I have to admit, Sundays have not been easy for most of my life.
When I was little, I remember my dad coming in to wake me up for church.
“Whoop-tee-do! Whoop-tee-do! Time to get up and go to Sunday school!”
While tickling me, of course.
“Daaaad!!!! Stop it!”
“Moooommm!!! Tell Dad to leave me alone!”
Mom would tell him to stop.
He would not.
I would be so mad.
Turns out, laughing while angry is a thing.
This was not a one time event.
Even when I was in high school.
Sidenote ~ I miss that man.
Church was a hassle for me.
Sitting there for an hour.
A whole hour.
Playing tic tac toe on the back of the attendance sheets.
Following along with the bulletin, dreading the upcoming sermon part.
20 whole minutes.
Oh, and then waiting around after for Mom and Dad to quit “fellowshipping”.
Church was just kind of a pain when I was young.
Then there were some years where Kev and I didn’t go at all.
We thought about it a whole lot.
Just could never quite get up the energy to go.
And I no longer had the tickle monster to motivate me.
At some point though, we jumped in.
Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, Wednesday nights and any other times the church doors were open.
We became leaders.
Youth leaders, then college leaders, then community group leaders.
Years and years of Sunday mornings.
And you will never guess how I motivated our children to wake up.
It just seemed right, ya know?
I really did love it.
The singing my heart out to God.
The message that would point me back to Jesus.
Our kids like it too, for the most part.
We were literally first ones there and the last ones to leave.
For so many years, it was great.
Until it just wasn’t anymore.
Things got all kinds of messed up.
I had questions about God that noone seemed to be able to answer.
And almost everyone wanted me to stop asking.
I was a leader.
Not a male leader, of course.
So let me just say, I was “kind of a leader”.
Leaders don’t have questions.
And if the do?
They certainly don’t ask those questions in front of the children.
Or even in front of the adults.
You know, questions like…
Is there Really a hell.
Like, millions of years of torture?
Does God really choose who goes there and who doesn’t?
Oh, and saying a prayer is the difference between hell and heaven?
Am I really not allowed to be anxious about all of this?
My anxiety is a demon inside of me, for real?
What about babies?
No really, what about babies?
Oh, and why are there so many versions of the Bible if God went to such great lengths to make sure it was inerrant back in the day?
And, wait a second, we are “saints”, but we will focus more on the “sinners” part?
Just have faith.
We can’t know these things.
His ways are not our ways.
Believe what we tell ya.
Don’t rock the boat.
And for Heaven’s sake, don’t scare the children.
I can honestly say, I tried to shut my mouth.
I tried to be gentle and quiet.
Only ask my husband.
My poor husband.
It didn’t work out so well.
I couldn’t fake it on Sunday mornings any longer.
Or an other day of the week.
When Rob Bell came along and wrote a book about these questions,
I came out into the open with all of mine.
These are the questions I have.
Rob Bell is putting bad thoughts in your brain.
He is leading you astray.
He definitely is not.
He is just putting words on all of the thoughts I’ve had for years.
And I watched as the “church” shunned him.
Farewell Rob Bell.
Like a tennis match, my head turned back and forth.
He said this.
They said that.
He tweeted this.
She tweeted that.
I better shhhhh some more.
The more I kept my mouth shut?
The more I sank into depression.
I started having anxiety attacks on Saturday nights.
Kev would pray over me.
After the service was over one Sunday morning,
I was standing with a group of my friends.
They were honestly helping me breathe.
The struggle was real.
The pastor’s wife came over to our group and said,
“Ladies, disperse.. get out of your little huddle and get over there and great the new people”.
It was then that I realized this wasn’t so much about building God’s Kingdom.
It was very much about building this one little church’s kingdom.
This was over ten years ago, but it slaps me in the face every single time I think of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Jesus.
I want to know Jesus more and more.
I want to love like he loved.
I want to serve like he served.
Pray like he prayed.
Even “lose my life” for his sake.
But no longer am I willing to “lose my life” for the sake of a man’s kingdom.
No longer do I want to bow down to a man or board of any kind.
After I wrote the post about LGBTQ+ last week?
I told Kevin I felt so free.
I had so much peace.
He smiled and admitted he is sure glad there is no elder board that we have to answer to right now.
We answer to someone.
And I feel real good about answering to the God I have grown to know.
So, it’s Sunday morning as I type.
An easy Sunday morning.
Pajamas still on.
Coffee in hand.
And a peace about it all.
It took me a few years to feel this peace.
To not feel the guilt and shame that would come along with not being in a pew.
And now that the guilt is gone?
I am actually free to go if I want to.
This has been a long journey.
Years of panic and anxiety.
Medications and meditations.
Counselors telling me over and over it was/is ok to take a break.
Kevin has made a Sunday morning playlist for us to listen to in our Florida room.
We have had the best talks.
I still ask him the hard questions.
He still smiles and says “I have no idea”.
We’ve grown closer together.
Slept in when we’ve felt like it.
Maybe listened to a podcast or sermon.
Or danced to some Lionel Richie.
All to the Glory of God.
Oh, and I am actually heading to a church service this afternoon.
And we will go to our daughter’s church next weekend in Indy.
I am no hater.
We are just ok where we are.
Jesus said his yoke is easy.
I’m just saying…
Easy like Sunday morning.
Karen R Shock resides in Fort Wayne, IN with her husband and their youngest son. She had three more children who are married and four beautiful grandchildren. Oh, and a dog name JT Barrett (Go Bucks). She is a retired homeschool mom and is now a high school teacher and cheer coach. Life is hard, but fun.