I woke up this morning determined to write. This time last year, I was waking up at 7AM, to prepare for my periscope recording at 7:30 AM. I would be addressing my small group of followers going into Bible scriptures. My message would be encouraging and at times enlightening. At times this was a precursor to the sermon I would be preparing to deliver at PEACE Church. PEACE Church stands for Peers Entering Acceptance Toward Christ Eternally. This was a student developed university campus church, where I was a pastor for four years. There was a time at the beginning of my Pastor-ship at PEACE I would attend Poplar Springs Christian Church to fulfill my deacon responsibility and then head on over to PEACE to pastor. Honestly, it was all exhausting in the end. It was exhausting spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and socially. I don’t miss church. I miss the people, I miss the community, but I do not miss church.
Since moving to Connecticut, I have attended a couple church services and felt unfulfilled, but I have taken to exercising, hiking and reading as part of my Sunday routine. Its very relaxing, and its very fulfilling. Strangely, I recall hearing other people throughout parts of my life saying that they are spiritual, or that they went on hikes, and I know I would think, they don’t know what they are talking about. I even thought they don’t understand God and you must be in a building at a church to experience God. However, since I’ve moved up North, I feel as I am experiencing God so much now. I wonder if its because I’m not preparing to assist others in their understanding of God, while they are struggling through their shifting lens of church. As I worked with students at PEACE, I admit, I struggled embracing being a pastor because I took their spiritual development so seriously. I did not want to engage in things that would spiritually cause me, to spiritually lead the astray. Therefore, I was strict on myself. As I entered that church I would see beautiful women and handsome men that were so brilliant, battling their hormones, while enjoying parties where they partook of drinking, stepped to vulgar songs, and sang in the church choir. I would see the guilt on their face, while seeing the joy in their eye that they had a good time, which may be unlike how they envisioned their elder that led them to church.
I felt that the students were holding themselves in prison to something that was not true. They battled having a good time with thinking that determined if they were good people. Every Sunday, was a time of helping the students embrace themselves, and understand how they feel, is not the problem. What you need to understand is the way God wants to use the freedom that you already have. You have it because you have embraced a God through a man that sacrificed himself for the world and came back to show those that believed in Him that their hope is not in vain. God is real. This being that created all things is real and we are all a part of it. If we can accept Him being Jesus then we have accepted God, that which loves us the most. Once you have accepted that love you accept that you are a part of the world, and each human. Each action, impacts me and can affect others around me. Therefore, I should take responsibility for my actions and love myself while trying to understand how to exist in this world.
Does that sound simple, does that sound freeing? I admit, at my age, while I was teaching them, what I understood, I recognized that I needed to connect with them in a way that they were comfortable. I did not mind using pop culture, or Youtube videos, current events, black history, indigenous history, and a number of examples to reach the students. It was fun, but it was also exhausting. Serving as a deacon was the toughest, because I was a young and fiery spirit urging to breathe in a space that felt old and suppressed. There was so much love, but there was also ego and traditional thought that suppressed youth, elevated elders, tried to reconstruct middle age, and promote premature unions among sexually depressed people. There was so much love and there still is, but to embrace the unreliable and deny the undeniable, that is so hard.
Now this is not to say that many wonderful things have not been taught through church. For example, I learned social activism as well as respectability politics in church. Jesus Christ was a living example of challenging politics through church ideals. The courage I learned to use my voice I learned by looking at Jesus in the Bible speak out against Pharisees. I would practice using my voice with my family first, then in church, and then it rose socially. In many ways I read Jesus practicing spiritual understandings inside and outside the temple.
I miss the people, but I don’t miss the church. Here is my truth, I love God. As you read this, I hope you will have more questions about God, but I also hope that you will feel a peace resting in God. I still think that church is an amazing environment for people to build community and learn about structure that will help one succeed in life. I invite you to protect your mind and your heart while listening to people speak through their own filter. There is so much to be taught in life and in church. I am now going to talk about my learning in life.