Well, this week I wrote the most incoherent essay of my life. Granted, it’s for a class for which I don’t usually bother to perfect my writing, but this one was bad. I had one of my friends edit it, and she was horrified. I probably scarred her for life. Apologies.
But yeah, it’s been kind of crazy lately. And that’s okay. Sorry, though, if my posts lately have been all over the place. Consider yourself lucky that you didn’t have to read that essay.
I wanted to share a couple of brief, somewhat personal, thoughts, though.
First, two Sundays ago, I took communion for the first time since around New Year’s. Four months is a long time for someone who is pretty traditional in respect to the sacraments. Okay, that’s not totally true–I took communion on Good Friday, but under compulsion, so I don’t think it counts. It started last fall, as I grew increasingly uncomfortable with “my” church and with Christianity as a whole. I guess I was still had some sort of Christian grounding, because it simply didn’t feel right to be taking communion when I had beef with the very community–and even more, with God–with whom I was supposed to be communing. It might have been something like where Jesus talks about not making a sacrifice if you have an unresolved issue or grudge with someone, but rather, leaving the sacrifice at the altar, reconciling with the person, and then coming back and finishing the sacrifice. It might also have just been the rebellious part of me trying to stick it to the church. In reality, it was probably a bit of both. But anyhow, I’ve been going to another church with increasing frequency over the past couple of months, and I finally decided to take communion there. One of the things I like about passing the plate rather than walking to the front of the sanctuary (not logistically feasible at this church) is that it makes communion more private, so you don’t feel like people are judging you if you do/don’t take communion and you can avoid the sometimes awkward interaction with the pastor/elder/deacon who is serving. (Obviously, the downside is that you don’t have the symbolic serving of the bread and wine/juice, which is important in its own way.) The few people who did know that I was avoiding communion, thankfully, did not pressure me or question me or tell me “I’ll be praying for you” in a condescending tone of voice, and I appreciate that more than they know. (I only found out today–because I said something–that one of them, who happens to go to this church, had noticed my habit of skipping and that I took communion for the first time two weeks ago.) The point? Thank you to this church for preaching and living the simple Gospel and for not casting judgement about the place of my life/mind/heart. Thank you to the people who have been incredibly patient with me and prayed for me in a non-condescending way and cared about me even when I’m an annoying, angsty mess. Thank you to God for not being angry at me even though I’m dumb and ask too many questions and get angry at You.
My second thought also relates to the church thing. The first time I visited this church (well, not the first time ever, but the first time in a while), it was in the middle of a schism of sorts. It was difficult for the church, for sure, but the leadership and the congregation handled the issues with extreme grace and professionalism, and I believe the church has become stronger for it. I realized that it was because of the grace and professionalism that I saw demonstrated that I was convinced that this church was and is a good place to be.
My third and final thought is also an epiphany of sorts. I’ve shared the details of this with one person, and plan to share with only one more, but it was so…cool (it seems sacrilegious to describe God as “cool”)…that I want share briefly with whoever is reading. I was injured at the beginning of my final season of cross country. Injured and angry. I wanted to know why. I sort of assumed the answer was “because you’ve made cross country your god/idol and God should be god, so He’s taking it away from you”–implicitly, “He’s reminding/punishing you”. I was okay with that, sort of, in the way that you have to be okay with what God does because He’s God, and, well, a lot bigger than you. Besides that, it’s still probably true to an extent, and at that time, I wasn’t even sure who/what God was. Sometime last week, though, I was driving to school towards the rising sun with the windows down and the radio up, and the answer smacked me in the face. (The closest thing to which I can compare the feeling is the lightbulb moment when you finally solve a math problem you’ve spent thirty minutes on or when the chemistry teacher explains a topic that never made sense so that it finally does.) I got injured and ran relatively poorly because that way, I didn’t have to deal with the pressure of deciding if/where to run in college. Had I run a 20:00 or even a 20:30, it’s more likely that the cross country factor would have played into the college selection process, which was already far too complicated. Being stuck in the 21s removed one more variable. God wasn’t just punishing me, He was protecting me, and now He is talking to me. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve heard His voice that clearly in years: it was an encouragement, in terms of my confidence that I made the right college choice, and in terms of my trust in God’s existence and Providence.
But now, I need to get back to fixing that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad essay…