I have had a bit of a roller coaster relationship with "church" in my lifetime and am at present in a valley. A dark, dangerous valley that is possibly coated in slippery green goose poop. And filled with dead ends and infuriating detours.
If I wanted to, I could easily write for days about why this has been my spiritual station for so long, and maybe sometime in the future that will feel profitable; but for now one simple, uncluttered truth is ringing clearly in my heart:
Church is not the same as faith.
My religion is not the same
as my relationship with God.
My goal is absolutely not to debase any worldly religion or to proclaim a separation from any church; in fact, quite the opposite is true. Rather than leave church altogether (which is exactly the brink on which I have been teetering for months), I am banking on the notion that feeding myself throughout the week will prepare the soil of my heart for Sunday morning so that those services are nourishing to me again and so that maybe I can be helpful to someone else eventually.
Let's just say it's been a while since I had anything to offer at church or much of anything good to say about it. That disconnect bleeds into every other area of life, too, and that is just not how I want things to continue.
Ever a fan of gardening metaphors, I can't help but recount that a dry, hardened plot of earth will receive neither water nor seed, no matter how much it wants to. No matter how much it needs the life giving stuff. So I have some tilling to do in my heart, some weeding, some fertilizing, and some soil amending. Better a late harvest than none at all, I hope.
One addition to the farm routine, then, has been weekday morning Bible studies. A handful of women in my life have accepted the invitation to study and pray along with me (thank you!!), and for starters we're going to follow along with Courtney, specifically the Good Morning Girls. Yes, of course we can all study and pray independently and should do so on a regular basis, but remember how I like gimmicks? This is a a nice, simple boost. And I am gladly accepting it.
The last of this morning's scriptures could not have been more encouraging:
"And these things write I unto you,
that your joy may be full."
-I John 1:4
Our spiritual journeys should not to be cookie cutter experiences. God does not intend for us to be miserable with Him. I am relieved to be reminded of the joy that can be found in Truth, that it is not all judgment and bad news and endurance (although that is all very real).
How refreshing, as early autumn breezes send the curtains billowing into the living room, to finally begin a calmer leg of my journey, a less panicky attempt this time at rekindling my relationship with my Creator.