Faithfulness + Extroversion

Of all of the moments of the week, going to church on Sunday morning is my least favorite.  I have tried to like it, from all angles.  I dislike the forced connections.  I dislike the seclusion of it all.  I dislike the driving to and from.  I dislike the morning hours of necessary sociability…I’m most social sometime around 10pm each night.  I dislike those moments of suspension before the service begins and the molasses movement of the moments when it’s finished.  I dislike my singleness and independence on Sunday mornings.  They are clearly moments meant for extroverted, happy families.  And if you are not a combination of these three things, then you are often made to feel as though you are not godly enough to love Sunday morning, American church services.DSCN2033

Hear this:

“The evangelical culture ties together faithfulness with extroversion,” McHugh explained.  “The emphasis is on community, on participating in more and more programs and events, on meeting more and more people.  It’s a constant tension for many introverts that they’re not living that out.  And in a religious world, there’s more at stake when you feel that tension.  It doesn’t feel like ‘I’m not doing as well as I’d like.’  It feels like ‘God isn’t pleased with me.’ ” ~Adam McHugh in Quiet by Susan Cain.DSCN2037

This is more true than I can express with words.  It is a challenge of great magnitude to peel myself out of bed on Sunday mornings.  To {HAPPILY} gather my purse and nice shoes.  To travel to church, far or near. To sit, hands still for an hour or two.  And to engage in honest and optimistic conversation in a crowded foyer.DSCN2038

Furthermore, I have a concern that there is less real advice and guidance in many sermons that I hear.  There is always something to learn from every speaker, from every person you meet, in each moment.  I am, after all, a student of life, itself.  And I believe firmly, that I do not need to be sitting in a sanctuary to learn about Jesus, as God’s Spirit dwells in me and is always pursuing me and pressing my heart against its shell, teaching it to learn and to listen–to recognize Jesus in all places–in all hearts.  Yet, there is something about the grandiosity of a sermon that ruffles me.  It is the overarching truths that help us to press on, yet they are also the truths that only bring us solace when our eyes are set on the big picture.  I rarely hear a sermon which digs deep into the heart of things, which sings of hope for the moment.  Which is etched with grace for the human condition.  You know them when you hear them–they are the sermons that haunt you in your everyday moments.  They are the sermons that are practical and humble.  They are not even one- or two-step messages, they are just human stories of experience and hope.DSCN2039

Does anybody else struggle with church?  Has my pride captured me past the point of clear thinking?

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