So when last we talked, I had walked away from the Catholic church. Well, jogged. OK, out and out sprinted.
I lived in no-man's land for a number of years. And I was somewhat OK with that. I mean, my mom was praying for me, right? She had a direct line to the Virgin Mary, and that seemed to work for her. Me? I wasn't feeling the connection. I mean, Mary never had to deal with Jesus throwing rocks at cars at age six, or calling his brother a "fag" at age 10 and getting his mouth washed out with soap, even though he had no idea what it meant.
Anyway, so there I was. Churchless. Forlorn. Guilty. Occasionally, the guilt would get to me. Like the Spring Break that I elected to stay at school in Milwaukee instead of going home. I felt compelled to attend church for Easter service. Thinking I'd go to hell if I went anywhere else, I found the nearest Catholic hangout and tried it again.
Nope. Not for me.
Fast-forward seven years. I'm married, and thinking I'd better start saving my soul soon. But here's the catch: my hubbie and I weren't married in the Catholic church. So evidently, I wasn't even welcome back there anymore. No matter. He was Lutheran, and had always talked about how Sundays were like a social event at his church - good fun, good people, good food. Sounded like a win-win to me!
So I test-drove a couple of Lutheran churches in town, but found that the traditional services weren't that different than the Catholics. Then I thought, "Maybe what I need is something younger. Hipper. Cooler." So I tried one of those non-denominational churches - you know, the ones held in big auditoriums that have bands playing rockin' Christian tunes and skits that modernize Bible passages and everybody's cheering and praising and it's just like a big Godapalooza.
FAIL. Sorry. I know that road leads to somewhere for many, but not for me. I figured out that I'm more of a "private" worshiper. I'm not even much for saying the words of the liturgy out loud or singing the songs. It's all in my head. And I stood out like a sore thumb in this over-the-top mosh pit of Christianity.
From there, I dated a few different denominations. I courted Methodist and Presbyterian on and off, but just didn't see a future for me with either one of them. Finally, during my first pregnancy, I thought, "OK, God. Help me out here." I started to feel pressured to find a church home because I wanted my child to have a church home. From the get-go. One that he could be a part of as much as I could. One that he would enjoy going to and that would have loads of youth activities that he could get involved in as he grew older.
During the past few years, if I felt compelled to attend "a" church, I would go back to Redeemer Lutheran, a church I had dated a few times, but just never called back. Maybe I needed to get to know this church a little better and see if it could be a match.
I wanted a place that accepted me for who I was, no matter how I got married (or in the end, divorced). Check.
I wanted a place where I could go to be inspired instead of be scolded. That would make me look forward to attending to hear what message the Pastor would leave me with that day. That would lift me up not only with the Pastor's message, but with the music as well. But not over the top. Check.
I wanted a place that had youth activities and events for my children, so they could be raised to enjoy being a part of the church, meeting other kids, and experiencing firsthand how to be a Christian. Check.
Long story long, my two sons were baptized in the Lutheran church and I took the required classes to become a member of Redeemer. I look forward to attending the services to hear Pastor Meyer's wise words, sage advice, and his incredible ability to not only explain and interpret the Bible, but to do it in a way that applies to my everyday life. That is truly God's gift. My children attend Sunday School, and my older son will be confirmed this May. And I am proud to call Redeemer my church home.
Now, a final note. I don't regret being raised Catholic. I do believe that upbringing gave me an excellent base of morals and values in which to live my life. But as an adult, I am glad I took the time to find a place where I could put my spiritual heart, and I hope that those of you who are seeking your own religious haven will do the same. In the end, you'll know when you're home.