As an introvert, most of my thought processes struggle to achieve some form of articulation. Often, they just sit in my mind like a pot of old coffee. However, there are two things that have been simmering within me for a few weeks now, and both of which have recently found their way past my lips and become real to me. In a way, confessing them has given them an ontology.
1. I’m more fascinated and captured by what people do with God and sacred texts than I am by God. Faith has become increasingly difficult for me. I do not see this as a bad thing. My optimism urges me to say that this is a phase. Regardless, the ways that I have previously regarded the beliefs of my Christian tradition no longer feel genuine and honest. This influences the ways that I approach and participate in communities of faith. I am still figuring out the best ways for me to freely and truly be me in a church community without being disregarded as unbiblical and liberal, and stripped of my voice because of the way I read the biblical text. That’s a valid concern, right?
2. God doesn’t make sense to me outside of community. That is to say, the practice of Christianity is lost on me without a community to practice it with. I think this second realization is a good thing. I also think that this second realization and the first are closely related. I haven’t been a part of a believing community in about 7 months. Seven months is definitely not a long time in the scheme of things, but it is the longest I have ever been outside of a church community.
I thought that I could be one who could sustain my faith in a happy, post-church bliss. I can’t. Church is weird, and it’s difficult for me to get past that, but I am ready to try for the sake of community and for the sake of nurturing something that is so central to who I am. I’m torn between feeling like this is a twisted and dysfunctional relationship or something that marks some semblance of maturity and grace.
Thoughts? Have you recently returned to church? Still outside of a church community? How has your faith been strengthened or diminished apart from or outside of a church community?