Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Real Life Mondays - The Episcopal Church

True story - My relationship with God is best described as a friend refers to it - Multiple Spirituality Disorder. I'll never believe God fits into a denominational box of any size and if you try to fit me into one I'll run away screaming. Probably not kidding.

I grew up as a minister's kid in a Baptist/Bible Church. I fell in love with the God of the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament sometimes on a flannel board. (And, yes, I cut the head off John the Baptist. It's still funny.) It's hard for me to remember a time where God wasn't. And although I so love a great conversion testimony story, I wouldn't have it any other way for me. I'm 31 years old and I've loved God for 23 of those years already.

Sort of by accident, I attended Asbury University, a Methodist College where I studied Psychology. I'll never regret an education in a Christian environment with professors who loved and feared God. I've always preferred to learn about faith by watching people live it and for four years I had a front row seat peering into lives well lived.

While in college I attended a Methodist church exactly twice. I attended a Christian church for a year and a charismatic church for 3 years. Neither of them sans divine providence. I can't imagine being in any of those churches today, but at that time they were perfect. For me.

I moved to Georgia and remained in a charismatic church for awhile. I also spent oodles of time over the course of a decade at The Abbey of Gethsemani and still visit there yearly. I began to spend time praying the daily office and fell in love with the rhythms of prayer. Drawn to ancient traditions, my soul connects with liturgy in ways I cannot describe. I returned to the Baptist church briefly and then began almost a year without a church home.

It's in the valley we discover our own heartbeat. It's in the alone times that we ache for true community. It's the dark hours of the night when good enough......isn't. I visited every church I could think of. I listened to my friends tell me why I should go here or there. And I tried. I tried to be involved with people I already knew and loved. It just wouldn't work. I was spiritually lonely and so frustrated.

Christmas Eve I sat in the back row of a Catholic Church begging God to show up. I bowed my head as tears ran down my face, "God. I'm trying here. I'm trying to be faithful. I'm trying to wait on you. I'm trying to be where you want me to be. I know you're enough for me." I surrendered my trying that night and for the first time in a year I found peace.

A week later I walked into the Episcopal Church at the suggestion of an out of town friend. I knew nothing. I knew absolutely no one. Although I don't believe in following feelings alone, I do tend to trust the gentle leading of the Holy Spirit.

Today you'll find me within the walls of Christ Episcopal Church. God, for me, in this season is found kneeling in those pews, at the alter, within the liturgy and with those people. God still jumps off the pages of the Old Testament into my heart. And I'm still finding Jesus on every page of the New Testament. The word of the Lord is still changing my life and conforming me into the image of Christ with every minute of my life I spend there.

I appreciate community in ways I wouldn't have before. I cherish the sacred moments of an ordinary service after spending a year without it. I receive the body and the blood into every cell of my being and ask God every time to live through me. Even me. And I stand amazed every time when he does.

My real life. On a Monday.

1 comment:

Sue said...

Brenda, I too feel the Episcopal Church is "home." There are no accidents. I was looking for a noon service for Good Friday a few years ago. There was a local Catholic church near work where someone suggested I go since I couldn't make the 7 pm service at the Lutheran church I had been attending that was okay but not quite "it." And the Episcopal Church I'd never noticed was between my car and the Catholic church that was overflowing, so I stepped into St. Andrews. And I haven't left! God works in great ways...