Its been a year since we pulled our 2nd Penske beast into our 5 acre long driveway in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Almost to the day. So much of this past year has been a blur of silky smooth transitions that really should have been more pot hole in nature. The silk is not lost on us. However, there has been one particular area of focus that feels like a hole we can’t find our way out of. Or maybe in to? It’s hard to say. Church. Finding a church in the land of churches has been our giant hole.
We do recognize our high maintenance status when it comes to organized religion. It didn’t use to be this way, but the more days we live and take notice of who we are as a family, the trickier this community of belonging becomes. Why? Where do I start. It all goes back to the walking and listening and reading and digging mentioned in my last post. Turns out, the more I pay attention, ask questions and open myself to other perspectives, the more God, Jesus, Christianity, Church, the Bible….it’s all so much more mystery than fact. Don’t hear me saying that mystery is a bad thing. It’s delicious and intriguing and leaves me craving more mystery to add to the mystery. It’s freeing to have questions that can’t be answered and beliefs that require a personal relationship with God to put faith behind. I’ve found more evidence of Jesus in this world and in my life by doubting and digging than I ever have assuming and regurgitating.
BUT. It’s not easy to find people who embrace the mystery and are comfortable challenging what has always been organized Christianity. Most people look for a traditional church setting and find comfort in it. I get that and have no qualms with that being your path. It’s the path that raised me and it raised me well. It’s no longer comforting thought. It’s not home like we need it to home. For most of my life, church hasn’t challenged me to find my own set of beliefs or think about the why behind it all. And then we have this family of ours who feel like aliens in most church settings just based on who we are. We can’t enter sanctuaries 95% of the time because it’s immediately reminiscent of a rock concert, but then turns to a hushed library setting. We can’t attend youth group because – more of the same. We have quirky trauma issues that require understanding and empathy, right.off.the.bat. Church becomes work and we’re tired. So tired.
Like I said, we’re high maintenance, but we can’t seem to walk away. We can’t give up on finding like-minded community we know we need. We can’t tell our kids that we don’t fit when it comes to Jesus and a kingdom that needs their contributions. I would argue that the kingdom is desperate for their contributions. In fact, I’d be first in line to join a church lead by little people just like them. We’d sing about baby sharks doo doo and building your house on a rock. We’d have some epic conversations about heaven and virgin births all while flossing and jumping on couches. We’d act out Bible stories that include dinosaurs and Pokemons and it would all be awesome and interesting and memorable. And then we’d have a snack for sure.
So here we are, 30+ church visits later. Our rocky road in the midst of silky living. It’s our Sunday morning area of frustration with maybe a sliver of hope remaining. The hope piece feels like an obligation to try something new, so maybe that’s what’s next. Maybe we gather a group of people who thrive on the mystery of God and aren’t scared to doubt or question what they’ve been told. A group who craves diversity of thought, culture, ability, sexual orientation and religious background. A group who loves Jesus and can ask intentional questions, really listening to the answers. Not because they have a rebuttal or a solution, but because they value what their neighbor can teach them. Maybe there’s a game room with an x-box for the kids to do community in kid ways and the adults can drink coffee and mimosas and talk about books, movies, evolution AND creation. A group that discusses the Bible from a historically and culturally accurate and whole picture context and doesn’t assume that we’re the chosen ones, predestined to live the good life for eternity while the “lost” burn in eternal damnation.
If you live in the Grand Rapids area and you find yourself in an organized religion camp who’s flag is half mast, give us a holler. Grand Rapids Brewing Company just might be calling. The game room is fantastic and the mimosas are flowing.