Struggling With Sunday

Journal Entry: October 15, 2017

I woke up to the sound of silence. I lay in my bed with my eyes closed and look for my phone I open one eye to see that Sid sent me a song to listen to, a friend is texting and someone posted something on Instagram, the clock also tells me that it's almost eight in the morning.

"I would have been getting ready for church," I think.

I listen to the song and close my eyes again while the music washes over me. When the song is over and I respond to texts I get out of bed and go to the kitchen, the dogs start attacking me. While I'm making breakfast the things I have to do for the day run through my head in a list, butterflies enter my stomach, it's to much. I take the dogs out and see that the leaves are falling and there's a small breeze. I walk over to pick up the red leaves that I'll put in my journal later because that seems to be a fall tradition for me.

I go back inside, eat breakfast and glance at the clock that says it's 8:40, church is starting. I try to ignore the thoughts by turning on the TV and I eat my breakfast. After I'm finished I go back to my room to start cleaning, another Sunday tradition. My room isn't really dirty but it keeps my hands and mind busy. While I'm cleaning I start listening to one of my favorite Christian artist. This is something I only do on Sunday now. When the song is over I don't realize that YouTube is on auto play and goes to a sermon by the artist.

By the time I realize what's happened the video is already a minute in and I keep listening. The sermon is about keeping heart in seasons of disappointment. I try listening to the message but all I can hear is the woman's passion. She is walking around the stage, reading the bible, talking about God's grace and her testimony.

That was me.

My sophomore year of high school I was able to do a sermon, share my testimony. That seems like ages ago now. I remember the adrenaline pumping in my veins, the faces of the congregation, I shared my heart, how much I loved the church and most importantly the greatness of God. I spoke with sincerity and passion. After the service was over people came to hug me, told me how much they loved me, that I was a mouth piece for the Lord. My pastor came over to tell me that I should go into the ministry. My heart was so unbelievably full. I lived for Sunday, for that congregation, for my youth group and for God. I knew my purpose, I knew my family, I knew my church.

When I finish cleaning the clock says 10:00, youth group is starting. I sit on the bed and try to keep listening to the sermon. She gets more passionate as she keeps preaching and I want to tell her to stop, please stop. She's talking about conversations she's had with God and the holy spirit and my heart hardens. I don't want to hear about God, especially the goodness of God. I don't want to hear any of it. I can't remember the last time I spoke to God the way she is or the last time I let God speak to me that way. When was the last time I spoke to God or even prayed? When I did pray I prayed for other people, not for myself. I can't remember the last time I spoke to God without frustration or anger. I lie on my back and try to think about anything else. I could turn the sermon off but I don't. I wanted to keep listening until I wasn't frustrated anymore. I try to channel that girl who bravely spoke her truth but it's almost like she never existed. I try to channel the people who told me that I was a mouth piece for God but they probably wouldn't say that anymore if they knew who I was.

 I realize that a lot of LGBT people leave the church and sometimes Christianity completely. I use to not understand that but now it makes sense. When Christians songwriters, singers, authors, pastors come out it essentially ends their career. They lose people, they're excluded from their church. Christians won't buy their products, stores won't sell their CD's and people won't listen to the pastor's words. I never thought it would be me though, I never thought I would leave and I always assumed I would love Sunday's. I would be lying if I said that I didn't dread Sunday's to a certain degree because it brings back memories. As time has gone on not going to church has become normal.

When the sermon is over I wipe the tears from my eyes. I don't try to talk to God because I don't know what to say. Do I apologize? Does God apologize? Is there a need for an apology? I realize it's not God I want an apology from or maybe I want to believe that. As I'm thinking I get disrupted by Sid calling me and I'm grateful. We talk for over an hour and I don't want to hang up the phone because I don't want to go back to that.

I wish that I could say that I opened my untouched bible, prayed to God and cried tears of joy. That didn't happen though. I go on with my day and sit down to do homework, I can't focus. I would do some work, get up, sit down, get up, sit down... When I sit down I get a message from my former youth leader, Blair. I've talked a lot about Blair and that is because I adore him. He messages me to tell me he loves me, he misses me, I have value and that God loves me. When we don't let God talk to us he finds other people. I'm so speechless that I don't know what to say. I thanked him and told him how much I needed that. He reminds me of memories from the youth group and all the places we went to. I had so much resentment for my church that I forgot people like Blair, people who will always love me.

Then I think about Jesus, the humanity of Jesus. I remember the passage of the bible where it's the day before Jesus's death. He takes three of his disciples, Peter, John and James, his best friends into the garden. He asks them to simply stay up with him despite the fact it's late at night, he doesn't want to be alone. Jesus knows what's going to happen tomorrow. Then Jesus goes deep into the garden and prays to God, asking for a different path. Jesus didn't want to die, their had to be another way. Then he essentially says, "thy will be done father". When Jesus is done he gets off his knees and starts walking out of the garden to see his friends, sleeping. I can see Jesus saying, "Are you serious? You couldn't stay up with me? I wanted you to do one thing." This isn't Jesus being rude, this was Jesus being human. It's stories like this that reminds me how ridiculously in love I am with Jesus. Jesus was human, he knew his fate, he knew his friends would betray him and it terrified him. Then the next day tragedy happens throughout the day and Jesus dies, for the salvation of all. Jesus was also God. Jesus was God in human form. Whatever happened to Jesus, happened to God. Jesus felt the full weight of emotion, God felt the full weight of emotion. Jesus felt betrayed, God felt betrayed, Jesus cried, God cried. Jesus died for salvation of all, God died for salvation of all.

It's when that I get wrapped up in Christianity that I forget the trinity, Father, son and the holy spirit. I believe that God is like the Christians that points fingers and speak from hate. If God was anything like that Jesus never would have died for us, never. That is comforting and disturbing at the same time. It's that idea that Christians don't get to define my faith or my God. God doesn't care what you are or what you look like. God carries a love that transcends faiths, barriers, walls and fear. Thank God for that. I worry about feeling God and being with God but I realize I've been with God every day and vice versa. You don't have to be in a church or a place of worship to feel God. I feel God whenever I love, laugh or feel anger and disappointment. I've felt love so deeply that I thought I was going to burst. I've been so outraged that I couldn't speak or do anything and God has been through all of it. I didn't need to be in a church or for it to be a Sunday to experience that.

My relationship with God is still shaky but it's alive because of God. It's alive because of what God chose to do and what Jesus chose to do. I need to let go of the idea that my relationship with God will be fixed when I go back to church, if I go back. Our relationship is not defined by the church, it is defined by us.

Thank you God.



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