This past Sunday, I went to church of my own accord in the first time in roughly eight years.
I had to use Google Maps to find it, because I’d never been to this church before. I slipped in through a side door, crossed myself, and sat in the corner of the loneliest pew I could find.
I looked up in awe at the blue and gold and mahogany ceiling, around me at the sunbeams falling through heaven-high stained glass windows. I persistently avoided eye contact with fellow mass-goers, and managed not to smile at the bishop’s dress thing. I sat and kneeled and stood at the right times, quietly leafed through the bulletin, and kept entirely to myself.
When the men in dresses and funny hats carrying gold religious items had finished, I crossed myself again and left as quietly as I entered.
I left the same way I entered, but different inside. Hopeful, for the first time in a long time, and considering that I could believe in something other than myself.
I’ve never wanted to be a huge believer in myself, as being filled with self loathing tends to be counterproductive to such things, but for the past eight years, I’m all I’ve let myself believe in. Refusing to believe in anything but my broken soul left me callous and mocking of faith and believers. I told myself I didn’t need anyone, and I guess after a while I started to believe that.
Forcing yourself to believe in someone you loathe entirely becomes exhausting after a while, and last Sunday morning, I knew I was too exhausted to keep it up. Something had to give, and it felt urgent.
Something did give, as my foot crossed over the threshold of the cathedral and touched down on white marble; a resistance to change. Something else gave as I tugged on my too-big pants, fresh off a relapse of epic proportions; my steadfast loathing of myself. More gave out when a three-year-old held my hand for a moment and said, “Peace be with you.” The last piece of forced self-sufficency crumbled as I crossed myself with holy water before I stepped into the cool sunlight.
All I know now is that maybe believing in someone other than myself wouldn’t be so awful after all. I still don’t know if I appreciate god yet, or if god is real, or that people don’t all suck. But I think I’ll use Google Maps again on Sunday morning, cross myself, and sit down in a lonely corner. It couldn’t hurt.
I think they lost something that they miss
I wanna find that book
Dust it off and read it again
There was hope in the end
-”Have We Lost,” Flyleaf