OK, stop right there. It’s twelve days until the end of the year and less than a week until Christmas. There are only twelve days left in my arbitrary “countdown to oblivion” (yeah, I think it’s overly dramatic, too) or at least my countdown to “church or not church.”
I still haven’t made up my mind.
I didn’t go to church last Sunday. I suppose I could have gone, but every Sunday morning, I have to get up at around 4 a.m. so I can drive my daughter to work (she has to be there by 5 a.m.). Afterwards, I get to go back to sleep and last Sunday, sleep I did. I very deliberately didn’t set my alarm so I could get up in time to make it to church. I did periodically wake up, peek at the clock, briefly have an internal dialogue about whether to get up or not, and then I went back to sleep.
And I kept doing that until I determined that it was too late to make it to church on time.
Oh sure, I could have gotten there late. It’s not like anything depends on me being at church on time. But I decided that once it was too late to make it to church before services began, it was just plain too late.
And sleeping in was glorious. I enjoyed it tremendously.
My wife didn’t realize that I wasn’t going to church at first. At about 10 a.m. she mentioned it and I said I decided not to go that morning. That was the end of the conversation.
But I’ve been feeling guilty. I’m not exactly sure why, since my connection to anyone and anything at church is so tenuous. Of course, I already found out that if I miss a Sunday at church people notice. On the other hand, I also discovered that my primary (current) motivation for going to church is a sense of obligation. It’s sort of like the obligation I feel to go to the dentist for regular teeth cleaning. In fact, I’d prefer to go to the dentist to have my teeth cleaned than go to church because I only have to go to the dentist every so many months, and I at least have a long-standing relationship with my dentist and his staff, so we are very familiar with each other.
It’s only a community if you belong and as I also said recently, I don’t have that sense of belonging at church. If predictions are correct, any sense of belonging at all will take about a year.
365 days and counting?
Twelve days left. That’s two more Sundays, one right before Christmas and one right afterward.
I know I should go, I know I should go, I know I should go.
But I don’t want to.
There’s just nothing for me to do there. There’s no one to talk to, at least beyond a friendly, casual, and superficial conversation. The one sort of transaction that would engage me is exactly what I must avoid if I am to have any hope of establishing relationships at all.
More’s the pity, because without the ability to converse and interact, going to church is a really boring way to kill three hours or so.
I’m sure there are Christians out there who are shocked and appalled to read those words.
I started this series at 78 days, made the final determination to return to church at 62 days, and had a private meeting with Pastor Randy at the church I now attend at 57 days (you can see what a cautious fellow I am, slowly sneaking up on an objective).
And it was at 57 days that I went back to church…45 days ago.
Now I only have twelve days left, unless I choose to reset the clock once I reach zero days. I was hoping that I could have a chance to review Boaz Michael’s book Tent of David within the context of a church experience, but I don’t know now. Maybe this effort represents a failure on my part or maybe getting “cold feet” is part of the developmental process of returning to church.
I don’t know.
As I see it, I have two basic choices. One: I can let the twelve days elapse, with or without returning to church for one or both of the Sundays left. Then that is that. Church is no longer an option for fellowship and community. Endgame. Two: I can let the twelve days elapse, with or without returning to church for one or both of the Sundays left, then reset the clock to 365 days. That would mean letting 2013 be “the year of church.” I’d give myself a full calendar year to explore “the church experience.”
Option one seems like a relief and option two seems like a long haul to face, particularly alone. But if I haven’t been giving church a fair chance, then option two is the only one that lets me be fair.
When I look back boy I must have been green
Bopping in the country, fishing in a stream
Looking for an answer trying to find a sign
Until I saw your city lights honey I was blind
You better get back honky cat
Living in the city ain’t where it’s at
It’s like trying to find gold in a silver mine
It’s like trying to drink whisky from a bottle of wine
from “Honky Cat” (1972)
music by Elton John
lyrics by Bernie Taupin
I’ve got a scant twelve days to make up my mind. Until then, I’m staring up at the clouds looking for an answer.