I grew up believing that church was about black patten leather shoes and gold stars for memory verses. Every Sunday was spent within the four walls of the brick building and Wednesday nights meant youth groups. It's where most of my friendships were made and kept. It's where meals were eaten and lessons of many kinds were learned.
I'm thankful for ALL of that.
In my 20's I began to dig deeper into what I believed to be my own truth. I began to seek out who God really was and occasionally escaped to a different church where the worship was louder and my spirit was stirred. I spent hours in the Bible and began to question church leaders about the things that were being taught and how the Word was being interpreted. It was my religious “rebellious stage” if you will. I no longer clung to what others told me was “truth” instead I pushed and pulled to figure out what it all meant for and to me.
Right before I turned 30 I faced a crisis in my life. It was the hardest things I've ever walked through. And when all my world came falling apart I tried my best to cling to the faith that I had known. I walked through the valley of the shadow of death. I wanted to die but found myself pulled to life by a force outside of myself.
When the dust settled and I was still standing I came to a point where religion no longer served the same purpose in my life. The Sunday home, which once felt so safe, became a place of slander and gossip. The people who had celebrated my birth, marriage and the births of my children expected things of me that I could no longer produce and my desire to jump through their hoops had waned. The stained glass had cracked and the colors were running.
I began to seek out other places of worship and landed at the church with the rocking worship music and a passion for the lost. I could walk in with my flip flops and my dreadlocks and felt at home. I could sit on the floor and weep and know that I was not alone. We formed relationships that will last for a long time. We began once again to see God in a different light, alive and real. Raw and present.
When my family and I left our home last year to travel full time we did so on a leap of “faith”. We knew we were supposed to do this. Our hearts had been prepared and we were excited to jump. Our lives began to look really different, really quickly.
We didn't find ourselves at a church building on Sunday mornings, instead we found ourselves in fellowship with neighbors at the park. We weren't wearing our fanciest clothes, but somehow the woman who needed someone to listen when her daughter's husband left, didn't care. The homeless kids, the ones sleeping in a makeshift tent while they waited to jump the next train car, yeah, they were thankful for the food and the socks we gave them. The best worship I ever had was walking away from a long conversation with them. The family who worked at the campground for a spot with no water or electric, um yea, driving to a hotel and secretly buying them a 3 night stay, that was one of the best offerings.
I've come to a place of intersection in my faith. I love some of the things I grew up learning inside those brick walls. But I no longer think it's about high heels, pews, or grape juice in plastic cups. Faith to me feels more about love right now, and being thankful in all that I do and all that I have. I love the teachings of Jesus that I grew up holding onto, I'm also pulled to the Buddha and his love of peace, and I'd really like a Guadalupe tattoo.
My prayers are said on a yoga mat, my comfort comes sitting around a campfire and staring at the flames, my offerings will continue to be giving rice krispy bars to the homeless, and I'm worshiping in the daily tasks before me. Right now, love is my religion.
It may seem contrite. It may not be enough for you. You may want to know what it is that I really believe and I'll share that as I continue to figure it out. But right this second, I'm content to be walking my journey in this. It's no one else's. I don't want to get to Heaven on someone else's beliefs.