The Lie I Once Believed About Church

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As a young child, my family attended church every Sunday. I hated to miss it and on weekends that I couldn’t attend, I’d feel guilty.

So guilty in fact, that in grade school, after staying over at my girlfriend’s house on a Saturday night, we played “church” the next day. I led the service and since I’d been going faithfully for 12 years, I felt that I had a pretty good grasp on the order of things.

So guilty in fact, that in University, I would drag myself out of bed (having only stumbled into it hours before) to trudge across the street to church.

But my guilt subsided as a young (exhausted) mother and I didn’t feel the obligation to attend anymore. As a matter of fact, I felt that I could attend “church” in my own lovely backyard woods. I loved to hike through the tall trees with my daughter on my back and take in the beauty around me and thank my Lord for it.

I learned that my spiritual pathway was in nature. Spiritual pathways help us identify the ways we most naturally connect with God and grow spiritually. There are a total of seven pathways. If you’re like me, you respond deeply to God through your experience of nature. Being outdoors replenishes you. It moves your heart and your soul, and strengthens your faith.

So I thought it was enough to walk in the woods on a weekly basis and connect with God there. Herein lies the lie.

Church is more than ceremony. It’s more than tradition or routine. It’s about connecting with God through connecting with other believers. Going to church and connecting with Christians helps to strengthen us, reminds us that we’re not alone and helps us to grow.

I returned to church in my 30s and found some of my best friends there. My church family prays with me and for me. They are the “hands and feet” of Jesus. I have grown in my faith and fallen deeper in love with God because of my attendance at church.

I no longer feel guilty if I cannot attend church, however, I no longer attend church out of guilt.