The effort of getting everyone dressed and fed and in the car before 10 am was enough to frazzle all of our nerves and the tension on the drive to church often left Josh and I arguing over where to park or who was going to check the kids in or who forgot their Bibles.
We would arrive with our hearts in an irritated frenzy and proceed into church where we would do the awkward, “turn around and greet someone you don’t know,” and we’d flash our churchy smiles and introduce ourselves politely to whatever random stranger was sitting in the seats in front of us. Then we would sit down having promptly forgotten their names. When you church hop or attend once every 4 months, it’s hard to get to know people.
We had a third child and unlike my older two, he would cling to me like a marsupial in a pouch. He howled like some crazed animal when we would try to peel him from us at the nursery of the church and so when we actually made it to church, I walked the halls with him, exhausted while church carried on, nursing in the rocking chair of the mother’s room alone.
We were disconnected and disillusioned.
I would ponder what we were going to have for lunch. I’d think of how my Sunday was drifting away and tomorrow I would be back to schooling the kids.
This didn’t refresh me or meet any needs: it was a chore. When I considered a day of rest, rushing the kids to get dressed, brush teeth, comb hair and clamber into the car wasn’t high on my list.
I didn’t want to go through the motions and I didn’t want to be hypocritical. I loved God but I didn’t love the church. And I thought that was OK. After all, God meets us where we’re at, right?
Then worship would start and I would critically assess the songs chosen, the feel of a rock concert instead of a worship service, the singer’s bad voice or pitchy tone, the fact that the worship leader’s skirt was too short, the way the guitarist had teeny tiny skinny jeans and he was a guy, or the way they only sang hymns in a drone monotonous chorus. I carried my predjudices and pride with me into every service. No church was safe from criticism.
I’d look around and judge the people I saw sitting in church, cloaking it under the guise of discernment.
Everyone is so trendy, this church is trying too hard to be hip and relevant.
No one in this church said “hi” to us when we visited. They’re obviously full of cliques and snobbish.
Everyone in this church is too conservative. They are way too legalistic.
This church spent way too much money on their building and the flower arrangements. They must be materialistic.
The pastor talked forever, the pastor barely said anything, the pastor didn’t quote scripture enough, the pastor told too many stories about his own personal experiences, the pastor is going to exegete every single word in the Greek, the pastor talks in monotone and this service will never end… ever.
There was always something wrong, and I never once thought it might be my heart. After all, I loved God, didn’t I?