This morning when I was going through my shaving ritual (lather, rinse, stroke, repeat, pause) I had an epiphany. It’s been a really long time since I went to church. Honestly, I haven’t been since I left Boston. Some of you may remember the post series I wrote on 3 Ways about how I finally found faith. What I’m saying right now probably disappoints you a bit. That’s fine because it disappoints me too. And to reduce some of that disappointment, let me just say that I still believe in God. I just haven’t been to an actual church in a long time.
Why don’t you just find a church in New York? There are so many to choose from. It’ll just take some time.
I’ve stopped talking to people about it because I can finish their sentences since everybody says the same thing. The truth is I will most likely never find the perfect church for me. I mean…humans run churches. That’s one reason. The other is much more complex. Let me share some stuff with you without sounding like I’m trying to indoctrinate and pontificate.
When I found my church home in Boston, the teachings and structure spoke to me. I really believed I was learning the truth. My life got better. Things that didn’t normally go my way started going my way. When there were unpleasant happenings, they were much easier to brush off because I always knew something positive was on the horizon. Sure, there were some lessons I didn’t agree with but overall everything made sense. I was focused on developing my relationship with God and figured He’d tell me what was right or not via some shining light in a dream or a burning bush. (I’ma leave this alone since the post is about faith and God probably subscribes to the site. Hi God.)
After a few months, challenges started to surface. The church I went to held services on Saturday (No. I’m not SDA) — 3 services to be exact. It was expected that you’d attend all 3. I understood why, but having my whole Saturday bodied by faith complicated other parts of my life. Nothing should come before God and it shouldn’t feel complicated but here lies one of the challenges. There were also services on Tuesday nights that people were expected to attend. I worked in a commission-based job at the time and had to cut out of work early to be punctual. Given my slumping numbers, my manager didn’t like that at all. Neither did my back account. We’ll call this challenge #2.
The third challenge, and probably the one I took most issue with, was that the teachings forbid going into other churches– particularly those that held services on Sunday. Again, I understood why. It made sense in the context of what and how I learned. But are you telling me that if someone is performing in an event at their church, dies, or gets married that I can’t attend? Sacrifice is important, but these 3 challenges compounded by the fact I was “the least devout” made it very difficult. I can count on 1 hand how many times I sat through all 3 services on Saturday in the 8 months I attended. I can count on 100 hands how many times someone said “Brother Slim. We have to adhere to the teachings. Your salvation is at stake.”
I was stuck between the Rock of Gibraltar and a hard place. Between doing and hating my job, looking for a new one in NYC, and handling all the blog stuff, I was busy enough. The church, which I do still feel strongly about, was basically asking me to cut back on other parts of my life to make more time for my faith. I’m introspective as is, so you can imagine how much I thought about every action. At certain points it felt like the pursuit of writing and professional happiness clashed with the pursuit of a reservation in heaven whenever it came down to the final comedown. I don’t want no part of eternal torment, so what is a man supposed to do?
It’s funny. Since I moved to NYC, I’ve had 2 personal relationships deteriorate (See yesterday’s post for more). One bridge is burned forever and I’m trying to figure out how to strengthen the foundation of the other. I still believe in the core teachings of the church from Boston which also has a location in NYC now. I’m also still stuck on some of the restrictions and how they’ll impact my life given the trajectory I’m on. And since I’m not a fan of Sunday worship and much of what goes on in the other churches, it’s tough for me to do a Tour de Church in NYC and feel good about it.
If church was a la carte, I’d be the most devout christian in the world. Unfortunately for me and everybody else that has 2 legs, walks upright, and speaks instead of just making sounds, that isn’t realistic unless I create my own sect of Christianity. And as much as I love writing, I don’t have the time to research and scribe a belief system on some papyrus. I’ll just pray and hope that an answer comes to me. That’s what I’ve been doing anyway.
Jesus Just Might Guest Post Here Tomorrow,