I am a proper church girl. Ok I admit it! For instance I try not to write very spiritual things but it comes out that way and I do try not to end a convo with a friend who maybe just shared with me a good thing that happened to her with a prayer of thanksgiving or a prayer for help when it’s a tale of woe but it’s become a natural response so much so that a friend shocked me today after I offered to pray for him over something. I concluded what I thought was a short prayer with an assured amen, when he, bemused replied : ” Pastor’s wife!” that jerked me right out of my holy cloud and I quickly pulled the halo of spiritual feelings off my head and hid it in embarrassment “ I’m not a pastors wife” I retorted but he had hung up laughing. I’ll still get him for that one! Him and Harris (Harris writes the articles for “hanging out with Harris” on my blog). He insists against my staunch resistance that I sound like one, so does girlfriend but that’s before I tackle her to the ground and try to physically get her to stop calling me that! What they see? I don’t know.
I don’t like the stereotype of being a “spiro” or the preachy type that makes your skin crawl every time you’re with them (those ones who when you’re around them just being yourself, want you to be perfect with your hair tucked in, straight-faced, speaking the right christianese in a pentecostal accent…lol) but truth be told, I enjoy church and I understand that environment very well. It’s an art and I call this piece the art of enjoying church. This one you have to read because it’s from the diary of an unlikely church girl.
THE ART OF ENJOYING CHURCH
I was at my cousins wedding almost a month ago and it was beautiful. The blushing bride was serenaded by her happy groom. You see he had come upon this idea to sing for his princess (and she was looking every bit like one) but someone should have advised him to save the best for the last or more accurately for a private concert only for his new wife but he bravely sang his heart and voice out oblivious to the tune, riding on pitches even the best in the industry fear to climb! It was a hearty rendition and we all helped the song along amid appreciative gales of laughter! It was a moment to remember. I enjoyed it and the many other magical moments that are possible in an atmosphere of goodwill mixed with some romance. I enjoyed them all because I let the atmosphere take over.
1. The first step towards enjoying church is cooperating with the atmosphere.
Let it steal you away for a moment. Don’t worry about the person next to you. Don’t wonder if they are lifting up their holy hands because they’ showing off their expensive jewelry, don’t be concerned that the person next to you might be the “agent” in your midst ( if God didn’t show you then you shouldn’t be concerned about it), don’t be suspicious of everybody smiling like they’re angels when by your calculations you are almost sure they’re terrors waiting to show their true colors, don’t wonder how to get the attention of the impeccably attired tall, dark and handsome who looks like his Armani suit was glued to him, or the hot legs wrapped in shimmery shine looking like a model off the pages of Vogue. Just plug into the moment and see it through appreciative eyes. See what’s to laugh about, what’s to sing about, what’s to reflect on.
2. Make friends.
Ask someone his name. Tell someone they look nice. Ask them where they work. Pick an interest in another person. You’ll always look forward to it if you know people there and know you’ll be seeing them again. I, for one, look forward to the “fellowship after fellowship”, that’s the time to catch up on friends I didn’t see during the week, greet the mothers and compliment their clothes and jewelry (they always ask you when you’re getting married and tease you about “the broda”) and mix up generally.
3. Be on time and participate.
There’s just something about coming late for any event that saps the juice out of your enjoyment of your first few minutes there. You feel you’re creating unnecessary attention and it takes you some minutes to defiantly return or ignore every accusing stare thrown your way. Plus it costs you another extra few minutes to settle in.
Participate. The easiest way to tell someone who’s not “getting blessed” is when you spot the aloof and “stand- offish” one who sits by themselves. They try not to get their impeccable clothes squeezed so they don’t dance too much only offering an occasional swing from side to side. They usually say very little and of course, they tend to look slightly upset at their neighbor who is dancing like there is no tomorrow wondering what is wrong with them! Lighten up and go with the flow. Wherever the mood takes you, if it’s God then it’s good. Also if you have a flair for an area in church, help out. There are always benefits and it’s the only place you get to learn your art and hone your skills for free!
4. Don’t bad mouth your church and don’t expect perfection.
The first tell tale sign that a person is likely to leave their job, a relationship or church is their complaints and constant critism of it. Yes, there are lapses you admit to but don’t go on and on rehearsing faults in your church. There’s no perfect church. The music may be great but not the delivery of the message or vice versa but don’t let that stop you. I find that it’s those unplanned slips in the service that make it a little less boring so enjoy them all, good and bad.
Ok Nike, time to go. Er, whatever you do this Sunday; Enjoy church!