I have been attending a church in Maple Valley, WA for the entirety of my life. I haven't always been a regular attender, but regular enough. Let me preface everything I have to say here today with this: This group of people has been my solid consistent source of joy for 28 years. I love them so much that I don't know what to do with them most of the time.
I was chatting with a man from my church today. He is not new to the church, but I don't know him well, which is strange in our church of just over 100 people. We've talked before and I find him amusing and his wife is a riot. Today he told me he'd like to know me better... that I'm intelligent and funny... and slightly irreverent.
Those last two words pretty much sum up my relationship with my church in the last couple of years... or five. It all started when I went away to Bible College and came home with strange thoughts on God. It increased when I decided to pledge myself to the Catholic Church and still continue in community with this small evangelical protestant congregation. And then it got worse when I went out into the world with a Theology degree strapped to my back and had to begin to live this newly defined and vocalized ideal I had built for myself.
These days I walk into church and feel like a joke. No one really takes me seriously. I'm just that slightly irreverent girl who probably loves Jesus and will probably be in Heaven, but really is just wrong about most things. I have a big vocabulary and I've studied a lot but I don't really know what it is to just have a simple faith anymore. I don't have anything to offer them but a smile and yet another crazy story about how my family is falling to pieces so they can pray for me.
It makes me sad. I feel apart from most of them. Part of that is probably me, but I know I worry some of them and scare some of them and really full on terrify some of them. I don't know how to be a helpful part of Christian community anymore without denying what I believe.
I want to find that place where I can worship with those whom I love without being thought crazy. I want to worship with my Auntie. I want to worship with both of my churches at the same time. I want to worship with my gays. I want to not walk into the church where everyone knows me and feel like I will never again fit in.
I miss myself in that community. I know I don't belong there anymore, but I don't know how to leave them. They are my family and leaving seems so sad and lonely.