I once said to my former minister, “ever since you forced me to recognize religion wasn’t evil I’m a lot less prickly.”
Her response was, “I’m not sorry.”
I’m not sorry either, but it sure has made my life more interesting. It’s made me think a lot more deeply. It’s made me question stuff.
I talk about religion a lot. That, in and of itself, is not a new thing. What is a new thing is not being combative or mean spirited about it. It’s only within the last few years that I’ve started to be OK with religion again. And until I found a church I still wasn’t GOOD with religion, I just tolerated it. So when I say that I talked about it a lot, it was usually about how awful organized religion was; all the lives it ruined, how all religions were cults… I was angry.
And my friends, by and large, agreed with me. We could get some long rants going. Some LONG rants. Talk about preaching to the converted…
Lots of those friends were in my day to day life saw the kind of slow transformation from
“Uh.. I went to church.”
“I can’t hang out Sunday morning, I have church.”
“Hey, I’m helping a little with the stewardship campaign at my church, want to help me cut out a lot of little paper people?”
“Um, ok… I might be kinda thinking about ministry.”
They built up a tolerance to my religion talk. Sometimes they even engaged in it. They came to church a few times, especially if I was going to be speaking. They knew it was important to me.
Now that I’m in Boston it’s a little different. A few of my friends read my blog, but most of them don’t (most of my readership is actually not people I know, which is really odd). Most of my friends, unless they check my facebook, wouldn’t really know that I’m doing the church thing. I gotta say, I am not really helping myself out in that regard.
I’m keeping my mouth shut about religion.
I want to say that embarrassed isn’t the right word, but it’s actually exactly the way I’m feeling. I don’t want to admit how much this religion means to me, how I actually think that organized religion is a good thing, something that should be encouraged. Sure, I’m still against a lot of the ideals that other religions preach, but I definitely respect how passionately the followers feel about what they advocate. I’m scared, embarrassed, and hesitant to say that in front of these friends. It’s nervewracking to sit there and think, “crud, this person is totally going to judge me.”
I find myself making excuses for going to church.
“A friend invited me.”
“It’s a special service.”
“Eh, it’s something to do.”
“I am trying to build up a community.”
I never mention the W word, though.
All those things I mentioned above? Those are all true. But they aren’t the reason I am going to church. I am going because I believe in the core values and principles and I like worshiping with people who have those same values.
I go to worship.
And I have no idea how to admit that. To stop making excuses to those friends who I have spent so many hours rallying against religion with in the past. Religion is responsible for murdering abortion providers! Religion is the reason gay marriage isn’t legal everywhere! Religion is the reason for everything bad, it seems. But religion is the reason for so much good, too.
I’m going to stop evading and lying.
Yes, I am going to church this Sunday.
And, yes, I will worship at that church.
And, yes, I plan to go the Sunday after that.
And, yes, I am considering ministry.
And, yes, I am proud of all of those things.