sam and i stopped going to church awhile ago.
we had been going to the same church for about two years, but we left around the time ellery was born for reasons i won't go into on this blog. we were both really excited to find a new church where we could connect and get involved and find community.
we visited one church twice, and though it was great, we wanted to try other churches in town before committing to this one.
then life happened.
ellery struggled with sleeping at night, and often slept until about ten in the morning. this meant we missed any 9 o'clock services and struggled to get ourselves, and the baby, ready for an eleven o'clock service. additionally, sam was working ridiculous hours. (and by was, i mean he still is. poor, hard-working husband.) he usually worked saturday mornings, and often went in on sunday afternoons. so to be honest, with a baby who didn't sleep well and a husband who worked seven days a week, sunday mornings became one thing for us: a time to rest. i saw how exhausted sam was, and didn't want to push him to wake up early and get ready to go visit a new church every week. i tried to let him sleep in. he didn't get to see ellery often, so sundays also became a sweet day when he actually got to spend time with us.
sam saw how overwhelmed i was with a baby who was waking every two hours, and who cried hysterically whenever we left her in the nursery. he didn't want to push me to leave ellery in a nursery at a new church every week, with people i didn't know, especially when she seemed to hate it so much.
so...we didn't really go to church for eight months. and do you know what i realized? it's easy to stop going to church.
when you have a baby, or when you get married, or when you move, or start a new job with crazy hours, or when life happens, it's easy to stop going to church. and this is coming from two church-goers, people who were raised in church, whose fathers are pastors, who have both been involved in the ministry at every church we've attended. we're not "sit-in-the-pew" church people. we've both helped lead the music at church, and been involved in various other ministries. even when i was attending a mega-church in college, i volunteered in the hospitality department. we've both worked in church camp ministry. we're church people.
and we stopped going to church.
it made me realize how easy it must be for anyone to stop going to church, especially those who aren't so inclined to go to church anyway. it's easier to stay home and sleep. it's easier to go to brunch instead. even if you go to church, it's easier not to talk to anyone, not to get involved, and simply be a consumer.
sam and i finally had an honest conversation about how much we needed and wanted to get involved in church again. we've started the process of trying out some new places and are excited about where we've visited so far. i've cried at every service since we started going back, because my soul could finally breathe again. yes, this is what i've been missing. this is what i've needed and i didn't even realize how much i needed it.
CS Lewis puts it this way:
"Enemy-occupied territory - that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening in to the secret wireless from our friends: this is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going. He does it by playing on our conceit and laziness and intellectual snobbery" (Mere Christianity).
have you stopped going to church? i'm sure you have good reasons. i felt like we had good reasons; great reasons, in fact, and perfectly logical arguments as to why we had stopped going. and that's exactly what Lewis is referring to here. "the enemy" knows our weaknesses and will play to those so that we think it's a good idea we're abstaining from church, and that we'll get back to it eventually. then eight months pass and we still haven't been to church.
"Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for thy courts above."