Have you ever been so involved in something that you never had to make a decision to be a part of it? It just happened – no effort required. It’s not that you didn’t want to be involved, you did, but even if you didn’t, you still were! It was a part of who you were and you were expected to and you wanted to. And then something changed! Everything you loved about that thing became a huge effort. It was hard and confronting and easier not to do anymore!
Maybe I need to make things a little clearer. The thing I am talking about is church.
For the first 30 years of my life, my Church was the centre of my existence. As a child, it was a place we went every Sunday with my Mum. It wasn’t easy for us to go because my Mum didn’t drive and our Church was a good 30 minute walk and then a good 30 minute bus ride for us to get there. I dressed up in my Sunday clothes (which did not include jeans) and I went to church with my sister, brother & mother. My father wasn’t a church goer but never once did I consider staying at home with him! Mostly, I loved it. I loved the music, the friends, the babies I could carry around, the community lunches, the fellowship and I loved my relationship with Jesus! It was so much a part of my life, that when it came time to fall in love and find a husband, being a Christian was very high on the list of pro’s.
So, when I turned 21, I married my husband, Adrian, who just happened to be a Pastor – straight out of the Seminary! The next 10 years, our ministry was our life as we served God in two parishes in Queensland, Australia. I loved the challenging day-to-day life of ministry. I loved the friends I made, the service I could give, the music, the fellowship and my relationship with Jesus.
But then it stopped!
Due to circumstances I won’t go into here, our family was cut loose from our church and our formal ministry ceased when we didn’t want it to. We were not cut loose from our friends and family but everything that used to be so easy and comfortable, became hard and uncomfortable. Together, we continued to worship and strive to serve God in our new uncomfortable life. It was not easy, but we had each other for encouragement and to carry one another along the way. We struggled on, doing this for 18 years and it never really felt the same but we did not give up.
Then Adrian was diagnosed with terminal cancer and on a Good Friday, 6 years ago, he slipped into a coma and died on the Easter Monday. It was then that church got really scary and hard and not even the remotest bit natural for me. And here I sit on the eve of Good Friday, desperately wanting back that feeling of not having to make a decision to be a part of church. Knowing that my relationship with Jesus has nothing to do with attending church but feeling like it’s starving from the lack of sustenance. Feeling like the decision is just too hard and I am just too empty. But aching for the comfort of the cross and the resurrection but only feeling death and pain and aloneness.
I feel ashamed of my inability to forgive, when Jesus so freely forgives me. I question my sadness and loneliness when God, also knows only too well the pain of loss. For almost 25 years now, church has felt like a stranger to me. I long for the friend that she once was. Sanctuary. Guidance. Comfort. These are the things I want to find there. But I don’t. I feel angry at Adrian because he is already with Jesus and no longer has to make the effort or make a decision like I do.
So why am I writing this down in my blog for the world to see? What am I wanting from people in response? When I began writing The Mandy Diaries, I was writing for myself. To express myself, to feel connected to the world. I still feel this is what I do here. I want to be honest – even if it is too hard for others to read because this is who I am. This is my struggle. This is my emptiness. And as the tears flow down my cheeks, I need to say that I don’t want Easter to come this year or any year – until I can feel the empty tomb inside me filling up with the natural desire for church to be easier and expected. Not hard or scary.
So I am ready to press publish …… but I feel the inner desire to apologise for this post.
But I have NOTHING to apologise for.
So if you are reading this ……. I had courage!
PS: I’ve loved this song for awhile now but haven’t really been comfortable with some of the explanations given of its meaning. I post it today because it perfectly describes the depth of anguish I feel today. And as I’m being courageous here is Take Me To Church by Hozierhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFROH_nzqfE