I used to get in trouble for running around church without wearing shoes. The pitter patter of stocking feet tromping around the sanctuary – I guess my mom thought it was disrespectful, but for some reason it became protocol that as soon as service ended, I would gather with the other kids involved in the puppet ministry and we’d pop off our shoes.
It felt like home, after all I was there six days of the week anyway. I knew the best hiding spots (the storage area behind the pulpit) and just how long it took to make a bag of popcorn in the kitchen microwave. I knew what the administration bathroom looked like, where the army cots were stored in the basement and about the costume room, which probably for the better was always locked.
Things are different now. Then the feeling was a tangible physical intimacy with a building, now buildings don’t matter so much. The Church is a body of people, and it can be harder than anything to feel like you can run around inside their hearts with your shoes off. Nooks and crannies can have frightful pasts.
It’s been a while since I have considered myself part of a close Christian community. It’s been good to get away but now, toeing the water, I was surprised by the emotional hesitation I felt.
I approached a Christian group a few months ago and automatically felt nervous, not in an insecure way but in an unknown way. When I walk into work I know my position, I know who is above me and who is beside me. When I walk into a store, I know I am the customer. When I come home, I know I am a daughter and a sister. When I walk into a Christian community, I don’t know anything.
I am not the best with being a member of the congregation, my curiosity and desire to be a part of the machine gets the best of me. I’d rather be an usher at a new church than sitting in the pew. I’d rather maybe be a Martha than a Mary – it’s easier to hide in the kitchen.
Attending is not appealing, even in a non-traditional manner I find myself shying away from Christians. I skipped meeting up with friends because I knew it would be centered around a religious teaching; I glossed over an old Christian manual in my room the other day and the content seemed so foreign; I actually went to a service on Sunday and left absolutely blank.
I feel as if with any Christian group I approach, I am immediately stiffened in my personality. I can’t wear what I normally would, I have to listen to music I probably wouldn’t, I have to be nice about everything, I have to be understanding that maybe these new people already have their clique set, I have to be outgoing, I have to ask the questions when no one else approaches me. Maybe these seem trivial, but it can be tiring.
My daily life is asking strangers about themselves to write articles, I don’t want to do the same when I approach the Church. I want to slip off my shoes and be home.
Maybe I’m not good at being new somewhere, maybe I’m jaded, but I think it is something deeper. Either way, I seem to be unable to quite grasp the Church right now.
Where do I go from here? Do I even need to go anywhere at all? I don’t really feel that lost and I don’t necessarily want answers.