I'm not sure what I'm doing in church. I started going again, tagging along with my brother, a few weeks ago, but half the time, I'm not sure why I'm there.
I used to blog quite a bit about my faith. I stopped when I stopped going to church and quit my old job because I'd stopped going to the church where I worked. I just had and still have all these questions that, at all the churches I'd been to, would only have been met with judgment instead of consideration. I couldn't find anyone with a satisfying answer to my own personal Mark 9:24.
To explain everything I do or don't believe today would take another post, but in a nutshell, I call myself an agnostic theist. Somehow, despite all my doubt, I believe there is a God. The big however is, I don't believe that humans and human religions have the last word on who God is and what he does.
So, for the longest time, I couldn't stomach being in church, because everything anyone said from the pulpit was met in my head with, "Well, how do you know?" or, "That doesn't sound like something God would really do."
So, no one's more surprised than me at the fact of me sitting in the pews next to my brother these past several Sundays, hanging on to the pastors' words, and feeling my heart welling up in song.
The skeptic in me says that old habits die hard. She also says I'm vulnerable right now and looking for something to hang on to—that it's the only reason I've started going again.
But, the believer in me knows that my faith's been creeping slowly back for months, beginning with counter-doubts for all my doubts. Somehow, despite everything, inexplicably, I just believe.
It helps that the church my brother's chosen, though still conservative in doctrine, is quite open, and openly open. There's a sense that its leaders actually see individual human beings with myriad needs and concerns, not just sheep to herd and count. And so far, they've spoken less about how to avoid going to hell and more about how to treat your fellows, how to help one another, and how to be good in an often bad world.
The most telling thing for me was when the pastor spoke before Communion last Sunday and said that the table was open for everyone regardless of denomination, and, "not just for those who believe, but those who want to believe." And I could tell from the way he spoke and stood that his invitation was not some memorized spiel but a sincere invitation to taste what God and church had to offer. So, I took the bread, drank the wine, and was thankful.
After church, Martin and I met in the area to talk things over some more. I'm not going to reproduce his exact words, but even if I didn't hear what I wanted to hear, I know I heard everything I needed. I've sworn to myself to remember this every time I feel my own bitterness returning. I do believe everything will be fine.