overpowering. We won't always want to go to church. But recognizing that God is always there with us, and wanting Him to guide us in life is one step closer.

Thank you for sharing these thoughts :).

amberlee said...

At least E doesn't say, "I on da potty train. Choo choo poo poo!" while pumping his arm up and down. That's Brynn's classy way of telling me she needs a diaper. The book may have been a mistake.