I have a good friend at work – someone I do a lot with. She is one of the kindest, most caring, loving people I know. She knows what I believe – we talk about it sometimes. She knows what our other friend D believes too, and sometimes I think she feels a bit left out – tho we never intentionally do that. I mean I think she feels it’s just a part of our lives she doesn’t share. We still invite her to church things etc. – very low key, no pressure, just here’s the info we’d love it if you’d come. So last night we asked her to join us at D’s church for a celebration honoring the church’s volunteers. There was a great comedian there, and the three of us love comedians, and love to laugh. But, she said no. Basically it boils down to this:
~She felt she would be going for the wrong reason. To see a comedian, not go to church. And that seemed to really bother her. I wanted to say that’s ok- we all go to a lot of events/places for wrong reasons and end up having a wonderful time and being blessed. But I didn’t.
~She felt that she still had past church hurts to work out, and things she didn’t understand – like certain tragic events in her life. I wanted to talk about suffering – the reasons, but yesterday wasn’t the time.
But the one that really got me was this one:
~She felt there were too many things in her life that she had to get straightened out, get fixed. She felt she had to get cleaned up before she could go to church. She felt she was not good enough, that she wouldn’t do or say the right things, and her life was too much of a mess to go to church. Kind of like cleaning your house before the maid comes so she won't know what a slob you really are.....
I know that she’s not the only one that feels this way. How sad that is. How do we undo all the damage our churches have done – expecting people to know the rules; expecting people to obey the unwritten laws, to dress right, act a certain way, have their act together? To know the formula? It’s so frustrating to have a friend so in need of God, someone who is struggling with life and big questions, yet someone who doesn’t feel she has the right to darken the door of a church. Why can’t we quit being an exclusive club – all dressed the right way and saying the proper things? I think it’s extremely sad that something set up by God to reach out to others is now an insurmountable object to many. We need to stop distancing ourselves from those we haven't deemed worthy. We need to lower the drawbridge and welcome the world instead of hiding behind protective walls.
Fine. I guess I will have to do what I can. D and I, we may be the only believers she ever lets in. The only way she will see what a church should be. Our lives and beliefs may be the ones that get her thinking. I will just walk beside her and listen, help as I can, love her and just live life with her. I will be her friend. I will let her see that I am not good enough either – none of us are, but God is gracious and merciful. I want her to know I will accept her where she is and as she is – no matter how messy. Because I love her.