Last August, I quit going to church.
I didn't mean to, it just happened.
We had started driving into Athens everyday for work and I needed a break from the drive. I needed some quiet time. I needed time for myself.
That, and Chris was teaching a Sunday School class which meant that he and the children would be leaving the house even earlier...meaning I would have to leave even earlier to ride with them and then not having anything to do for an hour before service...or, we would have to take two cars. I didn't want to do that because one thing that I liked about going to church was that it gave Chris and I time to talk on the ride in.
So, I didn't go for a few weeks. And then a few weeks became a few more weeks.
I went to the Homecoming service. Chris and the kids went early. I was bringing the fumi salad that Chris had made the night before to have at the Homecoming Fellowship meal. I cried almost the whole drive in to town. I realized just how loooooooong the drive was from my house to church and that my school was even further than that...and I was making the girls make that ride with me every.single.day. I was waking my children up before six a.m. to make this long, long drive. And it killed me. So I cried on my way to church.
I got there just before 11am and the parking lot was full of cars but there was not a soul in sight. No one milling around on the front steps or sidewalk like there usually is before the service. No one.
I took the enormous bowl of salad down to the kitchen to refrigerate it before lunch. Only the doors were locked.
I marched back upstairs through the education building and there was no one. Empty.
And then I got to the sanctuary. It was a packed house. The choir was in full swing. And everyone with a key to the fellowship hall kitchen was in that room. I was stuck with the salad.
I went back downstairs to double check the door. Still locked. I ran into a friend. She told me that for Homecoming the service started fifteen minutes early. Chris had forgotten to tell me that, and I had failed to remember it from previous years.
Now, this friend was not someone that I knew very well, but apparently well enough for me to have a melt down in front of. So that's what I did.
And then we left our salads in a room downstairs and headed back up. She sat with her family and well, since Chris was in the choir loft and my children were scattered about with their friends, I sat by myself and chewed the inside of my cheek to keep from sobbing in the middle of everything.
Immediately after the service I left. I avoided making eye contact with anyone and was able to make it out without having to say anything to anyone.
So that was that. A failed attempt.
I did not go back again until Christmas Eve. Quinn couldn't handle himself and Chris spent the service in the nursery with him...which is what I did the previous year. Why we keep doing this to ourselves is beyond me. It would really have just been better for one of us to stay home with him. But we're (apparently) gluttons and we tried again and it was a miserable experience.
So that was that. Another failed attempt.
And now I can't get over it. I can't make myself get past it. I just can't. I tried a few weeks ago and I had such a feeling of dread and anxiety that I couldn't go in for the service. Seriously. I got dressed for church. I drove into town for church. I dropped my family off for Sunday School and then I couldn't go in.
I consider myself a Christian. I talk to Him everyday in the quiet of my car on my way to work, in the moments before putting my feet on the floor in the morning and in the moments before I drift off to sleep every night. I try to behave like a Christian, in a loving, forgiving, kind, nonjudgmental way.
But I've quit going to church. And that doesn't feel very Christian-y.