A few words I would NOT use to describe churched weekends – Easy. Peaceful. Calm. I think that is why I am so drawn to the front porch, the path, the woods. They are all Easy Like a Sunday Morning should be – quiet, worshipful, listening, uncomplicated life. Join me?
“The Porch is a good place to stay when you think God is gone, made up, fictive, and when you are a person who is choosing to hold on to jagged things. You can stay there and do yoga and read…” (Lauren F. Winner, “Still”)
When I looked up from the pit I’d fallen headfirst into – it was suffocating, frightening, and overwhelmingly lonely down there. I was terrified of what my life and my faith and God himself would look like from my new perch in the muck.
I was surprised to find Him and myself better than I thought, better than what had been said, and better than what I had been taught.
I wasn’t a royal mess beyond hope – I was immensely loved and held and valued.
I wasn’t refusing to bring my heart as they claimed – I had naively brought it to all the wrong places and all the wrong people.
The Parting of Ways
She came to me the week that I would turn 30 years old. Things had twisted ugly and fractured deep among the church people we had aligned ourselves. I was never one for living lies… I believe they catch up with you. I believe lies to be soul crushing.
I think the truth has a way of meeting you whether you hide from him or not. He will insist on being present and accounted for.
I told the truth – as best I saw it in my tiny frame of reference.
And here she came, this woman who had been given the task of dealing with me.
No questions were asked. No real dialogue was made. There was no room for a mutual exchange of truth – it was a one-sided handling.
I was a business problem.
I was a line item that wasn’t adding up for their bottom line.
They were tying up loose ends.
So she dealt with me. She went over her points and the heart monitor I’d been wearing two weeks before would have recorded the breaking. I could feel my unborn son kicking in my womb as he flexed out his legs in the deepest places of me.
I spoke only what was needed. I gave no more and no less.
I would later be accused of not being open with my heart – but I’d seen this happen before. I knew how they handled people who got out of line, asked too many questions.
I knew what happened to people who told the truth.
When she walked out the door I knew it was done.
I could feel the finality of it all. I sat down on the floor and I wept for all the things that had come undone.
I asked God – if he could still hear me and see me.
And the room was quiet.
I wouldn’t be going back to church… not that one and not another one any time soon.
Six years later
It has been six plus years since those words were spoken across a living room floor. I don’t hold the pain the same way. Only occasionally do I feel the phantom aches.
I don’t hold church the same ways I once did either. I hold it all with open hands.
Open hands to receive; open hands to release.
I came undone. In my undoing God and church and family and life found its proper place and order inside of me. I hold nothing as tightly as I once did.
I attempt to cling only to God.
I’ve heard all the stories that point to “How Church Saved Me.”
But church didn’t save me – God did. It couldn’t. They couldn’t. And if I’m honest – I wouldn’t even want them to try. I’ve been a part of what happens when they attempt to save you.
The truth is that God found me…right where I was seeking Him with the wholeness of the heart I had left:
- On the front porch.
- On the living room floor.
- On the bathroom floor.
- He met me on the path.
- From behind a camera lens.
I found truth with dew stained shoes and freezing finger tips. I found his presence beside quiet waters and icy paths.
I found his love among created things – that refused to tell me how I should see him, hear him, seek him, and find him.
Because their very presence testifies to his majesty and ways.
But it was not the church that met me in those places it was the very real presence of a very real God.
Easy Like a Sunday Morning
So I come to the porch.
- Not because there is NO God, but because this is where I can best hear Him speak.
- Not because God is absent, but because in this space He is very present.
- Not because I am choosing to hold on to jagged things and even when I am – he gets it.
- Not because I can find better things to do here – although a great book and a mug of something fabulous sounds like a great idea.
- Not because I am being lazy about church.
The Front Porch is like holy space – take off your shoes, tread lightly, speak quietly, and above all else be prepared to listen.
If you can’t listen – if you need to be heard – you should probably find another perch.
There are plenty of places for too many voices and too many words. The front porch is not one of those places. It is an ironic statement considering I am writing this all out and hitting publish at the end.
There are seasons of Homeless Sundays.
I am in the front porch season… and maybe perhaps we’ll load up the family hauler and take the kids out of the city and into the woods.
I’ve been needing a Green Cathedral Ceiling sabbath.
Questions to Consider on the Porch this Week:
- Lauren Winner makes the front porch sound selfish, consider this quote: “The Porch is a good place to stay when you think God is gone, made up, fictive, and when you are a person who is choosing to hold on to jagged things. You can stay there and do yoga and read…” (Lauren F. Winner, “Still”)
- Is the front porch instead of a church pew selfish?
- Where do you go when God is gone or silent?
- Is God or has he ever been fiction for you? Have you ever sat in what it would mean if you gave up God for a week, for Lent, for a year?
- Where do you go when you are choosing to hold onto jagged things?
- What jagged things do you bring to the porch today?
- “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)
- Where do you keep company with God?