Every day, a daily devotional shows up in my inbox.
Every day I read it.
This morning I opened up and was reminded it is Lent. Lent is probably my favorite season in the church. The why is complicated, but it is. I never miss Ash Wednesday, try to make it to every Wednesday night service, and for the longest time, I never missed a Sunday if I could help it.
Except this year. When I was in grad school, I found a church and I went every Sunday, I joined the choir and handbell choir. I helped out in any way I could. I formed some very strong friendships there. Then I moved.
I haven’t been to church since April, barring major holidays. I can’t do it. The handful of times I’ve gone, I get about halfway through the service and I want to cry. It’s miserable. The feeling, not the service. Part of it is because I know the odds of finding a place like I had before around here aren’t very good. Part of it is I miss the people. Part of it is because the music gets me. And part of it…every time I walk into church now I feel like I need to hide. My home church lost the warm fuzzy feeling years ago, not sure it ever really had it. The me they know there was never the me that I am.
The me now is so messy and complicated and uncertain. I live in a place where mental illness isn’t spoken of. I have a job where I’m told that no matter where I go, I’m a representative of the organization. That what I say and do impacts donations and the like. There is no separation. I don’t know how much is just me being afraid of being close to people, and how much is legit fear. I already drive to the next town over to fill my prescriptions. I don’t like feeling like I need to drive to the next town over to go to church.
Because I know me. If I start to become part of a church community, I’ll last about two weeks before I want to share what I’m going through. For better or worse, that’s the way it is.
I hope that one day, I realize that I’m making a much bigger deal out of this than it needs to be. I hope that one day I find the courage to go back. I hope that one day I find the courage to try and be a part of this town. I hope that one day I can believe that I can be accepted around here, the good and bad parts.
I hate feeling like I need to hide.