There is just one thing I'm loving this week, and I can't even believe I'm going to say it, but it's - are you sitting down? Church. Church, you know, where you go and sing songs and listen to someone talk for like 30 minutes about...God. It's crazy. Point of fact: Christianity is the only religion that believes people are saved by grace and not by works. This sets Christianity apart from any other 'religion' out there. Translation: It doesn't matter what I do, it matters what I believe. This is huge. This is mind blowing. This is paramount to my sanity. It doesn't matter that I pray this many times, in this direction, at these times. It doesn't matter that I don't eat this, but that I do eat that. It doesn't matter that I cover my body or grow my hair. It's not about the laws, the rituals, the 'religion'. I mean I'm drinking beer as I write this (Bud Light Lime in a bottle, by the way not a can. Something else I'm loving right now!) It's about the relationship I have with God.
Ironically, it is also the single most forgotten fact in Christianity. I've been trying to figure out why this is. Why do all the ladies gather in the back of the church and whisper about what so-and-so was seen doing with so-and-so and how so very wrong they were and how real Christians wouldn't do that or be that? Why have the sermons felt more like damnation's rather than encouragements? Here's my theory, and while it might not be monumental, it is starting to make sense to me. It's uncomfortable. Grace is uncomfortable.
We've become this work your ass off society. We work hard and we're rewarded with a bigger paycheck, a newer house, a nicer car. We earn the respect of those around us - our friends, colleagues, family. We strive, we push, we trudge along like drones because we've become accustomed to this routine, to this process. It's just the way it is. Christianity - God's Grace - throws something different into the mix.
Believe something crazy, near impossible. Believe that thousands of years ago this Almighty Being woke up (errm, don't think He sleeps...but bear with me for a minute) and decided to create us. Then, hundreds of years later sends His Son to die for my sins. Sins I haven't even thought of committing yet, He dies for them all. All I have to do is believe. I am compelled to have faith in someone I can't see, someone I have a hard time feeling, and someone I've never met face to face. Believe in Him, and all the rest will fall into place. Trust Him, and you'll find the strength to get through anything. Love him, and find peace and contentment and joy. But wait, shouldn't I have to do something? Like, say jump through hoops while balancing on one foot while juggling? Because then at least I would feel like I earned it.
I'm so not perfect. Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It's been, well...never...since my last confession because I'm not Catholic, but here goes anyway. I have broken every single one of the 10 commandments, minus the whole killing thing (unless you count plants and fish and bugs of any sort...) Some of the things I've done seem so horrible, I have a difficult time forgiving myself. I have a potty mouth that could shock a sailor (which to be honest is one of the reasons why I revel in my potty mouth...) I get distracted when I pray and start thinking about gorgeous mocha men on the skytrain instead. I read one line of a chapter of a verse in the bible, and then read it again, and then again, and then realize that I'm thinking about Mocha man and not paying attention to the words I'm reading, but in my defence, it's a reallllllllllllllllly long book....
None of this matters. What matters is that I believe. And maybe I'm wrong. And if that's the case, then I will have led a life where I tried to be kind to everyone, where I tried my damnest to be non-judgemental and loving and forgiving and understanding. A life where my belief makes me a better mother, and better friend, daughter, girlfriend (God willing...) A life where I believed that my life was guided by a loving hand rather than a big boom and stars aligning. What is so wrong with that? Where do I miss out, if this is the life I choose to live. And if I'm right, then the rewards will be eternal. That my friends, is spectacular. It's awesome in a way no words can describe.
So, back to why I love my new church. It fills me with peace. It fills me with calm. It reminds me every Sunday that I am flawed and I am *gasp* human, and that it's all okay because I am saved by Grace. I sneak in the back and close my eyes because this, this is a relationship between me and Him. I sneak out early, so that I don't have to talk to the people. All the people...the shining, happy people holding hands....okay, I'm exaggerating, but it's all so new to me right now, and I don't want the humans to ruin it. I want it to be my experience, and I want Him all to myself right now. I still feel a little fragile and a little unworthy of this grace. I've not yet taken part in communion, because I don't feel worthy. I feel as though they all might laugh and point and stare and say, 'You can't have communion. You coveted that woman's Manolo's on the train the other day." Of course, they won't. But I feel like an imposter, a poser. Faith is a journey, believing is a journey, and I've only just begun.