Friday, June 15, 2012

A Full Circle Moment on Sunday Morning

I have written about overcoming the judgement I have placed on myself as well as judgement that I perceived from church services, revivals and other varied experiences that I encountered in my youth.  It has been slow to heal these wounds and my perception of God who appeared to not be a loving God, but one who just wants to sit back and decide if I'm going to hell.  I didn't respond well to that presentation of God but I still internalized it and didn't realize I needed to step away.  God was out THERE and I didn't feel his/her presence at all.  Religion was full of shouldisms.

Yesterday, I attended my first service in a church that would fall into that category in many, many years.   I was an hour late, but no worries it went on for another hour and a half.  My watch is broken and I felt bad going into my purse to check the time repeatedly on my phone but it was only going to be over when it was over.  It was a celebration for a family member and I wanted to be there.  My kids and I had already been at our own church for 2 hours and I had no idea that the service would be that long, I had forgotten.  We Methodists are methodical, as in an hour in and an hour out and no room for the movement of the holy spirit within the service! {smile}

As the guest pastor talked in his sermon and brought up hell, a small discomfort arose in my body.  Finally, he reached the end of his sermon and here comes the altar call, whereby he asked us to stand.  Everyone did and put their heads down and he proceeded to goad us into coming forward to be saved or make our declaration?  It occurred to me for the first time that this act of walking to the front of the church is more for the pastor than the members of the congregation.  He said what would it hurt to have the Holy Spirit in your life? He began pulling out a few psychological maneuvers to get people to come to the front.  I began to get hot under the collar, and then I had a full circle moment.

I am no longer eight, or twelve or  eighteen and my relationship with God has come a loooong way.  I feel God's love in my life like never before and am aware of it like never before.  More importantly, neither is my church nor how I need to follow the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  It works for this congregation but not me.  I don't need to judge myself, AND I don't need to judge this denomination!

Whew!  What a revelation!  I can now see that this was an opportunity to see how far I've come in my thinking. Instead of wondering what is wrong with me that I don't want to walk down to the front of the church,  I can determine that this branch of the church does not work for me.   Many other things work for me but this does not.  What does work is the group I love that meets at my church during the Sunday School hour and feel God's presence mightily.  We discuss books that resonate with me, and so many times, I'm close to tears because the discussion is hitting the marrow of who I am, and what I have struggled with.

It was amazing to feel the anger just dissipate and I moved on, and completely let go of the experience. It was simply wonderful to let go of that judgement of myself.

1 comment:

  1. WOW!! I love that it was a both/and moment for you :-)

    Although I don't have nearly as deep history with the church/God that you do, I remember having a similar moment a few years ago attending church with my husband's family (who live in PA). My FIL is a Lutheran minister (now retired). My husband is the only one in the family who not only does not attend church, but who isn't religious at all. But when we're there we attend services with the family, out of respect. I finally realized that I didn't have to participate: I don't have to sing, I don't have to pray, I don't have to any of it. But I can allow those around me to sing and pray without placing my judgment on it. And in feeling confident about my choice not sing and pray, I don't have to feel judged or defensive. Sure, some might be judging me, but that's okay.