It’s funny how God used Ivy to help me see church in a more positive light again.
I was actually in the middle of writing something really negative about church, something about feeling anxious and nauseous about the thought of going, but then I decided to not dwell on it so I scraped that post.
So Ivy asked me if she could check out cell and church couple of weeks back because she wanted to see if she could find a community there, and today we went to YA cell and service together.
At first I felt so anxious, I wanted to make sure her experience was “perfect”, from trying to check what the sermon topic was to finding out who all the cell members were in Jomo’s cell. I realised I was too caught up again in trying to control everything, and I really just needed faith and trust in God. If it was the right timing, He would have already prepared everything for her more than I ever could.
It was really awkward at first, no one really came and said hi when we were waiting around, and we couldn’t find the cell room. By the time someone came to fetch us, they were in the middle of singing a song, and we kinda just stood there. I felt like I would be leaving her out if I sang too so I didn’t. But Jomo’s friend (jomo was late) sent me the lyrics to a second song, and so I shared it with ivy, and surprisingly she was singing along. I felt a little ashamed. I only sang when she started mouthing the lyrics and singing to them.
She later told me she appreciated how the songs were all repetitive, so it’s easy for her to learn how to sing them, and I also felt a little ashamed for judging worship songs that were repetitive because it felt like they had no depth. I never thought of it from that angle before.
Cell was about BGR, which was really apt because she was going through something about it. Although she didn’t agree with everything, she said she felt like she learnt a lot.
She said she felt grateful, watching people respond during altar call and seeing people being prayed for, although she didn’t feel grateful for herself, she said she felt glad that people could find solace in God and the community when they have no one to turn to.
But she said church wasn’t for her, and people are too sheltered here. Which I agreed that it could seem like that. Her friends are people who struggle with all sorts of dark issues, in fact she struggles with dark issues too, and people like her feel extremely uncomfortable around happy bright people who seem like they live in a bubble. They’re like the “good kids” who’ve never known how dark the world can be, and she said their issues seem trivial.
I found that sad. It’s like the people who need God most are the ones who feel uncomfortable in church. Everyone’s too “holy”.
I told her there are people who do struggle, but you just don’t see them in a large group setting, maybe one on one you’d see more, and she said that makes sense.
But I really feel it too sometimes. I liked hanging out with her friends during her birthday party. Yeah they drink until they’re dead-drunk, and club, they swear a lot and they’re atheists and free-spirited, but they all have such a rich, dark history of struggles they aren’t afraid to admit, when you’re with them you never feel like you’ll be judged for anything. It’s like they’re as messed up as it can get, and they won’t ever judge you for being messed up too.
It was refreshing being with them. They felt like real people. I’m not sure how to explain it. It’s like you could immediately see them transparently. And you feel like you can be completely transparent with them too.
“Church people” feel like a whole different species of people. They’re mainly from a certain demographic, well to do, atas-English speaking. It feels like you won’t be able to talk with them about things like sex without them flinching, yet trying to mask their discomfort.
You feel like they’ll look at you differently, if they really knew what things you’ve done.
It is really a different world.
God is in our world, but not in theirs.
It felt like when ivy talked about God, she said lots of good things about God just that she talked as if she was a spectator. A third person. Peeping into a shop window she’ll never enter and saying wow that looks amazing, but I’m not going in there.
It really doesn’t feel like the same world honestly.
I told her Jesus came for the broken and the sinners, not for perfect people, and there are no perfect people, so he came for everyone.
But I think she didn’t feel it – that church was meant for broken people or for sinners.
Maybe It felt like it was meant for the goody-ish people somehow.
I feel that too.
Technically I’m a goody-two shoes sheltered person also. I’ve never been so empty that I had to get wasted with booze, never smoked, never gone to a club. I’m from an English speaking well-to-do ish family. Never hated myself till I took out a knife to slash myself, never dealt with eating disorders, never really felt truly alone with completely no one to rely on, Never had financial struggles, or any “real” dark issues (I mean my issues were all just self-created monsters).
Yeah, maybe if I didn’t know God, I would have gone through all of those things. But yeah, my life has been relatively smooth. It wasn’t perfect, I’ve had my bad seasons, but sometimes I feel like my life isn’t that great of a testimony to what God can really do. Is that a bad thing to think? But it’s not like I should go wild now and come back to God to have some cool redemption 180 turnaround story to tell everyone. I guess everyone will have a different story to tell. And I’m sure God managed to tell ivy a little about himself through my life and my friendship with ivy, such that she’d wanna try out church.
She’s been through so much. Her mom passed away just a few years ago, and it was so sudden.
God only seems as big as the struggles we relied on him for – at least at first glance by a non Christian.
If our struggles are only about grades and like worries for our jobs, whether we’d get promoted etc. That’s how big it looks like God is to us.
Okay I realised I derailed and now I’m back to spouting negativity again.
Matt said we’d know if a church is healthy if we’d feel secure being able to bring someone to church without any worry.
Because we know that God is in the church and in the people.
After bringing ivy to church, I’m at least sure of that. She saw God in church more than I did the last couple of months.