By: Andrea Royal
“Glory, glory on Sunday morning!” That, among other popular Christian phrases, I would hear on Sunday before going to church, along with gospel music blaring from the car radio. I wouldn’t consider my parents “bible thumpers” but my mother could throw out a scripture at any given time to make a point. My father believed in going to church…every Sunday, no matter what, and to be involved in the church. So, I had to be a part of the Christian Youth Ministry, Sunday School, Wednesday night bible study (if I didn’t have homework), the youth choir, and the usher board. At the time, I didn’t feel like it was a lot to handle. I had a strong love for God. My “church family” was full of older men and women that believed in nurturing and guidance. I liked that it was small and gave me that personal touch. Being introverted, I could handle small, more intimate settings vs. large and the feeling of being hidden. Not to mention it was the church my father attended when he was a child and my grandmother served as a Missionary before she passed away.
At any rate, my church gave me a sense of feeling at home, which I liked, especially coming home from college. But it was while I was in college in Charlotte, NC that I started to feel like I needed more from church other than the same message that I was receiving from my home church. I was becoming more open and well-rounded, my spirituality was growing apart from my home church and wanting more of a clearer message that awakened my spirit and made me think. I grew up in a Christian Methodist Episcopal church, and if you know anything about the Methodist churches, their messages, while somewhat the same, are felt and voiced a bit different than that of a Presbyterian or Baptist church. I was no stranger to Baptist churches. Before we moved to Augusta, my mother and I went to several different churches in New York, seeing which ones were a fit I guess. She had grown up a Methodist and felt her spirit was there. I didn’t know anything about spiritual feelings until I got to college, so I guess I borrowed hers and my father’s until I found my own.
During undergrad, friends of mine and I would travel to different churches in the city and on campus, seeing which ones we liked and felt more closely connected to. Then my college sweetheart invited me to attend a church he had been going to. It was a Baptist church. It was large, much larger than my moderately sized church in Augusta, GA. I immediately felt swallowed up and unseen in the sea of anxious “Christian” faces and large hats. I thought, “there’s no way I’m going to get anything from this church”. Then I heard the pastor preach and the choir sing. It was as if a light bulb had turned on. It no longer mattered that I was sitting in the back row or the Overcrowd room in the back of the church. The preacher and his message brought on a spiritual awakening I had never felt before, not even from my home church. I continued attending the church, giving tithes and even showing up by myself or taking others with me if they didn’t have a church home. This was my “adopted” church. I couldn’t tell you who was head of the usher board or who directed the church choirs. It didn’t matter because I was more engrossed in the Word and the message from the senior pastor. There were 3 services and I typically attended the last service, 11:30 am. Over time, I slowly graduated to the 9:30 am service.
Everything was feeling good until I graduated and went to grad school in Indiana. I can count on one hand how many times I went to church. My mother thought something was wrong with me (of course she did). I didn’t have my home church or adopted church to feel connected to and my spirit was low from feelings I had while in Indiana. I vowed that if I ever moved back to Charlotte I was going to join my adopted church and make it my church home. And it happened. I moved back and started prepping myself to join the church. I had friends of the family that tried to keep me bound to the Methodist church and suggested that it was better for me to find a church like my home church, but my spirit wasn’t there, and if I feel more of it at a Baptist church, what was wrong with that? My father felt disappointed also. He felt like I should have been joining a Methodist church also. I didn’t see where it mattered because I was going to church, and I still had my faith that was as strong as ever. Why does it matter what your affiliation is if you believe in the same principals, which is to love, honor and obey the word of God? It was baffling to me. But I went the way of my spirit and converted to Baptist and joined my no longer adopted church but my new church home.
I felt good. I joined ministries, tithed, I could identify more familiar faces within the different ministries, but the only face that mattered was that of my senior pastor. Things seemed to be great for a while and then I went inward. I still felt connected to my new church but my mind was pushing me into other areas such as my career, my health, buying a home, etc. I should be able to have all of that without sacrificing my love of my church, right? It seems simple. The word teaches you to ask and you shall receive. And I did. And I was blessed tenfold. So why was my desire to go to church every Sunday starting to slip? I couldn’t explain it, and I still can’t. I live further away from my church now than I did before and, while it’s no excuse, I haven’t mustered the energy up to make the drive or even open my computer and watch it online.
There are times when we get so excited and hyped up about something that we make the effort into nurturing it and giving it all the time in the world. Then, for whatever reason, that excitement fades and the motivation and desire slowly starts to dissipate. I cannot let that happen to my faith. I’ve had conversations with several people who don’t believe in going to church, but they have a strong belief in God. A lot of things have caused their faith or more so their reason for not attending church. I cannot borrow anyone’s reasons like I borrowed my parents spiritual connection to the Methodist church. Being an adult and having witnessed the things I have, gives me reason to get back to my spiritual connection to my church as I once was. If nothing else, it’s more a matter of absorbing the principals from my senior pastor and applying the lessons appropriately. There are no shackles, no one bounding me per se, just me standing in my own way. It happens. You have to get out of your own way for other doors to open. That’s one of the messages that I have heard and are instilled in me.
Talk to me…has anyone had any battles with their spirit and faith?