I have been struggling with this week’s confession for sometime. I didn’t know if I wanted to share it or not because I know it can be a touchy subject…especially in my extended family.
But since I have a commitment to honesty…
We don’t go to church.
Notice I did not say we don’t believe in God or that we don’t believe in church. We just don’t go.
I’d love to say it’s because we are so busy and we just don’t have time. Really. Then I would feel like I had a legitimate excuse (if there is such a thing when it comes to skipping out on church). But we don’t have a reason other than we just don’t want to go.
Cort and I were both raised in pretty strict, religious households–both part of the Reformed Church of America.
My family went to church every Sunday (morning service, Sunday school, and evening service) and every Wednesday (catechism and choir when we were little, cadets later for my brothers, and youth group in middle and high school). My dad was a deacon; now he is an elder. My mom taught Sunday school. Both parents still participate in Bible Studies and other activities.
Even after college, when I was living by myself, I would get up early every Sunday to meet my parents at church.
Until Cort and I started dating.
I think I was always looking for a reason not to go. The church my parents go to had changed. It was bigger–there had been a remodel and an addition added to the church. Instead of worshiping in a beautiful old sanctuary, we were now sitting in an auditorium.
It just stopped feeling like church to me.
So I stopped going.
Oh, we kept saying we would go back…eventually.
And at first, Cort’s home church was more appealing. Even though it is right across the street from my home church (yes, we are from a small town. A small town with a LOT of churches), it is smaller and more traditional looking.
This is why I picked for us to be married there. The sanctuary is almost chapel-like. It has beautiful pillars out front. It feels like church.
But yet, we have only gone a handful of times.
Something there is missing for us.
Before Eddie was born, we found a church we loved. Also part of the RCA, it was very old; the sanctuary was drafty and creaky and dark. The stained-glass windows streamed sunlight onto the congregation. The old creeds were recited. The order of the service was still printed in bulletins and it followed the traditional order of things.
It also had female preachers and decons and elders.
It was traditional to the core, but forward-thinking.
Just like us.
Conservative style for liberal-minded people.
Then I got pregnant.
And getting up early was difficult.
Then Eddie was born.
And going to church with an infant was out of the question (even though others do it all the time).
Cort and I loved our youth groups as kids because we got to see our friends from school during the week. This church is not in our school district. They would be kids Eddie wouldn’t know from school.
We have all the excuses. We recite them constantly.
But I think it goes deeper than our desire to sleep in on Sundays.
As much as we long to be a part of a family of believers that supports us and our family…of a community where we can learn more about our religion…of something bigger than ourselves so that we can learn to be more loving and giving…something holds us back.
And here is where the difficult part of the confession comes in…
I think it is because we don’t want to be clumped together with a group who so stereotypically has different ideas and beliefs than we do about so many issues.
Most conservative Christians in this country just have vastly different beliefs than we do.
And those who don’t? Seem to be on the “Jesus Freak” end of the spectrum.
We have tried churches that are more progressive, but we find ourselves surrounded by casual clothing, lattes from the cafe in the “lounge” and laptop computers. There are movie screens and smoke screens. There are arms raised.
That is not us.
We are conservative and traditional in our worship, but progressive and liberal in our beliefs.
I miss people wearing their Sunday Best, but I loathe being clumped with people who wouldn’t accept someone to the congregation who is gay.
I know those are the extremes, but they best exemplify what I am trying to say.
And so we don’t go.