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Monday, February 2, 2015

I'm afraid of church.

I cried in church yesterday. Surprise, surprise. Not. However, it was for a brand-new-never-been-cried and broken over reason.  Before you think of me as the consistent church goer I was once, let me be clear, I have been to church roughly a dozen times in the past two years.  It is for a very specific reason I avoid it, well, it was at first. It's also true that at this point I am lazy and like having Sunday morning free. I lived 23 years without it.  The reason I stopped going to church stirred within me and weighed heavily yesterday, more than I have felt in a long time. Yesterday I visited a friend's Anglican church only because it meant I could see another friend who I haven't been able to see in a while. I trekked to Uptown at 9 in the snow, happy and alive, regretting the choice to wear mascara as it ran down my face.

Liturgy, liturgy. I look around. I see people that look like me. Most do. Some look different. Liturgy, song, prayer, song.

Then someone got up and said the prayers that we're supposed to repeat and say "Lord, hear our prayer" after.  I was vaguely paying attention at this point and feeling very little at all in the spiritual department. And I wasn't sure what to do with my hands. I was standing there, listening, feeling kind of awkward.  All of the sudden we were asked to pray for those who have "unbelief" and then I found myself praying for...me. Tears started to fall as I realized how long I had avoided this moment, how long I had kept silent.

I looked around and knew that even though I want to believe despite what my life experiences have taught me, everyone in this room must not be bad. There must be some good ones here, too. I'm scared. The truth is, my heart is very hard. I ran away from church people and Christians because God in someone seemed to mean nothing, seemed to reveal nothing about character and yet. Logically, I know there are people influenced by God and religion that are wonderful. Is it why they're wonderful? I don't know. I don't know if God makes someone wonderful sometimes, or if they did it themselves, or both, or what. All I know is two years ago my earnest heart couldn't take it anymore, and I ran away.

If I zoom out and look down at myself, standing in church yesterday morning. Unsure, disinterested. Crying. Barely believing. Still... I'm living out a life that makes no sense, I choose to love people over everything else, and try to do that every day. Why? It's not me. It's not just who I am. It's this gospel that has modified my heart, pushed me forward, changed me. To see myself in church and blame others for my unbelief is foolish. The only person to blame, is me.

I only need to be saved from myself. Over and over.

"All beings tremble before violence. All fear death, all love life. See yourself in others, then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?" - Buddha

It's easy for me to love anyone except those who claim Christianity, I think. Guess I have some work to do.

12 comments:

Donna Boucher said...

10Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

11Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

12Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.


We sang this every week, The Lutherans thought it was valid enough to repeat over and over. It was my favorite part. "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation." God sent Jesus to save, to restore. If this is true then it is the most important true thing ever.

Debby Kampmann said...

Stunning Emma.

The Prude said...

You are so right. Church is full of bad people. I am a hypocrite and a murderer and a liar sitting in the midst of others just like me. Some of us, because the Holy Spirit has forced our eyes open, know we are bad, some of us think that because we do 'good stuff' or are nice we're pretty good. You are in good company in church honey. I can almost guarantee there are others there in tears too. Sorry to seem sermonizing (would you expect anything else?) But in that church are the words of power and love and grace. And hope. And the knowledge of Christ and the unbidden love the Spirit creates in us (the clean heart) to show love to the other hurting hypocrites around us because we all stink, and Jesus is so wonderful. God bless you sweetheart. A lot of moms out here love you to pieces!

Donna Boucher said...

Anita. Wow. Thank you for your wisdom and love. Mean it.

Emma Boucher said...

Love you too Mrs Klumpers. A lot. Dont apologize for posting a sermon, I don't mind. Those churchy words are true words, holy words. Thank you for speaking out, it is sincerely a gift to me.

Jiggs said...

You're amazing, Emma. Indeed a kindred spirit.

The Prude said...

Oh gosh. I love you both. I'll just have to hug my grandson in lieu of you two.

Beth in the City said...

Ah Emma, your words reach deep and stir things. Thank you for sharing your heart. I'm a Christian. I love Jesus. I'm pretty far from perfect. Like, way far. I want to live my life differently as a Christian than I would if I weren't. And I want to love and welcome people. I bet you would like our humble little inner city church in Baltimore....I hope you can find one where you can safely find fellowship with people who are passionate about loving Jesus. And because they love Him, loving others. PS: Our church is as far from perfect, and as far from normal, as a person might imagine. THAT is why I think you might like it. Not because we have it all together. It's actually really difficult here....

ProudMom said...

Hi, Emma. :)
I have followed your Mom's blog for several years, and try to check in here with you too.

I love the letter you posted for your mom on her birthday a few years back. I think of it often as I evaluate myself as a mother....specifically, I am challenged to be a generous mom like your mom was/is. That was such a sweet letter...

I remember feeling your struggle as you wrestled with the sovereignty of God...

I have wondered how you are doing spiritually in your post-Moody years. I have hoped that you had found a church family in that big city...

I participated in an in-depth study of the book of Hebrews last year. I was surprised at what I found to be the main message of the book: "Keep Believing". I always took for granted that belief was the 'easy' part of being a Christian. I see more and more that I was wrong.

Belief is fundamental, no doubt...and as a result, it is where the enemy aims his fiery arrows. And, so we are encouraged/commanded with the Hebrew Christians to "make every effort" to keep believing.

The devil, as always (Genesis 3), will challenge your faith with something akin to "Has God really said...??". I pray that you will remember and rest in God's promises and find yourself pursuing the means that he has graciously given by which he promises to keep us and grow His Kingdom.

Also praying that you will have a faith that resembles the saints of old who considered themselves aliens and sojourners in this world, looking forward to the city and country that God had prepared for them..(Hebrews 11:10, 13-16).

Your Sister in Christ, Lianne in Wyoming

Janet said...

"Janet, I know you won't find true peace and joy until you decide to follow God" ~Donna Boucher :)

That was a good day. I love your Mom for those words. Shortly after that car ride from Tucson to Phoenix in 1987 I began reading the Bible. I started in Genesis because I didn't know what to do...you start at the beginning right?! ;) I also prayed...saying..."God, I believe". All I can offer you Emma is that if you are indeed searching for God's truth do not look to people, or circumstances, or a church. The will all fail you miserably Look to the only One that can fully satisfy every single one of your hopes, dreams and desires, Jesus. My encouragement to you is to read your Bible, pray even if the words aren't there (the Holy Spirit will intercede for you) and seek wise council in finding a local body of believers that are committed to the word of God (not programs, not social activities, not church growth, not good works).

I love you, Emma and I'm praying for you.

Aunt Janet

Anonymous said...

Dear Emma, Maybe some folks go all their lives without questioning God, but that has not been the case with me. Years ago during a struggle time we attended a church where the minister would add these words at the start of his sermon and the first time I heard him say these words I felt God speaking to me from my own heart and soul. The minister said, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heat be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14) And, if we hear not the voice of God through the words of man, then speak to each of us in the quietness of our own hearts." Emma, God does not leave us and He is there to speak to you in your heart and soul. This I do believe. love and prayers, nana jep

Anonymous said...

Sorry, typo....heat should be heart, as you know.
Hugging you from way down here in TX {{{ }}}. nana jep

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