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What I Need From the Church

I’m participating this week in Feminisms Fest (details can be found at  From Two to One  – also… DO IT.  You know, if you want), but first I want to sweep out some cobwebs that have been collecting on my brain for a while.  A bit of thanks goes out to the authors of this post and this post for handing me the broom.

My mom asked me on Saturday why I don’t go to church regularly anymore.  I didn’t have a good answer.  She dropped it pretty quickly, which was both a surprise and a relief.  I’ve been expecting the question and subsequent awkward conversation for a while.  I haven’t attended church regularly since Christ Fellowship ended.  I’ve made a piddly effort, but I’m not super-concerned about regular attendance.  I don’t often say this out loud, because the people who ask that question would be super-concerned by that answer, which would lead to more indepth conversation on the subject, and I usually don’t care to discuss it further.

But today I do, because cobwebs are sticky and annoying.

My background with church in my adult life is this:

I went to First Baptist for a while, because I grew up attending a similar (although not as wealthy) church.  Also, I enjoy singing in the choir, and it had a good one.  That was enough for a while.  I stopped going for a lot of reasons, most of which had more to do with my own busyness and being-21-ness than with anything specific that the church did to drive me away.  Another factor was that my community/support system/whatever-you-want-to-call-it wasn’t there.  Going to church took me away from them, if only for a few hours a week.  It was the thing I did on the side of the rest of my life.

Then [a few years later], I started going to Christ Fellowship.  I came to my first meeting out of curiosity.  My roommate and I had been out for breakfast one Saturday morning, and I saw a group of people there, two of whom I knew.  These two were the last two people in Denton I expected to be having breakfast together – the very definition of opposites – yet there they were, clearly enjoying each other’s company.  So I went to their church, and I loved it.  It was the first community/support system/whatever-you-want-to-call-it that I had ever been a part of where I thought I really could call any of them at 4:00 in the morning, and they would answer and listen and give me a ride or help or whatever I needed.

So I stuck with them, through fights and splits and side-aching laughter and awkward tension and tears and joy and so very many meals.

Then we broke up for good.  The church stopped meeting.  Some people were super-concerned about those of us who are single getting left behind or falling through the cracks.

But I wasn’t worried.  I assumed that nothing would really change.  We were friends, right?  Friends don’t need an official weekly meeting or two to be each other’s community/support system/whatever-you-want-to-call-it.

I should have been more realistic.  Yes, we were friends.  Yes, we love each other.  But there are only so many hours in a day, and when you stop meeting when you normally meet, especially after you start meeting at that time with other people, you stop seeing one another.  It would be easy to blame them, but my life and schedule contribute to our no longer seeing one another just as much as theirs does.  And the phone works both ways.  It’s no one’s fault in particular.  It’s just how time works.  People get forgotten.  People get left out.  People fall through the cracks.

I fell through the cracks.

I’m not mad at The Church.  I mean, I’m often annoyed with it in general.  The Church does some pretty ridiculous things and is occasionally a gigantic asshat.  But that’s just people.  The Church doesn’t have anything figured out more than anyone else.  Perhaps it’s too much to expect that they would.

But I still need a community/support system/whatever-you-call-it.  And I want to know that it’s  still mine, even if I miss meetings or stop going altogether.  Will I still know you if our church falls apart?  If the answer is no, that’s not community, and that’s not what I need.  I already have enough of that – so many friends that I hardly ever see – and all the abandonment issues (fair or not) that accompany it.

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