I used to raise my hands in church services. I did it all the time. I was confident – or I was comfortable.
I was baptized at 16. My choice.
I attended church, youth groups, christian concerts, christian worship festivals. I grew up in it but I also wanted a place in it. I chose to be there as much as it was also second nature.
I used to have a purity ring. Also my choice.
It’s strange because it’s not like anything ever really fell apart. There was no dramatic division between God and I. I just stopped raising my hands in church services. I still believed in God, but I also started having sex.
And then I entered this space – this 6 or 7 year space – in which my go-to line was that I’m just figuring things out. I mean, aren’t we all? But in order to truly claim to be figuring things out you’ve got to actually be putting some effort into figuring things out.
I think I believed if I just kept living my life the way I was living it, going to church on occasion, praying as I always have been, and then doing pretty much whatever else I liked, I would somehow figure it all out – or get pretty close. Sometimes, I still think like this.
It’s kind of delusional, but it also makes sense.
I wanted to believe, but I also wanted to be selective about what parts I believed in and what they would mean for my life. I didn’t want to consider what I might have to give up if anything was going to become truly whole-hearted. I’m not going to lie, I haven’t gotten past these concerns.
God and I got extra close every time I made a decision that spiked my anxiety up. Those often involved a guy, or alcohol, or both. That’s not to say that I was drinking a lot, or seeing a lot of people. But it doesn’t take drinking a lot or seeing a lot of people to recognize a pattern between an action, heightened anxiety, and a lot of extra prayer. It doesn’t take much to realize that sometimes it really is that obvious when you need to give something up. Ignoring that is the exact definition of insanity. I dabbled in it.
Every time I go to a church service on my own I fight back crying. It’s like clockwork. The worship music starts, and I want to cry. I’m not sad, I’m just emotional. The pastor spoke about something to do with letting go and letting God in. I figured this is probably what he was referring to. He’s trying to get in. But I hold back tears and rush out after the service because of a fear of commitment.
I also keep going back. So, we’re working on it.
I haven’t stopped believing since God was first introduced to me as a little girl. But I haven’t spent a lot of time figuring out what that belief is supposed to look like in my life. When the pastor asks those of us who are willing to let go, to raise their hands, I don’t. It has nothing to do with believing. It’s because I was the person who raises their hands in church, and the next time I decide to raise my hands, I want to be willing to keep them lifted.