I love church. I love the traditions. I love the preaching (most of the time :) ). I love the singing (always). I love the Bible and listening to someone's interpretation of it, and how that pushes me to study and form my own interpretations. I love that when everything in this world goes to hell, church reminds you that you are heaven-bound.
Today I was not at my regular church. I am never shy about going somewhere new, different, or with others. I give my parent's credit for that, but I am not sure exactly why. I do remember my father telling me when I was little that it was important to learn about other religions because there were children growing up and believing their beliefs as strongly as I was growing up believing mine. That was a powerful lesson that I took with me, and I carry it with me now.
The irony is that my own beliefs and how they might differ from others has always added value to my relationships...until now. One of my most important relationships is being challenged over interpretation of scriptures. It has put me on my knees, but (ironically) not in anger...in compassion. That same little girl that used to cover the church bus windows with smiley faces and sing Sing and Be Happy at the top of her lungs while bouncing in the seat as we crisscrossed North Arkansas picking up kids who had no other way to come to church (my father drove the church bus)...well, that little girl believes...still. I believe that everything good is of God and everything bad is of the devil. I believe that God gives me strength when I have none, and that is especially true when the trials of life come my way. I believe he forgives me, and as a sinner in need of a Savior...Every. Day....I am grateful for that beyond measure.
Yesterday as the church sang It Is Well with My Soul, I was overcome by emotion. (I am grateful for sinus trouble...everyone thinks it is that.) I am so grateful that I have peace. Now, lets be clear, I am not perfect. There is certainly heartbreak, sadness, anger, questioning, etc...all the stages of grief, but I know that God will see me through, and that he is in control (if I will simply give it up to him). I am giving this situation up without question because I understand all too well the pain, shame, hurt, anger that comes when people disagree on the Bible. I am not going to be a party to any of that. I am an accepting soul, and I have made a concerted effort my whole life to live my beliefs and let my actions speak for me. I work hard not to judge others and their beliefs, because I don't want mine judged by anyone but my Heavenly Father. Self-assessing and worrying about my own actions is a full-time job leaving me little time to get caught up in others. I believe that the Bible can be interpreted a million different ways, and I believe that the fact that we have thousands of different churches and religions is proof of that. I believe that your salvation is between you and God. As I went weak in the knees yesterday morning, I could feel God reminding me that he has this, and I just need to trust in him. I am working diligently to obey what I believe him to be commanding me to do. I am also trying to breathe, and I find that difficult from time-to-time.
I love church. When everything else is going wrong, church always makes everything right for me. It is a reminder that I am a sinner among sinners. It is a reminder that I am just one child of God amongst millions. It is a reminder that even with all of those statistics, he is with me. He loves me...unconditionally.
I say this all the time when I get to an emotionally trying part of any of my presentations. It is a defense mechanism to keep me from welling up with tears. People can't see you fighting back tears if they are laughing or (knowingly) crying themselves. It starts with....I am just a girl. I am just a girl trying to live a life of purpose in what are sometimes extraordinary circumstances. I am just a girl trying to live a life of passion and purpose no matter the obstacles. I am just a girl trying to leave a legacy so that when I am gone, my life will have mattered. I am no different than any other boy or girl.
That says it all...even now.
I love church. God is there.
Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)