I sat in church today and inevitably, as it always does, it started again.
That dance she and I do.
It must look comical to those who stand around us, beside and behind, who can see us. No one snickers out loud that I have heard yet but I am sure we are amusing. We could not be more different if we tried and the differences are deeper than the blonde and brunette hair on our head.
I am the brunette.
Since this is church related, I’m going to digress at this point, even change up the font a bit, and say, right up front, I do not have all the answers about who He is, how He is and I have not memorized the bible. This is not a post about that. You can call Him what you will and worship Him as you see fit or not. I am not here to fight those battles.
All I know is I believe because faith gives me strength.
It gives me a reason to get up in the morning and hope the blackness that filled the day before is gone and I can start with a clean slate with a God who is looking out for me. I believe because faith gives me hope that the answers I don’t have yet rest within Him and, in time, He will share them with me. I believe because faith helped me stop beating my head against the proverbial brick wall and it helped me to see that all the head banging in the world won’t change one thing…but having faith will. So, I believe. I give it up to God. I rest my head on his goodness and inside the promise that He has my back, sees all, is a loving Father and He will see me through the rough spots. And, you know what? It’s good and ever since I stopped needing control and handed it over to Him, a calm has settled into me that evaded me most of my life before that. A calm that says, He has this. A peace that says that no struggle is bigger than He is but it is bigger than me.
Okay, I am done digressing. Back to that dance she and I do. That’s what this post is about…believe it or not.
When it comes to the dance, today was no different. I was sure it would not be. Certainly nothing has changed since last week. Not in her and not in me. In fact, nothing has changed in us during the last four years since my kids and I were fairly new to the town we live in and she took us under her wing and invited us to her church. This woman has, since I arrived in this new town six years ago, evolved into my closest friend here.
Despite the fact that we each have three school aged kiddos…
Despite the fact that we both have jobs that fill our weeks…
Despite the fact that we are both hands-on and busy mommas…
Despite the fact that our time to sit and chat together without kiddos is rare…
…we have Sunday morning and Sunday morning is ours.
Side by side, third row from the front, the time in church is ours. Well, it’s God’s and Pastor’s time too but, in a week that revolves around kiddos, schedules, schools, activities, cooking, laundry and the ever present cleaning, on Sundays we have carved out ninety minutes of time together, to sit side by side.
Busy mommas will latch on to that.
And, you might think that time in church might be easy for two women to make happen. You might think it’s just a schedule thing but, my friends, you’d be wrong. Scheduling is sometimes the easiest part to overcome. Sitting us together in church…it runs a whole lot deeper than that.
Whew…Oh yes. D-E-E-P.
She and I are different and, like I said, it’s not just our hair color.
The church we share isn’t Pentecostal but it’s a whole lot more animated than my quiet Baptist and Catholic upbringing. It’s actually non-denominational but with strong animation. I am used to a hands-at-your-side, quiet voice, church going experience. My friend, on the other hand, worships with both arms raised up high and her body comfortable in mild movement. She prays out loud along with the pastor. I am quiet as a mouse.
Thankfully this church is not as regimented as the one another friend attended. The one where the pastor actually taught a class on the arm/hand language in church. He taught that elbows locked and hands held up high was the ONLY way to really show your whole devotion to God. If you were halfway committed, you held them up halfway with unlocked elbows and if you weren’t ready to commit to God, you kept your hands sadly at your side. Crazy rules for me who is an iron-arms-down-tight kind of worshiper. The quiet girl that does not want to be noticed. (Yes, I have my issues and I own them.) Thankfully not all church communities believe in predetermined rules for existing in their community. I am blessed our church does not walk down that road. In our church, you worship in whatever way you are comfortable and Pastor is clear about that.
Hands up? Yes.
Hands down? Yes.
Tolerance of others is mainly what exists in our church community because Pastor believes the experience that made people who they are matters. He even reminds us to value the individual within the community. Do what works for you, he tells us…not anyone else. I like that philosophy and that is largely why I have burrowed into this church community. Here with him, with her, with God…I am enough. I am not wrong for being different. Our church community believes it is your relationship and your life and you have to do what works for you…and you are beholding to no one else in making choices that work for you and your family.
My friend and I clearly worship differently. We stand beside one another, as tight as friends can be despite our differences. Doing our quirky dance, week after week, year after year because, really, we are the same…despite our differences.
Sound nutty? To some perhaps but not to us.
In fact, we have never spoken about it.
She has never asked me why I don’t and I have never asked her why she does.
We find no fault in our differences.
She is she and I am me and we are united…in our sameness and our differences.
And we don’t care about arbitrary rules someone else creates because we are us and we do what is right for the betterment of our own lives and we treasure each other completely…different or not.
Whoever you are, whatever you choose for you…your choice is your own… as is your life. You are the only one who can make the right choice for you no matter what the larger community says. Only you know YOU well enough to know what is best for you and ascribing to my rules of life does not make you more complete or better equipped nor does it make me somehow better if I ascribe to yours. That is what individuality and free choice are all about. In fact, I’d go a step further and say that when you begin to rise and fall according to preset rules set up by anyone else, you somehow lose a piece of yourself and your ability to hear your own intuition. And, friends, when you stop listening to your own intuition, that voice in your head that agrees or disagrees with what is thrown your way, that crucial voice begins to dissipate and you lose touch with who you are.
Only you know what is best for you and your family and labels and rules only work if they work for you. I am home here, in this church, in the larger community with my friend, with my children, with this pastor…despite how different we all may be. We are free to choose as we need to choose. In fact, about half of the church is animated while the other half is quiet like me and, you know what? We each make our choices and we each love and respect one another…no matter what. It works and no one ever takes exception with anyone else. We simply come together for the greater good. Period.
Tolerance allows differences the opportunity to become complimentary to each other when given enough time, kindness and acceptance. I kid you not.
Sparkle On, my friends.