What I Miss

Another Lent and Easter has come and gone. Growing up old school Lutheran, the church seasons have always been one of the ways I mark passing time. We start with Advent, then Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and now we're in Easter. 

I went with my mom, sister, and her mother-in-law to the church where I grew up. If I remember correctly, the last time I had gone to a service there was last Easter, since I was working during Christmas. I still go to church, but at another location. 

As I sat in the pew and sang the old familiar hymns, I couldn't help but wonder when the last time I was genuinely joyful to be at a service. I could't remember.

In fact, I can't even remember the last time I legitimately prayed. Not just praying with the congregation on Sunday morning or with my family over meals. Really sat down and had a conversation with God.

If I'm being brutally honest, I think it was back when I lived in Missouri. I moved away from there going on three years ago.

Even when I worked in the church, I could see it happening to me. My personal Bible reading was becoming less frequent. My prayers were shorter. The songs I sang were half hearted. The years after I graduated college, something began to change in me.

Don't misunderstand me. It's not a crisis of faith- per say. I still believe. In fact, in ways I believe in Jesus, grace, faith, scripture, forgiveness, etc. more than I used to. I also don't want you to take this as me not loving the church congregation I'm a part of. I do. It's a wonderful place, I love going, and I love the people there. It's what I need right now.

But praying? Having joy in worship? Reading my Bible just because? It's just not there, and I don't know why. 

And I miss it. But I also don't.

I don't miss the guilt I used to have about worrying if I hadn't prayed or read my Bible enough. I don't miss feeling like I had to be sitting in the church building every single Sunday or else I'd be a bad Christian. I don't miss feeling the obligation to run around everywhere yelling about Jesus and how much he loves you and wants you to convert and be baptized RIGHT NOW. I don't miss telling teenagers what I felt the synod wanted me to tell them.

I do miss the joy though. I miss going to a service and not critiquing everything I see or hear. I miss the curiosity I had about scripture and wanting to dig in more and more and learn all that I could. I miss wanting to go to a Bible study or small group to talk about faith with my friends. I miss the days when I could pray saying "Papa God" and not feeling like an idiot for saying it. I miss when I could journal for pages and pages on my thoughts on a certain verse. 

I know my faith isn't dependent on how I'm feeling, or how much I pray, or how much I read. Thank God!

I also like how my views have grown and changed and matured. I'm glad I'm not the girl I was back in high school and college. 

But I do miss the joy.