Two days ago I sat in a black swivel chair and tried not to move my head as the scissors snipped close by. Not even five minutes into the appointment, our conversation turned to trusting God for the future. She wrapped my wet hair in a towel and as I sat down, the full-length mirror staring back at us as she went to work carefully giving my hair a much needed cut, the words about God turned to words about the Church.
Naturally, without force, they tumbled out. The story of loving, wandering, searching, wrestling, staying. A few minutes later the mirror reflected a different mouth moving as she told her own version of finding, leaving, and hoping. I didn’t think too much of my words, assuming she was simply making conversation, until I realized the story I had just told was much like hers.
Strangers who have been hurt by the Church and love her still so dearly.
I’ve spent a lot of time searching for Sunday. Almost the entire first half of college I visited different churches, venturing into buildings alone, sitting in another unfamiliar pew by myself. Every once in a while a friend joined and that made it a bit easier. Being the new person every week is a hard gig, y’all. But I couldn’t quit Her. I couldn’t stop. Even when I wasn’t sure where to turn, even when the earlier wounds were deep and a lazy Sunday morning was appealing, the search continued.
“Church hopping” sounds like you’re shopping around for a building full of nice people. Maybe you want contemporary music or to sit in traditional pews. Maybe you grew up taking communion every Sunday, maybe every quarter, maybe you’re trying to find what you left years earlier, maybe you want something completely different. Church hopping feels like carrying an unwritten list into every service, waiting and watching to see how many checkmarks will be given.
But church is not a building. Oh, sure, the Church often meets in buildings or homes or around tables. But the Church cannot be contained inside walls. I wanted a building, yes. But more than that I wanted the Church.
To trust the Body, to be loved by the Body, to find myself known and appreciated and valued, to find a place to pour back out and serve.
As I listened to the story spilling out, telling the journey of finding a place and years later discovering it wasn’t going to work out, I listened as she explained she didn’t want to be a number; she wanted to be known.
I’m not sure where you stand when it comes to the Church. I don’t know where you go on Sunday mornings or Wednesday nights or Saturday evenings. But I do know this: the Church is beautiful. She is made up of imperfect humans and so there will be wounds, there will be messes, and there won’t be answers for every question raised. Disagreements will happen but listen — the Church will prevail.
Don’t leave her just yet. Search for Sunday. Leave the covers and walk through the door.
It took a long time but now every weekday I find myself looking forward to Sunday. The church hopping days weren’t wasted – they taught me so much, many of those lessons only now beginning to show up. But now I look around and find myself thinking “I’m home. Right here.” And here’s the thing, y’all. It doesn’t look like what I expected. It wasn’t what I was “looking for” in the way of appearances or all those things that go on the mental checklists — yet it is home.
It is the Church and I cannot walk away, I cannot quit her. Every week we gather, we are fed, we are encouraged, we are strengthened – all with the cross at the center. And then the Church walks outside the doors of the church because Church is not a place, it is a people.
Sometimes Church happens in a hair salon.
Related :: 5 Ways to Choose Sabbath
This post is the result of many years of thinking, processing, learning, growing, stumbling, and more. And still, even after spending the past few years takes classes on the sacraments and different theologies, there is so much more to know. I wanted to write these words, messy as they may be, after reading through Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans. I knew as soon as I heard the title of Rachel’s newest book that I would need to read it. While I don’t agree with some of her viewpoints, and while there are definitely some generalities that were applied throughout the book that I do not personally find appropriate, I did however greatly appreciate her willingness to honestly and vulnerably share her journey to, away from, and back home to Church.
When a friend asked mid-way through the book what it was about, I simply said “The Church. And the sacraments. And walking away from the Church and then loving it all over again.” When she asked what I thought so far, I said “It’s that feeling you get when something bad happens and you wouldn’t wish it on someone else, but you’re grateful in a way for those who have felt it too. I’ve needed to hear what I’ve read so far.” After turning the final page, I can honestly say that’s still how I feel about the book as a whole. I may not agree with every point made, but I’m grateful for the story told.