Church. The word itself probably made you squirm in your chair a bit. “Is the author of a blog with the word ‘monkey’ in the title about to talk religion??”
Before I continue, I must stop here and inform you that I am by no means a self righteous church-goer. I am just now going back to church after a long absence myself. And I can’t promise I will be there every Sunday from now until then. I’ll also admit here that its been made easier with the availability of an evening Mass on Sundays. What can I say, it’s the Mass of convenience!
My mama is proud that I am going back to church. When during a discussion about the fact that I’ve worn blue jeans the last few visits, mama said, “The Lord doesn’t mind what you have on. He’s just glad that you’re there.” Does that mean he’s disappointed when I don’t go? I don’t think so. I’d like to think that as long as I do my part to offer a little kindness and compassion to the world, he’s just as pleased. A testament as to how we as humans overcomplicate things.
Speaking of complicated, we all know religion can be/seem very complicated. (Hence all the squirming.) It doesn’t have to be complicated as I personally think spirituality is based on the individual’s interpretation. Being raised Catholic, I have struggled with a lot of the beliefs of the Catholic church. For years, I have struggled with the notion that by not agreeing with 100% of what the Catholic church believes, I am really a hypocritical Catholic. And if that’s the case, should I find another religion? Something tells me if I made the effort to explore other religions in search of a better fit, I wouldn’t completely agree with their beliefs either. Or they wouldn’t believe in mine, whichever the case may be.
Now I don’t know if it was the Holy Spirit, or just me finally figuring it out on my own, but it occurred to me in a light bulb moment while at church on Ash Wednesday. If no single person is perfect, then how can a collective group of people with similar beliefs be perfect? (Enter the idea of ‘the whole is equal to the sum of its parts’ here.) I have a friend that drinks to the point of oblivion. Sloppy, falling down, dangerous drunk. Read: not perfect. This person’s behavior is something of which I don’t agree but I still call them this person ‘friend’. Using the same thought process, why have I been so hung up on the fact that I associate myself with a group of people that don’t exactly share my beliefs? For example, as a general consensus, Catholics are pro-life and don’t believe in birth control while I am pro-choice and do believe in preventing pregnancy if its best prevented. The key is, a group of people with similar beliefs have come together. This group by no means is perfect, just like each individual member is not perfect. Eureka! It may seem obvious to you, but this is just starting to make sense to me. See what happens when you overcomplicate things? You find yourself in a spiritual debate, personal in nature, of which was not at all necessary!
So I pose this question: Why go to church? You already know I feel as though God won’t be mad ‘atcha if you don’t physically go to church. So why go? My reason? With all of the church’s faults and my own faults, it just feels good. Because for one hour a week, I go to a specific place where I slow down long enough to appreciate all the wonders of the world; to give thanks for all the wonderful things in my life– family, friends, and our collective well being; and to look for encouragement and guidance to take the high road when I find myself at the crossroads.
I must admit, I feel so much better having gotten that off my chest. The bottom line is that no one is perfect and if something gives you the warm and fuzzies, go for it!