Another day, another church service. As she sat down in her seat for another one of the weekly Sabbath services, her mind was racing. She watched as sisters greeted each other with hugs and smiles. Once done, they were looking each other up and down doing an in-depth dissection of what others were wearing. After tearing their fellow sisters’ outfits to shreds, they sat up straight feeling good about themselves, flashing their new pair of sky-high stilettos and their new hair.
At lunchtime, the cliques set up on their marked territory. The lines were clear cut and trespassers were sure to be made to feel uncomfortable. She watched in boredom as the ladies fawned over the latest hottie on the church scene whilst he basked in the attention of these estrogen charged females on an aggressive man hunt. It didn’t matter that they were all friends. Church boys were few and time was ticking. Moms and Dads had their eyes on their clock – when would them cows come home and when would they get those grand babies?
The relationships in the church, as a result, were somewhat incestuous. When it failed between two people, someone else went in for the kill. It did not matter if they were friends. The end goal was to be the ‘it couple’ and have that wedding. It was a dog eat it dog world in the game of getting married at church.
As the ladies desperately hoped to meet their future husbands, the men took their sweet time playing the field. Boys just wanna have fun right? And fun was definitely being had. They would lead on a couple of ladies in the church whilst they got the perks of a non-devout Adventist girlfriend outside of the church who met their ‘needs’.
Then there was church politics. Different people vying for leadership positions in the church and wanting their will to be done. This led to small factions and manipulative behaviour as they sought to get that coveted position. Once in the role, performing was secondary. The title was paramount. Making a difference was not necessarily a part of the plan.
Church. The place that growing up, she sought as a place of refuge. A safe space in which to get in touch with her Creator and to lay it all at His feet. A place where she sang hymns to God in acknowledgement of His supremacy and saving grace. A place of fellowship and upliftment.
With age comes the realisation that everything isn’t as it seems. As she grew older, she realised the intentions of her fellow brothers and sisters in Christ weren’t always noble. A shock to the system for a trusting and genuine girl initially, but when the scales fell from her eyes, she acknowledged that there is a lot more than what meets the eye.
There were those seemingly on a power trip to those on a popularity campaign. Some seeking attention to feed their starving spirits and those simply on a Cassanova cruise. This was by no means a conclusive statement about all churches or churchgoers she’d met, but was merely the confessions of a church girl & her view of the world.
She found herself in great wonder. How could we claim to serve the same God and yet, the amount of hurt, pain, selfishness, game playing and insincerity in the Church seems to beat that of the so-called secular world? How could it be? The God she had come to know, love and serve was about compassion, love, honesty, generosity, kindness, mercy and grace. Did she get the memo wrong?
It broke her to see Christianity misrepresented on the very pews where lessons from Christ were taught. “Could we all be so far gone? How do we wake up from this stupor and realise that we are called to do better, be better and be a beacon of light?” she wondered. “How do we move away from self-seeking behaviour and move towards a selfless nature? When will we wake up from seeking our own interests to seeking the best for all?” she asked.
Some might ask, ‘Well, why does she stay?’ Something her Mama always used to say was ‘You don’t go to church for the people’. A lot of people had left church because of the way in which they were treated. Sadly so, but what her mom meant was that she needed to seek a higher purpose when she went to church. She sought to be better and do better. She sought an intimate relationship with God and a true connection with Him. She sought not to let the happenings at church divert her from the truth and her salvation.
A passage that was often shared at church and resonated so deeply with her was what Christ Himself said when He was on earth:
“For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.”
She was by no means perfect. Far from it. Her heart bled for her faith. Her prayers were for her brothers and sisters in Christ. Her prayer was for herself too.
That in her awareness, she would do better and be better with God’s hand in her life. That she would not run and hide, or point fingers or shake heads. That she would get on her knees and pray for God’s guidance and that the Holy Spirit would prevail in all their lives.