(This is a post from 2008 which, for some reason, was saved in a file deep into my computer. When I came across it I barely remembered writing it, but it resonated with me. In fact, I feel just as I did when I wrote this though I haven't made any attempts to do anything about my longing to begin attending church. Because I spent decades in what ended up being a cult, I've been skittish about attending any kind of organized religious services.)
I miss attending church. I've no idea where that thought comes from, but its sudden wistfulness is worth noting. Usually when I find myself unaccountably yearning for something it's a sign that something is missing in my life.
Growing up, church attendance was a given. Because I learned to love it when I was still living under my dad's wing, I put up no fuss when my new stepdad insisted Mom take us each week. I barely blinked an eye at the oddity of worshipping on the seventh day of the week, instead of on Sunday as I'd been accustomed to. The thing is, I needed this: needed the peaceful atmosphere of the sanctuary as every head bowed in prayer; needed the hauntingly beautiful hymns (which contained within their melodies a wealth of theology.)
Sometimes I studied the frail wrinkled neck in the pew ahead of me, intrigued by the whiter than snow baby-fine hair escaping from a carefully skewered bun and oh! something constricted inside of me to think that I was studying the landscape of a dear old saint's neck. Perhaps this was an individual who had loved the Lord all of her days--just imagine! I couldn't even fathom walking an entire lifetime with God. What must that be like?
My hair will doubtless never be baby-fine, no matter how old I get, and I swear I'll never wear it in a bun. As I contemplate this growing desire to be within that old familiar atmosphere--on holy ground--I'm surprised to realize that my own walk with God is 50 years old. 50 years!
If someone were to ask me what it's like to walk with Him that long, I could only say it's like this. It's sorrow and grieving and (a sometimes aggravating) joy popping up at the most incongruous times. It's laughter and deep wistfulness, and begging prayers and prayers whispered hotly out of a devastating sense of shame. It's fumbling like the world's biggest stumble-bum while blurting out asinine words which are instantly regretted.
Grace and sin and glory and unholy hands touching me and sunsets so gorgeous they make my throat hurt, and cruelty so ugly it makes my whole body throb with shame and anger.
A constant sense of wanting something unnamable, and seeking it within the glass-stained confines of the building whose mysteries surely weren't meant for the likes of me--but still I braved my weekly entrance, certain that some word of Scripture would embrace me, even me, in ways that nothing else ever did, assuring me of my place in the Creator's master plan.
I miss attending church. Now that I have my car back I can go whenever I want to. The deliciousness of this realization washes over me, compels me to look up local churches on the Internet.
I will go, I will return back to what was once a weekly solace, a necessary solace for a redheaded stepchild who only wanted to be loved and valued.