Church and I have had a rocky relationship to say the least. Growing up my parents took my brother and I to church every Sunday and we always attended Sunday school after. Those of you who know him may find this hard to believe, but my father was actually a Sunday school teacher. My involvement in church was at its peak when I was going through my confirmation. This was also when my best friend Ian passed away. My family and I had brought Ian and his family into the church through my youth group a few years earlier, after he was diagnosed. Some people may think that being this involved in church at this critical moment in my life would have been uplifting and gotten me through this difficult time. It didn't.
A piece of me died that day, and along with that piece so did my faith. I was so angry at God. He let horrible people in this world live and decided to take away an amazing 14 year old who had his whole life ahead of him. All I wanted to know was why, and there was no one who could answer that question for me. If I heard one more person say "He needed another angel in heaven" or "He had better plans for him" I was going to scream. I didn't want to hear those stupid answers you read in condolence cards. I wanted a real answer.
Its safe to say that after Ian passed away my families church attendance dwindled to almost nothing. To be fair, it wasn't just Ian. It was basketball games, lacrosse practices and the fact that Sunday mornings were now the only day we had to just relax. College was about the same. I went to a church a few times but I always ended up crying halfway through it. Every sermon I attended seemed like it was made for me, like He was trying to tell me something, but I didn't want to hear it. I didn't want to hear about His love and my faith. I wanted answers.
I really didn't start attending church semi-regularly until I moved to Annapolis. I guess I figured a fresh start for me all around. I have to say, attending church now has definitely made me want to be the person I have always wanted to be. It has allowed me to have strength in myself and faith in others, and helped me to see the best in people. Now that I attend more often, I've been able to hear a variety of sermons. Ones that I relate to more than others, and once in a while I have a moment where I feel as if it has been written just for me. That is what happened today.
Today's sermon was all about making lists. (Timely huh?) Our to do lists, our christmas lists...etc. More importantly it was on what would be on God's list. Our pastor asked the children during their sermon what they thought would be on God's wish list. Love. Faith. Kindness. Caring. Forgiveness. Let me just tell you, hearing these children say these things almost made me tear up (wouldn't be church if I didn't). But the last thing, forgiveness made me pause. God wants forgiveness? I always knew that I was suppose to forgive those who have wronged me, but I never thought about having to forgive God. I now know that is something I will need to add to one of my lists to cross off one day.
I still have questions, but I think I am starting to realize that they will never be answered, not the way that I want them to be. With every time I go, I feel something being lifted. And you know what? Maybe its not that weird to cry during church. Its suppose to move me and speak to me in a way that touches my soul, how could that not bring someone to tears. For me, there is no real "going to church list", because you can't plan for what you will need once you are there or what you will actually receive.