I've had this anxiety about going to church for a long time. I was raised in church, so you'd think it would be a familiar setting to me. But that was back when I was younger and went to church with my family. We rode together and we left together. We were a unit.
I have anxiety about going to church alone, so when a friend and her mom asked me to start going with them to their church, I agreed. But I never felt at home in this new church. We all stopped going around the same time because the church had some problems and lost their Pastor and their associate Pastor. It's sad to say, but really I was relieved. I wasn't enjoying this church experience at all and if I'm being honest, I only went so that I could say "Yes, I go to church." Sad? Yes. But true. But I wasn't really going to "church" if you know what I mean. I was sitting in a pew. Maybe it was partly my fault but I also didn't feel much happening in this church. Music to me is a very important part of worship. When the choir sang, I'd look around at the faces in the pews. No emotion. No feelings. Just blank stares. I liked the Pastor but my mind drifted a lot during his sermons. It's a beautiful church and I loved the building and beautiful stained glass windows. But it wasn't enough to keep me coming. I felt awkward and out of place there. That was about 3 years ago and I hadn't been inside a church ever since except for Christmas Eve services with my mom.
I was talking to a coworker a few weeks ago about really wishing I could find a church. I struggle with this often. She was a member of a local church nearby but hadn't been in awhile. I think she'd been having some similar feelings that I did with my last church experience. So we both agreed to go visit a new church together. That was yesterday.
From the moment we walked through the parking lot, something just felt different. Normally I have severe anxiety about walking into a new church but I felt none. I felt at ease and comfortable. And even though the people greeting me were complete strangers, they felt like people I'd known my whole life. The dress code was a little more relaxed than I'm used to, but I also feel as though this made a difference in why I felt so at ease. No need to dress to impress. Just come as you are. If that means jeans, so be it. Or if you want to dress up, then that's ok too. It was different, but it felt ok. Sometimes I think being out of your comfort thing is a good thing. There was no awkward looks or wondering why were three girls walking in to church together. Two of us single and one going through a divorce. We aren't your normal church goers - you know - the mom, the dad, and the 2 kids. But maybe us misfits are the new normal. And they accepted us in such a warm way.
When the music began, I looked around. I saw emotion in people's faces. And not only did I see it, I felt it.That's big for me. And when the Pastor spoke, my mind never drifted and that's so unusual for me. I felt as though I could have listened to him speak for hours and not even notice the time.I really think I need this because I've been feeling so blah about life lately. Something has been missing and perhaps this is it.
We have made plans to visit again next week and I am actually looking forward to it. I am praying hard that this could be the church for me. The true test will be if I can make myself go alone. When walking through the parking lot yesterday, I saw a girl close to my age walking in by herself. And I noticed her later on sitting by herself. Maybe that was a sign for me. If she can do it, I can do it. I can conquer these fears. I can "do church" alone and by ok! And afterall, as a Christian, I'm never truly alone, right?
It didn't hurt that they had an awesome coffee bar in the lobby. This could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship...