It has dawned on me over the past few weeks that I'm extraordinarily good at making excuses. That's not an easy thing to admit, but it's true.
"Organized religion isn't for me because so many Christians are judgmental hypocrites."
"I can't go to school and work full-time at the same time; I don't have the energy to devote to both and I don't want to do either one halfway."
Truth is, I've been resisting things for no real reason at all.
I went to church on Sunday, and it wasn't awful. It was awkward, and scary, and a little bit overwhelming, but it was also good. Being back there, in the midst of something that was so familiar when I was growing up, felt exactly right, like a big piece of the puzzle that is my life had finally slipped into its proper place. So I went to Wednesday night service. And I felt welcomed, and loved, and inspired.
Driving home, it occurred to me that the roller coaster life I've had over the last 8 years might just have had a grand design, that this journey has led me back to God. I've always believed in something greater than humanity, greater than this life, but I've let excuses get in the way of really exploring that faith. I don't want to be lumped in with the "Christians" of Westboro Baptist. I don't want to be forced to pretend to be something I'm not, or to pretend to believe something I don't.
I'm beginning to see that it doesn't have to be that way. There are good Christians, people who try to be Christ-like, who don't judge and hate and use their religion like a club. They're not perfect, and they'll be the first ones to admit that. The goal is not perfection, anyway. Life is a journey, and a person's relationship with God - like any relationship - is naturally going to change and grow over the course of their life.
Though I've been away from church for a very long time, I've never been far from God. I never gave up prayer, and I always believed in Him. But that's not enough for me anymore. I'm realizing that I need to study, to ask questions, to commit myself to my faith again. It's not going to be easy. I'm sure I'm going to be taught things I don't agree with. I'm going to have to learn to bend my will to His, to submit to His wisdom that is so much greater than my own. My spiritual muscles are going to get a workout, and I'm sure that won't come without some "soreness."
In the end, will I be a better person? A better Christian? Will I be closer to God? I hope so. But that's not really why I'm doing this. I'm not sure I can even articulate the reasons I agreed that I'd attend church again this Sunday...I just know that it feels like what I'm supposed to do.
And it's hard to come up with an excuse to refute that.