Today was the first time I had darkened the doors of a church, as a visitor, in a long time.
I was raised in church and the “churchy” culture of, at first, a nondenominational variety and then the A/G persuasion.
I warily went with some friends who invited me. It felt like being invited to a former friend’s house who you probably should’ve kept in touch with, but didn’t. Walking into the sanctuary, I couldn’t escape the heavy feeling of shame that came over me. It wasn’t even sin shame. It was more of a “We didn’t keep in touch and it was definitely my fault” shame. I had been the one who kept the relationship strained and distant. I was angry, beaten down, and defeated by the Church and its members, and by association, God.
The songs begin and the Hillsong-esque lyrics flash upon the screens at the front. People jump into singing about how they love God “so so so so much!” It felt like watching a Kid’s Bop version of worship. The lyrics remained fairly vague and repetitive. It wasn’t until the 3rd song that I legitimately felt something.
“There Is Nothing Like” is one of my all-time favorite worship songs. I’ll know the words until I die. In the midst of being ashamed and feeling awkward, it felt like God began singing this song to me. It felt like he had switched around the person of the song and telling me that “he’ll love me forever.”
It was like he accepted my silent apology in song. “Sorry it’s been a while. I’ve been dealing with my own stuff. I didn’t want to talk to you.” “That’s ok. I’ll love you forever.”
The rest of the service rambled on through the end of worship and through moments of speaking by exuberant people as they read scripture, update the community, and preach a sermon.
I probably won’t return to this church, just because it’s too similar to the churches I’ve been raised in and that I’ve worked in; but there was definitely a reason for me to be here today, even if it was only for God to let me know that he still knows I exist and that he loves me.
Today, for the first time, I felt wonderstruck.