I'm coming out of the closet today. I'm sure some will, at the very least, pity me. Hopefully nobody would feel angry or disgusted with me, but who knows?
I don't like to go to church. There, I said it. It's true. Every single Sunday I struggle with finding the strength to get out of bed and go to church.
This is not because I didn't grow up in church and it's not because we are going to a church that doesn't meet our needs. Our church is fantastic.
I grew up attending church every time the doors were open--Sunday morning, Sunday night, Monday (for visitation) and Wednesday. My mom was on staff and my dad was a deacon. We went to church. It was like a second home. I don't ever remember resenting it much--maybe a bit during my teenage years when I thought I had something better to do.
Upon entering adulthood I suddenly had the right to CHOOSE whether I went to church. This was a new freedom for me. During college I often missed my old church family. I went to church often in my college town and did benefit from it, but it wasn't quite the same. It wasn't comfortable and known.
After Eric and I got married we (of course, in our minds) started looking for our church. We ended up back at the church I grew up in for a few years. It was comfortable for me. Everybody knew me and loved me. However, my church was not the place Eric needed to be to grow. It was too conservative in worship for him. I had changed a lot physically (from thin to overweight) and found it hard to imagine what others were thinking of me.
We started looking for a church that met both of our needs. This can turn into a vicious cycle, because there are no perfect churches. Still, we felt it important that we find a church that could nurture us both. Plus, we were becoming parents. We WANTED to have the sort of family where our kids were at church 2 or 3 times a week. We wanted for our children the same sort of spiritual culture that we had growing up.
We're 10 years into parenting now and I am done lying to myself. My kids are not going to grow up in a home where we are at church 2-3 times a week. We count it as a success if we make it on Sunday mornings. This is not because I don't like church. When I get there I am spiritually renewed and I know it's a good thing to go. But I struggle constantly with getting myself there. I don't like to GO to church.
I have this annoying condition called "Social Anxiety Disorder." It's something that I've probably always struggled with, but that progressed at adulthood to a very high degree. When Eric and I got married it was all I could do to (for example) call the bank and see what our balance was. Calling a plumber? Forget about it! Going to the grocery store by myself? No way!!! We figured out pretty quickly that this was more than shyness and I needed medical intervention. Thankfully, I take a medication that brings this issue from a 10, down to about a 3. It is a life-changing medication for me.
Talking on the phone? No problem. I do that all day, every day! Obviously email and online stuff is not affected. Family gatherings? I can usually get myself to without a lot of anxiety. I don't really feel the need to "get together with friends" much, but when we do (once every couple of months) it's nice. Still, I need to pump myself up for that and am glad when it's over (even if I have a great time). Large crowds like the state fair? Um...no thank you!
Church. This is the problem. This is when my mind tries to tell me that I shouldn't go because (1) you aren't involved in the church so people think you are just a fair weather Sunday church-goer or not a "real" Christian, and (2) your medicine for Fibro makes you sweat like a hog and people will stare at you, and (3) you are fat, which implies laziness and gluttony, and (4) it hurts your body to sit in the church pew or chairs for even a few hours. I know in my mind that all of these things aren't true--that in reality most people probably don't even notice us (!)--but there is another side of me that absolutely believes these things are true.
When we get to church, I count it as a win. If I can psyche myself up for it, I usually enjoy it and get something out of it. I know that the Bible teaches us that as believers we need to worship in a community of other believers. I know it's ideal that my family be involved in church. I also know that our family will probably never meet that ideal.
I guess what I want to get across to those that are happily very involved in church is that I feel no less Christian because I am not involved in church. I guess when I was growing up I always assumed those who didn't attend church regularly where back-sliding Christians who didn't really have a close relationship with Christ. *I* was judging others in the way I now assume others judge me.
In reality, I feel like I have a very close relationship with my Christ. I also feel that we are raising a family where Christianity defines our family culture. Christianity, but not church. We pray; we study; we worship; we learn; we just aren't in the building like we ideally should be. [Yes, I really do believe the Bible teaches us we should go to church.]
I write as a Christian on this blog. And I guess I've always felt as if I was presenting myself as something I am not, because most people reading here probably assume we are highly involved in church activities. Maybe someday we will be, but right now that is not the case.
So, my Christian friends, please try not to think less of me. Please believe me when I say I've done it both ways and it is possible to have a very close walk with Christ without attending Church every week. Not ideal, but possible. My family is doing that.