I found myself at a concert this week, one of the bands that I’ve been following for the past 6 months of my shit filled life.
Their music is so good. It’s one of the few bands that embraces the balance of light and dark. They sing from their souls and write from their hope. It’s a beautiful thing.
In fact I keep wanting to say, “I went to church this weekend.” And would if I thought you’d understand what I mean.
See, what I mean is I experienced what I had hoped church would be.
Which means, my experience of church was shitty.
I wish I could say it was a person. Or a community, or even a building that marred my experience, but I’ve spent over half of my life in church building across the states and across the denominational divides.
Eventually I’d experienced too much pain to keep attending.
At some point you realize, shit this hurts and that’s not cool.
Verbs of church experience:
Isolation. Shame talk. Impersonal interactions. Discrimination of my looks, my language, my lifestyle.
I’ve walked in to bars with more genuine humans than any church building I’ve yet to step into.
But Before you give me your top 5 churches, just listen.
I stopped going.
Jesus died in church.
I consider myself Areligious.
I’m not trying to find divinity.
I’m not interested stepping foot into a tomb.
“Wow Ember, that shit is dark.”
Yes, sure, of course.
But my journey didn’t end in a tomb. And I’m not concerned about an afterlife.
See, my experience has been hell. Hell and all it’s demons bent on extinguishing my existence. Demons of depression, self harm, alcoholism, eating disorders, suicide attempts, isolation to the point of not speaking g to people for weeks at a time, loss of my family, loss of identity, loss of home, job loss, the list could go on, but my point is,
I’m not dead.
I don’t wish to be dead.
For me, right now that means not stepping foot in organized religion.
That’s hard. It’s what I few up in, it is all I have known.
I’ve been in this space for a long time now though, so the terror of lightning striking me ended a about a year ago.
So why do I want to call this music group akin to something so horrible?
I asked myself for 3 days and have this as an answer.
It was vulnerable. It was honest. It was the recognition of bloodied feet, and silenced voices, it was a room full of grief, loss, kooky shenanigans and hope. Where no one was performing, and strangers were made to feel like family because they were human, and for no other reason.
I guess I like to think this is what church should be.
What heaven might look like.
Like a love that enters the depths of hell
And invites every goddamn broken heart to a place of not aloneness.
Wouldn’t it be something
To find Jesus in hell?