I’m sitting in church looking around at all the people praising God. I hear the music and the singing; I see the dancing and flags waving around. I tell myself to focus. I’m here to praise too. I start singing “…I want to dance…” hmmm, wait a second that’s not true. I don’t want to dance, I don’t want to shout, and I certainly don’t want to run…anywhere. Is God going to be angry with me if I don’t really mean these lyrics? I don’t want to be making any half-hearted promises through song. I don’t want to lie about how I really feel through song either. “Okay, stop being distracted…focus…I’m here for a reason”. I clear my head and try to visualize God. I see bright clouds. I’m singing about how Holy He is and how He’s going to take care of me. I get distracted by some random thought about a video game or a TV show or work or a video game based on a TV show about work (I don’t think such a thing exists…yet). “Focus”! I can’t, my brain is malfunctioning.
I look around again. Some people are lying on their face, some are kneeling, some are shouting and some are wailing (who am I, Dr. Seuss?). People are speaking in tongues, I realize that the music is still playing but no one has sung anything in what seems like 30 minutes. Something is happening with these people and I don’t get it. I don’t feel anything…at all. Well, accept for the fear that there is something bad wrong with me. I ask God for help, but do I really mean it? I might be dead inside. “Okay, focus, close your eyes, visualize the bright clouds, and maybe throw a throne up there for good measure”. I don’t want to lose control and fall on my face, or shout, or wail, or dance, or laugh, or speak in tongues unless it’s real. I don’t want to fake it. If it happens to me then great, but I’m not going to pretend. Is this really happening to all of these people? Are they faking it? Am I just broken? (Yes, maybe, and probably)
Okay, praise and worship is over, it’s time for announcements and to pray for tithes and offerings. “Finally, something I don’t feel so guilty about” (I started tithing again about a month ago), “oh but wait, what about all that time I wasn’t tithing, and what about the part where I’m supposed to be a cheerful giver?” I’m trying to give cheerfully, but that’s really hard. I tell myself it’s not my money, it’s God’s money and I’m just giving it back to Him. I don’t have a problem with doing this out of obedience, but I’m rarely cheerful about anything I do, and in fact I’m really not sure what that even means. Okay, prayer time is over. It’s time for the sermon.
The speaker gives us a verse and I pull out my iPhone. At first I go to my Olive Tree NKJV app and read along, and then I get bored and play Angry Birds or Plants vs. Zombies. I can multitask; I can hear what the speaker is saying…mostly. “Focus!” I turn off the games and go back to the bible, and then I get bored and check Facebook. “Oh look, other people in church are posting right now” but they’re usually posting bible verses so they’re still better than me. Check words w/ friends and play any pending turns I have. The speaker says that God loves us and all that, but before He will bless us we have to stop doing bad things. “Hmmm, what bad things do I have to stop doing?” “I guess, all of them” since all sin is at the same level and all. This is really hard. Am I overthinking this, am I underthinking it? Is underthinking even a word? Microsoft says no, whatever
Basically, this is how my church life has gone for the last 20+ years, except replace iPhone with daydreaming. I’ve never really been able to participate in what’s going on in my church and I’ve always felt like more of a spectator. This is 100% my fault, over the years they have tried to include me in their jubilee and I just haven’t felt it. I feel like they have mostly given up on me at this point (and by “they” I mean the leadership). I’m open to something happening but I don’t want to force it or pretend that it’s there when it’s not. Maybe I need to find a new church, I don’t know if that would help. Well, now I’ve gone and depressed myself…again. Oops
P.S. I don’t want “saying nice things about my wife” to become gimmicky and therefore meaningless, so I’ll probably stop doing that so much. I do love her though
P.P.S. This was supposed to be the third part of a trilogy, I guess now it’s the first, I don’t know how that happened