107 stories

i'm not usually awake by the time we get to church on Sunday mornings.  i mean, i'm physically awake... but my body and mind hasn't left the cloud of dream/sleep just yet.  even though church doesn't start until 10 or so, I usually don't wake up until about quarter 'till and then it's a mad dash to get ready, out the door, and into church before the music actually starts.  so, for me, my Sundays typically begin with the opening chords on some worship song and the aroma of coffee.

that said, i don't typically bring many stories with me on my mind to church.  i usually wake up with the "it's a new day" attitude.  today was different, though.  i woke up a little earlier than usual, so i was more awake.  i still had the events of the night before on my mind, processing through an awkward moment that happened.

as i sat there, i wondered what other people's stories might be in the room with me.  i can't imagine that they don't all wake up late and rush out the door like i do.  perhaps they're still processing through whatever happened to them last night, or the week before... or perhaps walking into a church brings back a flood of memories from when they were a child.

whatever it is... of the 107 people or so in church this morning... people bring in stories of their own, and they get to mix and mesh and drop hints of theirs and learn of other people's.  it's a strange tension.

on one hand... i felt like i wanted to stop everything.  i wanted to stop the worship, stop the preaching, and just let everyone share their story.  not the deep stories... not the themes of their lives... i just wanted to know what everyone did that morning.  what got them to church this day.

on the other hand... it was a beautiful thing that, amidst whatever pains and joys, lonliness and comforts, 107 or so people brought their stories and managed to get up, get out of bed, and spend a little over an hour to sing/listen/worship, listen to a pastor's sermon, smile and greet friends, and do lunch afterwards.  their stories for that day included a brief encounter with a Holy God and (just as important?) a brief encounter with His bride, the church.

i'll be honest.. there have been times in my life where i was worn out and frustrated with the church.  even my own church has wounded me - and many of my friends - in the past.  but i made a commitment to the church... and like any marriage, there are sturggles and pain and victories and allure.  and, right now, i'm not simply "committed" to love the church... but I truly am falling in love with the Bride of Christ.

if we let go a bit... accept people's stories and where they are... it becomes a much more diverse world.  the stories get more interesting.  it kills me that so many people have been hurt by churches, christians, faith-based entertainment, bible study publishing houses, non-profits and so on and so forth.

i think the problem is that for so long the bride of christ covered her blemishes with makeup and didn't allow anyone to see her wounds.  she presented herself as a supermodel and a calm housewife; she wanted to be simple, she wanted to make everyone comfortable, she wanted to perfect.  oh, but real is so much better than a plastic mess.

ashley is so beautiful to me when she doesn't bother to put on make up.  i love when she's able to relax and go the whole day in her pajamas.  sure, i love it when she gets all dolled up to go out and such... but knowing the real her is so much more beautiful than any fakeness she could put on.

i love being at a point in life that i'm ok with not being perfect.  i don't want to be perfect... i want to be able to improve.  i want people to be able to give me real advice and put me on a better path.  i want people to know me intimately enough that they can call out the flaws in me, or tell me when i'm doing something off-character.  and that's the kind of relationship i want with the church.  i want to be able to go to church and be real, and let the people there be real with me.

i dont have some kind of point that i'm building up to here, i'm just typing away.  there's no catchy ending, no twist or nuggest of joy to take away.

i just love the church.  i don't always understand her, but it's good to be able to love her.