"Go to church on Sunday? Huh? Why?" was my reaction to the suggestion I attend this church this Easter Sunday. As I reflect back on my time at the church, I recall guilt, pain, judgements, failure and disappointment. Why on earth would I return there? Evidently I'm so rotten the roof would cave in.
I remember the ritual vividly. Getting dressed up out of respect. Being nudged to stand up straight, watch my manners, be socially polite and attentive (not my personality as a child). Being directed to fess up my sins and ask forgiveness. I remember thinking, "geez, didn't I already get in trouble with Mom and Dad, must we drag God into it too?"
I remember as a young girl developing early and having the boys at church notice. Naturally this would happen, but did everyone else have to notice them noticing me then give me the dirty looks? Like I could stop them from noticing the bumps showing through my blouse. Ugh! I faced the constant looks of disapproval, despite never being a trouble maker, staying to myself, remaining quiet and unsocial. Despite the fact I had never been in trouble, had excellent grades, I still received these looks. As if they knew my soul would some day be tarnished and I was being punished ahead of time. Pre-condemned.
As a teenager, still maintaining excellent grades, never being in trouble, the promise of the family, the judgements and looks at church and from any religiouis person continued. It was the bandgled bracelets I wore. The make-up I was too young to wear. The fitted clothes and Texas beauty pagent hair. It wasn't my character being judged, it was my appearance. This showed true at any church I attended.
Later I noticed the prejudgements of other individuals, not just those aimed at me. A boy was frowned upon because he dressed poorly, came from little to no money. Dropped out of school to work and support his sick Mom. Of those who passed judgement on this boy, those I saw regulariy at the church cast the worst opinions. Weren't they the ones who were suppose to step up and help?
Needless to say, I stopped attending, stopped subjecting myself to the unjustified criticism. Of course, it was during this time I became pregnant out of wed lock and the push from family and friends to return to church began. My pregnancy proof I was lost. Lost? NOT! I was an uneducated teenager who did not think things like this happened to girls like me. I mean I was Princeton bound!
I refused to return to the church. If wearing jewelry, being fashionalbe and attractive warranted such unfriendly treatment, this pregnancy just might warrant the roof caving in on me. I feared for my life to return to church.
Over the years, it has gone without failure that every person I meet tied to any religious denomination has shown true to being this type of person. Judgemental, opinionated and unaccepting. Some have even shown to be heartless and cruel.
Everything I thought about how religous people should be, I haven't seen. No warmth...no sanctuary. Why would I go back to church now? Why would I subject myself to that type of judgement and person again? Why? Because he asked me to. Because he promised to shelter me if the roof caved in. Because I have faith in him.