I’m home again this weekend, for the third time since the semester started three weeks ago. It’s Super Bowl weekend so it’d make sense that I’d choose to be in Jersey rather than DC while the Birds bring a ring to Philly. That’s not the reason I came though. In reality, I don’t need a reason to come home. And unlike last year, I’m not running from anything in DC. I just like sleeping in my own bed and I can, so I do.
Anyway, during this Friday’s drive I stopped at Towson University to pick up my childhood friend and we drove the rest of the way together. Like with my brother, she and I have deep conversation- so much that I often run away from our friendship when I’m not ready to face things she is. Like I said, I’m growing. During this ride, however, she brought up something I’d been thinking a lot about recently: growing in our own Christian walkways, separate from those we were raised in.
I had a breakthrough last semester that brought me to know God and truly love and appreciate him for myself. I grew up in the church. My family went to service every Sunday. I sang on the Youth Choir and had been secretary of Sunday school. I’ll be honest though, I’d come to a point where I wasn’t sure I believed in Him. But at my lowest, scariest point, when I had so little control over my own body that I couldn’t keep a steady thought enough to pray without apologizing for losing my place, I called on him. That was one of the scariest, but most reassuring moments for me. There was no way I’d cry out for God to keep me if I didn’t believe.
My relationship is mine now; I don’t pray because I’ve been taught I should. When I do go to church, I don’t go because my pastor needs me to help fill the seats. I do what I do because I know who God is and what he’s done and continues to do for me. With that being said, I don’t go to church every Sunday, every other Sunday, or even one Sunday out of the month. In coming home, I plan to zip up my mother’s dress for her and see her off to service so I can have the house to myself. While I understand fellowshipping with other believers is an important part of growing in Christ, I don’t feel fellowshipping at my particular church-home is beneficial to me. My pastor can preach, I won’t take that away from him, but there is so much more that comes with being in that church that turns me away. At the end of the day, I’m not growing. I feel stagnant there; I’m not being fed spiritually. I haven’t been to church in a month of Sundays.
This morning, I got up and made my way to church. I hadn’t packed any “church clothes” since, like I said, I never plan to go to church when I’m home on the weekends, but following my conversation with my friend I felt I should give it one last chance. So this morning I really put forth the effort, piecing together items from my mom’s closet with what little I have left in mine. I got into my car and headed down the highway, getting pulled over and written a ticket along the way. I arrived, walked into the sanctuary and sat down in my mother’s usual pew (she was on the choir stand since it’s Communion Sunday, and I would’ve preferred to sit somewhere in the back where I could leave out easily, but again, I really was putting forth the effort. I wanted to give my church-home its very best chance). The Senior Choir sang. Different deaconesses prayed. My pastor brought forth the word: A Spiritual Partnership. I guess it was nice, though it wasn’t necessarily for me. I didn’t feel moved. I didn’t feel spirit-filled. I didn’t feel any differently than I did before I entered this holy place. I stayed for the sermon, but left out during alter prayer, before Holy Communion.
With all of this, I’m glad I got up and went to church this morning because it solidified what I already felt in my heart to be true. At this time, my church-home is not where I need to be and that’s okay. I appreciate the foundation my parents and my church-family have aided in giving me. I appreciate the songs I learned to sing on the choir, and the scriptures our lessons were based on in Sunday school because in time of trouble, I needed them to lean on and give me the strength to push through. I was introduced to God at an early age; now I’m getting to know him for myself.
I was given a foundation, now I’m responsible for building.
– Jade M Ernest