So I go to a new church now. Its a shiny, new, big church. Seriously, it has like 15 huge chandeliers in the auditorium. Well, I haven’t counted, but its close. I’ve been going to conferences at this church since I was about 12. Its one of those big professional churches where everything runs smoothly and looks beautiful.
I thought it might be hard for me to feel at home here after going to a small country church and living at a camp. We would have lots of people, but it definitely wasn’t big or shiny or new. But I have started to feel at home here.
You might think that would’ve started when I sang in the choir, or when we became members, or when we had our first parent teacher meetings. But no. I distinctly remember the first time I smiled and thought, this feels like home.
It was when one poor little boy threw up over the other poor kids while the kids choir was singing one Sunday night. Before you think I’m a horrible person, I really did feel sorry for this poor little boy and the other children who kept right on singing covered in, well, you know. And also, in my defence, I was not the only adult barely keeping it together.
But it was the first time that my church was not just shiny and new and big. In that moment it was just a regular church with regular people and sick kids and a clean up on aisle 3 right in the middle of service.
I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of weeks now. I spent so much of my life trying to look shiny. I never let anyone in, tried to make sure I was giving the best impression possible. I made sure I always did the right things, said the right things, looked the right way. And it was exhausting. And I had very few friends. Go figure. I was always striving. Always trying to look shiny and new and awesome. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that I should suddenly start doing or saying the wrong things. But I was fake. I didn’t tell anyone I was struggling with depression. I would never have written a blog post about feeling angry or sad.
But I’ve been learning. As I look around, as I hear other people’s stories, as I tell mine, none of us are very shiny or new. I think there’s a verse like that, right?
So here in this new church, I’ve tried to be even a little more honest. I told a few people that going to that same conference that I had been attending for all those years as a “former pastor’s wife” was very hard. And that I worked in the kitchen so I wouldn’t have to answer questions all day. When I confided that in one new friend, she told me why she was having a difficult day and we hugged and cried together at the sink and I suddenly felt a connection with her that will hopefully form the basis of a solid relationship.
Shiny and new and big and awesome has its place, but crying together at the sink is beautiful too.